ISSUE Dec 19/Jan 20
AUDIO ISSUE #194 AUDIO ISSUE #194
Breaking the sound barrier Dec 19/Jan 20
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All for better networking
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Beyond the limits, Still safe 250m Lag Free Transmision 250m long distance transmission 150m distance transmission
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Printed by Buxton Press Ltd ISSN: 1742-8440 Copyright 2019
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TheEditor Is your vision in focus? I DON’T THINK it’s too dramatic of me to say that 2019 has been a somewhat trying year. Judging by the seemingly never-ending commentary on the state of the nation, the high street, and consumer spending hitting my inbox over the past 12 months, I’m in awe that we’ve actually made it through the other side in one piece. December’s General Election has come and gone, and by the time you read this, I’m going to predict that Brexit is still doing whatever the hell Brexit wants (and the chances are, you still don’t know exactly what’s happening). But let’s be positive! It’s a new year and a chance to pull away from all the talk of uncertainty around leaving the EU and get your business’s 2020 vision into focus. And this bumper issue well help you do just that. In our Dec 19/Jan 20 magazine, you’ll find an array of industry experts talking about tech trends for the year ahead, markets that they expect to see grow in 2020 and beyond, and new ways their business models are evolving. As this is also our audio special, we’re bringing you a Big Interview with Jabra’s Nigel Dunn on p16, Poly’s Greg Miller chats about True Wireless on p42, and we have a guide to the latest headphones and speakers on p56.
“It’s a new year, and a chance to get your business’s 2020 vision into focus. And this bumper issue will help you do just that”
Laura Barnes, Editor
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16 Dec 19/Jan 20 06 Retail Analysis: Refurb renaissance 10 Industry opinions 16 The Big Interview: Jabra's Nigel Dunn 22 CES Preview 26 PCR Awards 2020 28 Tech Trends 34 Top 5 Tech: Lenovo's Andrew Line 36 PCR's 2020 Features List 40 Smart tech at retail 42 Interview: Poly's Greg Miller 44 How has piracy affected your business? 47 In My Team: Dolphin Computer Repairs 48 Sector Guide: Laptops 54 Crowdfunding Corner 56 Sector Guide: Headphones and Speakers 62 Life in the Channel: Westcon-Comstor's Paul Cunningham 65 Logging Off
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The refurb renaissance Laura Barnes looks at the current trends in the refurbished device market and uncovers the benefits retailers could see if more got in on the action...
ithin an industry such as this one, there has always been a strong focus on new and emerging technology. Whether the end user is a consumer or a business, most people have some sort of idea of what they want, and these ideas usually come from new industry announcements, consumer advertising, and product showcases at big tech shows, such as this month’s CES 2020. While new tech is a very fun and exciting part of the industry – with the dedication to innovation being a key factor in driving almost every aspect of our lives forward – it’s also worth shining a light on the fantastic opportunities that the refurbished market can bring.
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In mid 2019, distributor Exertis announced the availability of fully-supported refurbished phones aimed at business users, complete with its 24/24 support service, which offers a 24-hour advance handset replacement service on any In-Warranty claims along with a 24-month warranty for the handset. “We are offering a very high quality, refurbished handset with a high level of service but at a compelling price point. There is a growing market for premium refurbished handsets which provide a superior finish and an alternative to inconsistently graded devices,” commented Stephen Smith, head of sales for 2nd Lifecycle.
“In addition, our solution supports a more environmentally friendly approach to the mobile phone market where devices are being re-used rather than disposed of, as well as peace of mind for the customer and an ‘as new’, out of the box, flagship phone for mid-range money.”
“We recognised that our sellers have hidden gems and will be offering refurbished products from top brands for incredible prices” Cas Paton, OnBuy
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And it’s not just businesses that the refurb market is aiming itself at. At the end of 2019, online marketplace OnBuy.com introduced a new dedicated department for refurbished electronics, following a significant increase in demand. OnBuy says that this move comes as consumers are “increasingly realising the advantages of buying refurbished products with both sustainability and cost being key drivers”. OnBuy’s Refurbished Electronics department is supported by an integrated marketing campaign to ensure large consumer reach alongside a substantial retailer drive to onboard additional refurbished products, which are in full working order with a warranty and span everything from refurbished headphones, laptops and TVs, to refurbished household appliances such as vacuum cleaners and toasters, as well as toys including drones and scooters. All sellers have been carefully handpicked and vetted by OnBuy, and five refurbished grades are available. “This additional focus on refurbished products is part of our ongoing evolution and underpins our commitment to creating a fairer, more transparent marketplace that puts its buyers and
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sellers first,” commented Cas Paton, founder of OnBuy. “We recognised that our sellers have hidden gems and will be offering refurbished products from top brands for incredible prices. This will benefit both our sellers and buyers and further fuel the exponential growth which has seen us become one of the fastest-growing marketplaces in the world.” So, do the market stats match up with the growth that Exertis and OnBuy are seeing in the refurbished market? Well, if we delve a little deeper into mobile phone refurbishments, a new report from Quick Mobile Fix reveals that the refurbished phone market has seen growth at an “exponential rate” over the past two years. But is this just due to bargain hunters jumping on the bandwagon? Or is there a deeper reason for this rapidly increasing market? The company says the answer may surprise you. An attractive package “The reality is, there are multiple factors that contribute towards this sudden jump. There is no one reason as to why more and more consumers are turning towards buying a refurbished device rather than splashing out on the latest smartphone flagship,” says Quick Mobile Fix. Using Apple as an example, the company demonstrated how price points play a big factor. “On November 3rd 2017, Apple announced the release of the iPhone X. For the first time, a smartphone had the hefty pricetag of nearly £1,000, which at the time had been widely considered entirely ludicrous and unnecessary for a device that is purely for convenience,” says Quick Mobile Fix. “But that’s just it – mobile phones have become such an integral part of our day to day lives that a phone has become so much more than a digital contact book and the ability to play snake when you’ve got a spare few minutes. They are multimedia monsters enabling users to become a writer, pocket photographer, music artists or just to be entertained at the flick of a finger. “So it’s no wonder that this attractive package is desirable, but not at that price. This is where refurbished mobile phones play a huge role – enabling a customer to be able to have all of those fancy features, at a price that suits them. As of late, there has been high demand in the refurbished phone market for Apple’s previous model, the iPhone XR, and understandably so.” According to Quick Mobile Fix, a ‘new’ iPhone XR will still set you back £629 from Apple. Whereas a refurbished iPhone XR in ‘excellent’ condition will only cost you £507.99 – “£120 more to save and use at your local coffee chain,” as the company puts it. Their findings also suggest that one of the most popular refurbished phones is Apple’s iPhone 7, which was released in 2016. This raises a couple of interesting points – the first being that it’s very clear that the iPhone 7, even nearly four years later, is still an incredibly popular choice among would-be shoppers. In fact, Quick Mobile Fix reports that on average, they have over 1,000 orders a month for their refurbished iPhone 7 models.
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Looking past the next most obvious reason, being the price of the Apple devices, which can largely be outside of the pricerange consumers are looking for – there are far more iPhone’s available in the refurbished market due to their popularity with consumers over the past few years. Interestingly, however, this statistic is slowly changing with more users switching over to Android with brands such as Samsung, Huawei, Honor and countless more bringing some serious competition to the market. Quick Mobile Fix director, Chinedu Emechebe, comments: “Bigger brands are looking to enter the used market. Five or six years ago, we didn’t see many manufacturers getting into the refurbished phone market at all, but that has changed recently. We’re also seeing customers becoming more environmentally aware. They genuinely don’t want to keep harming the environment with waste from phones – but ultimately, it’s the customers pocket which is the deciding factor right now.
“We’re seeing customers becoming more environmentally aware. They genuinely don’t want to keep harming the environment with waste from phones” Chinedu Emechebe, Quick Mobile Fix “People are seeing that these latest smartphones are getting very expensive – and because they’re expensive, when the time comes to renew their contract, those contracts have gone up from around £40 per month to prices as high as £80 – that’s a huge jump,” says Emechebe. “So what a lot of people are doing now, they’re holding onto their existing device and opting to repair them if they’re faulty. But at the same time, if the customer does want a new phone, they’re choosing refurbished phones rather than buying a brand new one. ” With consumers keen to hang on to phones for longer, retailers that offer repairs will have a great opportunity to boost business. As we all know, being away from your mobile phone for any length of time can be a struggle, and sending phones off to be repaired will always make people feel anxious, so high street tech repairers have the upper hand here, especially if they are able to offer comfortable places for customers to wait, or attractive time slots for those on their lunch breaks. If you’re not already in the refurb market, whether that’s selling to consumers or businesses, maybe 2020 is the year to get involved.
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The uberisation of retail Jeff Manning, EVP of Worldwide Sales at Cybera, looks at how retailers are thriving and surviving in an era when digital disruption has become the norm...
igital transformation is impacting every industry in radical ways. Today’s customers now acquire products and consume services in multiple channels and nowhere is this more apparent than in retail, where the shopping journey has become increasingly digitalised and omnichannel. For retailers, digital transformation has not only made it possible to serve customers in multiple channels. It’s also made it possible to leverage real-time data capabilities and optimise product distribution and pricing strategies, increase inventory velocity, improve product positioning, and turn stores into fulfilment centres. Furthermore, they’re tapping deep into the digital value chain itself – utilising data captured on products, customers and locations, and turning these insights into action. All of this places new demands on the enterprise network, especially at the edge where the real opportunities are constantly evolving. Delivering dynamic in-store experiences is a strategic priority for retailers that want to deliver against the expectations of today’s on-demand consumers. As a result, the physical store is evolving fast; consumers want more payment choices and no longer expect to stand in-line to make purchases. Plus, they want to review products with the quick scan of a barcode and take advantage of VR technologies to test out products virtually. In a world where consumers increasingly expect to browse and buy clickable products, find products fast using in-store location technologies or view endless aisle product options at the click of a keypad, success depends on being able to overlay digital on the physical experience to connect with – and serve – shoppers more effectively. That means enabling networks to bridge the divide between the store, the data centre and HQ, and supporting a raft of new in-store devices and infrastructures – including corporate and customer WiFi connectivity. With 3D product displays, AI-powered shopping assistants, virtual catwalks and virtual brochures poised to deliver new and highly immersive in-store experiences, realising the store of the future means the physical store will need to get a whole lot more connected, mobile and smarter.
10 | Dec/Jan 2019
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The continuing ‘uberisation’ of commerce means that the next retail innovations are likely to go beyond simply enabling same day delivery or rapid pick-up at a location that’s convenient for shoppers. Sustainable ‘rental fashion’ is the latest phenomenon to take the industry by storm as Millennial and Generation Z consumers, who value access over ownership, buy into the concept of hiring clothing at a fraction of the retail price. Similarly, the pop-up retail store concept is evolving fast as brands and retailers look to strengthen emotional connections with consumers and drive longer lasting relationships. Today’s retailers are thinking outside the box to create memorable ‘Instagramable’ experiences that excite and enchant consumers. It’s an approach that’s spawning a whole new go-to-market channel for retailers and brands alike, as they tap into consumer desires for tactile and sensory experiences that can’t be matched online. Open for just a few days or hours, these tech-infused spaces feature shoppable screens, virtual checkouts, and gamification, alongside carefully crafted concepts designed to showcase merchandise that’s specially curated for the event. Similarly, brands and retailers are also getting savvy about how they leverage in-store concession spaces; for example, launching new items on selected days to test market response or entice consumers to return time and time again. As retailers redefine how they go to market and reinterpret the physical store for a whole new generation of shoppers, they’re having to adapt their operational models fast. Thriving and surviving in an era when digital disruption has become the norm depends on harnessing smart technologies to achieve success in four key areas; to build closer and stronger customer engagement, extend the range of payment options on offer, optimise supply chain and logistics strategies, and augment business processes using technologies such as IoT to enable hyper-localised merchandising. Predicting what’s coming down the line is no easy task, but with the right network infrastructure in place, retailers will be well placed to spin up new services and deploy in-store fast – no matter where their retail presence is located, or for how long.
