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REMOTE HOME/ WORKING

ISSUE December/January 2021

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How to prevent

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December/January 2021

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CELEBRATING THE LEADING COMPANIES FROM ACROSS THE UK PC AND TECH INDUSTRY

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Editor Michelle Winny michelle.winny@biz-media.co.uk 0759 529 8729 Graphic Designer Steve Williams swilliams@designandmediasolutions.co.uk

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TheEditor New Year’s resolutions

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s we enter into 2021 there is some positivity in the air as businesses look to move from 2020’s COVID crisis into 2021’s recovery phase. Many businesses have already or are in the process of implementing a robust working from home infrastructure to keep employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. But in what is being described as the biggest remote/home working exercise ever undertaken, things are looking like they have changed for the long-term in the working world. This is opening up a plethora of new opportunities giving greater flexibility to workers on the upside, however on the downside threats such as data security, privacy issues and risk of cyber attacks on business are ever looming. But the channel is working hard to address these issues with a range of security offerings and hardware solutions to keep businesses up and running. In this issue, with a special focus on remote/home working we have some very interesting insights with industry opinions from the likes of AOC focusing on how USB-C monitors are ideal for the new normal. Redstor reveals how the pandemic has changed attitudes to data protection. Giacom, explores the available solutions and tools designed to help resellers not just survive, but also thrive in a virtual world. Whilst Juniper explores how SD-WAN will be key in driving the transformation to new and more distributed ways of working. And Comms365 discusses how socially distanced teamwork can be simplified with the latest virtual platforms. In a duo of Big Interviews, BullGuard’s CEO, Paul Lipman, talks about the importance of cyber security for small businesses. Whilst Lenovo DCG’s UK GM, Ian Jeffs, explores why companies should be driving ahead with a cloud initiative. We may now all be more familiar with virtual meeting experiences after using platforms such as Zoom so no focus on remote/home working would be complete without speaking to Zoom Video Communications. Here the company’s Head of UK & Ireland, Phil Perry tells us about the latest updates to the platform. Our sector guides cover some home/remote working essentials, from security software to laptops and Wi-Fi boosting devices. As we continue to work from home we will all probably be looking to make a few New Year’s resolutions to help us through. For me top of my list will probably be a few more tea breaks with the dog.

Michelle Winny, Editor

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06 Retail analysis: 2020’s COVID crisis transitions into 2021’s recovery phase 10 News: Round up of December’s industry news headlines 13 Industry Opinions 22 Big Interview: Bullguard’s Paul Lipman 28 Big Interview: Lenovo DCG’s Ian Jeffs 34 GEKKO 38 Remote/Home Working: Zoom’s Phil Perry 44 Top 5 Tech: Global Innovator, Valerie Vacante 47 Sector Guides: Laptops, peripherals, software & IoT 54 Life in the Channel: Vestel’s David Flintoft 57 2021 tech channel predictions

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2020’s COVID crisis transitions into 2021’s recovery phase Nobody could have predicted what 2020 held in store. A year depicted by yesteryear’s sci-fi novels as the epitome of the future, but having now reached that year and come out the other side into 2021, it’s time for the channel to reflect on the lessons learned and grow stronger in the wake of the pandemic, as Michelle Winny finds out

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urning to the Channel, Target Components, Scott Frankling says: “It’s fair to say that 2020 packed a few surprises, not least for the huge number of people who found themselves working from home. Doing the same job but often without the level of technology they’ve been used to at work, led to a huge demand for the devices needed to turn spare rooms, kitchens and living rooms into makeshift and part-time office spaces.” Speaking about the role of the reseller in 2020 he points out that many organisations had to broaden to facilitate this transition as individual IT departments strained under the pressure of getting their staff settled, “Improving home networks under the increased requirements of families being inside much more, upgrading and installing new equipment for business use, installing home security, all inside the same building, become increasingly common requirements.” 6

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“Add to this the number of companies reportedly foregoing corporate premises as the huge cost does not now align with the number of occupants allowed, and it’s also likely that businesses are going to have to spend a significant proportion of those savings on getting their workers equipped at home.” “As home-working becomes the longer term solution, replicating the set-up in the office becomes a priority and we’re seeing increased demand for webcams, PCs, printers, desks, monitors and monitor arms.” “And, as people are spending more time at home, they’re also wanting to upgrade their domestic technology with labour-saving, wellbeing-enhancing smart devices, better routers than those provided by their ISPs and home entertainment solutions for the whole family, with PCs acting as entertainment hubs becoming increasingly popular,” says Frankling. www.pcr-online.biz

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“The need for custom PCs and upgrades to cope with the latest gaming requirements, as well as new peripherals, webcams, capture cards, improved audio and displays, is going to keep resellers busy, even after the Christmas rush and well into 2021,” he predicts. Focusing on the positives, Hugh Scantlebury, CEO and co-founder at Aqilla says: “The channel has benefited enormously in 2020 from the demand required to supply remote/flexible working solutions to thousands of businesses. With that demand met, I believe the focus in 2021 will change to shoring up robust, centralised infrastructure to service the needs of the augmented workplaces we are becoming more familiar with in these times.” In terms of the business application space he says, “We anticipate growth in many valueadded and technology channel relationships as people continue to adapt to the new normal, both in the UK and the rest of the world. Whilst I think this will again benefit the larger channel players, a re-balancing of the supply ecosystem will become necessary to develop and maintain materially engaged relationships between the manufacturers, developers, distributors, resellers with what is ultimately the most important component in the whole value chain – the customer.” Gregg Lalle, SVP international sales & strategy at ConnectWise continues the optimism for the New Year, “2021 has a lot of potential. As more companies have moved to an “anywhere operations business” the opportunities for the channel will only increase. Whether that’s moving data and applications into the cloud, deploying a unified communications platform, delivering managed security services to firms that needed additional protection, or simply implementing a permanent solution to a hastily implemented application rolled out to counter the overnight remote working environment. The scope is wide. And it’s there for taking.” However, Lalle believes there where there are winners, there are inevitably losers - and 2021 won’t be as good for all firms, “For those with a heavy reliance on physical products and that have not shifted to offering/embracing services, they will continue to miss the digital transformation movement. They’ll have lost out heavily in 2020 and the longer term prospects for them don’t look good at all.” Speaking about the technologies that will drive demand over the next 12 months he says it will be, “Security, big data analytics, anywhere operations and unified communications that will all be major driving factors for the new more permanent work from home revolution.” Jonathan Bowl, AVP & general manager, UK, Ireland & Nordics at Commvault says one of the biggest trends the company is seeing is prioritising being cyber-ready, “The increase in cybercrime last year has been front and centre, and as many organisations work remotely with sensitive data in often insecure places, cybersecurity is more important than ever before. The channel is in the perfect position to help organisations boost their cybersecurity measures to protect against potential threats. We’re also seeing an increase in cloud technologies and as-a-Service offerings – hybrid cloud will really www.pcr-online.biz 

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accelerate in the UK into 2021, and so the channel, being able to offer solutions that simplify this technology is crucial as it takes the heavy lifting away from customers.” Greg Bailey, director channel and cloud EMEA at Zerto offers his outlook: “We’re still seeing a lot of uncertainty within the channel as we head into 2021. Partners and users alike will want to see vendors that understand both their business issues - helping to drive more flexible commercial models and terms - and how to become more aligned in solving those issues collaboratively.” Bailey believes the key is to consolidate, “Partners and vendors can work together to drive lower total-cost-of-ownership and higher return on investment for end users. Vendors don’t need radical restructuring. Partners still want vendors who understand them and their business, who are driving a USP, creating trusted partnerships and enabling them in solving key business issues. It’s not a question of ‘how cheap can we make it?’ - it’s about building value, not decreasing cost.” “2020 saw many organisations turn to technology to help them operate through the COVID-19 pandemic - whether they were automating processes to cut costs, or simply wanted to make staff more efficient. As a knock on from that, there is no doubt that users will want greater insights in 2021.” Bailey continues, “We can expect to see organisations become smarter with their access to data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Analytics and monitoring tools can be applied to almost any platform and businesses are looking at how they can use these to drive better and smarter decisions. They want to know how they can work with greater predictability in an unpredictable world. For example, an organisation already using analytics for data protection can now feed this into a third party platform that leverages AI, recognises patterns, and uses these metrics to predict where or when their next ransomware attack might come from.” Bailey believes we will also see a greater drive for vendors to look at what the channel does best: “leverage scale and utilise presence. The role of the vendor is to know how to work to generate leads and drive new client opportunities, but it’s equally important to know December/January 2021 | 7

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how to elevate and optimise the existing client base proactively. With so many resellers becoming service providers - or using partnerships to deliver ‘as-a-service’ models the financial flexibility will be greater than ever.” Speaking about the ways Zerto is working to meet these expectations in 2021 he says: “We are driven to influence more, unlock greater opportunity through programmes and meet user needs by focusing on the right partners. We want to optimise commercial channels and technology through Zerto Data Protection and support for containers. We will continue to lead in the areas we have always led, and will not only invest in those aiming to prevent cyber attacks, but those recovering as well.” Rob Shaw, MD EMEA at Fluent Commerce points out the vital need to optimise service offering both online and in store to encourage shoppers back and to continue spending, “As we head into 2021, and ‘browsing’ goes almost entirely digital, it is absolutely crucial to not only show inventory online, but to make sure it is accurate and up to date. We’ve heard from many instances recently where people went to stores where there was, according to the website, stock available - only to be told that in fact there wasn’t any left. Whilst showing this on the website is great, not being able to deliver on that promise can backfire spectacularly by making consumers choose a different retailer altogether for that purchase. Reliability will be more important than ever so that no customer feels they are “wasting a trip to the shops”. “Retailers also need to think about what makes people want to come into stores - to try on and test things, but also, human contact and interaction - and then ensure they can deliver on that. We have noticed that a lot of retailers have started pulling back on their store experiences by having less staff and also less stock available in stores. This is understandable under the current constraints but it needs to be carefully balanced against customer expectation when they do come into a store - as disappointed customers are less likely to return,” Shaw adds. Speaking about safety and convenience as drivers for customer preferences post-pandemic he says: “The Apparel Digital Maturity Benchmark Report found that shoppers are twice as likely to order online for store pick-up than to make an in-store purchase over the next six months. Retailers need to think about both how they can maximise their margins on store fulfilled orders (by optimising their pick and pack processes, for example) and also about how they can make the most 8

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out of this store traffic with upselling strategies. Our clients report that one in five customers who come to collect an order pick up something else in the store. There will be ways to build on this to increase store sales.” Whilst Martin Taylor, deputy CEO and cofounder at Content Guru says: “What is clear is that retailers will be operating in a tough environment for the foreseeable future, with consumer confidence dented significantly by worries about job security, and in many cases actual unemployment. The most successful retailers will be those who offer not just the safest shopping experience, but the best customer service. “As and when retail reopens, so will the channels through which customers will be communicating with their favourite brands and stores. Let’s not forget the impact that re-opening shops will have on contact centre and engagement hub staff around the UK. Ensuring all channels of communication are open – for enquiries or to return items – will be crucial to managing the increased flow of customers venturing out into physical stores,” Taylor points out. He continues, “As the demand for customer service increases, retailers will need to think about the kind of contact centre environment they are providing and how they are protecting their employees. Proper social distancing in a physical shop is difficult – in a traditional contact centre it is nearly impossible. Many organisations are being forced to operate reduced capacity customer service models. Retailers would be wise to consider adopting cloud technology for their contact centres, to enable agents to work and transact, effectively and compliantly, from home.”

