Don’t Be Afraid to Lean On Industry Peer Groups

Group brainstorming and accountability can provide a substantial foundation for IT-related success.

Brian Sherman

Collaboration shouldn’t be just another buzzword in the IT/AV channel vernacular.

When providers actively engage with other value-added resellers (VARs), managed service providers, vendors, distribution partners or other industry professionals, their efforts can result in far more sustainable outcomes than if they were to operate on their own.

From extending creativity and working capacity to providing a more comprehensive system of checks and balances, cooperative efforts can clearly produce meaningful results.

But another aspect, accountability, may be the most overlooked and undervalued. We generate a lot of ideas over a lifetime, but the cooperative plans that others help manage have a much higher probability of success. The worst enemy of business, at least when it comes to setting and maintaining priorities, is often ourselves. Without someone holding our feet to the fire on business objectives and related timelines, it’s easy to let things slip.

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That pitfall is much easier to overcome these days, particularly for those managing an IT-related services business. There are scores of collaborative options available to help solution providers address their organizational or professional challenges and opportunities.

Collective Industry Peer Groups

Much more than brainstorming sessions, these are alliances for IT channel driven organizations. For example, each of the CompTIA communities not only generates business improvement ideas pertaining to their part of the industry, but follows them
through to completion. They focus on the issues that affect their peers, as well as themselves, creating business tools and educational programs that solution providers want and need.

While each member-led CompTIA community works diligently on these initiatives, its meetings provide a perfect forum for networking with peers and discussing best practices. They truly collaborate to innovate, sharing ideas, information and the latest industry research to help their members determine which courses of action they should pursue.

With a vast collection of experienced solution providers, vendors and distribution professionals on hand, there are few channel-oriented tasks they can’t handle and there’s a veritable think tank of knowledge to tackle them.

Solution Provider-Specific Peer Groups

Looking for help with the more confidential aspects of your VAR operations? There are a host of peer community options for solution providers willing to share and discuss the more intimate details of their business.

These peer groups often institute certain entrance requirements and operational guidelines as members critique each other’s operations and suggest improvements based on industry best practices or their own methodologies.

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Though a list of all the available solution provider options would be too long to mention here, some most established teams include:

HTG Peer Groups: Each consists of roughly a dozen like-minded IT services business leaders, who meet on a quarterly basis in a non-competitive environment. They network and discuss the issues most relevant to each member’s concerns as a company owner, president or manager.

VentureTech Network: Supported by Ingram Micro, members of this exclusive and collaborative community gain access to valuable training and industry best practices, as well as resources from vendors and other third-party organizations.

TechSelect: This Tech Data-supported peer community focuses on solution-based and provider-specific business skills training, as well as the technologies and processes its members need to succeed.

Varnex: Not to be outdone, Synnex launched its own peer-to-peer community to connect its partners with greater connectivity options. It is geared toward those extending into new markets, looking to meet the perpetually changing needs of their clients or hoping to offer the latest technologies.

With so many peer collaboration options available, there’s simply no reason for solution providers or other IT business professionals to go it alone. Considering the long-term business opportunities and financial benefits there are to be gained, the minimal costs of joining a group discussion can be more than worth it.

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