Scaling connectivity with data-over-sound Joe Todd, Head of Engineering at Chirp, explains how data-over-sound technology can provide seamless connectivity between devices...
uilding a scalable connectivity network is becoming ever more vital for businesses and consumers alike, with the relentless uptake of smart and IoT devices creating a higher demand for frictionless connectivity anywhere, at any time. In order to provide uninterrupted connectivity, support is needed for a wide range of platforms, anything from a simple mobile application to an embedded controller. As connected devices continue to proliferate, data-over-sound technology is increasing its presence as a solution for seamless connectivity between a variety of devices with audio hardware. But how, in practical terms, can this be executed by both developers and device manufacturers today? The power of sound First, let’s look at sound as a medium for machine-to-machine data transfer. Compared to other technologies, data-over-sound has the advantage of versatility, and is suitable in a plethora of application areas – with the added benefit of using existing hardware. Billions of devices already have the required processor and speaker or microphone in place to effectively send and receive data via sound. What’s more, the medium can be engineered to act completely peer-to-peer, or one-to-many without requiring additional connections to ‘the cloud’ or other network services. The demand for frictionless data exchanges between connected devices is growing constantly and companies are striving to make communication between devices both simple and seamless for the end user. The properties of ultrasonic data transfer can effectively eliminate some of the tedious setup and provisioning processes commonly associated with traditional alternatives, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, presenting a robust solution for frictionless transmission – which ultimately enhances the end-user experience. Working alongside existing hardware to exchange data, acoustic connectivity is therefore both scalable and complimentary when working in conjunction with other popular forms of connectivity. These affordances also make sound highly suited to the myriad of device types now present across the ever-growing IoT ecosystem. With almost every one of these devices possessing the built-in capabilities required to exchange data via sound, this technology
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offers a new way to simplify device-to-device connectivity between the vast range of smart-enabled applications available today, creating seamless IoT networks which can be scaled accordingly. Scaling with sound The scalability of data-over-sound connectivity can often be determined by the core architecture of the technology itself. With software-defined data-over-sound solution, there is no need to think about re-engineering as an application grows, presenting robust and cost-effective provisioning for device manufacturers for enabling seamless connectivity across a range of devices and form factors. Software-only solutions are an extremely effective way of embedding the technology onto any audio-capable smart device without adding to its existing bill of materials. What’s more, delivering data-over-sound in this way also places the technology in the hands of device manufacturers and developers who wish to take advantage of a low-cost solution for building their networks with frictionless device-to-device communication. An accessible alternative In addition to device provisioning, this approach can substantially lower the barrier to integrating data-over-sound into devices for purposes such as proximity detection, 2-way acoustic NFC and telemetry in RF-restricted environments. This inevitably opens up a realm of possibilities for data-over-sound as the vehicle for seamless end-user experiences across a range of purposes as every day tasks become increasingly reliant on technology. What’s more, the technology is becoming increasingly more accessible and therefore, easier to scale. The continuous development of the technology we’re seeing today is working to simplify data-over-sound technology and extend support of both developers and device manufacturers with a reliable data transfer solution as a cost effective and versatile capability to application connectivity. That said, the true value now lies in leveraging the capabilities of data-over-sound in alongside other wireless technologies, to build a truly scalable connectivity ecosystem capable of meeting the demand for frictionless end user experiences.
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Smart tech as a visual proposition Rod Slater, Head of Smart Tech & IoT at Exertis, looks at the near future of the smart tech market and how products are becoming more accessible to consumers...
he smart tech revolution is here, as consumer electronic manufacturers gain a more coherent understanding of how their smart tech products are used in the real world. The integration of appliances and TVs into the smart tech world has been a long time coming. The next chapter of consumer engagement, linking the smart tech world to the white goods and entertainment markets, is finally beginning to appear. We’ve seen the integration of smart doorbells and cameras into televisions. This allows for a “picturein-picture” view of the doorbell camera when the doorbell is rung, to appear superimposed on top of whatever is being watched on the screen. Further support for smart cameras allows the TV to be used as the display for smart security cameras, both inside and outside the home, affording voice access with no need to use your phone, to enable the camera feed to be displayed on a TV with both Google and Amazon Alexa. Display smart assistants such as Amazon Echo Show and Google Home Hub already have this capability: as a result, adding the TV into the mix is a natural progression we can all look forward to seeing more of. This is the first step towards integrating the TV into the consumer’s smart home, enabling the flat screen TV to become a fully inclusive part of the smart home experience along with the smart speaker. Samsung and Toshiba have both launched smart assistantenabled TVs that will integrate with smart tech products and these present significant opportunities for adoption
by consumers. As we move towards a more integrated and less fragmented smart home, we can expect much more automation, adding to the growing list of built-in automations offered by Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Timers, Scenes and Routines allow many different devices supported by Amazon Echo and Google Assistant to be controlled with a single command where the smart speaker will “play” a series of commands, for example, to setup the living room to watch a film. In this scenario a typical routine would: Set lighting to a predefined scene, enable the Hue Play Connect to sync to the TV, and switch the TV and amplifier to the correct inputs and volume levels. The operation of smart tech products is also becoming less complex. The last year has seen a significant shift from hub-based smart tech (which created confusion and added complexity and cost for consumers), to simpler Wi-Fi based systems that require no hub, cost a lot less and can link directly to Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. This shift has also seen the growth curve accelerate as these simpler products make smart tech a simpler proposition for consumers to understand. Today over 70% of the products sold are Wi-Fi based and require no hub. With costs coming down, technology becoming simpler and a greater level of integration with home appliances and entertainment devices, smart tech’s future looks an increasingly rosy picture. Products are becoming cheaper and more accessible: in turn they will appeal to an even larger audience of consumers.
“The last year has seen a significant shift from hub-based smart tech, to simpler Wi-Fi based systems that costs less”
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Combating the threat of accidental insider data leakage While most corporates have invested in protecting against the outside threat of cybercrime, Andrea Babbs, UK General Manager at VIPRE SafeSend, looks at why they should also be addressing the risk of breaches from insider threats...
is an obvious and urgent need for better employee education, ybercrime has rapidly become the world’s fastest should IT leaders not be doing more to provide the tools that take growing form of criminal activity, and is showing the risk of making accidental mistakes out of employees’ hands? no sign of slowing down, with the number of attacks With simple technology in place that provides an essential on businesses rising by more than 50% in the last double check for employees – with parameters determined by year alone. corporate security protocols – before they send sensitive While most corporates have made significant efforts to invest information via email, accidental data loss can be in cybersecurity defences to protect their organisations minimised and an improved and proactive email from the outside threat of cybercrime, few have security culture achieved. addressed the risk of breaches that stem from the In addition to checking the validity of inside in the same way. “Where does the outbound and inbound email addresses and Insider threats can come from accidental error, responsibility lie attachments – thereby also minimising the risk such as an employee mistakenly sending a of staff falling foul of a phishing attack – the sensitive document to the wrong contact, or to ensure that technology can also be used to check for from negligence such as an employee company data is kept keywords and data strings in the body of the downloading unauthorised software that email, to identify confidential or sensitive data results in a virus spreading through the secure and before the user clicks send. company’s systems. confidential?” In order for organisations to limit the number We’re all guilty of accidentally hitting send on of insider data breaches, it’s crucial for employees to an email to the wrong person, or attaching the understand the role they play in keeping the company’s wrong document; but current levels of complacency data secure. But in addition to supporting employees with around email security culture are becoming an ever greater training, deploying an essential tool that prompts for a second threat. Few organisations have a clear strategy for helping their check and warns when a mistake is about to be made, organisations employees understand how a simple error can put the company at can mitigate the risk of accidental error, and the potentially significant risk; even fewer have a strategy for mitigating that risk devastating consequences that might have on the business. and protecting their staff from becoming an inside threat. Email is arguably the key productivity tool in most working So, where does the responsibility lie to ensure that company data environments today; placing the full burden of responsibility for the is kept secure and confidential? security of that tool on employees is both an unnecessary overhead According to reports, 34% of all breaches are caused by insider and, increasingly, a security risk. fault, yet many employees are unaware of their responsibility when In contrast, supporting staff with a simple, extra prompt for them it comes to data protection. With employee carelessness and to double check they aren’t mistakenly sharing confidential data complacency the leading causes of data breaches – understandable raises awareness, understanding and provides that essential security when human error is inevitable in pressured working environments lock-step – before it’s too late. – there is clearly a lack of awareness and training. And while there
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Here are some of the most interesting stats and facts from the tech channel…
Cybersecurity budgets are failing to keep pace with the rise in cyber threats, according to new research from ESET, which has found that 50% of IT decision-makers say their security budget won’t increase before at least 2021.
billion Gartner forecasts that there will be a total of 25 billion connected devices by 2021.
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100 Facebook software developers have attempted to improperly access user data, revealed the social media site.
5 seconds A third of consumers would not tolerate a wait of more than 5 seconds for a webpage to load on a retail website, according to research from Tribe.
New Greenlight Commerce research reveals that 78% of decision makers don’t believe their organisation’s ecommerce platform is fully prepared to cater for whatever the outcome of Brexit brings.
Dec/Jan 2019 |
“2019 was a good year for Jabra UK. The acquisition of Altia Systems has put us firmly in the collaboration space”
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Stop, collaborate and listen Laura Barnes sits down to talk to Jabra’s Nigel Dunn about transformations within the collaboration space, how AI is making its way into headsets and what has been the company’s biggest success stories of 2019...
s the managing director for Jabra’s North European Region, Nigel Dunn is responsible for the UK and Ireland, plus the four main Nordic countries: Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark – Denmark being Jabra’s home territory. Within this role he is also responsible for Iceland, Greenland and the Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. So, it’s fair to say he knows what’s what when it comes to the business’s European success stories over the past year, and what audio and video innovations we can expect to see in 2020 and beyond. PCR sat down with him to find out how the brand is evolving. How was 2019 for Jabra and what were some of the company’s biggest successes? 2019 was an interesting year for everybody. The disruption caused by Brexit has been a challenge along the way. We got off to a fabulous start as we built up to the original Brexit date, and I think it’s fair to say that the public sector in particular went bananas with a lot of major decisions being brought forward. So that made for a great start to the year. After the Lord Mayor’s Show for Q2, people settled down a bit and I think we all got back to normal, solid business as we went through the year. It was a good year for Jabra UK. At the end of Q3 2019 our growth in the UK was around 40%, and things have continued reasonably well for us. From our perspective, that’s a pretty good year. Our resellers have joined in and had a great time with us as well, so we’ve been supported by some of those growing really quickly.
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A highlight for us has also been the acquisition of Altia Systems back in April. They were a small video company based in California and the acquisition got us access to a new camera that launched in August 2019, and that camera is the Jabra Panacast – a 180-degree 4K camera for huddle rooms. It’s been a great success for us. It’s taken Jabra from being just an audio solutions provider in the contact centre and unified communications sector to being firmly in the collaboration space as well. That’s been the most exciting part of the year for us. Tell us a bit about Jabra’s work with resellers. We have a significant team of field-based channel managers who handle the top named partners for us. And we have some support staff that layer into the very top echelon of those, so the likes of BT, Computer Centre, Softcat – those kinds of companies. We add in an extra layer of support to work with account managers there. We plan at the start of the year and look at the marketing campaigns we’re going to do for each quarter – inline with any product announcements or major events that might be happening in the industry. We then plan out the spend and what we see as the outcome. It’s a detailed plan, it’s looking at the actual growth of the business and it’s looking at how we’re going to do it. We then have a very strong pack of toolkits that they can draw down from our media centre. We also have campaign toolkits that resellers can use in their own campaigns and even plan their own events. That’s worked incredibly well for us.
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The Panacast offers 180-degree views and can count the number of people in a meeting room
We also do tremendous onsite days. The ones that we run with our major distributor Nimans have been ones that we’ve been really proud of in 2020. We’ve done four of these ‘Race to Replace’ onsite events, where we take over the building for the day and make sure Jabra is top of people’s minds. We do lots of offline and online campaigns, but on top of that we have around 10 people in the field and around four people who do internal sales as well, all focused on the end user. All of our sales are routed back through the channel, so we are 100% indirect. Our high touch people are creating sales at the front end, these sales can be our biggest, but they also support some of the smaller deals into our small to medium sized businesses as well. So, we cater for a vast range of resellers and support them directly. I call this a real ‘push pull’ model, so we’re pushing through the reseller base to drive this through and my team then pull through the sales with them. The global account side of things is a very important side to our business as well. It’s around 25% of our business and worldwide we have over 100 global accounts where we deal with each region and country in a consistent manner. They get full 24/7 support and harmonised pricing and supply chain across all regions. That works incredibly well and gives us great leverage with some of our biggest customers. General Electric, HP and Dell are some of our top accounts. What type of companies are Jabra looking to work with more in 2020?
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We had tremendous success over the past six or seven years with the unified communications resellers, particularly those that have been involved in moving from sound and telephony to UC. A lot of that is driven by IT resellers these days. The first waves was into Microsoft Link, and the second major wave (that’s where big growth came) was in Skype for Business and similar types of businesses. The next wave in 2020 is going to be the transformation into Microsoft Teams. This is really driving transformation in the market and the way people work. It’s going to move much more into collaboration and will involve much more video as well. We anticipate that we’ll be working more with Microsoft Teams-type resellers. And the ones that we are specifically trying to target will be ones who are working in the AV space at the moment. At the moment we don’t work with a great deal of them so we’re actively trying to move more into that space. What’s going to be the next big thing in audio and video innovation? We see team collaborations as something that’s on the rise at the moment. Some of the research that we’ve seen and conducted ourselves has shown that around 80% of employee time is being spent collaborating, which is much more than it used to be. People are working in teams more than they have ever done. We predict that around 72% of all workers will be remote by 2020 as well. We think there will be twice as many teams in the next year or so as well. On top of this, around
The Jabra Panacast with speaker
“The move to team-based working is exploding and we think that video is going to be a huge part of that” 62% of all knowledge workers today have around two meetings per day. The move to team-based working is exploding and we think that video is going to be a huge part of that. There’s going to be a big drive from large-scale rooms to smaller meeting rooms with around 4-6 people in a meeting room – so classic huddle spaces. The Panacast is ideal for these types of spaces. And the next wave of technology – which is actually already built into the camera – is intelligence. Early this year, the Panacast will have the ability to count the number of people in the room and event count the number of objects in the room. That allows us to estimate how much rooms are being used and by how many people. That can be linked back to the company’s study on efficiency and optimisation, or into room-booking
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systems, enabling businesses to adjust the size of their huddle spaces accordingly. We also expect to see artificial intelligence to be built into our ear devices. In a contact centre environment for example, digital headsets can transform the way people work. For example, if you’re having a call with an individual and they are getting stressed or upset, rather than the agent trying to end the call, the software can detect the stress in the caller’s voice and then reroute the call to a manager, or it can actually tell the agent to handle the call differently. That’s a huge move in the contact centre industry to create better outcomes. We are expecting digital headsets with AI technology to be huge for us in 2020. On the consumer side, we’ve had remarkable growth in 2019 and it’s pretty much off the back of the True Wireless category, which makes up around 63% of the Bluetooth stereo market. So that’s buds in the ear with no wires. Our Evolve 65t was an enormous success in 2019 within two categories – one was the standard Bluetooth stereo for walking around and listening to music, and the other category was the sports side of things. So we had an ‘active’ version of that, which was sweat resistant and ideal for people who are working out. Those two areas have been absolutely huge for us and we’ve just recently launched the Elite 75t – a smaller version designed to fit all types of ear size. Sales of that have been tremendous.