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News

Broadband industry surprised by Government Spending Review

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hanges to the government’s self-imposed target for delivering gigabit broadband to 100% of the country have taken broadband industry leaders by surprise. Confusion also reigned over whether the original commitment to provide £5bn of public funding for hard to reach areas had been watered down to £1.2bn. INCA Chief Executive Malcolm Corbett said, “The whole point of the Outside-In funding programme is to ensure that hard to reach areas don’t get left behind in this massive upgrade to the UK’s digital infrastructure. Build plans by Openreach, Virgin Media and altnet challengers have been ramping up, but we agree that reaching 100% by the end of 2025 was always going to be difficult”. “The government has recognised that completing a full commercial build and tackling the subsidised harder to reach

areas at the same time is very challenging.” Mr Corbett said. “Having spoken with officials our understanding is that the £5bn of funding committed in the National Infrastructure Strategy is ring-fenced and if more of that funding can be brought forward into the Spending Review period, that will happen.” The ambitious target date of 2025 for 100% coverage across the UK was set by the Prime Minister, originally as full fibre coverage, but later changed to include Virgin Media’s cable network and some wireless broadband services. The National Infrastructure Strategy, published as part of the Chancellor’s Spending Review, has changed the target. “The government is working with industry to target a minimum of 85% gigabit capable coverage by 2025 but will seek to accelerate roll-out further to get as close to 100% as possible”, the review says.

Comstor launches new go-to-market campaign

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omstor has launched “Stay Connected, Stay Productive”, the company’s latest go-to-market strategy and expansion of its previous campaign, Stay Safe, Stay Connected. The new campaign includes a selection of support kits incorporating Cisco solutions to address the ongoing needs of businesses and vertical markets, such as education, retail and healthcare, in a new flexible work environment. An increasing number of organisations worldwide are in the process of moving to a more remote and flexible working business model. According to the PwC US CFO Pulse Survey, 54% of CFOs plan to make remote work a permanent option for relevant roles, while 56% believe that the technology investments they make during this time will position them better for the long term. However, some companies are opting for quick solutions that don’t scale and that could result in loss of productivity and infrastructure. Stay Connected, Stay Productive is aimed at businesses that need to identify the optimum technology solutions for improving their flexible work environment. The campaign promotes a range of kits designed to help partners position solutions to satisfy a variety of user needs, whether they happen to be office employees working from home, teachers with flexible work needs or healthcare consultants looking for ways to interface

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with their patients remotely. Comstor will initially launch the Comstor Business Kits (Secure Remote Workforce Bundle, Advanced Kit and Advanced+ Kit) in addition to Comstor Education Kits (Lower Education, Secondary Education and Higher Education Kits). Russell Blackburn, VP Product Management & Marketing – Comstor, said: “In the current climate, businesses need to be resilient, flexible and adaptable, as such they require solutions that allow their workforces to remain efficient. The Stay Connected, Stay Productive campaign is instrumental in helping our partners achieve this goal and satisfy customer needs. The Comstor kits have been developed by in-house experts at Comstor and with the support of Cisco, to ensure the solutions within each kit are optimal. The kits feature everything partners need to make their customers’ workforce productive from anywhere.” Stay Connected, Stay Productive will also see the distribution of the new Cisco Secure Remote Work bundle, geared specifically towards small businesses. The bundle offers essential technologies for the flexible worker, delivering collaborative tools and the security choice of Cisco Duo, AnyConnect, Umbrella, Cloud Mailbox Defense at an affordable monthly price per user.

Tech Data’s new distribution partner for Glass Enterprise Edition 2 Tech Data has been appointed as an authorised distribution partner for Glass Enterprise Edition 2 in Europe. Glass Enterprise Edition 2, designed by Google – provides glanceable, voiceactivated assistance, enabling two-way communication, just-in-time training and problem solving with its “see what I see” functionality. Glass works with a variety of software solutions that are chosen depending on the use case. Tech Data can help partners to build bespoke solutions for end customers’ specific business requirements by drawing on an extensive software portfolio and the Tech Data Software Store platform for provisioning, licensing and renewals. Luc van Huystee, vice president, Mobility and Consumer Electronics Solutions, Europe at Tech Data, said: “Glass Enterprise Edition 2 is a groundbreaking product that revolutionises the way that hands-on professionals can communicate, collaborate and learn in real time while carrying out their daily work. We are really excited to further expand our assisted and virtual reality solutions portfolio and to help Google to launch this product into the European IT and telecommunication channels. We look forward to helping our partners to build exciting and impactful solutions for their end customers.” www.pcr-online.biz

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News

Giacom is being acquired by Digital Wholesale Solutions (DWS)

Transatel and BT renew partnership

Giacom is being acquired by Digital Wholesale Solutions (DWS). As remote working and cloud-based collaboration accelerates the convergence of unified communications and IT, Giacom and Digital Wholesale Solutions (DWS) are excited about the potential growth opportunity. Giacom’s CEO Mike Wardell will remain in post, leading the Giacom business with the support of his existing management team. The business will continue to operate its hugely successful, clear and simple, customer-first, channel focused model under the Giacom brand. The added value to customers will be the potential opportunities to cross-pollinate products and share expertise through the group of businesses.

Transatel and BT’s renewed partnership means that MVNOs of all sizes, in a broad spread of industries, continue to benefit from Transatel’s value-added services. In the UK, that includes utility companies (Utilita, Ecotalk), community-based MVNOs (China Telecom Europe), B2B reseller MVNOs (Abzorb), and retail MVNO brands (Plusnet, The Phone Coop). Transatel’s partnership with BT Wholesale has also helped it expand beyond traditional MVNOs to serve charitable organisations, local providers, food distributors and discounters. Alex Tempest, Managing Director BT Wholesale said: “For over 12 years, we have proven a successful relationship with Transatel, and as we firmly enter a period of data-driven business outcomes, we are very pleased to support Transatel with superior voice and data solutions, from the UK’s number one network. As the largest wholesale provider of telecommunications services in Europe, BT values working with Transatel and its customers to grow our wholesale business.” With the agreement in place, Transatel will have enhanced access to EE, with 4G available approximately 95% of the time according to Opensignal analysis, higher than any other MNO. EE, part of BT Group, also continues to be the UK’s leading mobile network operator in terms of network performance, recently winning best network for 4G and 5G according to RootMetrics. EE’s 5G network is now live in over 100 locations across the UK, more than any other network.

IBM and Confluent partnership will leverage event streaming IBM and Confluent have announced plans for a strategic partnership. Jay Kreps, Co-founder and CEO, Confluent says: “As part of this partnership, IBM will be reselling Confluent Platform. “This opportunity enables businesses to optomise event streaming. It gives access to a number of interconnected data sources and microservices requiring infrastructure that can operate efficiently at a massive scale”, says Kreps. IBM Cloud Pak for Integration with Confluent delivers event streaming applications that use Apache Kafka, providing a single platform to help businesses unlock value from data in real time. “I think this is a reflection of what we see happening more broadly - event streams have emerged as a foundational part of the modern software stack. Event streaming not only delivers improved outcomes and unlocks new potential, but it also allows developers to build and enable new real-time applications that drive business innovation. By pioneering this approach, Confluent and Apache Kafka have been at

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the core of this innovation, enabling web-scale distributed computing, app modernisation across private and public clouds, insights, analytics utilizing big data, and real-time applications using continuous stream processing”, says Kreps “While the early adopters of Kafka were individual start-up developers, event streaming is now mainstream. Enterprises around the world are rethinking how to enable this new paradigm so they can deliver real-time applications faster—even if their architecture wasn’t necessarily built with event streaming in mind. As Confluent Platform and Kafka become the central nervous system of their business, and by working with IBM as one of the most trusted integration partners in the world, organizations are now able to quickly build a bridge between all the powerful data sitting across the enterprise. These streams of data are at the heart of some of the most cutting-edge reinventions of established companies. Through this new strategic partnership with IBM, we’re excited to be at the heart of many more.”

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ASUS’ new GeForce RTX 3060 Ti series graphics cards

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he new ASUS series of graphics cards that debut with the latest NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti GPU includes five new models: ROG Strix, TUF Gaming, ASUS Dual, ASUS Dual MINI and ASUS KO GeForce RTX 3060 Ti. These new graphics cards bring buffed-up cooling, PCBs and power designs to complement the new NVIDIA Ampere architecture and deliver the latest and greatest in 3D gaming performance. Powered by the NVIDIA Ampere architecture and the 2nd generation of NVIDIA RTX, PC gaming platform for real-time ray tracing and AI, the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti delivers 1080p and 1440p gameplay. The RTX 3060 Ti also supports the trifecta of GeForce gaming innovations too, including performance accelerating and IQenhancing NVIDIA DLSS technology which is now available in over 25 games; NVIDIA Reflex which reduces system latency (‘input lag’), making games more responsive, and giving players in competitive multiplayer titles an extra edge over the opposition; and NVIDIA Broadcast, a suite of audio and video AI enhancements including virtual backgrounds and noise removal that users can apply to chats, Skype calls and video meetings.

From top to bottom, ROG Strix GeForce RTX 3060 Ti graphics cards deliver powerful thermal designs and are optimised for the dynamic NVIDIA Ampere architecture. A shroud with metal accents encompasses a trio of Axial-tech fans that have been tuned to fulfill specialised roles. The central fan leverages a fullheight barrier ring and 13 fan blades that provide boosted static pressure to drive air through the heatsink fins and onto the GPU heat spreader. The two fans on the flanks feature 11 blades each and half-height barrier rings to allow for more lateral dispersion and to provide better airflow through the cooling array. Turbulence between fans is reduced due to a reversal of the center fan’s rotational direction. A larger heatsink that fills most of the card’s 2.9-slot footprint was designed to leverage the increased airflow. To get heat up off the die and into the heatsink array, MaxContact technology has been utilised to polish the surface of the heat spreader and improve smoothness at the microscopic level. The extra flatness allows for better contact with the die for enhanced thermal transfer.

