CompTIA to unveil new ultra-simple business model assessment tool

Unlike previous CompTIA tools in this area, this one is focused on business models rather than financials, and is designed to be extremely simple to use

Annette Taber CompTIA 300

Annette Taber, vice president, channel strategies, CompTIA

IT trade association CompTIA is developing a new assessment tool designed to help technology solution providers get better insight into their financial and operating models. The CompTIA Business Model Benchmark will be previewed at the CompTIA Annual Member Meeting March 24-26, 2015 in Ponte Vedra Beach, FLA, where attendees will be able to become beta users of the tool.

Making technology partners more effective at the business side of IT has been a major and long-standing CompTIA goal, and they have utilized several tools in the past designed to promote such skills. This tool is fundamentally different in two ways: it is more focused on business models than financials, and it is much more simple and easy to use.

“We’ve tried this on four occasions in the past, and we have learned from our mistakes,” said Annette Taber, vice president, channel strategies, CompTIA. “Our previous efforts to help partners become more financially savvy were too complex, and we asked for too much information. This time, we have made it super simple.” Simplicity was a key recommendation of the CompTIA Partner Advisory Council in recommending this.

The emphasis here is really on transitioning business models to deal with changes in the business.

“What’s driving this is less the issue of solution providers’ financial acumen, but more their ability to go from VAR to a hybrid VAR status,” Taber said. “It involves understanding the changes that need to happen in their operational and business model. The financial tool only has one tab, with eleven fields. Others are on the company, how they are structured, the accounting systems they are using, and their revenue streams. We want to know more about the business, because this isn’t a financials model like the earlier tools, this is a business model tool understanding their revenue streams, and the amount of project work versus recurring revenue.”

The idea, Taber said, is to help partners understand how they pay the bills every month, while at the same time how they can best dip their toe in the water to make a transformation of the business.

“The CompTIA Business Model Benchmark will help them see their business in a different light,” she said. “There’s not a lot of pain going on right now. People are still making money selling hardware. But we see what’s coming. They should at least start looking at this, looking how they will move their business.”

Taber acknowledged that many resellers, especially those relatively close to retirement, won’t be interested in making these changes. CompTIA isn’t saying that if you don’t transition your business to a hybrid model, you will go out of business. They are, however, saying that there will be advantages to making the transformation.

“In a recent research study on telecom convergence with IT we found that even though we have been talking about managed services since the early 1990s at least, only 13 per cent of revenue today is coming from managed services,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean there aren’t people who aren’t willing to be the partners of the future. Vendors are looking for them. They want partners willing to move to a new business model.”

Use of the tool is open to all CompTIA members, including Registered members as well as Premier. There is no charge. All the data collected will be kept strictly confidential. Results will be reported only as an aggregation of all submissions, not on specific firms. CompTIA has contracted with a third party to handle data collection and processing.

“Participants will get their own individual results in June,” Taber said. “At ChannelCon in August, they will see the aggregate numbers and be able to compare themselves to their own category of solution providers. Premier members will also get a one hour free consultation at ChannelCon.”

Participants are not required to come to ChannelCon, but Taber recommended they come to see the aggregate data. The cost is $250, but that includes a year’s CompTIA membership (which itself costs $250), and confers other benefits, including access to newer research behind a firewall.

At its Annual Member Meeting next week, CompTIA will also announce a new Executive Certificate in Financial Management Workshop for Premier members.

“CompTIA’s Executive Certificate in Financial Management complements our Business Model Benchmark,” Taber said.  “It is a live workshop that can be conducted face-to-face, and covers financial strategy, setting your foundation, essential trends to monitor, and cash management. The workshop will be offered through CompTIA’s Vendor and Distributor members at no charge to Premier Members, and there will also be a self-paced, online option for completing the Executive Certificate to be released at ChannelCon in early August.”