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EVENTS CES 2020
7th-10th January, various venues, Las Vegas
CES is the largest and most influential technology event on the planet. Every major and emerging industry is represented, the entire technology ecosystem gathered together in one place to conduct business. It’s the proving ground for transformative tech such as 5G, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, smart cities, sports, vehicle technology, digital health and more.
BETT SHOW 2020
22nd-25th January, ExCeL, London
BETT is the first industry show of the year in the education technology landscape, bringing together 800+ leading companies, 103 exciting new edtech start ups and over 34,000 attendees from the global education community. They come together to celebrate, find inspiration and discuss the future of education, as well as the role technology and innovation plays in enabling all educators and learners to thrive.
MWC BARCELONA 2020
24th-27th February, Fira Gran Via, Barcelona
The GSMA MWC series (formerly known as Mobile World Congress) is the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry, and incorporates a thought-leadership conference featuring prominent executives representing global mobile operators, device manufacturers, technology providers, vendors, and content owners.
PCR AWARDS 2020
4th March, The Brewery, London
Save the date for the 2020 PCR Awards! We’ll be back at The Brewery in Central London on 4th March to once again celebrate the very best of the UK tech and IT industry. On the night, we will recognise those that have made the biggest impact in the channel. Vendors, distributors, channel services, resellers and retailers will all be celebrated in front of a room of 500+ industry members. Guests will enjoy an
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Find out what tech and retail events you should be attending in the coming months…
unmissable night of networking and hospitality as we reflect on the achievements of the channel over the past year. What’s more, for 2020 we have three brand new awards, and a household name presenting the show (find out more about that over on page 26). PCR Awards 2020 Partners announced so far include Hannspree as Event Partner, AOC as Distribution Partner, Exertis as After Party Host, CMS Distribution as Retail Category Partner, Tenda as Red Carpet Partner and Synaxon and Vendor Category Partner. If you would like to find out more information about being a PCR Awards 2020 Partner, get in touch with Sarah Goldhawk at firstname.lastname@example.org now.
WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY SHOW 2020 10th-11th March, The Business Design Centre, London
Now in its seventh year, WTS2020 is the biggest forum for forming partnerships and developing new business across the wearable, smart device and IoT landscape. Over 3,000 delegates, 200 speakers and 150 press will come together to exchange views, network and do business. The show floor will feature cutting edge technology attracting prosumers, distributors and buyers. Boasting eight conference tracks – in conjunction with the AVR360 Show, and Digital Healthcare Show – WTS2020 offers an unrivalled breadth and depth of content.
14th-19th March, Europa-Park, Germany
CloudFest 2020 will explore how AI helps you maximise the potential that hypervisor partnership offers. The Intelligent Cloud allows AI to manage and distribute complex workloads, with smart tools that make interoperability and scale more cost-effective and efficient. It’s a tech paradigm that is coming up quickly, and CloudFest will help pave the way so you can be in the driver’s seat. CloudFest will explore how the cloud industry is preparing for the AI evolution in terms of technology, oversight, economics, and morality.
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Are you prepared for CES 2020? As the tech industry gets ready to see what industry giants and innovative startups bring to the Las Vegas Strip this year, PCR breaks down the themes and keynotes of CES 2020 and outlines what’s not to be missed on the show floor…
f you’re reading this feature, chances are you know the drill by now. CES is the world’s largest gathering place for exhibiting the latest consumer technologies. It has served as the proving ground for innovators for 50 years, showcases more than 4,500 companies, runs a conference program with more than 250 sessions, and attracts more than 170,000 attendees from 160 countries. Despite being a staple in the global tech industry calendar, with 11 official venues and more than 2.9 million net square feet of exhibit space, it’s fair to say that planning out your time at the show can be quite a mammoth task. But fear not weary traveller, for PCR has sifted through the 36 product categories, 22 marketplaces and abundance of conferences to bring you our condensed guide to what’s on at CES 2020.
THEMES CES 2020 will feature a vast array of topics, not all of which will be totally relevant to the IT and tech retail channel. But the ones we recommend looking out for are: 5G and IoT – which will focus on resilience, smart cities and sustainability Automotive – covering self-driving cars and vehicle technology Blockchain – delving into the world of cryptopcurrency Health & Wellness – looking at accessibility, digital health and wearables
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Home & Family – covering everything in the categories of home entertainment, smart home and travel tech Immersive entertainment – which will look at augmented and virtual reality gaming Robotics & Machine Learning – showcasing the latest in artificial intelligence, drones and robotics Sports – demonstrating the latest esports and sporting technology
KEYNOTES AND CONFERENCES Every year, CES attendees get the chance to hear from top execs at some of the biggest brands in the business about their latest tech and goals for the year ahead. As well as talking about their own companies, a number of key industry members will host talks and panel discussions about the important topics affecting business and innovation today. Running every day of the show, here’s our suggestions for which ones to make sure you catch: Samsung’s Hyun-Suk Kim Hyun-Suk Kim, president and CEO of the consumer electronics division at Samsung, will present the company’s vision for “revolutionising the consumer lifestyle, impacting the way people work, play and connect with each other”. Kim will share Samsung’s role in shaping a new consumer experience for global citizens through its cutting-edge technologies. The pre-show keynote “will set the stage for CES 2020”.
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Consumer Technology Association’s Tiffany Moore Tiffany M. Moore serves as senior vice president of political and industry affairs for the Consumer Technology Association. She will be involved in three sessions at the show: “Implementing Diversity from the Top”, “Investing in Diversity” and “Tech is Ready for Our 5G Future”. Putting the “C” in CMO Meet the CMOs who are driving the business agenda and shaping corporate strategy. Dynamic CMOs from leading businesses will talk about growth, disruption and the role marketing can — and should — play in business. This session will include: CTA’s Jean Foster, Deloitte’s Diana O’Brien, and General Motors’ Deborah Wahl. Geek Meets Chic – The Marriage of Creativity New form factors, conductive fabrics and flexible batteries have affected changes in fashion and personal style. Innovators are creating clothing featuring not only lights and sensors, but also ID tagging for retail and payment systems and embedded biometric measuring tattoos. Speakers for this session will include Loomia’s
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Madison Maxey, BrainUp’s Sarah Wang, and Liquid Wire’s Mark Ronay amongst others. Magic Leap’s Omar Khan Omar Khan is the chief product officer at Magic Leap, in charge of the company’s product, solutions, and service strategies. He will be at CES taking part in the “Reality of Smart City Development” session. Apple’s Jane Horvath The senior director for global privacy at Apple will take part in the Chief Privacy Officer Roundtable, which will discuss how privacy is now a strategic imperative for all consumer businesses and will ask the question: “What do consumers want?”
SHOW FLOOR With more than 4,500 exhibiting companies vying for your attention at CES 2020, the sheer amount of tech on show can be overwhelming. So why not start with these handful of companies
CES Preview Jabra LVCC, South Hall 2 - MP25680 Jabra will be showcasing its latest Panacast video collaboration solutions as well as its consumer audio offerings at the show. You can find out more about Jabra’s latest tech in our big interview on p16. Royole LVCC, Central Hall - 11524 This company has made quite a splash in the industry with its flexible displays and folding mobile devices over the past year, and we’re sure there will be plenty more impressive innovations at CES 2020. Ring Sands, Halls A-D - 42319 As the smart home sector continues its rapid expansion, Ring has been a big contender in the smart security area, especially with its doorbells. Expect even more integration in the year ahead. Swann Westgate, Hospitality Suites - Westgate Hospitality Suites Ring aren’t the only ones making waves in the smart security sector. Swann’s wire-free HD cameras and doorbells, professional CCTV systems, and motion sensing devices will all be on show at CES 2020. Targus LVCC, South Hall 3 - 31147 Aimed at on-the-go professionals, Targus will be bringing its range of mobile accessories to CES and also targeting the education and gaming sectors.
ESSENTIAL INFO that are set to show off something exciting this year? Bosch LVCC, Central Hall - 12401 Bosch will be hosting a press conference at the beginning of the show to unveil its latest technology in the areas of biometrics, smart home and vehicle technology. Cybershoes LVCC, South Hall 1 - 21645 Earlier this year, this company was featured in one of our crowdfunding roundups, now, Cybershoes is looking to go big at CES and showcase its VR accessory that lets gamers walk and run in virtual worlds. Gigabyte LVCC, South Hall 1 - 20925 Perhaps best known for its wide range of motherboards, graphics cards, laptops and mini computers, Gigabyte will be at CES 2020 to showcases a number of new technologies within the smart city, cloud and 5G sectors.
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CES runs from Tuesday 7th to Friday 10th January 2020 across 11 official venues grouped into three geographical areas: Tech East, Tech West and Tech South. Tech East includes: Las Vegas Convention and World Trade Center (LVCC), Westgate Las Vegas, and Renaissance Las Vegas Tech West includes: Sands Expo, The Venetian, The Palazzo, Wynn Las Vegas, and Encore at Wynn (Encore) Tech South includes: ARIA, Park MGM/Park Theater, and Vdara Dates and hours Keynotes and Conference programme: 9:30am - 4:30pm each day at Tech East, Tech West and Tech South. Exhibition space: 10am - 6pm on 7th, 9am - 6pm on 8th and 9th, 9am - 4pm on 19th across Tech East and Tech West C Space Conference Program & Exhibition: 9am - 5pm on 7th, 8th and 9th at ARIA
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PCR Awards 2020
Strictly come celebrate The PCR Awards is getting a touch of ballroom class as we have secured a well-known TV personality to host the 2020 show… Taking place at The Brewery, London in March, the PCR Awards 2020 will be hosted by television presenter Claudia Winkleman. Perhaps best known for co-presented BBC show Strictly Come Dancing, Winkleman is a British household name, working across TV and radio for the best part of 20 years. She is also known for her work as a journalist, model and film critic. On Wednesday 4th March, Winkleman will take to the stage to host the annual PCR Awards, which will celebrate the past year’s achievements in the tech channel across five key categories: retail, reseller, channel services, distribution and vendor.
WHO WILL BE CELEBRATED ON THE NIGHT? RETAILER CATEGORY System Builder Online Retailer Independent Retailer RESELLER CATEGORY SMB Reseller Corporate VAR MSP Specialist CHANNEL SERVICES CATEGORY Dealer Services Marketing & PR DISTRIBUTION CATEGORY Software & Services Distributor Hardware Distributor 26
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Consumer Electronics Distributor New for 2020 – Distributor Of The Year (Sub £150m Turnover) New for 2020 – Distributor Of The Year (£151m+ Turnover) VENDOR CATEGORY Software & Services Vendor Peripherals & Accessories Vendor Components Vendor PC Vendor Networking Vendor New for 2020 – Start Up Vendor Of The Year CHOSEN BY THE PCR TEAM PCR Company Of The Year www.pcr-online.biz
PCR Awards 2020
WHEN AND WHERE? The PCR Awards 2020 take place at The Brewery, London on Wednesday 4th March, and will see the channel coming together under one roof for an annual celebration of the past year’s achievements in a must-attend event.
SPONSOR THE AWARDS There are a number of sponsorship opportunities available for the PCR Awards 2020. If you would like to find out more please contact Sarah Goldhawk at sarah. email@example.com Confirmed Awards Partners so far include: HANNspree as Event Partner AOC as Distribution Category Partner Exertis as After Party Host CMS Distribution as Retail Category Partner Tenda as Red Carpet Partner Synaxon as Vendor Category Partner
DON’T FORGET YOUR TICKETS The PCR Awards is always a popular event, so we recommend you book your tables and tickets as soon as possible. With a range of packages available, you can ensure that you’re set up for a night to remember at this unmissable event in the industry calendar. Join hundreds of your fellow professionals for a night of celebration and networking. Book now to avoid disappointment over at www.pcr-awards.com/tickets www.pcr-online.biz
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Dec/Jan 2019 | 27
Tech’s 2020 vision As we enter 2020, Laura Barnes speaks to experts from various parts of the tech and IT channel to find out some of the biggest trends expected to hit the industry, the businesses that work within it, and the end users...