Novatech’s Reign Gaming adds Latest NVIDIA GPUs Novatech Ltd. have overhauled their line-up of custom gaming PCs with the latest and most exciting hardware offerings from NVIDIA, AMD and Intel, giving gamers, streamers and content creators the ability to play, edit and stream without limits. Designing two brand new gaming PCs featuring NVIDIA’s RTX 3070, Novatech’s Reign Gaming PC range is one of the first tailored to include the latest NVIDIA RTX 30 series graphics cards. The in-house gaming brand will see a total of 12 new systems, sporting a range of GPUs from NVIDIA’s 30 series cards, as well as AMD’s RX 6000 series of GPUs, and Ryzen 5000 series CPUs, later this year. With Novatech’s Core range launching first, their new and improved Reign Sentry MKII and MKIV Gaming PCs will both be equipped with an RTX 3070. “The Reign Sentry MKII and Reign Sentry MKIV are both built to handle smooth gaming at 1080p and 1440p, making use of the RTX 3070 and Intel’s Unlocked 10th Gen Processors, with the MKIV offering a superior i7 10700K and AIO cooling solution,” said Oliver Furby, PC Brand Manager at Novatech Ltd . “This combination provides Sentry owners with a seamless content creation experience.” 12

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Next Month: February Vendor Relationships Features: Distribution Profiles Marketing and PR agencies Dealer Services Automation Content & User Interaction Audio Tech Sector Guides: Distributor top products Autonomous devices: Drones, Robotics processing Amplification and Listening devices (Speakers, Headphones, Headsets & Earphones) www.pcr-online.biz

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industryopinion

Get work done from home easier than at the office Paul Butler, Philips monitors UK and Ireland Regional Sales Director, presents Philips USB-C monitors for the new normal

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his winter is going to be a wild one, for sure. But there is always progress in every aspect to look for too, then prepare, adapt, and get ahead. With the new circumstances the world had to endure throughout the year, thousands of employees had to adjust to mainly working from home many for the first time in their career. Most employees and companies were taken by surprise and had to act quickly to accommodate the new normal. To keep in touch with colleagues, teams and clients many companies implemented video conferencing systems immediately, which produced an acute demand of webcams that the market was unable to meet. Additionally, everyone had to adapt to their new work environment and workstations swiftly in order to keep productivity high and businesses going. All of a sudden, technology played an even more important role in peoples’ homes than ever before. In this new environment, Philips monitors’ innovative products hit several sweet spots by solving more than one challenge with one single device. Take for example a realistic scenario where employees are working from home (WFH), using only their work laptops (with 13”-16” display sizes). Such setup is neither ergonomic nor productive. Adding a second monitor to this scenario can change the entire WFH experience. From Philips’ business focused B line-up, the 24” 243B9 (Full HD) and the 27” 276B9 (QHD) offer a new and innovative way of connecting laptops, using USB-C. USB-C can carry power, display and data signals simultaneously. When connected to a laptop, these monitors can charge and power it (up to 65W), while mirroring or extending the laptop display at the same time, thereby offering simplicity and reducing cable clutter. The SmartErgoBase allows height, tilt and swivel adjustments for the most ergonomic working www.pcr-online.biz 

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environment, even while home-working. One can forget the impact of working hours in a WFH environment, but LowBlue light mode and FlickerFree technology ensures reducing eyestrain and increasing eye comfort. Thanks to their IPS panels, these models can reproduce vivid, natural colours and offer wide viewing angles. Compliant with latest regulations, these models are also energy-efficient, with LightSensor and PowerSensor features reducing the consumption even more, and come with recyclable packaging. For increased productivity, the 34-inch Philips 346P1CRH from the professional P line-up offers a fully-fledged USB-C docking station. First, the monitor comes with a built-in 2 MP Full HD webcam and additional sensors, supporting Windows Hello facial recognition and easy login. For increased privacy and security, this pop-up webcam can be tucked away behind the display. These days with video calls increasing, this feature alone could be a lifesaver. The USB-C input can power laptops up to 90W, while the Ethernet input of the monitor can route network connection to the devices connected via USB-C, ensuring fast, secure and stable connection to the outside. The docking features also include four USB 3.2 ports for fast data transfer and connecting keyboard and mouse. With such devices connected to the monitor, it offers another great feature: the KVM switch. This allows the user to control two computers connected to the monitor (for example a work laptop with USB-C and a home PC with USB upstream) with a single keyboard and mouse set. With its features and 21:0 aspect ratio, the 346P1CRH is a true productivity booster and WFH asset. With 13 models supporting USB-C and a wide range of sizes from 24” up to 49” SuperWide, me and my team can match and support any working from home environment to the complete range of display solutions making WFH a blessing rather than an inconvenience. December/January 2021 | 13

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Home-working forces MSPs to help customers regain control of their data Paul Evans, CEO at UK cloud data management company Redstor, reveals how the pandemic has changed attitudes to data protection.

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he first few weeks of lockdown highlighted a stark difference between organisations ready for remote working and those who weren’t. Businesses that were cloud ready made the transition seamlessly, while there was a sense of panic from others as they tried to catch up by ordering laptops and getting new systems in place. Next came the focus on how employees could best communicate remotely with customers and each other. That was followed by a huge rise in ‘shadow IT’ – employees using systems, devices, software and applications as workarounds. The reliance on Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and increase in devices operating outside the corporate network has only heightened the risk and rate of malicious cyber-attacks. Now, more than ever, companies need to: 1. Ensure data is always available - wherever users are, they all want access to their critical files 24/7, even in the event of SaaS or IaaS outage. 2. Safeguard cloud-based data – The adoption of SaaS apps and growth of cloud data has been massive, but it would be wrong to think back-up tools are built in. Typically, the SaaS or IaaS vendor is responsible for availability, but it remains the data owner’s responsibility to ensure data can always be recovered. 3. Contend with complex data - Data now exists in more formats than ever before - across a vast number of devices, applications and cloud platforms. Getting full visibility is difficult without the right tools. 4. Strengthen business continuity - A security breach preventing access to systems for a critical period can be devastating. Many businesses fail to take a recovery-first approach. 5. Guarantee recovery from ransomware – Many on-prem backups aren’t safe from ransomware. To guarantee recovery, organisations need an isolated backup, held separately from the primary network. 6. Minimise hardware costs – Larger businesses with IT estates reliant on legacy systems simultaneously struggle to meet the need for onsite support, while trying to address soaring storage costs and an ageing infrastructure. When it comes to securing and controlling data during lockdowns and the potential of new pandemics, managed service providers do 14

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not see the sense in solutions with onsite hardware. Those embracing cloud data management are seeing revenues rise and are maintaining operations, while reducing management overheads, despite Covid-19 limitations. They are doing this by: 1. Unifying complex data management: Whether it’s structured or unstructured, Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace, on-prem or on devices at home, backing up and viewing all critical data from a single control centre in real time saves on operational overheads and helps customers regain control over their data. 2. Eliminating downtime: With the right cloud-data management platform, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) can stream customers’ backup, archive and DR data. Customers can access priority data while whole systems recover in the background. So, in the event of an issue, such as a ransomware attack, users can resume work immediately. 3. Securing margin-rich repeat revenue: In these uncertain times businesses may need to scale up or down quickly as demand changes. This is a lot easier if no expensive hardware and maintenance costs are involved. A cloud-based solution gives customers a predictable, opexonly model, while MSPs get a clear, recurring revenue stream. 4. Speeding up the entire sales journey: Automated cloud-data management platforms allow MSPs to demo, onboard and bill faster. They are also easier to sell as non-technical decision-makers quickly comprehend the benefits of ‘streaming’ data live. 5. Simplifying operations: With a single, web-based control centre and a multi-tenanted platform, MSPs are not held back by Covid-19 restrictions. They manage all customer data from anywhere on any device at any time. 6. Identifying additional revenue opportunities: Comprehensive insight dashboards, offering more than basic backup, can address storage and compliance challenges, providing more chances to profit by adding value. Seizing the opportunity Data management doesn’t need to be complicated and timeconsuming. Forward-thinking MSPs are already capitalising on the new ‘normal’. With smart, cloud-based data management they are not only helping customers master data sprawl but are also turbocharging their own revenue. www.pcr-online.biz

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industryopinion

A piece of the Raspberry Pi Could the marriage of Raspberry Pi and Touch Displays be the future of the Human Machine Interface? Martin Kent, Territory Manager, HANNspree explores

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aspberry Pi is most commonly associated with IT learning and is the main USP to encourage a ‘create your own’ mentality. The and hobbying, but as an increasing number of developers Pi brand has also enabled access to a range of alternative operating take their hands to creating new IT concepts using the tiny systems to its own Raspbian OS to ensure customers have the computer and demonstrating how it can be applied to freedom and flexibility of choice when it comes to exactly replace existing, more expensive IT solutions, it is really how they would like their product setup. This bold move only a matter of time before the demand explodes. has made Raspberry Pi even more attractive to the As the cheapest computer in the market today, technical world which has been somewhat stifled “We fully expect Raspberry Pi is already sought after by students, by the limitations instilled by existing computer start-ups and tech enthusiasts, all experimenting developers. Raspberry Pi to with the inconceivable possibilities presented by A great example of how developers are honing become the future the technology and likely chomping at the bit to the potential of Raspberry Pi, is the marriage unleash its potential on us all. And the potential of Raspberry Pi with Touch displays, which is choice for HMI is undoubtedly extensive. Raspberry Pi is an fast-tracking the birth of future Pi solutions. The developers” effective and cost-effective solution for a vast range tandem of these two technologies is increasingly of sectors, especially thanks to its simplicity and being utilised to create hardware such as POS and POI portability. and demonstrating how the human machine interface The ability to ‘take it anywhere’ and utilise it as a plug(HMI) can be more achievable and affordable. We fully and-play setup really resonates with the growing number of workers expect Raspberry Pi to become the future choice for HMI developers becoming more mobile more often, as well as the general shift to and as the touch applications of Pi surge for hardware hosting the becoming more mobile in our everyday busy lives. From simply human machine interface to become a lot more prominent across an accessing data when needed, to creating a working office or learning array of sectors - especially those that would have previously deemed space anywhere that there is Internet available, Raspberry Pi offers the concept too costly. a modern, pocket-friendly device of convenience, and who doesn’t Selling Raspberry Pi now will ensure you capitalise on the want a more convenient device nowadays? Not to mention the growing demand, as well as the many consequent profit-earning extremely low price tag! opportunities. The rising popularity of Raspberry Pi and the The evolution of Raspberry Pi is being driven by young minds that invention of new applications for the technology will almost completely understand what the market wants. They are determined certainly boost sales for display vendors and their e-tail customers. to make a durable, workable and budget friendly product with We have already seen e-tailers begin to offer a Pi and touch display immense compatibility options available for everyone. These young, package (with the peace of mind that the touch display is ready principled masterminds will help enable schools, businesses, retail to work out of the box). At HANNspree, we recognise the future stores and many others to realise that with Raspberry Pi, they have potential of Raspberry Pi and perfected driver development for the opportunity to invent their own bespoke IT solutions, and scores Raspberry Pi compatibility, ensuring that no setup or configuration could opt to do so, rather than turning to big brands to meet their is required for immediate full touch control. expectations. In doing so, they stand to save a pretty penny. As with most new technologies that have the potential to Taking into consideration price, bespoke design, competitive completely turn an industry on its head, Raspberry Pi has to date support and the installation requirements of Raspberry Pi, it’s been met with reluctance. It is notoriously difficult to introduce a understandable why this technology is becoming increasingly technology that is so ‘different’ to the norm, but as the possibilities attractive to solution providers. In fact, the capacity for installations for Pi application grow, so too does interest and acceptance, and is somewhat limitless, bound only by a lack of imagination. Thanks with a young generation of conscientious IT entrepreneurs in the to the numerous packages housed within the Raspbian OS, it is very wings already familiar, if not expert, with the tech, we believe it is simple to create solutions and all allow complete developer oversight. not a matter of if, but rather when, Raspberry Pi will dominate the This flexibility could wipe out the need to seek dedicated solutions IT sector.

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11/12/2020 08:53


industryopinion

How to keep resellers trading in a virtual world Mike Wardell, CEO, at Giacom, explores the available solutions and tools designed to help resellers not just survive, but also thrive in a virtual world, now and into the future.

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any businesses have been thrust into a virtual working Another key challenge for resellers is security; with businesses world at a faster rate than expected, and adaptations have completely overhauling their processes almost overnight it has meant had to be made to ensure continuity for managed service cyber security was pushed to the bottom of the priorities, but now providers (MSPs) and end users alike. But while MSPs, along is a more important time than ever to ensure the highest with all businesses, have had significant hurdles thrown levels of protection. The number of cyberattacks has their way over the last few months, they don’t have continued to increase over time, with up to 88% of “Once businesses are to tackle this alone – there’s an extensive range UK companies being targets of breaches in the operating from cloud servers it of technology and services available to support last 12 months, and hackers are now taking removes all constraints and leaders in this journey and particularly to advantage of the current Coronavirus situation streamlines the business to no longer help resellers overcome the challenges of the by sending phishing emails purporting to be rely on physical technology, allowing current economic climate. PPE suppliers or medication. The emphasis for more agile and flexible adaptations As entire staff bases are continuing to on data security must be reinforced, since as the industry landscape continues to work from home and remotely, with reduced simple mistakes are often the downfall of shift. There is no going back from face-to-face interactions, it’s imperative that organisations, through phishing emails for virtualisation and the cloud is the communication does not falter. And with 57% instance. clear future, with business of small businesses expected to continue with These easy mistakes can be made as staff are reliance on this remote working beyond the pandemic, tools to keen to show they’re working hard without the only increasing.” support working from home will be essential to physical presence of colleagues or managers. Simple assure productivity in the long term. Microsoft Teams, errors such as clicking on phishing links or replying for instance, is a great tool, which many businesses hadn’t to non-genuine emails can be detrimental to business considered before lockdown, and now should take advantage of as continuity and cause significant repercussions. a tool that can drive productivity and even staff wellbeing. This is Tools such as Advanced Email Security for Microsoft 365 by Vade where resellers have a vital role to play in educating their end users Secure for Microsoft 365, and endpoint cybersecurity protection, can on how to gain the most productivity and value from technology – to be implemented to help mitigate these risks and protect the business do more with the resource they have. from harm, providing email protection for staff to prevent phishing This is particularly true for those businesses that are used to and malware attacks. Even standardising email signatures across an working with legacy infrastructure within offices. Moving to systems organisation with a solution such as Exclaimer can help reduce the like Teams, and switching to cloud servers makes a significant probability of users falling for BEC attacks. By investing in the right difference in terms of ease of continuity and staff productivity. solution, customer devices can also be protected against malware Once businesses are operating from cloud servers it removes all and viruses by blocking any incoming cyber threats. This MSP/CSP constraints and streamlines the business to no longer rely on physical collaboration whereby the right solution can be identified for each technology, allowing for more agile and flexible adaptations as the individual end user’s requirements will in turn help to achieve a industry landscape continues to shift. There is no going back from satisfied customer with a secure database. virtualisation and the cloud is the clear future, with business reliance This period of change has given MSPs an opportunity to innovate on this only increasing. to better their businesses and provide improved services to end Not only do these online applications help to support businesses organisations. These tools and techniques are crucial in driving now in the virtual world, but they are invaluable in attracting future success and supporting the return to ‘normal’. Resellers can be the talent. By moving business operations to cloud based systems it key guide in helping end users deploy these innovative tools, from enables staff a greater level of flexibility, which is a crucial demand cloud software to collaboration platforms and security systems; they from employees because many prefer to work from home and with ultimately can provide businesses with the roadmap to leveraging more agile hours. And with a growing, highly distributed workforce, unrivalled flexibility, productivity and continuity throughout these businesses shouldn’t be constrained by outdated physical servers. uncertain times. 16

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industryopinion

SD-WAN: The force behind the new world of work Juniper’s Senior Director of Product Marketing, Christian Gilby, explores how SD-WAN will be key in driving the transformation to new and more distributed ways of working amid the inflection point we’ve hit due to COVID-19

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o one could have predicted it. In what felt like an overnight switch, companies were forced to work from home, due to the Coronavirus that threw everything into disarray. Two things happened at the same time. Enterprises had to scramble to enable their entire employee base to work remotely, while maintaining productivity and security. Also, whole industries such as financial services and retailers have been under immense pressure to serve customers in new ways. This combination of challenges put a lot on the plates of IT departments, but many have found that SD-WAN will be key in this transformation to new and more distributed ways of working. According to YouGov figures, a fifth of Brits who had never worked from home before the Covid-19 pandemic had shifted to working from home consistently during the lockdown. In other words, many organisations had to turn on a sixpence and equip a remote workforce with little opportunity beforehand to put the network infrastructure and support mechanisms in place for the employees. There were obviously negative implications to such a sudden change. For example, the IT departments didn’t know the user experience of the business applications on their employee’s home networks – even the mission critical apps. Their inability to monitor performance and usage patterns meant that they couldn’t anticipate any potential issues the employees would face. To make matters worse, IT workers couldn’t remotely troubleshoot and fix networking issues, which attacked productivity levels at a time when productivity was more important than ever. Addressing these issues, SD-WAN can increase visibility for companies emerging into a remote working reality for the future. It can also ensure company data is heavily guarded and manage demand for products and services. The use of AI, in particular, when partnered with SD-WAN can be a huge boon in managing remote enterprise networks and boosting productivity. By seeing what’s taking place across the network at any given time, AI-driven SD-WAN can both find the root of a problem and provide a solution for it. There’s a catalogue of things that could technically go wrong on an enterprise network. By using intelligent SD-WAN, IT departments can save a great deal of time that they would have spent troubleshooting an issue. Consequently, employees

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can spend more time working and less time wondering why the technology is hindering them from doing their jobs. Security is an issue that simply cannot be ignored when it comes to enabling employees to work from home. When workers aren’t stationed in the office, there’s an overwhelming amount of confidential data flowing across the network that must be protected. Moving this sensitive data across home and public networks that aren’t configured using the same security parameters as those in the office can carry risk if the right measures aren’t in place. Businesses are increasingly calling on SD-WAN to improve network security by encrypting traffic and segmenting the network to minimise damage if breaches do occur. Security solutions such as firewall, anti-spam and web filtering are all included here, and they work together to prevent data leakage and network security disruptions. Any IT manager will tell you the amount of work that has to go into securing a network, and how much effort goes into making things right when there’s a breach. SD-WAN helps to lighten the load on IT staff and gives them peace of mind that the network is better protected. SD-WAN has its benefits in other areas too. Take supply chains, which have been particularly important to get a handle on during the pandemic. Companies that have shifted to the cloud and integrated SD-WAN into product inventory can access cloud resources to power their inventory systems. For example, by integrating SD-WAN into supermarket chains, individual stores can share information on stock levels with each other. So if there’s an increased demand for yeast in one store, stock can be allocated from another branch that doesn’t have as much demand for the same product. That means supermarkets are better positioned to reflect the demands of consumers in real time and can act quickly to make sure their needs are met. The current pandemic has upended the way businesses work and networks have to follow suit if firms want to be prepared for the future, which will be increasingly non-office based. With SD-WAN, organisations can benefit from ease of management, security and visibility – three key pillars to business continuity. SD-WAN has become the saving grace for IT managers who need the additional assurances and peace of mind that SD-WAN can provide. Its benefits will be felt long after the COVID-19 crisis has been resolved. December/January 2021 | 17

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industryopinion

The Evolution of Team Collaboration Nick Sacke, Head of IoT and Products at Comms365 discusses how socially distanced teamwork can be made effortless using the latest virtual platforms

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he recent pandemic has led to a significant rise in the number security – to underpin their collaboration tools for users working of businesses requiring collaboration tools, as large volumes apart from each other, whether that be at home or in the office. This of employees continue to work in different locations. This shift is fertile ground for innovative new services such as analytics, which in working practices provides numerous opportunities analyses application performance from cloud to user for monetisation and support areas for the Channel device. This can identify pinch points in the network to be involved in – by helping to underpin the infrastructure that can be remediated by network user experience and maintaining productivity managers, and collect useful data statistics on “There is a clear obtained by strengthening the network quality of service and usage patterns. The monetisation opportunity for the infrastructure and connectivity. As such, Channel has an opportunity to embrace Channel to help their customers to there’s been an influx of new entrants to these new service areas and offer them the market looking to make big waves, as value added enhancements to the strengthen their infrastructure across but what does the Channel need to do standard offerings. the board; from software applications to not just attract business in the short There is a clear monetisation to hardware, and security and term, but also keep them as long term, opportunity for the Channel to help resilience solutions to connectivity. loyal customers? their customers to strengthen their As is to be expected, there have infrastructure across the board; from Providing support and consultancy to been multiple networking problems software applications to hardware, minimise a number of these challenges for businesses looking to get up and and security and resilience solutions will enable channel partners to running remotely during Covid-19. Not to connectivity. Providing support and become trusted advisors, valued just in terms of user bandwidth, but also consultancy to minimise a number of by their customers.” in resilience, reliability and security of the these challenges will enable channel partners Internet connectivity and ensuring the correct to become trusted advisors, valued by their equipment is available to use. By having solutions customers. for these network challenges in place and offering At the start of lockdown, many IT providers were support and consultation alongside the actual collaboration offering ‘free licenses’, plugging the gap temporarily when the platforms, this formula is an opportunity for the channel to support pandemic began in order to get people on the platform But this customers with their network connectivity and business productivity creates an artificial transactional relationship and doesn’t consider needs. what’s going to happen next – what happens when the license ends? In order for applications to work properly and businesses to Is there any troubleshooting or support available, or does that come maintain continuity of service, it’s necessary for solid end-towith an additional cost? Instead, Channel partners can offer valueend infrastructure and reliable quality connectivity to be in place added agile and innovative ways to help and support their customers wherever the user is. Often, because of the diversity of infrastructure in order to retain them long-term. By ensuring excellent user available, there is variation in application performance. Remote experience beyond the transaction point, you’re more likely to keep a working adds further complications, due to the differentiation loyal customer base. in home connections, offering each user a different experience. Team collaboration software offers great tools to connect Additionally, some of the collaboration applications aren’t just workforces with one another for collaboration without being in the connectivity bandwidth hungry, but they also consume a lot of the office, but there is still a clear value-add opportunity for Channel resources on the devices themselves, which ultimately leads to tying players to educate and demonstrate best practices for users to work up processor power and memory, which can impact the overall user with these applications seamlessly. Additional training, education experience. and consultancy is necessary, particularly for the ‘new normal’, to get Businesses therefore need support to ensure reliability in the most value and productivity out of team collaboration tools, not hardware, software, connectivity and performance – as well as just for now, but for the future. 18