T E C H N O L O G Y
IOT, 5G AND EDGE COMPUTING “To date, much of the forecasts around 5G have been in relation to investment and launches. However, next year this will change. With several telco companies officially launching the technology and 5G-compatible phones coming into mainstream, consumers will start to see 5G ‘in action’ and will realise the possibilities with this new technology,” Nick Offin, head of sales, marketing and operations at Dynabook Northern Europe, tells PCR. “But 5G won’t just mean a faster download of your favourite Netflix show, the shift from 4G to 5G will change just about everything across multiple industries. Telecom experts are going so far as to herald 5G’s arrival as the advent of the fourth industrial revolution. In fact, 5G – with its enhanced capacity, connectivity, speeds and minimal latencies – will be the catalyst for IoT adoption. Other technologies predicted to springboard off 5G include cloud and edge computing, wearables, and 8K technology – to name a few.” Offin also believes that the advent of 5G will see wearable technology continue to reach even more sectors. “One such industry is the emergency services sector. Decision-makers within the police, fire and ambulance services are beginning to recognise
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how they can best use wearable devices to enhance the mobile productivity of workforces, improve first-responder safety and better patient care. While wearables remain in their infancy within the Blue Light sector, over the next few years we’ll see a growing appetite around use case testing and experimentation. Those who are already testing out wearable technology are continually uncovering more potential use-cases.” He continues: “Edge computing has gained significant traction in recent years. However, if 5G, IoT and wearables are to be adopted at the rate predicted, it will require ‘the edge’ to remain central to enterprise operations. The value of edge computing comes in its ability to provide secure and powerful computing at the periphery of the network, reducing operational strain and latency. In 2020 and beyond, mobile edge computing will act as the gateway for even more IoT solutions to be used across the professional world. In the same way that laptops and smartphones created a new environment for office workers, mobile edge computing will do the same for these workers.” Doki Tops, CEO of Utomik adds that the rollout of 5G is bound to make waves in gaming. “Gamers can get faster speeds and download times – anything less will hamper the success of nextgen consoles who can’t keep up.”
SECURITY AND GDPR Moving on to the security of the internet of things, and Joseph Carson, chief security scientist and advisory CISO at Thycotic, believes that throughout 2019, the use and abuse of IoT devices had risen and it doesn’t look like it will be slowing down as we go into 2020. “IoT differs from computers as they have a specific purpose and cannot be re-programmed, therefore organisations need to view and assess the risks specific to the function or task of the device in order to increase the security. “Organisations, in particular the manufacturers of IoT devices, will need to adapt their security approach to ensure that these fastgrowing endpoints are secure. The new Californian and Oregon IoT legislation coming into effect in January is a step in the right direction, but more must be done. IoT security is about focusing on the risks not the device.” Looking at cyber awareness in general, and Carson says it is evolving to become more human friendly. “We are now seeing a difference in approach to security evolving into company
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culture. Boards and top-level executives are now learning how to communicate accordingly on cyber security topics, meaning that security teams and their goals are becoming a lot more aligned with the business’ goals.” Moving on to GDPR, Jeremy Hendy, CEO at Skurio, tells PCR that in 2019, the regulators “bared their teeth and showed that skyhigh penalties were more than a hollow threat”. “Precedents were set with the first wave of multi-million pound GDPR fines, reflecting the sheer amount of data that was compromised,” says Hendy. “In 2020 we’ll see the wider impact on consumer behaviour. GDPR is all about putting the safety of customers’ data front and centre; those companies that have been breached are likely to see frustrated customers voting with their feet and taking their business elsewhere. In 2020, as we see the second wave of fines, regulators will also face the challenge of how to deal with ‘repeat offenders’. “It’s reinforced the importance of early breach detection for compromised credentials. Companies can also get proactive about planned attacks, which can be identified through chatter on dark web forums by threat actors.”
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MALICIOUS TECH “Ransomware isn’t the most pervasive or common threat, it’s simply the noisiest. In 2020, attacks will become more targeted and sophisticated. Hackers will pivot from spray-and-pray tactics,” says Brian Vecci, Field CTO at Varonis. “They will instead linger on networks and hone in on the most valuable data to encrypt. Imagine an attacker that encrypts investor information before a publicly traded bank announces earnings. This is the type of ransomware attack I expect we’ll see more of in the coming year, and organisations that can’t keep up will continue to get hit. “Forget fake news: 2020 will be the year of the deepfake and at least one major figure will pay the price. Thanks to leaky apps and loose data protection practices, our data and photos are everywhere. It will be game-on for anyone with a grudge or a sick
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sense of humour. It raises the ultimate question: What is real and what is fake?” Thycotic’s Joseph Carson also believes we will see more deepfake news in 2020. “What has been concerning in 2019 is the increase in identity and credential theft, and I see this becoming much more problematic in 2020. The rapid advancement of deepfake technology is taking identity fraud to a whole new level of online challenges and risks, not only are they stealing your digital online identity, but also your digital voice and digital face,” says Carson. “This means that cybercriminals can take digital identity theft to a new level and could have the ability to create an entire digital clone of you. I see this becoming a major problem area in the cyber space and even more so in political campaigns as the general public will not have the awareness to distinguish what is real from fake. In today’s internet, data without context is dangerous.”
BREXIT AND BUSINESS GOALS “In the year ahead, the channel will experience an increase in the demand and requirement for MSPs, across all types of software, including SaaS. Driving this trend is the shortage of IT Professionals, especially in the cyber security sector, which is really being felt by customers. MSPs are being sought as the solution to fill this void,” says Nick Miles, director of regional alliances at Okta. “The shroud of uncertainty surrounding Brexit is also continuing to add another layer of complexity. This has caused instability in the market and is preventing many making long-term decisions, which is impacting the entire channel ecosystem, including businesses, resellers and customers. “With so much uncertainty, channel partners have a key role in 2020. They need to do more than just sell software. The resellers that help customers on their journeys, provide added consultancy on all issues, and are able to react to the inevitable changes that will take place, will have the biggest opportunity to succeed.” Carolyn Crandall, chief deception officer at Attivo Networks believes 2020 will be “the year of API connectivity”. “Driven by the need for on-demand services and automation, there will be a surge in requirements for the use of technology that
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interconnects through APIs. Vendors that don’t interconnect may find themselves passed over for selection in favour of others with API access that add value to existing solutions,” says Candall. “DevOps capabilities will continue to increase their significance in moving projects to products, with only 9% of technology professionals responsible for the development and quality of web and mobile applications stating that they had not adopted DevOps and had no plans to do so. This will drive an increased focus on DevSecOps and how opensource software is managed within projects.” We have heard a lot about the skills gap in the tech industry, and Skurio’s Jeremy Hendy believes that in 2020 it will be more important than ever to find and retain talent in the channel. “There’s a real dearth of cyber security talent and smaller businesses will be hardest hit throughout 2020. Skilled professionals will be increasingly hard to find and difficult to retain. Market forces will put the option of full time, in-house security specialists, commanding high salaries, out of reach for many smaller businesses. “Instead, they’ll need to think creatively and look at how they can plug the gap through outsourcing and affordable service-based solutions.”
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microphone and speaker. Both these products use the new Swann Security app, which gives you the unique ability to seamlessly control multiple wired systems, and Wi-Fi cameras from multiple sites, stream live video, receive notifications and know what’s happening at all times. Swann is the only brand that offers a complete line up of wired and wireless security solutions that completely integrate with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. For customers with commercial and large residential properties, Swann has a range of camera Systems with both NVR (Network Video recording) and DVR (Digital Video recording) options available. State-of-the-art kits using 4, 8 or even 16 cameras can be installed, to put a halo of protection around your customer’s property, whatever its size or purpose. Swann security cameras give you access to see what’s happening around your property, whether residential or commercial, at any hour of the day or night. A huge range of CCTV systems, indoor alert and battery cams, outdoor spotlight cams and floodlight cams is available, ensuring that your exact security needs are catered for perfectly. Swann is a global leader in smart security technology, making it the perfect brand to embrace as part of your own smart tech revolution – all while making your customers’ properties completely safe and secure.
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Exertis has appointed Phillip Turner to the newly created position of global head of voice of the customer (VoC), reporting to Neal Johnston, Exertis’ MD of global operations. Turner will be responsible for developing the voice of the customer vision and strategy, as well as taking ownership of the entire customer feedback model including data analysis and insights. Turner joins Exertis from IG Design Group where he spent four years, most recently as managing director of their licensing business. Prior to that, he was business development director at office supplies distributor, Spicers, for three years. “I am looking forward to the challenge of undertaking this new role at such an exciting period of evolution and growth at Exertis. Voice of the customer initiatives represent a huge opportunity for driving loyalty and increased sales by focusing on customer needs, expectations and service. Exertis has a reputation for going above and beyond for customers and capturing and acting on their feedback provides a much better insight into the customer journey and how that can be improved,” said Turner. Exertis has also announced the promotion of Kati Eagle to UK purchasing director, reporting to Richard Hinds, Exertis UK&I chief operating officer. Eagle steps up to the role, following Mark Kahr’s move to an Exertis Group position as global procurement director. She will be responsible for all aspects of UK purchasing, including core purchasing, vendor bids, contracts and product compliance. “I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to lead such a talented team and welcome the challenge. Exertis is an exciting place to be, we have been through a period of rapid growth and expansion and I am thrilled to be part of the UK leadership team,” said Eagle.
Maverick AV Solutions
AV distribution specialist Maverick AV Solutions has appointed Steve Martin as head of sales for UK&I. Martin will lead customer engagement as Maverick expands its AV/IT customer base with new manufacturer partnerships and global capabilities. With over 17 years of experience in the industry, Martin began his career working with Micro Peripherals (now Exertis), then
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This month’s movers and shakers in the tech industry...
became part of the Tech Data family in 2003. An experienced operator with a dedicated work ethic, Martin’s background of both sales and management roles have provided him with deep technical knowledge and customer relationships which span IT, AV and UC integration channels. In 2006, he became the youngest sales manager in the history of Tech Data and subsequently led his team from being the smallest in terms of revenue to the top position. A strong team player with a customer focus, Martin will be ensuring high service levels and technical expertise within all levels of the Maverick sales team. “Maverick has a cutting-edge manufacturer portfolio with some truly game-changing products, which gives them a unique position in the market as smart meeting specialists. I’m especially driven to be working with Maverick’s Microsoft smart meeting solutions; Surface Hub 2S, the Avocor and Sharp Windows Collaboration Displays, as well as their end to end Teams solutions,” commented Martin.
Citrix Systems has announced the appointment of Bronwyn Hastings as senior vice president of worldwide channel sales and ecosystem. A veteran leader with more than two decades of experience in the software industry, Hastings will report to Mark Ferrer, executive vice president and chief revenue officer. Hastings will be responsible for partner sales worldwide, go-to-market partner programs and partner marketing for all Citrix products. Hastings has more than 25 years of experience leading strategic and operational functions of business development and partner organisations in the software industry. She joins Citrix after eight years with SAP, most recently serving as senior vice president of global business development and ecosystems. Before that, she was senior vice president and general manager of ecosystem and channels for Asia Pacific and Greater China. She also spent 15 years at Oracle in a variety of senior leadership roles prior to her tenure at SAP. “Citrix has a compelling vision for the future of work,” said Hastings. “I am eager to collaborate with our incredible community of partners to provide companies with the solutions and services they need to make this vision a reality.”
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Top 5 Tech
Lenovoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Andrew Line Andrew Line, Head of Consumer PC, Tablet & Visuals at Lenovo UK&I, discusses five pieces of tech that have shaped his life, from his love of music to the latest smart home technology... 34
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1 Top 5 Tech
ITUNES AND THE IPOD CLASSIC
I was at uni when the iPod Classic was first shown to me by my housemate. I didn’t believe it would catch on at first. I was late to the party, sticking with my MiniDisc player for a while. However, when I converted I was hooked, taking pleasure in putting my huge CD collection onto iTunes and being able to buy a song instantly. Being able to make playlists for every occasion and having this pocket-sized tech holding every one of my +30,000 songs at the touch of a button with me at all times changed the way I loved music. The fear of a scratched CD was totally removed, and some of these first playlists I made are still getting regular airplay today.
As my wife will testify, I need a playlist for everything: weekend chores – there is a playlist for that, Ikea furniture assembly – there is a playlist for that. We have a Sonos in nearly every room in the house now. Being able to walk around the house listening to the same track is a pleasure, being able to put a different playlist on in each room is great as well, especially when I’m working at home. Instantly sending a song from my phone to add to the playlist is great. I’m no audiophile but it sounds great and I love the simplicity of the app and how it works with my online music collection. One of my proudest fatherhood moments was my six year old son asking Alexa to “Play Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit”.
A fairly recent purchase – I bought these just to be on the safe side and have the doorbell, two outdoor cameras with floodlights, and one in our puppy’s room. The cameras are brilliant and thankfully they’ve only been used to speak to delivery drivers as to where to leave the parcels, but also a lovely way to check in with what’s happening at home – watching my son play in the garden with our dog whilst I’m at work on a summers evening is great. I’ve also been able to tell him off from the office when he tried to spray the hose over the neighbour’s garden.
How do I explain to my son that when I was his age we had four channels and a VCR recorder when it came to choosing what to watch? I look after my son in the mornings before school and half the morning is spent with him choosing what he wants to watch. It’s not just Netflix, as we have Amazon Prime, Sky Q and Apple TV at home, but the choice and the ability to catch up on whatever you want anywhere in the world is truly amazing. The amount of brilliant TV series I’ve watched may be dwarfed by the amount of rubbish that there is available, but being able to watch whatever you want on demand whenever you want is something special.
I’m old enough to remember printing out AA route planner directions when I went on my first business trip to Dusseldorf to find the hotel. Landing at the wrong Dusseldorf airport didn’t help and having to drive to the other airport to start the directions may not have been the most efficient way to spend my evening. I take for granted the sat nav in my car – it knows my daily routine and always selects the best route to work for me. I’ve now driven across Europe and not had the panic of following a map or worrying if I’ve missed the right exit. Voice operated and with live traffic updates is great and constantly updating the maps is fantastic. I use it as an example of how far technology has come. I do miss being in situations where I am asked for directions to places, so I can look into the distance and give suggestion – even if I’ve never heard of the place.