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Advertorial

NordVPN

Phone on the range - why everyone needs NordVPN at home on the PC, or on the go Rarely does new tech offer a chance for the channel to benefit an entire spectrum of end users as with VPN, now emerging for the broader consumer market

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doption of VPNs or virtual private networks is soaring as people sit at home on their computers, whether connecting to the office network, or shopping online. VPNs have become key to protecting consumer as well as business devices from cyber threat -- and NordVPN makes this simpler than ever before. That’s why QBS Software’s Head of consumer software Paul Olliver is so excited about the opportunity. “Ultimately, NordVPN ensures secure and private access to the internet. It’s the fastest, most innovative of the VPNs out there, that an end user can get to protect against any form of cyber threat,” he explains. “And it’s very, very simple to set up, and click that button.” VPN plays a crucial role in best-practice security alongside long established technologies like anti-virus. Creating an encrypted tunnel for user data, VPNs hide the IP address and user identity -- also making use of public Wi-Fi safer. “VPN has become much more important with Covid and things like that; obviously connectivity has become very vulnerable amid all of this. Cyber criminals are exploiting the situation to a massive degree, so online protections have never been more important,” Olliver explains. • NordVPN has the widest server coverage. The revolutionary VPN protocol NordLynx is built around the fastest WireGuard system. People won’t notice any lag or delay to their connection. • NordVPN manages and constantly upgrades its own server network, investing in software architecture and robust infrastructure. • As part of a complete solution, NordVPN makes it easy to mix and match products according to customer need. VPN can be brought in as an add-on, or additional internet security bundled in. • Customers need look no further for an item that can be offered at an attractive price point for resellers or tier-two consumers. “NordVPN can guarantee a secure connection that remains private - keeping everyone out while letting you view whatever you want to view, enabling exploration of all resources,” Olliver says. www.pcr-online.biz

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“So many people now are online, and there’s this massive growth in cyber exploitation that’s happening simply because they know more people are online.”

Reasons to partner with QBS “NordVPN want resellers to understand that they can still make margin that is not going to be devalued. For the right partners, there’ll be programmes and promotions that maximise the sell-through that flows benefits back to the resellers,” notes Olliver. The specialists at QBS are distribution experts in software, with extensive knowledge on more than 9000 publishers from large corporate solutions to small-to-medium business needs and consumer software, as well as personalised assistance and support for retailers and resellers. This includes not only custom-made digital marketing materials for individual shops or websites but comprehensive marketing plans, sample evaluations, testing and specific pricing structures that can maximise the opportunities as they evolve. And Olliver is keen to encourage partners to contact himself or a member of the team with requests for assistance. “We are the only channel distributor for NordVPN, which is the market leader and the first key VPN brand in the channel that’s available to the general public,” he confirms. Olliver adds that NordVPN is continuing to invest in R&D. The channel can look forward to advancements in cryptography and protection from threats via the dark web that can sneak onto the network via modern communications. “The dark web monitor will get rolled out in quite a big way, working with all manner of agencies worldwide to help combat identity theft, fraud, password loss, and more. This will help so many people,” he explains.

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11/12/2020 11:29


Partner content from

Reaping the rewards With the benefits and rewards available to partners of Acer, there couldn’t be a better time to join our reward programme.

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he Acer Synergy Partner Programme has been an invaluable resource for our clients in 2020. As a result of the global pandemic, businesses and educators alike have been forced to rethink the way they work and teach, with many accelerating digital transformation plans in order to ensure they can thrive in a new remote working and home-schooling environment. At Acer, we decided to upgrade our channel programme this year in order to better help our partners during these challenging times. With 40 years of experience in the world of computing, we have been able to expand and tailor our solutions to deliver increasingly targeted services to accurately suit the needs of our partners, and also to help drive business growth through our strategic partners, innovative solutions, and business best practices. Acer also prides itself on delivering an unmatched level of support to our partners and their customers, and our upgraded Synergy Partner Programme makes it easier than ever to do business with us.

to ultimately support better outcomes when using technology. Acer rapidly adapted the value available and aligned this to the new set of challenges being faced by schools caused by the Global pandemic. This included assistance with remote set-up, installation and training of the products, Microsoft Teams training and consultancy. As a result we saw the uptake in the programme accelerate throughout the summer. With the upgraded programme, educators can now claim rewards up to the value of £500 with every classroom set of Acer devices purchased, as well as earn up to £150 cashback on devices refreshed via the Acer Upgrade Programme, which also comes with the option of recycling old devices to earn additional STEM

Education

At this year’s British Educational Training and Technology Show (BETT), we launched our Acer STEM Rewards Programme targeted at primary and secondary schools as well as colleges. Initially, the programme offered schools a half day on-site workshop on STEM aligned to addressing the challenges schools faced in exciting children and teachers within these subjects. It was built to enable teachers to get more value from the device itself and 20

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“With the upgraded programme, educators can now claim rewards up to the value of £500 with every classroom set of Acer devices purchased” rewards. 2020 has been tough on educators, so our programme also offers a 100% money-back guarantee with the Acer Reliability Promise, along with free access into our Prize Draw to participate in a two-day STEM programme at an RAF Museum including an overnight stay in 2021. If educators come on board with Acer, not only will they receive best-in-class products, be it Windows laptops, Chromebooks or desktop PCs, but they also become part of the ACER Education Ecosystem, a 360-degree initiative that brings together devices and technologies, teaching resources solutions, Academy training, bestin-class service and support, and access to our partnership network to meet the requirements of the schools of tomorrow. By partnering with Acer, schools are guaranteed to get the best outcome and the reseller is able to add tonnes of value giving them the competitive edge they need.

Enterprise and Commercial

It’s not just educators that Acer has helped to support through 2020. We offer the same value propositions for our enterprise and commercial clients, many of which have been forced to adopt a new way of working this year as a result of the mass shift to remote working necessitated by the global pandemic. The newly upgraded Acer Synergy Partner Programme offers realistic and achievable criteria by which partners can obtain the same rewards and added value that we deliver through Acer STEM Rewards. Our channel partners are also able to access the extensive Synergy Partner Portal, Acer Account Manager and Telesales Team Support, value-adding marketing documentation, product training programmes, and support for tenders. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the best benefits delivered by our Synergy Programme this year:

Acer Essentials Rewards programme

2020 saw the launch of our new simplified rewards programme for members of the Acer Synergy Programme. This means that by simply selling a qualifying device from our range of best-in-class business products, all of which are suited to home working, you can receive cash on your Acer Essentials Rewards Debit Card. The Essentials Rewards Programme also offers a number of promotions to ensure sales are as simple as possible and that the end-user reaps the benefits.

Acer Reliability Promise

Now more than ever, our enterprise and commercial clients need to know that the devices they’re using are built to last. That’s why we introduced the ACER Reliability Promise; we’re so confident that our products will last and will withstand that wear and tear of everyday use that we’re offering our partners to claim a 100% refund of the full price paid off of your Acer device if it develops a fault and is repaired under warranty within the first year. We apply the Acer Reliability Promise to our full range of www.pcr-online.biz 

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professional-grade products, from our ultra-thin and convertible laptops to our wide range of Chromebooks, desktops and monitors. For example, you can pick up the Acer TravelMate P6, an effortlessly portable business-ready laptop that packs a punch, with the peace of mind that it will increase end-user productivity and won’t need replacing.

Acer Upgrade Rewards

For businesses looking to upgrade their devices to ensure their remote workforce can work to their full potential, our Upgrade Rewards programme will offer up to £150 cashback on qualifying products. The end user simply needs to purchase a qualifying product within the promotional period, claim and register the device within 30 days, and then provide evidence of the old devices to us within 30 days of approval to receive the cashback. The end user also gets to retain the old devices so keeping the residual value.

Acer Demo Programme

While in-person events have taken a backseat in 2020, Acer’s partners also have access to our Demo Programme that promotes hands-on experience as well as workshop and demo-days in order to enhance business and end-customer head-hunting. With the Demo programme, our channel partners are able to demonstrate Acer solutions to the end customer, as well as showcase their own sales and technical capabilities.

Working with the channel in 2021

At Acer, we are more committed to working with our partners than ever before. The channel remains one of Acer’s points of strength, as demonstrated by the huge number of new initiatives we launched to support our partners throughout 2020. In order to ensure businesses and educators continue to thrive going forward, we will be expanding and adding more features to our Synergy Partner Programme into 2021, an initiative designed to meet our customers changing needs and to provide partners with a competitive edge. “We have seen a significant uplift in revenue this year from the partners who have embraced the value that’s on offer within the Synergy programme. It’s really exciting to see how we are delivering end to end value in the channel,” comments Nick Walter, Head of Commercial at Acer. “Building on the success of 2020 we are enhancing the resource tools and the value available to partners and their customers in 2021”. We’ve also seen how the Acer channel teams are a valuable support asset for partners and their customers at all levels. The support factor is one of the key objectives of the programme and that’s ultimately to ensure Acer is an easy partner to do business with. To that end, we offer Acer’s Synergy Partner Programme in order to provide a wide range of benefits and instruments designed to market Acer’s products and solutions effectively and to maximise opportunities across diverse end-customer needs and environments.

“Building on the success of 2020 we are enhancing the resource tools and the value available to partners and their customers in 2021” December/January 2021 | 21

09/12/2020 09:59


thebiginterview

Keeping the cogs turning 22

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thebiginterview

PCR talks to Paul Lipman, CEO at BullGuard about why cybersecurity is now more important than ever, especially for small business as the shift towards remote working takes a more permanent hold.

After moving into the second Covid-19 wave what have businesses learnt? While the first wave of the pandemic forced organisations across the world into a balancing act, protecting their employees while simultaneously continuing their operations, it also exposed cybersecurity flaws. It resulted in a steep learning curve for small businesses in particular who began to understand the need for cybersecurity. After some respite from the first wave, the second wave inevitably came, and while many organisations shored up their cyber defences during the first wave, there are still a large number of small businesses struggling to put in place comprehensive protection. Given that our working practises have changed and remote working will become established practise, the need for cybersecurity will be on-going and shouldn’t just be viewed as a temporary patch. How important has cybersecurity become within the context of remote working? It’s huge, especially for smaller businesses. Enterprise-sized organisations have deep pockets and dedicated IT teams, so it’s easier for them to adapt and defend. They understand the cyber threat and tend to have layers of cybersecurity defences in place and safeguards to protect remote employees. That said, they have scrambled to increase VPN connections, which has also led to network issues. In some respects, they are still vulnerable to targeted attacks but at a general level, it’s the smaller businesses that are struggling. Cybercriminals are by definition adaptive and opportunistic. Covid-19 is almost a heaven-sent opportunity for them and criminals have moved quickly to exploit a lack of cybersecurity awareness among remote workers and we see this in the huge rise in threats that have grown in parallel with the mass move to working from home. What is the scale of the cybersecurity problem? In the UK there are nearly 6 million small businesses defined as having up to 49 employees. They account for three-fifths of employment and around half of the turnover in the UK private sector. Back in April of this year, Google said it was blocking more than 100 million phishing emails a day. Of course, Google is a global operation with about 1.5 billion Gmail users around the world but the point is that the pandemic has led to an explosion of phishing attacks in which criminals try to trick users into revealing personal data and of course many of the targets are UK small businesses. Some research suggests that UK small businesses are targeted by 65,000 cyber-attacks each day and 43% of these small businesses are targeted, which equates approximately to 2.58 million UK small businesses under assault.

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thebiginterview

Are there any remote working cybersecurity issues specific to smaller businesses? Many small businesses now understand the value of VPNs in keeping sensitive communications safe from prying eyes and attacks. This shows that cyber threat awareness has certainly increased. However, they are struggling to protect endpoint devices because their choices are limited. In fact some choose to not use endpoint security at all. And those that do are generally faced with a choice of complex, costly, badly fitting enterprise solutions or a patchwork of consumer products that don’t provide centralised management. What role can resellers and MSPs play in the area of remote working? At the enterprise level, remote working has opened up many opportunities for resellers and managed service providers, especially in cybersecurity. Fundamentally, clients are looking for partners who have strategic relationships with cloud providers and partners who can provide advanced services and technologies. Clients also like to see backup and disaster recovery strategies, and enough resources and services to meet both present and future demands. How do MSPs and resellers meet the needs of small businesses? Small businesses in particular, especially those that don’t have a server infrastructure or management capability; need the expertise of resellers and managed service providers and their insight into appropriate technologies. In turn, resellers can leverage the value of small business specific technologies. For instance, BullGuard VPN is one of the few VPN services available on the market that resellers can sell directly to customers. In contrast, other VPN vendors have a direct to consumer strategy. Similarly BullGuard Small Office Security is a unique platform in that it has been developed specifically for small business endpoint protection. It provides remote centralised management for all devices from a cloud dashboard. In a world where remote working is set to become the norm in the near future, it’s an invaluable tool for protecting small businesses and their employees. The platform also provides an opportunity for resellers who want to move into service provision. 24

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Small businesses often don’t think they will be targets for cyberattacks until it’s too late. How do you counter this perception? First of all you have to understand the small business mindset. Large hacks in which millions of customer records are compromised make big headlines and TV news stories. The small accountant down the road or the local solicitor who had to shut down because their bank accounts were plundered by hackers or their customer details exposed rarely receive any kind of media coverage. As such, it’s not surprising that small businesses don’t see themselves as targets for cybercriminals. Added to this is the perception that cybersecurity is complex, costly and a diverting management headache that eats into precious time. Managed service providers and resellers can point to the large body of evidence that proves small businesses are under assault and also show them that by using the right technologies cybersecurity is actually relatively straightforward and cost-effective and that it doesn’t require huge slices of budget to put in place. How important is a good vendor partnership to help leverage remote working opportunities? A good vendor won’t just provide a product; it will provide healthy margins to help grow the business, dedicated support, business generation tools and sales leads. Importantly it will be aware of the opportunities that are arising from remote working and funnel its endeavours in this direction to support partners. For instance, BullGuard Small Office Security is a dedicated channel solution only available through our reseller partners. It’s not available as a direct sale online platform because we aim to protect our partners’ margins and profits. Similarly, BullGuard VPN has been made available to the channel in recognition that it provides partners with an opportunity to build sales in a time of need and also establish new customer relationships that can be leveraged further. It’s fair to say that BullGuard has a strong partner reputation, for instance always endeavouring to provide the best up-front and downstream renewal margins to drive partners’ revenue and profit, and also help them leverage the tremendous opportunities inherent in the shift to remote working as an established practise. www.pcr-online.biz

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New PCR awards 2021:

Catch up with colleagues industry bash! What: The PCR Awards will be back for 2021. The theme: Catch up with tech channel partners, colleagues and friends: A long awaited and much needed networking opportunity and chance to celebrate the industry’s greatest achievers. Category entries are now open! So don’t miss this golden opportunity to submit your nominations now. To find out more on how to enter visit: https://www.pcr-awards.com/how-it-works/ Deadline for entries: 22nd January 2021 To enter the awards or register for updates visit: https://www.pcr-awards.com/

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Why: The event will celebrate the industry’s retailers, resellers, distributors, channel service providers and vendors that have made the biggest impact on the channel over the past year. PCR’s 2020 event saw a revamp to the look and feel of the awards, with a new logo and style. But for 2021 we are planning to bring you an unmissable event with an exciting line-up that we will reveal in due course. Last year we brought you a few new awards and again this year you will also see a few new categories now added to highlight the changing tech and IT channel landscape. When: All will be revealed soon so stay tuned!

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04/12/2020 10:54


CATEGORIES INCLUDE: VENDOR CATEGORY: • Security software vendor of the year – NEW for 2021 • Security hardware vendor of the year – NEW for 2021 • Smart home vendor of the year – NEW for 2021 • Networking vendor of the year • Business peripherals vendor of the year – NEW for 2021 • Business monitors vendor of the year – NEW for 2021 • PC Vendor of the Year GAMING VENDOR CATEGORY: – NEW for 2021 • Gaming peripherals vendor of the year • Gaming monitors vendor of the year RETAILER CATEGORY: • Gaming retailer of the year – NEW for 2021 • Repairs services of the year – NEW for 2021 • System builder of the year • Online retailer of the year • Independent retailer of the year RESELLER CATEGORY: • SMB reseller of the year • Corporate VAR of the year • MSP specialist of the year DISTRIBUTION CATEGORY: • Software and services distributor of the year • Hardware distributor of the year • Consumer electronics distributor of the year CHANNEL SERVICES CATEGORY: • Dealer services of the year • Marketing and PR agency of the year PCR COMPANY OF THE YEAR

For Sponsorship opportunities please contact: Sarah Goldhawk Sales Manager - magazine/website advertising, event partnership PCR sarah.goldhawk@biz-media.co.uk

Don’t miss this legendary event that continues as the pinnacle of the tech channel’s social calendar www.pcr-online.biz

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Remote/Home Working

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Remote/Home Working

Why now’s the time to have your head in the cloud PCR talks to Lenovo DCG’s Ian Jeffs, UK GM about why companies should be driving ahead with a strong cloud initiative, to ensure a robust remote home working infrastructure

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What are the greatest challenges organisations are facing when instituting a remote work policy?

The shift to remote working this year has put security at the forefront of every organisation’s priority list. Working from home presents employers with a host of new security challenges as teams lose control of the security measures they had in place in the office. Whilst working remotely, the onus is placed on individual employees to uphold security measures. Yet research suggests that human error accounts for 52 percent of the root causes of security breaches, meaning that companies risk exposing sensitive data if they aren’t sufficiently protecting their employees. Allowing employees access to company data from potentially unsecure wireless network locations raises concerns about data encryption and the potential loss of sensitive company data. For companies to uphold security standards in the long run, they must adopt robust remote access policies. Establishing a secure Internet connection is also critical and will reduce the vulnerabilities associated with unsecure or public Wi-Fi networks. Banning unsecure networks or simply installing VPNs will help organisations address the security challenges of remote working. VPNs are relatively straightforward to implement and mean that employees can work anywhere whilst still be shielded to increase security levels on all types of connections.

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Remote/Home Working

What steps should businesses be taking to prepare for remote work as the new normal?

It’s clear that remote working is here to stay. From a security perspective this means that more than ever IT departments across all sectors must take the necessary steps to ensure their company’s staff are educated when it comes to adopting new technology in order to keep data secure. This begins by ensuring that all staff have been trained on the security best practices when working remotely. Usability of technology is also an issue. Our research earlier this year found that organisations are placing business and shareholder goals above employee needs when adopting new technologies. The findings revealed that just 6% of IT managers consider users as their top priority when making technology investments. Not only does this have a negative impact on productivity, it also leaves companies vulnerable to security risks. When businesses implement new technologies without considering the human impact, many employees become overwhelmed due to the complexity and pace of change – all the more frustrating without access to any in-person support when the need arises. With all industries needing to adapt to the ‘next normal,’ businesses must place the needs of their people at the heart of IT decisions.

Has the shift to remote working placed on emphasis on hybrid cloud solutions?

Since the beginning of the pandemic we’ve already seen an increase in companies adopting cloud-based solutions. Cloud data storage better enables metadata collection and enables scalable data storage. This also makes it possible for businesses to adopt globalised data storage plans, which means that data can be accessed in real time by anyone in the organisation, wherever they are in the world. As we continue to see the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in remote working, we can see a further need for dynamic data storage that enables efficiency and speed of access. This will potentially accelerate data storage strategies for some businesses, as the more staff who work at home increases the need for remote access to data. A good option for small to mid-size businesses is to adopt a hybrid cloud strategy that uses both local data storage and cloud platforms. This is because wherever fast access to large amounts of data is required; the local provision of Storage Area Network (SAN) or other storage systems is still essential. The fusion of these two approaches make it possible to guarantee fast access to data whilst also ensuring the alignment of corporate infrastructure with the most relevant data storage solutions. Hybrid storage is also beneficial when it comes to archiving data, which is not needed on a day-to-day basis, yet businesses still wish to store it for future usage.

How is Lenovo’s Data Center Group enabling customers to keep pace with evolving business needs? As the UK workforce continues to work from home businesses need to make sure they adapt their hybrid cloud strategy,

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deploy edge to cloud environments and modernise their data centre infrastructure. Lenovo is addressing this by delivering an open platform of hyperconverged infrastructure solutions that enable customers to deploy and manage a full edge-tocloud environment with simpler updates, easy scalability and a consumption-based delivery model. Our range of new and updated hyperconverged infrastructure solutions and cloud services are suited to provide virtual desktop infrastructure, supporting the need for people to work remotely across many industries such as education and healthcare.

Tell me about Lenovo’s partnership with NetApp?