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A smarter year for retail Gekko Field Marketingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s MD Daniel Todaro looks at how smart tech is set to make a big impact across the retail channel in 2020...
36 | Dec/Jan 2019
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e know that smart home technology has revolutionised the way we live at home and according to PWC’s recent white paper, Connected Home 2.0, £10.8bn will be spent on smart home devices in the UK in 2019. With the increased availability and adoption of 5G in the UK, I predict that the options on offer will only get smarter and extend their reach to every room in the household. There’s been a lot of hype around 5G – from downloading a full HD movie in under five seconds to making fully automated vehicles a reality – but I believe 5G will be a transformative technology for the home, as it’s spearheading a multi-dimensional world connecting devices, brands and people in real time with its fast bandwidth and reduced latency. Take a look around your home, count up the numerous devices that are connected and smart. It’s only going to get more prevalent in our lives and the places we reside and work in. Barring any changes as a result of the General Election, the government were supportive of a £530 million proposal from the UK’s mobile network operators for a Shared Rural Network with the potential for it to be matched by a £500 million investment from the government. This would be a world-first deal with all the UK carriers – EE, O2, Three, Vodafone – investing in a network of new and existing phone masts they would all share. For consumers it means they will be able to rely on their own provider’s network to use their mobile phones wherever they are in the UK. More importantly it will improve connectivity in areas with poor or no broadband. The upcoming 5G rollout is one reason why experts predict that more than 36 billion devices globally will be connected to the internet by the end of 2020, all of them smart. Away from mobile phones, the connected home covers pretty much every category from AV, including smart speakers to thermostats, lightbulbs, your washing machine, fridge, oven and kettle. You name it and it’s probably smart and will integrate into your life with the tap of a device or command of your voice. That’s why Google has created the Google Assistant Connect programme, which for manufacturers means that they can create custom devices that serve specific functions and are integrated with Google Assistant making more assistant enabled devices available within all categories. With this mass adoption across multiple CE categories it’s anticipated that the user experience will undergo a significant shift in how users utilise and interact with smart technology and AI. This would mean a more ‘Multi Experience’ model which changes the manner, usage and approach with our smart devices to shift both perception and interaction to a multisensory experience. For instance, adapting the lighting to a mood that’s personal to you and not generic, or managing your life more personally by telling you how your commute to work will be and what to wear based on the weather forecast before you’ve even thought about it, just by looking at your diary, which of course you’ve integrated or shared voluntarily with your AI device. All this would happen more seamlessly, without the need to constantly repeat a ‘wake word’ such as ‘Hey Google’ or ‘Alexa’ and instead using the wake word once to continue the
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instructions with your AI device not only making the usage of AI more beneficial when multitasking but also more of a user centric experience. And all these devices will need to be connected, and if not by 5G it will be through the development of WiFi 6, which drastically improve wireless communication protocols, increasing download speeds by three times the current WiFi 5 we use today and enabling even more connected devices, which will be more adept at natural language. The upshot is that we will inevitably utilise smart devices with built in AI to a much greater extent, such as for ordering shopping, which is incidentally predicted to jump globally by 2020 – a blow for traditional retail, especially when you consider that it’s estimated a staggering 85% of purchasing suggestions made by Amazon are effective. It’s no wonder why retailers are torn on supporting Amazon or not. For example, in November, Nike withdrew all its products from sale on the Amazon platform.
“We will utilise smart devices with built in AI to a much greater extent, such as for ordering shopping, which is incidentally predicted to jump globally by 2020 – a blow for traditional retail” It’s true to say that technology in 2020 will give with one hand and take from another, all for the sake of progress and convenience, but for consumers, it’s about choice. The choice to automate much of what we may consider tedious or periphery. The choice to share your data with any amount of organisations, known and unknown (you may wish to read those T&Cs you freely agree to. I know you won’t, nobody does). There is also the choice for retailers to take on the challenge of selling smart technology effectively in an engaging manner that enables a positive experience for the consumer. More importantly for offline retail to rise to the challenge faced by online retailers and offer more – starting with a better customer journey. Gekko is a full service field marketing agency, specialising in connecting brands with consumers in retail throughout the UK and Ireland. Find our more at www.gekko-uk.com
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FEATURES Our editorial team will be working hard to bring you BIG interviews, in-depth company and people profiles, market and product information, key news analysis, opinions and much more.
PCR is passionate about the entire spectrum of the IT and tech channel, from vendors and distributors, to retailers, resellers and channel service providers. The channel is constantly evolving, and PCR remains on top of the burgeoning areas of business while simultaneously remaining true to the PC and tech industry that got us to where we are today. It is our goal to support the industry and give those within a platform with which they can contribute. PCR is the perfect way to connect with all aspects of the market and to help grow business. Whether online, in print, or at our celebrated award ceremonies, PCR is ideally placed to put your brand in front of the most influential decision makers in this ever-growing industry. PCR is a respected voice and valued source of news, data, analysis and opinion throughout the industry. The magazine is complimented by a digital edition, a constantly updated website, a suite of email services, and events. Our core audiences are independent, national and online tech retailers, distributors, resellers and vendors. We truly do cover all bases across the channel. Decision makers and influencers seek our intelligence to obtain business profits and growth, and with our expertise, you can reach your core audience through a variety of marketing channels.
Simply put, PCR is the destination for anyone in the business of IT and technology. 36
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As well as our regular features programme we will also be delivering in-depth information on upcoming industry events and initiatives.
DEC 2019 / JANUARY 2020Â CES Preview / Audio l CES show preview l Top tech trends for 2020 l Selling audio products l Headphones & Speakers sector guide l Laptops & Hybrids sector guide
FEBRUARY 2020 Cloud / AI l The latest in cloud computing l How AI is shaping the retail channel l AIâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s place in education l Cloud Software sector guide l AI Toys & Gadgets sector guide
MARCH 2020 Distribution l Distributor profiles l A look at the rugged tech market l Rugged Tech sector guide l Desktops sector guide
APRIL 2020 PCR Awards l PCR Awards 2020 winners l Business printer and device security l Printers & Accessories sector guide l Business Machines, Monitors & Peripherals sector guide
MAY 2020 Esports / XR l Overview of the esports market l The latest developments in AR and VR l The importance of gaming security l VR / AR Tech sector guide l Pro Gaming Machines sector guide www.pcr-online.biz
JUNE 2020 Security l The changing security landscape l How to secure new and emerging tech l Infosec Review l Security Hardware sector guide l Security Software sector guide
JULY 2020 30 Under 30 l PCR’s 30 Under 30 2020 list l Sustainability in the tech industry l Storage sector guide l Networking sector guide
AUGUST 2020 Gaming l A look at the PC and console gaming market l How to sell more gaming gear l Gamescom preview l Gaming Components sector guide l Gaming Peripherals & Monitors sector guide
SEPTEMBER 2020 Diversity l PCR’s Top Women in Tech 2020 list l Diversity in the tech channel l The growing tech refurb market l Creative Software & Tech sector guide l Refurbished Tech sector guide
OCTOBER 2020 Smart Tech l How the smart home is evolving l Smart tech security l 5G’s impact on IoT l Smart Home sector guide l Smartphones & Tablets sector guide
NOVEMBER 2020 Health Tech l Wearables market overview l Tech’s impact on healthcare l Securing personal data l Wearable & Fitness Tech sector guide l Memory & Motherboards sector guide www.pcr-online.biz
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Here’s what we do... Connecting suppliers with buyers With daily industry news and a monthly printed magazine, PCR can help you reach your business goals with our up to the minute marketing solutions. PCR can help you hit the right, targeted and engaged audience with tailored content-driven messaging with our variety of multi-channel marketing programmes.
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“Everyone wants a piece of the True Wireless pie” Greg Miller, Director of Portfolio Business Management & Personal Solutions at Poly, speaks to Laura Barnes about the latest advancements in audio technology and why there is still a strong demand for bricks and mortar stores selling consumers audio products... What are some of the latest advancements in audio tech and how are they being used in consumer products? One of the biggest advancements disrupting consumer audio products is the new True Wireless Stereo (TWS) category of headphones. It is now estimated that one in every four headphones sold are TWS. This gives consumers the freedom to roam when taking calls, listening to music or watching the latest Netflix show at anytime, anywhere. These wireless advances are enhanced with smart sensors that enable users to benefit from a number of features including automatically saving battery life when the device is not in use and one-touch or voice-enabled answering and ending of calls. As well as ease of raising and lowering sound, playing and pausing of music, and the ability to access useful biometric data that supports a user’s health and wellbeing, multi-microphone technology enables clear voice communication when taking calls on the go or adding a reminder. Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) mean users can experience an immersive oasis of personal calm, blocking out background distractions when they need to focus on their gym workout or a huge video game battle. How is the audio product market evolving and why should tech retailers consider stocking more audio products? Headphones are now an indispensable companion for many consumers, fast becoming as important as not forgetting your keys or wallet. A lot of the information we consume on a daily basis is through headphones, whether that be news, media, audio books, podcasts or music. We’re also starting to see headphones become a status symbol, with consumers caring how devices look as well as how they function. There are so many options available that technology retailers will miss out on revenue if they don’t stock a variety of solutions (over ear, true wireless, sweat-proof etc.). Online purchases are a common way for consumers to shop for new headphones, but there is still a strong market for those wanting to see and test devices in-person in a bricks and mortar store before they buy, so an assortment is required.
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“Headphones are now an indispensable companion for many consumers, fast becoming as important as not forgetting your keys” What can we expect to see in 2020 and beyond in the audio product sector? In the past, audio products have been typically used to communicate between one human to another, but now consumers are also using them to communicate with machines. Whether it be through Alexa, Siri or Google assistant etc., consumers are talking to voice assistants multiple times a day, creating lists and reminders, gaining knowledge, accessing directions or controlling other devices. We expect to see more advancements in voice assistants in 2020 and this reinforces the need for best-of-breed microphone and audio technology so that the accuracy of information is never compromised and an important life event never missed. Smarter products with further advancements in 3D audio and head tracking for the likes of FaceTime and WhatsApp video calls will also improve as we see our work and consumer lives further colliding – bringing meeting room audio expertise to handheld consumer devices. We also expect to see more competition from large tier one and entry level headphone players with new True Wireless Stereo (TWS) products – everyone wants a piece of the 200% YoY growth that’s expected.
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HOW HAS PIRACY AFFECTED YOUR BUSINESS? This month, Tech For Techs’ members discuss their thoughts on pirated software and how it has affected their businesses... RICH FORTH, PHASE 4 COMPUTERS www.p4com.com “Piracy is definitely an issue for us. On a daily basis we see customers questioning our prices for software, for instance Windows 10 Home, we sell at Microsoft’s RRP of £120, but we have customers saying they can buy it cheaper from eBay or Amazon for under £50 for Professional. When informing people that those are pirated copies the stand point is almost the same: “But I’m an individual, will they care?” To which our answer is YES, piracy is piracy! We’ve still lost out on business as people will not take onboard our advice and buy pirated goods. If they bring it in to us for repair, we refuse to install the questionable software.” ◆◆◆
JENNI GRIFFITHS, CHIPS COMPUTERS www.WeFixAnyComputer.com “I find it makes it hard to sell legit software. People see things like Office on sale on auction sites for £10 and here I sit selling it at £70. I can’t compete with that. I can only say: “Well mine is genuine and you don’t have to
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worry about issues with it being valid”. Most are willing to take the gamble though. It’s very frustrating.” ◆◆◆
MITCH WESTBROOK, WESTBROOK’S COMPUTER SERVICES http://www.123ifixit.co.uk/ “The other day, I sat with a customer reviewing their office’s software needs at the startup of their new business. We soon got to discussing MS Office and 365. Shortly after informing them of the costs of purchase, they Googled the packages we’d discussed. To my utter chagrin, the entire top of the Google page was festooned with cheapo knock-offs. I found myself having to explain. Thanks to this particular businessman’s views on, ‘the bottom line,’ this wasn’t straight forward. As a technician in sales, not a salesman in tech – I felt slightly out of my depth. Google has made quite the big deal about banning technical support ads from anyone but established businesses. Why on earth aren’t the same principles applied to these faceless online outlets supplying knockoff software?”
Retail Talk ◆◆◆
ALEX COLLARD, AJ COMPUTING www.aj-computing.co.uk “My main issues with piracy is Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, and retailers selling cheap copies both online and in local stores. It affects my business directly because often the case, even after pointing out the perils of buying software on the cheap, they take the risk. I have a hard stance on it – I will not work with software I suspect isn’t licensed correctly. This can work both ways – I have lost a sale recently for a laptop and MS Office as I wasn’t prepared to transfer data from MS Outlook knowing it was a cheap copy. On the other hand, this same tactic has encouraged a client to buy the bundle of Office and a laptop. I believe that suspiciously cheap copies of Office put a dent in Office 365 products, too.” ◆◆◆
IAIN SIMPSON, MOBILE IT HELP http://www.mobileithelp.co.uk/ “You have to look at it from the customer’s point of view. If they can for example buy Windows 10 Pro for £9.99 why would they shell out £100 or more? Even if it only works for six months it’s still a bargain, nothing stopping them boat buying another licence. It still works out cheaper unless they keep their computer for literally years on end.” ◆◆◆
GRANT PHILLIPS-SEWELL, PLYMOUTH-IT https://www.plymouth-it.co.uk/ “I do not sell software or licenses, I only provide support and training. As such I try to use, and steer my clients towards using free software and open source software wherever appropriate so they aren’t conned into buying something cheap only to find it’s not genuine. I do advise on where to get genuine licenses for non-free software, but ultimately it is their decision as to whether they follow my advice or not. Either way it doesn’t affect my bottom line.” ◆◆◆
DANIEL POTTER, GATEACRE COMPUTERS Gateacrecomputers.co.uk “We have had a customer recently who had an unlicensed version of Windows 10 installed on their PC – we rang to tell them that we need to purchase a licence
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for Windows and the cost would be around £100. The customer then rang me back and said: “How dare you to try to overcharge me, I have found one on the net for £1.” I explained to the customer this is 99.9% certainty not a legitimate key and that if it works it will almost certainly be deactivated in a couple of months. I also explained to the customer that these “cheap” keys are known to fund criminal activity such as human trafficking and the drugs trade. The customer ended up buying a key off us in the end but this is a problem we see on a regular basis.” ◆◆◆
PETE BUTLER, BRIDPORT PC REPAIR https://www.bridportpcrepair.co.uk/ “Awkward isn’t it? The problem is that they’re not ‘fake’ keys, if anything they’re basically time limited keys. We don’t use them, but honestly, if I get into an argument with a customer about the cost then I just tell them to provide me the key but not expect any after sales support if and when that key becomes defunct. I’m a consumer too and I totally see it from their point of view, buy one copy of Windows 10 Pro for £120 or ten ‘dodgy’ keys for the same. This is especially complicated given Microsoft upgraded most W7 and 8 copies for free. It’s hard to explain to people that although it was free then, it’s not now, your license doesn’t cover transferring to a different machine, and you don’t actually own it. I don’t even bother trying to sell Office, Libreoffice all the way, can’t try to justify to the customer why they need to spend £100 on Office when Libre does the same for free, that’s before the discussion about dodgy keys comes up. Business’s are obviously different, they tend to understand that it all has to be above board, financial penalties etc, but home users don’t generally care. And can you really blame them?” ◆◆◆
RICHARD OVERFIELD, RL SUPPLIES https://www.rlsupplies.co.uk “Many, many years ago even the most basic PC would cost in excess of £2,000, and then you added a copy of Windows for £100. Now a basic Desktop PC can cost as little as £150 to build, but you still have to add £100 for a copy of Windows. The cost of software as a percentage of the cost of a system has increased dramatically, and you can understand why people look for the cheapest way of obtaining their Operating System. Maybe the solution to the piracy problem is to either reduce the cost of Windows to reflect the dropping cost of purchasing a PC, or maybe have the Operating System and the Office Suite as a combined subscription product. This would stop all piracy. This model appears
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Retail Talk to have worked very successfully for Adobe who now only sell some of their packages using a subscription model. We find Microsoft Office a very hard sell for a majority of customers and usually suggest OpenOffice as an alternative to Word and Excel, and advise customers to either view their emails online or use alternatives to Microsoft Outlook like Mozilla Thunderbird.” ◆◆◆
PETER WHITEHOUSE, SCANSTATION COMPUTERS LIMITED https://scanstation.co.uk “Pirate software continues to be a blight on the IT industry and is as prevalent as it has ever been. With more end users moving to purchasing online and relying less on bricks and mortar stores to be their trusted advisers, educating these customers becomes more of a challenge. This is further hampered by sites like Amazon marketplace and eBay facilitating the sale of volume licence and out of market student software lulling the unwitting customer into a false sense of security. The counterfeit software suppliers have moved from selling burnt CDs from a stall at the Sunday market to selling volume licence keys and patches online. It’s the evolution of the pirate software market which refuses to die.” ◆◆◆
KARL LEEMING, BROKENBOX https://www.facebook.com/pg/BrokenBox12 “I do a couple of things with Windows, I include the price of windows in the systems price and itemise it, if a customer says they can get the licence a lot cheaper I explain I cant use that licence and the downside of using said licences but if they wish to purchase said licence I will install windows as an unlicensed version and they can enter there own key but licencing issues will be down to them some listen and some don’t, Office I will not install unlicensed but I do advise how to get legal free copies if their child’s school/college participates in the free office program or I suggest Open Office as an alternative.” ◆◆◆
JASON BASSETT, CORRILAN IT CONSULTANCY LTD www.corrilan.com “There is no need for software piracy – especially with free tools such as LibreOffice.org. The problem with such free and Open Source tools though is that the customer often wrongly assumes they will be poor quality, due to being free and often does not even give them a chance. For a while when asked “I just want to 46
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type letters, where do I get Microsoft Office?”, I would suggest using LibreOffice.org and install that if the system owner agreed, customising it to save in Microsoft formats by default. I always call my clients back four weeks later to ensure there are no outstanding issues with the work I carried out. I found that in most cases those people I had installed LibreOffice.org for had decided that it did not create letters how they needed it to, so had purchased and installed Microsoft Office instead. So, as per the GPL, I started charging for a customised version of LibreOffice.org at a substantially cheaper cost to Microsoft Office. I soon found that when I contacted those clients, the response when questioned about LibreOffice.org was more positive with phrases such as “Oh yes it’s wonderful, you saved us a good £70”. I learnt that people apply respect to alternatively software if they have paid for it!” ◆◆◆
SIMON JEFFREY, TECHIE MONKEY https://techiemonkey.co.uk/ “There needs to be better policing of pirate software. I remember the days of FAST. Similar stories to the rest had a guy with a laptop recently that he had a mate install Windows on, the license stopped working. I advised it would cost £100 plus, and his response was: “I can get one on eBay for £5”. I told him it’s not legit, but he was told not bothered. People want out for nowt these days and aren’t afraid to ignore laws.” ◆◆◆
RICHARD CREEDY, GR8 COMPUTER SERVICES https://www.facebook.com/ Gr8ComputerServices “It is an issue for all concerned, potential malware infection from tampered with fake software for the consumer, loss of income for resellers, and vendors. If someone presents me with a fake software product I simply tell them I can’t install it.”
TECH FOR TECHS Launched in January 2018, Tech for Techs (TFT) is a new community for technicians of all kinds, including on-site call out services, retailers, resellers, managed service providers, vendors and distributors. Free to join, TFT is run by the team behind retailer Chips Computers and offers up insight and information on the industry, as well as product reviews, price comparisons, free directory listings and more. Visit www. techfortechs.co.uk for more information. www.pcr-online.biz
IN MY TEAM
Dolphin Computer Upgrades From home users to large businesses, the team at Dolphin Computer Upgrades reveals how it makes every customer’s computing experience as stress free as possible... Who makes up the Dolphin Computer Upgrades team? Dolphin’s core is made up of three directors, each with their own unique skill set. Everyday repairs are usually carried out by our operations director, Garry Rist. For more complicated repairs and troubleshooting for our larger business clients, it is Paul Gibb who takes the reins, and for all thing’s web related, Lorelei Gibb is the first to take a look. Anything surplus, we have freelance people always on standby.
2019 has been a phenomenally busy year for Dolphin, with us implementing extra security measures for all of our business clients. The second half of the year we were honoured to have been one of only a handful of IT companies to be asked to trial BullGuard Small Office Security and have begun rolling this out to our client base. It is a product we have been using for many years, but this new version has provided us with yet another defence mechanism for our customers.
Tell us a bit about what Dolphin specialises in. Dolphin has always emphasised the need to make IT as understandable as possible for the end user and strives to take the stress away from our clients. Most people who use computers, be they home users or businesses, just want their tech to work; they don’t need to be bombarded with technical speak and explanations. And this is what Dolphin do best – from the elderly home user who would rather not have to use the internet, through to multi-centre large businesses, we make their computing experiences as stress free as possible.
What plans do you have for 2020 and beyond? 2020 sees us continuing in our quest for keeping our client base as secure as possible and exploring new technology as it emerges to ascertain how useful it could be for us as a company. Having survived the heat in a classic Mini car this summer, we are also planning our second banger rally across Europe in July and are hoping to raise even more for our chosen local charity.
How has 2019 been for the company and what areas have you seen the most growth in?
And finally, who has the best moves on the dancefloor? Two of our directors would never dream of throwing some moves, whereas the third you cannot get off the dance floor… We leave it to you to guess who does, and who does not.
More information at https://dolphinupgrades.com www.pcr-online.biz
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Laptops Whatever computing needs your customers have, here is a selection of powerful yet portable solutions...
Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Specs: Intel Core i7-8565U Processor, Windows 10 Pro 64, 13.3”FHD IPS LED Backlight, AntiGlare, 1920x1080, 16GB PC4-19200 DDR4 SODIMM 2400MHz, 512GB SSD M.2 PCIe NVMe. “The thin, light ThinkBook 13s laptop catches the eye with its metallic finish on an all-aluminium chassis, as well as its narrow bezel display. It’s very responsive too, with Intel processing, Modern Standby, and a solid-state drive. Log in or boot up in a flash thanks to the integrated fingerprint reader on the power button. This 13.3” device also boasts an FHD display with Dolby Vision and Harman speakers with Dolby Audio.” Contact: Exertis
Acer TravelMate P6 Specs: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit OS, Intel Core i7 (8th Gen) 8565U processor, 8 GB DDR4 memory, 512GB SSD storage, 14” LED backlight 1920 x 1080 Full HD display, Intel UHD Graphics 620. “Work on the go and look great doing it with this sleek, ultra-portable laptop. Its stunning magnesium-alloy body is just 16.6mm thick, and houses a narrow-bezel 14” Full HD IPS touchscreen with 72% NTSC. Sharing and collaborating is even easier with the 180° hinge and 170° wide viewing angle. Maintain a consistent, high-speed wireless connection with eSim-enabled 4G LTE and 2x2 MU-MIMO technology. Get blazingly fast data at up to 40Gpbs, up to 8K displays and battery charging with USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C Thunderbolt 3.” Contact: Tech Data, Ingram Micro, Exertis
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Sector Guide AVITA LIBER laptop Specs: 2.2GHz Intel Core i3-8130U, Intel UHD Graphics 620, 4GB RAM, 14-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) screen, 128GB SSD. “With four designs available, the AVITA LIBER is both sleek and striking and allows users to express their individuality with an on-trend and fashionable option to suit all. Not only visually pleasing, the AVITA LIBER is made for the best work and entertainment experience. Using the latest 8th generation Intel Core i3-8130U 2.2GHz/3.4GHz processor with highperformance speed, the notebook is ideal for day to day computing tasks as well as more complicated operations. Featuring 4GB RAM along with 128GB SSD internal memory (MicroSD card slot supporting up to an additional 128GB) and Windows 10 Home, there is plenty of processing power and memory for work or study. The 14” crystal clear screen has TFT and IPS display technologies as well as 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution. The laptops 5mm slim design and just 1.46kg weight makes it easy to fit in a bag to use when out and about and a great travel partner. The LIBER is also equipped with the Windows Hello biometrics-based technology that allows users to authenticate secure access and sign in to the device using just a fingerprint.” Contact: AVITA
Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 Specs: 8th Generation Intel Core i58265U Processor, Windows 10 Pro 64bit, 8 GB, LPDDR3, 2133 MHz, M.2 512GB PCIe NVMe Class 35 SSD. “The world’s smallest 14” premium business-class notebook features ExpressConnect, so you can automatically connect to the fastest Wi-Fi signal. Smaller, lighter, and thinner than the previous generation, this laptop is designed to go where you go on the job. See more of your work with the drop hinge design. It lowers the height of the screen for a 4-sided narrow bezel that’s 25% thinner than the Latitude 7390 2-in-1. Plus, you can get going quickly by lifting the panel with one hand.” Contact: Exertis
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Acer Swift 5 Specs: Windows 10 Home 64-bit OS, Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor, Quad-core 1.30 GHz, 35.6 cm (14”) Full HD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 IPS, 8GB, LPDDR4, 512GB SSD, NVIDIA GeForce MX250 with 2GB dedicated memory. “Designed to be carried around all-day for work and entertainment, the Swift 5 is the lightest 14” clamshell notebook that weighs just 990 grams and has a powerful NVIDIA graphics card. It also has the latest Intel Core™ CPU and is only 14.95mm thin, so you can be confident in its powerful design. The ultra-light magnesium-lithium and magnesium-aluminum metal chassis, at just 990g1 it is the lightest 14” notebook with a powerful graphics card in its class and it’s just 14.95mm thin.” Contact: Tech Data, Ingram Micro, Exertis
Toshiba Dynabook Satellite Pro R40-C-163 Laptop Specs: 14” screen, LED backlit, 1366 x 768 resolution, Windows 10 Home 64-bit OS, Intel Core i3-6006U (2.0GHz) processor, 128GB SSD, 4GB memory. “The Satellite Pro R40 is a device designed to meet the demands of business professionals who need dependability, and students who require a sturdy learning companion. Well-equipped with a powerful processor users have all they need to be productive. Designed to withstand the daily wear and tear of an education environment - or the demands of a busy office - the Satellite Pro R40 offers longevity and reliability. Its 3D sensor helps to keep data protected at all times, and its robust chassis design has passed vigorous hinge testing to ensure sturdiness over a prolonged period of time.” Contact: Spire Technology