Our partnership with NetApp is hugely exciting as it brings the best of two different technologies together. We originally announced a strategic partnership with NetApp back in 2018, which was aimed at co-developing our largest range of new Lenovo-branded storage products that combined NetApp data management solutions with Lenovo’s ThinkSystem infrastructure. Combining Lenovo storage hardware and NetApp software, partners can now help solve the specific business challenges faced by smaller companies and address their most common server and storage pain points. This capability will help these businesses increase productivity, acquire and retain customers, keep business up and running, and reduce costs.

How will Lenovo’s new channel initiatives help partners address the simplification of hybrid environments of SMB and mid-market companies? Up and down the country, the UK is home to a huge amount of successful small-to-medium-size business. With new ways of working and a more dispersed workforce, IT managers are looking for technology to help them transform and increase productivity. We joined forces with NetApp to launch several new initiatives to help channel partners address the simplification of hybrid environments and enhance their competitive position in the United Kingdom. We’re bringing together the best in server hardware and storage and making a compelling offering for the UK channel. With our new initiatives our customers are launching competitively priced bundled server and storage offerings designed for SMBs and mid-market companies and aimed to solve their data management challenges.

What are Lenovo’s Data Center’s future plans moving into 2021?

Looking ahead to the future we plan on doubling down on our channel-first strategy and enhancing our relationship with our channel partners. I also expect further collaboration between our different Lenovo groups in order to provide the best possible products and solutions for our global customers. Over the coming years we want to leverage emerging technologies, such as 5G and edge computing, to modernise all our solutions and help our customers modernise and transform their data centres.

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APPOINTMENTS Axell Wireless

Simon Cosgrove joins Axell Wireless as its new CEO, to spearhead the company’s international growth and development into new markets. The appointment follows the acquisition of Axell Wireless by Rcapital in June 2020. Andrew Littlejohns, Rcapital Operating Partner, formerly of Vodafone Plc, also joins as Chairman to work closely with Simon and the management team. Having held various senior executive roles, Simon Cosgrove joins Axell Wireless from Private Equity backed startup Stratto, a leading infrastructure-as-aservice business, where he co-founded and brought innovative in-building mobile technology and services to market. Simon also boasts a strong blend of commercial, technical, and leadership skills for growing technology companies, including Ubiquisys and StrattoOpencell.

VMware, Inc.

VMware, Inc. has appointed Andrew Corcoran as Director of UK & Ireland Partner and Channel Sales. Corcoran brings over two decades of experience in the industry. Prior to joining VMware, Corcoran led Dell Technologies’ Titanium Partner Business as Channel Sales Director. He has also held senior positions at Tandem, HP and EqualLogic. “Andrew’s appointment comes at a time where our customers continue to navigate intense disruption. They are relying on strong partnerships more than ever before to ensure their business is future-ready, more resilient, and they have the ability to innovate and differentiate at pace. At the beginning of last year we launched Partner Connect, and during the pandemic it has demonstrated the importance of aligning partner capabilities to help solve our customers’ biggest challenges alongside many transformational opportunities”, said Melinda Lee Ferguson, Vice President, UK & Ireland at VMware. 32 | December/January 2021 

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This month’s movers and shakers in the tech industry...

CommScope

CommScope has appointed John “Jack” Carlson as Chief Commercial Officer. Carlson will lead the company’s global organisation of go-to-market professionals, including direct and indirect sales, customer experience and marketing. He will be responsible for the development and growth of CommScope’s sales and marketing operations, executing on the company’s growth strategy. “Never before has the need for advanced, reliable network infrastructure been more vital to consumers and businesses, nor offered CommScope greater opportunities for growth,” said President and Chief Executive Officer, Chuck Treadway. “With more than 40 years’ global leadership experience in industrial manufacturing, sales and distribution, and a proven track record of driving sales performance and profitability, Jack will help optimize our go-to-market strategy and accelerate top-line growth.”

Hotdrop

Mark Laurie has been appointed as Hotdrop’s new head of business development. Laurie left his role as Marketing Director at Utopia Computers after 14 years to embark on the new venture with the UK-based startup. Heather Dower, Hotdrop Founder and CEO said: “It’s been an incredible first year for the team here at Hotdrop, as a group we’ve gone from strength to strength and we cannot wait for Mark to join us. His experience and market knowledge will help us springboard into our next phase of development as an agency creating even more winning moments together with the industry.”

Network Group

Network Group has appointed two new hires to its team. Anne-Marie Harpur joins as Operations Manager responsible for analysing and improving organisational processes, working to improve quality, productivity and efficiency for the benefit of our Member companies. Harpur brings 20 years project management experience, taking new business and customer onboarding from tender win to delivery completion, across a wide range of industry sectors. Andy Walker has been appointed as Business Development Executive and will be responsible for driving growth for Technology To Go (TTG), the commercial arm of Network Group. In this newly created role, Andy will work closely with the team to drive new business and sales opportunities for TTG, onboarding Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and promoting Partner technologies. “These are exciting times for NG and TTG and I am delighted to welcome Anne- Marie and Andy to the team to help us grow our business” said David Tulip, Managing Director of Network Group & Technology To Go. “We are on the cusp of some exciting growth as we extend our offering to the wider UK MSP community via TTG, with a number of new products and services.” www.pcr-online.biz

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Gekko

Make working from home work for you GEKKO’s managing director, Daniel Todaro reflects on how the Gekko team is coping with its new working from home environment amidst the pandemic and ways to boost productivity for all.

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ust like many businesses, the Gekko team is continuing to work from home to ensure the safety of all. It may feel like the months have crept in and it is hard to tell the difference or define mentally, also physically between where you work and where you relax. You are not alone. Working from home might be the only way forward for the coming months and will be for some time. Therefore, to ensure you are at your most productive it is important you recognise those bad habits you may have picked up and get back into the swing of working from home, healthily. Here we have outlined a few tips and tricks Gekko has used with its teams to manage and achieve the best work life balance, these may work for you.

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Create a dedicated working space

Get back to the space you created at the beginning of lockdown. If it is possible, make it a place you can close the door on when the working day is over. This will enable you to switch off and make a clear distinction between home and work. If you do not have an option of a dedicated working space just make sure you switch off and tidy everything away so you can enjoy your evenings without being distracted by work. Putting your laptop, tablet and even your work phone away in a cupboard or drawer is the same as leaving the office at the end of the working day.

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Gekko

Set aside your soft office

Working from home may have meant you have ended up in a ‘soft office’ where your couch has replaced your chair and your lap is now your desk. This isn’t good for your posture; find a more sturdy working space one that may emulate your office set up. • If you prefer to work using a monitor rather than a laptop screen there are affordable options for a home office out there. BenQ has a range of different size monitors at reasonable price points to suit any task • Pick a place to sit that supports your back or use the Upright Go, which can track and train your posture. Their app will also give you a visual representation of how you look when you are working. • If your role requires you to regularly present why not try the Humbleworks Standing Desk for your Laptop. It is adjustable to suit any height and will bring your laptop to eye level, which is perfect to present and work at Alternatively, find several shoeboxes or large books to stack upon a table so that you can VC standing up. All important or serious VCs such as a presentation should be done standing up to help accentuate the pitch and pace of your delivery.

Reinstate boundaries

You may have put boundaries in place when you first started working from home but they might have now fizzled out. If they have, take some time to chat to who you live with, discuss how you have felt most comfortable and the ways you worked which made you most productive.

“By setting up a working space that works like an office it will make you feel more productive and focused during your working day” Make sure you monitor how long tasks are taking. You could use a laundry cycle as a way to time how long you have focused on one piece of work. You could also install an activity tracker like, Rescue Time, which shows you exactly where your www.pcr-online.biz 

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time goes and blocks your worst distractions to ensure you are getting the most out of your day. Use your Smart Speaker to set timers to remind you to move onto another task or manage your workflow throughout the day. You could also play some soothing, or your favourite music to relax should feel a need to recalibrate your mood.

Take a break

If you have been working from home for a while now you may have forgotten what a usual day in the office looked like. It is easy to get carried away when you’re working but we hope you haven’t forgotten to take a break. The day can have a tendency to march on without notice meaning that you catch lunch on the hoof between calls or you don’t take time out to get some natural light or air, both essential to ease stress. Try planning your days in the morning and add in breaks where you may have had them when working in the office. Your Fitbit should come in handy for this, as you will be able to set reminders to take your break and track your steps. If you don’t make your 10,000 steps during the day it is the perfect excuse to get back out once the working day ends.

Stay Connected

If you are used to and enjoy an office environment, working from home for so long could feel isolating. You might not be alone as your other colleagues may feel the same, try to schedule times for an all team video call or walking meetings to catch-up and increase your steps and set team challenges. If you know you do not need to be in front of a screen for a meeting why not use it as a chance to stretch your legs. Put on your trainers, plug in your Google Pixel Buds and take a walk somewhere quiet while participating in the meeting. By setting up a working space that works like an office it will make you feel more productive and focused during your working day, keeping clutter at bay and your working tools together in one location. Working from home may have its positives but it’s not always easy. Remember to be kind to yourself while adapting to changes that are out of your control. It’s also an opportunity to work ‘your way’ listening to your music, not the teams and choosing when to be distracted. It does however mean that being plugged in all day should be balanced through the use of technology alongside personal comfort and a structured day, more importantly with regular breaks. We are all doing the best we can, stay focused and keep it up! December/January 2021 | 35

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Partner Content from

Stay at home – work at home! HANNspree explores how to be best equipped to create a smooth balance between living and livelihood when working from home

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ovid-19 has presented extraordinary circumstances to which we have all had to adapt. One of the most profound changes in our white-collar world is the order to work from home when the virus is rife. Some may be lucky enough to have a dedicated workspace along with the necessary hardware to smoothly transition to their home office during a lockdown. Millions of other employees, however, have had to carve a workspace in their homes and invest in essential equipment. In the first month of the first UK lockdown, HANNspree experienced a huge surge in monitor sales. Market data backed this sales spike with evidence that computer monitor sales almost doubled in a week as businesses pre-empted the advice to work remotely and instructed staff to avoid the office. Martin Kent, UK Manager HANNspree comments, “clearly, those setting up shop from home were either short of the right equipment to keep them productive, or the new everyday office environment and hours prompted many to upgrade.”