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Sector Guide Fujitsu LIFEBOOK U728 Specs: Windows 10 Pro, 32 GB, 2x Memory slots SO DIMM (DDR4, 2400 MHz), Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i3-8130U processor, 4 MB, 2.2 GHz, up to 3.4 GHz. “Based on the 8th generation Intel Core processor is a slim, light and stylish ultramobile notebook for business professionals who are always on the move. With its 31.8 cm and light weight of only 1.11 kg it provides excellent mobility. Ergonomic viewing is guaranteed with the anti-glare HD, FHD or optional FHD touch display options and the embedded palm vein or fingerprint sensor provide outstanding security. The common port replicator of the LIFEBOOK U family facilitates workplace sharing within today’s modern workstyle.” Contact: Exertis
Razer Blade Pro 17 Specs: Windows 10 Home - 64-Bit, 9th Generation Intel Core i7-9750H 6-core processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q Design, 512GB PCIe NVMe upgradeable to 2TB SSD, HD webcam 720p with Windows Hello IR HD webcam, Dolby Atmos support. “The New Razer Blade Pro 17 pushes the limits of what a gaming laptop can do. Built with a powerful processor to run performancedemanding AAA games on the go, the Razer Blade Pro 17 is nearly 25% smaller than its predecessor, with a faster 17.3” display that’s fitted into a body as sleek and compact as a 15” laptop. The 9th gen Intel Core i7-9750H processor inside features 6 cores with a base clock speed of 2.6GHz and Turbo Boost of 4.5GHz. The incredibly fast Razer Blade Pro 17 is built to serve as the perfect blend of a gaming desktop and mobile workstation.” Contact: VIP UK
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Toshiba Dynabook Satellite Pro R40-C-164 Laptop Specs: 14” screen, LED backlit, 1366 x 768 resolution, Windows 10 Professional 64-bit OS, Intel Core i3-6006U (2.0GHz) processor, 128GB SSD, 4GB memory. “The Satellite Pro R40 full-size keyboard delivers a professional typing experience for optimised productivity. Its silent functionality means it’s easy to work discreetly in important meetings, quiet libraries or on crowded trains. And the non-CSV screen enables users to work indoors or outdoors – in both low-light and bright-light scenarios – without distraction. Users can enjoy full connectivity, without the need for any adapters, thanks to a selection of full-size ports. The Satellite Pro R40 also comes equipped with advanced wireless technologies – meaning business professionals and students alike can always connect to everyone and everything they need to.” Contact: Spire Technology
Acer ConceptD 7 Specs: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit OS, Intel Core i7-9750H processor Hexa-core 2.60 GHz, 39.6 cm (15.6”) 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) 16:9 IPS, 32GB, DDR4 SDRAM, 1TB SSD, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 with 8GB dedicated memory. “Create with improved speed and efficiency with the slim, ultra-modern ConceptD 7 laptop. Designing and editing in 2D or 3D is smoother with its impressive lineup of powerful tech, while the 4K UHD display brings professional precision with its 100% Adobe RGB gamut, PANTONE Validated coloUr fidelity, and color accuracy of Delta E <2.” Contact: Tech Data, Ingram Micro, Exertis
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CELEBRATING THE PC AND TECH INDUSTRY March
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For sponsorship opportunities please contact Sarah Goldhawk firstname.lastname@example.org PCR Awards 2020 Save the Date House ad 210x265mm_v1 sponsors Dec.indd 1
Peakago 7-inch Laptop The Peakago claims to be the world’s first 4G network integrated 7-inch laptop with an IPS 1920x1200 screen. Weighing just 539 grams, the device has 4G integration, touchscreen, Type-C fast charging, expandable storage, and a 360-degree hinge allowing for tent, stand and tablet modes. The laptop comes with 8GB of memory and 128GB of hard disk storage. “Peakago is a device the likes of which you’ve not seen before. It gives you the best of both worlds when it comes to mobile devices and laptops, hitting the sweet spot between portability and functionality,” says makers Peakago Computer. “Peakago raises the bar for portable devices. Big time. It’s redefining the look, size, and feel of laptops, combining the benefits of tablets, smartphones, and laptops into a pocket-size technological 4G powerhouse that lets you work or play anywhere.” For more information visit: https://igg.me/at/peakago/
Morph Smart Power Bank Morph is a smart power bank with modular batteries, three USB-C PD ports, 100W AC and the ability to recharge in 1.5 hours. Charge all your devices at the same time with 20,400mAh of portable, supercharging power. Swap out batteries to instantly double your capacity to 40,800mAh with Morph’s swappable battery options. That means you can charge up to two MacBook Pro 13” with one portable pack. Morph uses a proprietary modular battery system that lets you easily swap batteries for a fresh charge without removing any connections. This system gives you virtually unlimited power and allows you to recharge Morph in seconds, rather than hours. Morph has all the ports and outlets you need in a power bank — including dual USB-C PD ports, dual QC 3.0 USB-A ports, Qi Wireless Charging, and even an AC outlet. As well as the ability to charge the Morph through a cable, the power bank can also be charged by solar power. For more information visit: https://igg.me/at/morph-charger/
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SwitchBot Curtain SwitchBot Curtain promises to make your curtains smart in seconds, enabling you to affordably automate any existing curtains. Supporting Alexa, Google Home, and Siri, SwitchBot can be installed within 30 seconds without the need for screws, nuts or bolts. It can then be controlled via the app and set up to sync with your sleep cycles. The SwitchBot Curtain has a built-in sunlight sensor. This can help save energy by reducing the workload on your air-conditioning and heating. It can be set to automatically close during the day time in summer to block out the sunlight and keep your room cool. You can also have it automatically open during the day in winter to warm your room. In addition, you can also install the solar power strip add-on to charge the SwitchBot Curtain’s battery using sunlight, thus eliminating the need to recharge the battery. For more information visit: http://kck.st/2JcAzc0
With so much talent in the channel, it can be difficult to sift out the freshest gear and potential tech giants of tomorrow. Stay ahead of the curve with PCR’s Crowdfunding Corner…
CastAway Case Smartphone Screen The castAway case is an ultra-slim removable screen created by Ken Mages, a 40-year veteran of the electronics industry. Ken brought on a skilled product designer, Joe Jasinski – the former head of industrial design at Dell – along with two former executives from Microsoft and Intel to create this device. The castAway case is compatible and pairs with your phone, allowing you to open multiple apps at once, copy/paste, and access files and photos between screens. The second screen is actually a powerful tablet containing a 1.5 GHz processor and a 5.8 or 6.3inch display. It charges via one of two USB Type-C ports and has a battery life similar to that of the average smartphone. The built-in tablet runs the latest version of Chrome OS. Both the tablet and your iOS or Android smartphone need to use an app called MultiTask+, which pairs the devices and enables them to communicate over an encrypted WiFi channel. Fore more information visit: https://igg.me/at/castaway/
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Headphones and Speakers Whether you’re looking to stock gaming headsets, office audio solutions or smart home speakers, we’ve got you covered… JBL Live 650BTNC Headphones Specs: 40mm Driver size, 20Hz–20kHz Dynamic frequency response range, 32 ohm Impedance, Bluetooth 4.2, 2hrs from empty charging time, up to 20hrs music playtime with BT on and NC on, 260g in weight. “In your world, music is essential, so slip on a pair of JBL LIVE 650BTNC wireless over-ear noise-cancelling headphones and elevate your day. Equipped with powerful 40mm drivers, JBL LIVE650BTNC headphones deliver JBL Signature Sound punctuated with enhanced bass so every track on every playlist pops. And when the music is the only thing that matters, the active Noise-Cancelling technology allows you to block-out ambient sounds so nothing disturbs your groove. Need some help getting through the day? Easily access the Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa with a tap on the ear cup and play your favourite playlist, text your friend or check the weather and much more, without glancing at your phone.” Contact: Exertis
NETGEAR Orbi Voice Kit Specs: AC2200 Tri-band WiFi (2.4Ghz + 5Ghz WiFi + 5Ghz dedicated data link between Orbi router and Orbi Voice), 2000 sq. ft WiFi coverage, Harman/Kardon audio with 3.5” front-facing woofer & 1” tweeter, 63Hz - 20KHz frequency response, 35W output peak power, 2x 10/100/1000Mbps ethernet port, 4 high-performance antennas with high-powered amplifiers, 4 mics with far-field voice recognition support. “The first and only mesh WiFi system with award-winning technology that pairs the Orbi WiFi router with Orbi Voice, a smart speaker like no other. Orbi’s award-winning WiFi mesh technology covers your whole home with fast, reliable WiFi so nothing slows your devices down. And when you need to play your music hands-free or control your smart home devices, Orbi Voice with Amazon Alexa built-in lets you do just that – and so much more.” Contact: NETGEAR
Synology Audio Station Specs: Stream DSD or FLAC files to your high-quality player, streaming to a web browser, customise sound effect levels. “Synology Audio Station supports popular formats such as MP3, WAV, Apple Loseless and FLAC, and can do real time transcoding for any others which may not be supported by your streaming device. Synology’s Audio Station works seamlessly with Amazon Alexa to allow you to use voice commands and access all of your music storage on your Synology NAS.” Contact: Synology UK
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Sector Guide Dynamode MX-878 Headphones Specs: Over-head design, microphone, high-performance rare-earth speaker drivers, enhanced bass and treble, ambient noise blocking, full cup earphones, adjustable boom microphone, in-line volume control for remote audio adjustment. “Leading the way in its varied offering of general purpose and gaming headphones, Dynamode continues to offer its popular MX-878 stereo headphone with boom microphone for its retail markets. Combining a PnP USB interface with a stylish, low-weight but comfortable over-head design means its not only a quality, robust product but offers dealers excellent profit margins compared with other vendor solutions.” Contact: Exertis
Jabra Elite 75t Specs: Compact earbud shape, 7.5+ hour battery life, up to 28 hours with the charging case, 4-microphone technology, fast charging with USB-C, customisable equaliser in the Jabra Sound+ app. “The Jabra Elite 75t is engineered to last longer and designed to fit better. It takes things up a notch, building on the same great calls and music that fans of the Elite 65t have come to love – with a notably longer battery life and a smaller, more secure, comfortable fit. The Elite 75t is specifically designed to provide enhanced comfort through its optimal earbud shape and size. The earbuds have been extensively tested, so users can be confident that the earbuds will stay put. The sleek design makes the Elite 75t ideal even for smaller ears, while the ergonomic shape makes them so comfortable, users can enjoy their music and calls for extended periods of time.” Contact: Jabra
XPG EMIX H20 Headphones Specs: 50mm drivers, virtual 7.1 channel surround, 20 – 20k Hz frequency response, 2.2m cable length, omnidirectional microphone, lighting effect RGB. “The EMIX H20 utilises 50mm high-fidelity drivers that deliver superior sound quality with a wide range, excellent accuracy, and optimised bass for total aural immersion. With virtual 7.1 surround sound, the EMIX H20 will help heighten your situational awareness. Hear your friends and foes alike, whether in front of or behind you, and never be caught off guard.” Contact: ADATA Technology, Spire Technology
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Phantom Reactor 900 Specs: 18Hz to 21kHz, up to 900 Watts and 98dB, available in white or matte black, minijack, optical analogic cable, or go wireless. “Devialet’s compact yet immense Phantom Reactor 900 is a feat of sound engineering. Devialet engineers have brought to life revolutionary technology that produces an intense audio experience, it is the only ultra-compact speaker capable of delivering high fidelity audio with a physical impact that you can feel, whatever volume you listen at. With its outstanding performance, no other speaker delivers hifi sound with so much power through so little volume. Lose yourself in Devialet’s immersive, ultra-dense sound and experience its physical impact.” Contact: Exertis
Hama Voice Sport Bluetooth Headphones Specs: One-click voice assistant button, Bluetooth 4.2, Enhanced bass, integrated microphone and remote, volume control, ergonomic ear clip, S/M/L silicone earbuds, flat cable, sweat-resistant, 9h talk time, 120h standby, frequency: 20Hz – 20kHz, impedance: 16 Ohms, sensitivity: 100dB. “Bringing voice control to the ear, Hama Voice Sport allows wireless one-touch access to voice assistants with your smartphone still in your pocket. Whether it’s to access a playlist, make a call or ask a question, simply speak the voice command when pressing the special voice assistant button on the Hama Voice and hear the response played through the headset. Ideal for active lifestyles, Hama Voice Sport feature secure-fitting, sweat-resistant ear clips and interchangeable silicone buds that stay put even during tough workouts. Wireless 4.2 Bluetooth connectivity and integrated microphone, remote and volume control complete the package for full phone functionality.” Contact: Hama UK
oBravo Cupid Basic Earphone Specs: 0.3 kg in weight, metal enclosure, 20Hz~40kHz audio range, 105dB sensitivity. “The Cupid basic has been introduced as oBravo’s entry level offering, providing everything people love about oBravo at an economical price. Utilising oBravo’s patented 8mm planar tweeter alongside a neodymium dynamic driver, it offers best in class sonic performance and incredible levels of detail, generally unobtainable from alternative technologies. Cupid by oBravo is a result of patented planar technology, which is known worldwide for offering great sound and remarkable audio quality. It is an established fact that wired earphones offer better quality than Bluetooth devices, and the ergonomically designed Cupid takes that quality to the next Level. The oBravo Cupid basic earphones come with a high quality Ohno continuous casting (OCC) braided cable terminated with a gold plated 3.5mm jack.” Contact: Audio Concierge
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Celsor Gaming Headset for PS4 Specs: Immersive stereo sound, over-ear cups with ultrasoft padding, flexible flip-up multi-function microphone boom, in-line remote, braided cable, 3.5mm jack plug connectivity. “The SpeedLink Celsor Gaming Headset is designed to be full of flexibility, so you can take your headset experience to a multi-dimensional level with the wide range of features that the Celsor possesses. The Celsor’s over-ear earcups swivel easily for the perfect fit, so you can experience amazing immersive stereo sound in maximum comfort. Plus, a flexible flip-up multi-functional microphone boom allows you to communicate when you need or flip it out of the way.” Contact: Meroncourt
Plantronics Voyager 4200 Office Specs: Up to 12 hours talk time and 15 hours listening time, Bluetooth roaming range of up to 300ft/91m, active noise cancelling (ANC) and enhanced voice alerts announcing talk time/ mute, call answer/ignore/end, redial, mute and volume +/-, media control including track forward/back/pause/play, Amazon Alexa and Tile built-in support “Designed for mobile office workers, the Voyager 4200 Office Bluetooth wireless headsets provide a generous roaming range and bring vibrant sound to power up productivity. Connect seamlessly to your desk phone, PC/Mac or mobile phone via the base or USB adapter. Experience legendary Poly acoustic performance, whether you are listening to media or collaborating with co-workers, with outstanding noise cancelling and dual microphones that help block out nearby talkers. Amazon Alexa is also built-In – just tap-and-ask and a Microsoft Teams version has a dedicated button to join a meeting in one touch.” Contact: Poly
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Sector Guide Hama Pocket Steel Specs: Aluminium housing, Bluetooth connectivity, battery powered, 3-Watt output, 40mm bass driver, integrated mic and playback/ volume control, hands-free system, 6h playtime, 2-hour fast charge, MicroSD slot. “Cool. Classic. Timeless. Metallics have always had a certain appeal as far as lifestyle and technology are concerned, and the Hama Pocket Steel is no exception. As the name may suggest, perfectly proportioned for portability, the Hama Pocket Steel will fit in any pocket/bag or palm of the hand to deliver great sound anytime, anywhere. Available in anthracite, silver or gold, connect wirelessly to your smartphone via Bluetooth, or play direct from microSD memory card using the integrated slot for up to 6-hours of continuous batterypowered playback and calls (via hands-free function).” Contact: Hama UK
Marvo Scorpion Gaming Headset Specs: 750mm speakers, rainbow RGB backlight, cushioned ear cups. “The Marvo Scorpion 7.1 Virtual Surround Sound headset features virtual 750mm speakers for powerful bass, a flexible omnidirectional RGB microphone and leather-feel cushioned ear cups with rainbow RGB backlight and on-ear volume control. Priced for great reseller margins and retail-boxed to stand out, the whole Marvo range offers great opportunities for retailers and etailers alike.” Contact: Target Components
Plantronics Savi 8200 Specs: “Active noise cancelling (ANC), flexible microphone boom, up to 13 hours talk time, DECT security certified, wireless range of up to 180ft/55m, conference devices together – PC to desk phone or mobile to PC, second battery to allow users to ‘hot swap’ during a call. “Regardless of where an employee is working, there is always the challenge of staying ‘in the zone’. Poly has updated its Savi 8200 Office and UC Series headsets to address the needs of employees working in a variety of environments, to escape distractions in style. ANC and unique close conversation limiting minimises background interruptions so that everyone on the call can clearly hear only the person talking into the headset. Users can also walk and talk while on a call with 180ft/55m wireless range to manage PC, mobile and desk phone calls with ease.” Contact: Poly
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Xtrfy H1 Pro Gaming Headset Specs: Over-ear design, braided cable, passive noise cancellation, dynamic 60mm driver, detachable microphone, 380g in weight, 5 - 30,000 Hz frequency response. “The H1 is made for the highest level of esports. This headset is developed by some of the world’s most experienced professional gamers, and fine-tuned to give you the perfect soundscape for gaming. Hear the details. Know what’s coming. And get on top of your game.” Contact: Spire Technology
MIONIX Nash-20 Stereo Gaming Headset Specs: 50mm Neodymium DACT drivers, full size swivel ear cups, memory foam leather encased cushions, easy access volume control, flip-up-tomute microphone boom, adjustable headband with strong steel construction, braided cable with gold plated plugs. “The Mionix Nash-20 Gaming Headset will give you the advantage with enhanced soundscape that delivers more accurate and quicker positioning, helping you to hear and locate your opponent’s position during gameplay. The 50mm neodymium DACT drivers deliver amazing audio for gaming, music and multi-media usage, plus a flip-up microphone allows you to communicate during intense gaming sessions. The Nash-20 includes memory foam leather encased cushions for maximum comfort during use.” Contact: Meroncourt
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“Distributors amass huge amounts of operational data. That’s valuable, and can be used to predict future opportunities” 62
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LIFE IN THE CHANNEL
Westcon-Comstor’s Paul Cunningham The value-added ICT distributor’s Chief Marketing Officer explains the two sides of the businesses, its recent partnership with RingCentral and discusses its plans for the year ahead and beyond... Tell us about your career in the industry and your current role. I came back to Westcon in June 2019. I’ve been involved in IT for all of my career and spent a lot of time in enterprise computing. I worked at Oracle both here and in the US, and after I returned from the US in that role, I started to get progressively more involved with the channel because the IT sector as a whole was starting to see the benefits of channel models. About 15 years ago I joined the business that was the precursor of Comstor in the UK as marketing director. I was involved in what then became Comstor, and then Weston-Comstor. After a while I returned to the US to work in Westcon’s headquarters, and before returning to the UK for the second time around 10 years ago, I ran my own consultancy focusing on everything from strategic planning to channel development for a range of clients. After that, I became the CMO at Unify. They then turned into Atos, and after two years of being the CMO at the Unify division of Atos, I was brought back to Westcon because of the interest the executive team had in a fully rounded strategic marketing role. It was great to come back to, it was very channel focused and had vision and ambition around what marketing could bring to that business model.
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So there are two sides to the distributor, ‘Westcon’ and ‘Comstor’. What does each side do? We have a very Cisco-focused business in Comstor. On the other side we have the Westcon business which is more around categories of technology that sit outside of that Cisco universe. Westcon has a very successful cybersecurity practice with a very effective global-based channel business model, as well as one for unified communications. We also help partners take advantage of innovations in analytics, AI, cloud, cybersecurity, IoT, and SD-WAN. What have been some of the company’s recent announcements? We recently consolidated those two business models in our European business. So we put some additional investment and resources into both cybersecurity and the networking and collaboration side. We appointed new leaders in each for Europe and we’re now looking at the resources processes behind these business models and looking closely at the vendor portfolio. There’s so much innovation in the security space in particular. As more people operate in a cloud and mobile environment, there are more companies that sell managed services around security, so we need to embrace completely new types of partners.
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You recently partnered with RingCentral. Can you tell us a bit about how you work with them? That’s a great example of what I’m talking about. It’s not so much that the technology is different, it’s that the cloud and hosting model is a different way of delivering that functionality. But it depends on a different sales motion to bring those solutions to the market. A traditional distribution model would see the physical product passed through the supply chain, margin was given at each point with a transaction at each stage. But we’re working on a kind of referral model and it’s much more about the recurring revenue streams. So we’re seeing not just changes in technology, but changes in the business model and the whole way all these relationships are managed across the channel.
So if a vendor partner wanted to understand the characteristics of a market, we can help them do that. If they want to identify where particular install bases of technology are currently residing, or they want to look at technology refresh or service renewal, very often it is not particularly visible to them. Historically, one of the challenges has been that most marketing activities in channel business models have been pretty speculative. It’s a high and wide advertising email blast. But now, we can very accurately predict and target small numbers of partners and customer organisations that are effectively very closely pre-qualified for the proposition that you want to bring to them. So, for the same marking dollar you get much more accurate targeted activity, because you’re generating
“As more people operate in a cloud and mobile environment, there are more companies that sell managed services around security, so we need to embrace completely new types of partners” Those are the kind of changes we’re embracing in our own business and we see that having big implications in the channel as well. Look ahead to next year and beyond, what does Westcon-Comstor have planned? There are a couple of things we’re working on as a company that we’ll be able to talk about in much more detail in 2020. So the first thing we’re looking at is the fact that historically, distribution businesses have amassed huge amounts of operational data. We have many thousands of sales transactions and require to know a lot about the technology, the end-user business, the reseller partner and everything that attaches itself as data to these transactions. As you can imagine, that builds up a lot of data, and that’s valuable, as that data can be analysed to improve performance, but also to predict where opportunities may arise in the future. We can use this to find characteristics about vertical markets and combine all that data to ask and answer questions about our vendor partners that previously we were not able to do.
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bigger chances of success by allowing the analytics to control that pre-qualification assignment. We’re bringing that application to market in early 2020. Another area we’re very active in with our vendor partners is what’s known as “circular technology”. This is a solution that looks at how organisations recycle and reclaim value. The IT industry is a huge contributor to net industrial waste, but there’s so much out there that has intrinsic value. We’re talking about components and base metals. But also, they represent an environmental risk if they are not properly returned into that economy and recycled or reclaimed. We’ve built out specific expertise and services that help vendors build circular technology programmes, which they can then brand and send out to their channel customers. In return, we have customers helping to operationalise that circular economy. We think this is entirely appropriate to the marketplace, but it’s also starting to go beyond the technology, as executives are seeing it as part of their social responsibility to have a strategy and some policy around the circular technology economy.
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<Novatech’s outstanding contribution > UK technology provider Novatech Ltd has recently won the “Outstanding Contribution Award” from local charity Friends Fighting Cancer. Friends Fighting Cancer was founded in 2009 and supports local families who are going through one of the toughest times in their lives through a grant-giving service. The FFC offers grants to people affected by cancer in the Portsmouth and Southampton areas. Families can use the funds to help with anything they are struggling to find the money for. The funds range from £100 to £1,000. Portsmouth technology firm Novatech has been working closely with FFC over the last year and will continue supporting the charity into 2020 by sponsoring some of their upcoming sporting events. Throughout 2019 Novatech has supported the charity through being the official sponsorship partner for a number of their events,
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including being the headline sponsor of their charity boxing event called Fighting for Cancer back in October. Ray from the charity commented about Novatech’s support saying: “Novatech have given us some fantastic support for local events recently and are already helping us with future events at the end of this year and into 2020. It’s great to have a partnership with a local business and their work has been acknowledged with this Outstanding Contribution Award recently at our awards event.” Novatech will be donating a number of their new Reign Gaming PCs to the Children’s ward at QA Hospital in Cosham in collaboration with Friends Fighting Cancer. Charmaine Budd, marketing at Novatech, commented: “Supporting such a fantastic local charity has been great and it’s amazing to see that our contributions have been noticed by us winning the award.”
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<Logging off>\\| Out and about in the industry
<Biggest tech news from… December 2012 > Now you’re up-to-date with the latest issues in tech retail, let’s take a trip down memory lane to some interesting stories from yesteryear… Dell drops out of smartphone market Back in December 2012, Dell stated that it had no plans to re-enter the smartphone market and that it is also dropping Android. At the time, the vendor claimed that the smartphone market “requires a lot of investments to really be successful” and will instead focus on developing Windows 8 tablets. “It’s a content play with Android. Amazon is selling books and Google is making it up with search. So far we couldn’t find a way to build a business on Android,” commented Dell’s then head of consumer, Jeff Clarke.
41% of over 55s want mobile devices for Christmas It appears smartphones were the device of choice amongst consumers in 2012. While Dell was pulling out of the race, 41% of Brits aged over 55 said they wanted a tablet, smartphone or laptop for Christmas, according to Kaspersky research. “The whole nation is becoming increasingly reliant on technology. Gone are the days when technology was aimed solely at younger people, it is no longer age dependent,” said Kaspersky’s David Emm at the time.
EE to bring 4G to 17 new towns As we enter 2020, and the year of 5G, eight years ago we are all getting excited of EE bringing 4G to more areas of the UK. The
mobile network continued its rollout of 4G services across the nation with plans to deploy in 17 additional towns between December 2012 and March 2013. The service expected to reach an additional four million people in the first three months of 2013. “We’re delighted with the progress of the 4G rollout – we are improving the network every day, delivering superfast mobile to more and more people right across metropolitan areas, whether they’re using their devices outdoors or in their homes and offices,” said the company. “This has struck a chord with businesses in particular, with great demand being seen. We’re delighted to already be powering large, medium and small businesses with 4G.”
Small businesses to get £110m boost The then Business Secretary Vince Cable announced the creation of the Business Finance Partnership to ease the flow of credit to UK companies in December 2012. At the time the Government made £55 million available, which it expected to be matched by private sector donations, bringing the total up to £110 million. “Small and medium sized businesses need access to a diverse range of finance options, including non-bank lending. These new forms of finance are still small in scale today but they should, over time, bring additional choice and greater competition to the lending market,” said Cable. Do you think he turned out to be right?
NEXT MONTH February: Cloud and AI In the next issue of PCR we will be looking at the Cloud and AI sectors of the tech industry. features will include: The latest in cloud computing How AI is shaping the retail channel AI’s place in education We will also be running two sector guides in the February issue, one covering Cloud software, and the other covering AI toys and gadgets. If you would like to get involved in the February issue, here’s how: For editorial enquiries contact Editor Laura Barnes at email@example.com. For advertising opportunities, contact Sales Manager Sarah Goldhawk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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PCR is read throughout the channel, from store managers to leading executives. Put simply, PCR is the trade publication that everybody in the industry reads. Print is still the most effective way to target an audience engaged with the content theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re consuming. Find out more about advertising in PCR by contacting Sarah Goldhawk at sarah.goldhawk@Biz-Media.co.uk
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