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Do not disturb! Working from home is standard practice for many, whether its part of a contract, personal choice, or a necessity in order to put in some extra hours when the office closes for the day. The most obvious advantages of a reserved work area are, the ability to install fixed hardware, and locating where there are few distractions. HANNspree has a comprehensive monitor portfolio to give the modern home office a professional display solution. If you want to make a statement, the newest additions to the HS monitor series boast elegant, frameless designs, which also enable seamless continuity between multiple screens side-by-side ideal for multidisplay set-ups. “Even if you depend on the mobility of a laptop, a fixed monitor can extend your work area significantly. Laptops are ideal for taking work on the move and between the office and home, but the display space is restricted. When you are suddenly working from a home office regularly, your display size could become a bit of a

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Partner Content from bugbear, so consider that bigger is likely better!” The HANNspree monitor portfolio has solutions up to 40inch. The larger display sizes make excellent backdrops for videoconference calling during lockdown. The comprehensive size selections of course enable you to choose a size that best fits into the office space available to you. “Alternatively, HANNspree’s portable monitor solutions are ideal for extending your laptop or even your smartphone workspace. Using a single Type-C USB 3.1 connection, transferring data directly and acting as an energy efficient power supply, you can instantly create a second display. And because these monitors are designed to be mobile, they are a great investment for returning to normal working, for example, you can easily transport these specially designed portable monitors to client meetings to perform presentations.” Pass the salt! Working from home isn’t for everyone. The ritual of travelling to the office, socialising with colleagues and escaping the distractions of home life can be very appealing, so following government advice to stay at home is likely stressful and overwhelming for some. And then there are the challenges that make your working day extremely difficult. For example, many people’s dining room table is moonlighting as a work desk, as well as a place for children to do their schoolwork, craft or play, in addition to hosting the family dinner. Working amongst Play Doh, Lego and baking paraphernalia can be tricky practically as well as mentally. “Setting up a moveable office is easy with our portable monitor range,” says Martin Kent. “You don’t have to be tied down to a single location to enjoy extra display space, and the plug and play set-up takes the stress out of being turfed out of one room into another as family life shifts around you. These portable monitors are also robust. With a toughened hard glass cover they are not only designed to withstand the rigors of travelling, they are also protected against dust, dirt, condensation, liquid spills and cleaning solutions.” When you are working at home with children and want to be able to share IT equipment, a touch screen display is a great choice. There is a wealth of touch-enabled applications for school age children that can help serve home education, and which make learning more interactive and appealing. “You can combine the benefits of touch technology with the convenience of work-space relocation with the portable HT161CGB. This monitor features 10 finger touch points enabling multiple users to collaborate or play at the same time. Parents can become more involved with their children’s lessons or simply encourage some much-needed down time together, such as multiplayer gaming or why not dabble at multimedia manipulation to nurture creativity.” Are you sitting comfortably? So, you don’t have your fancy swivel chair anymore. Your desk could now be a kitchen island or a swiftly erected homemade shelf in the unused space in the hallway. Whether you have a proper office desk or not, an ergonomic monitor can ensure your long hours at your screen are the most comfortable they can be. The ability to height-adjust, swivel and tilt can be the solution to

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“The most important factor to consider if you plan to, or are expected to, work from home indefinitely is, are you able to remain productive? Consider your surroundings and your IT setup to ensure you are comfortable and well equipped to perform your job to the best of your ability. It is also important to maintain your daily routine. Self-discipline is key. You certainly don’t want to get caught with your trousers down on a video call!” avoiding back problems caused by awkward sitting positions while trying to get the best view of a computer display. The HANNspree HP series of ergonomic monitors also feature a 90° pivot manoeuvre, which enables you to easily switch screen orientation to best suit the application you are working on. If space is limited, you could also consider wall mounting a monitor at eye level. Could working from home become the norm? Despite businesses being able to periodically return to work, office staff remain safest in the comfort of their own homes and could be advised to work from home for some time to come. Furthermore, how many businesses could now see the benefits of having staff working from home on a long-term basis? Savvy business owners looking to cut overheads have had an unexpected taste of a homebased work force, which could potentially trigger a new norm for white-collar workers. “The most important factor to consider if you plan to, or are expected to, work from home indefinitely is, are you able to remain productive? Consider your surroundings and your IT setup to ensure you are comfortable and well equipped to perform your job to the best of your ability. It is also important to maintain your daily routine. Self-discipline is key. You certainly don’t want to get caught with your trousers down on a video call!”

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Remote/Home Working

Zooming in Best described as a video-first unified communications platform, Zoom ultimately brings people together remotely. Here PCR talks to Phil Perry, Head of UK & Ireland at Zoom Video Communications about how this application is transforming the remote/home working experience

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Remote/Home Working

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oom has a handle on the world of virtual meetings and many of us will now be familiar with this kind of platform and this has come at a time when the working world as we knew it is dramatically changing as Phil Perry, Head of UK & Ireland at Zoom Video Communications explains:

Can you tell me a bit more about the company and what capabilities and features does its remote working solutions offer?

Historically, Zoom was an enterprise communications platform but when the pandemic hit, we found ourselves in the privileged position of being able to help people connect in all kinds of new ways. Remote work and distance education are becoming increasingly prevalent in businesses and schools across the globe, and organisations must ensure that their staff have the tools they need to get the best possible communications experience at home. As part of our effort to support everyone working from home, Zoom launched, Zoom for Home, which allows anyone to deploy a dedicated personal collaboration device for video meetings, phone calls, and interactive white boarding. Our cloud phone solution, Zoom Phone, also has a dynamic feature set and unprecedented reliability to help keep organisations connected, giving IT teams, sales teams, receptionists, and executives the tools they need to maximise productivity and maintain an effective communications infrastructure right from home. Zoom Phone is now in more than 40 countries and territories across Europe, North America, Latin America, and the AsiaPacific region. We’ve also introduced a new, simplified plan for providing local telephony service with unlimited domestic calling for multinational organisations, with our Global Select Plan. Global Select is a native telephony offering, enabling companies located in any of the 40-plus countries and territories we serve to pay one flat price per user, with a streamlined process for managing domestic calling plans. Ultimately, we are entering a new era for every element of our life and work and we are committed to doing our part to help, not only during this challenging time but also as we move forward. When employees are not able to get to the office and when teams cannot travel to see customers, we want to provide a platform for businesses to continue to be productive.

How do you see the future of home/remote working panning out? What will organisations need to have in place to ensure a safe and successful long-term roll out of this?

The pandemic has certainly been a catalyst for all companies to rethink how things are done on a larger scale. And around the world we are in different stages of addressing COVID-19, with many still working from home while others are reopening or using a hybrid model. What is clear is that the world of work has changed forever where everyone has to redefine work and what is the new normal, which will most likely be a hybrid approach. No matter where a business is in the process, all companies www.pcr-online.biz 

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want to keep their employees and clients safe. And company and organisational culture is arguably one of the most important aspects of keeping morale and engagement high in any workplace, and even more so now that many of us are remote employees. For example, Zoom has workers around the world who might never get to meet in person, so once a quarter we host a “Zoom Rendezvous.” This virtual event, hosted by one of our amazing customer success managers, is a chance to connect with remote Zoomies and those in other offices, departments, and floors. Maintaining a sense of culture and community is critical for employee engagement and productivity as we further navigate fully working from home. Organisations will also need to consider that with certain barriers disappearing, they will have to redefine the day to day running of their company. Two examples include: • Environmental impact: With employees working from home and not travelling for work, businesses will quickly see the impact they have on the environment normally. In February this year, we announced our Green Leader customers, the 10 companies estimated to be avoiding the most carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by replacing face-to-face, in-person meetings with face-to-face Zoom video meetings. In total, the top 10 were estimated to have avoided 685,205 metric tons of CO2 in the 90 days preceding October 31, 2019, the equivalent of the annual CO2 emissions from 148,958 cars, and the equivalent of 11,420,077 trees planted. • Leveraging global and domestic talent: Rather than be restricted by location and radius to the office, businesses will have the potential to hire the best people for the job. Not only that, it has the potential to diversify the workplace more by creating a more open workplace culture

What are the key issues companies should look to address when setting up their remote/home working infrastructure?

COVID-19 has been an enormous catalyst for all companies to rethink how things are done. Certain barriers have disappeared as businesses have had to broaden their thinking and redefine the day-to-day running of their company to keep things going. Remote work is our current workplace reality, but managing remote teams and keeping distributed employees engaged can challenge even the best managers. This unique environment, however, can present myriad opportunities to support your teams and grow as team leaders. Now more than ever, enterprise leaders are responsible for the care of a team not only as colleagues but as human beings. The transition to working remotely can impact a team’s culture, as anxiety around future projects and team collaboration can seem uncertain. Additional factors such as kids at home, the caretaking of parents, and more is now a part of their typical workday. It is crucial for those in leadership to support teams through online communication. When working from home, sometimes work feels like a constant demand with inbound calls happening at all hours. Knowing how to adjust your personal settings is almost as important as knowing how to use the technology. December/January 2021 | 39

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Remote/Home Working

How should companies go about ensuring a safe and secure environment? Privacy and security has always been fundamental to Zoom and it has underpinned every step of the company since inception. The company itself provides a number of features to help you keep your meetings secure and confidential no matter where you are working. I always recommend enabling passcodes for your meetings, so only those with the passcode they received in the meeting invite can join. Additionally, we always recommend to never share your meeting ID or passcode on social media or other online platforms. We at Zoom feel incredibly privileged to be in a position to help people stay connected always. And we understand we have immense responsibility to ensure that the safety, privacy, and security of our platform is worthy of the trust you all have put in us.

Please could you explain the latest features added to the Zoom platform?

At Zoomtopia 2020 we brought a whole suite of platform enhancements that are designed to provide more immersive, secure, and collaborative experiences, including Zoom Apps & OnZoom. Zoom Apps help surface all the applications you need to be 40

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productive and enable the free flow of information between teams before, during, and after the meeting. Think of Zoom Apps as an app store right where you need it most — in a Zoom meeting, room, chat, webinar, phone call, and even your contacts directory, helping to operationalize your best-of-breed strategy and enhance productivity. The “best of breed” strategy is an increasingly popular approach when it comes to choosing and supporting today’s workplace applications. Its effectiveness is limited, however, if your team members can’t access their apps where, when, and how they need them. We’ve also unveiled the public beta for OnZoom, a one-of-akind online events platform and marketplace that supports – and salutes - the creativity, perseverance, and innovation that enabled so many people to adapt their in-person events to virtual or hybrid experiences. We’ve felt an immense responsibility to help everyone stay connected during this time. That has been our main priority. With the flood of new users, part of the challenge has been ensuring that we provide the proper training to help them understand their own account features and how best to use the platform. So we’ve been continuously offering tutorials as well as free interactive daily webinars. www.pcr-online.biz

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Here are some of the most interesting stats and facts from the tech channel…

CRUNCHING 24%

A quarter of shoppers (24%) have been let down by an online order since the Covid-19 crisis, according to a new Brightpearl survey. It found that 34% of consumers say that unreliable delivery has lessened their trust in online shopping since the start of the pandemic. Almost four out of ten buyers (38%) say online deliveries are taking longer to arrive since social distancing restrictions were introduced in March. The survey of 2,000 consumers, showed a huge shift to online shopping since the start of the crisis which is likely to accelerate in 2021, especially with new lockdown restrictions in place. According to NordVPN Teams, cybercriminals were exploiting the COVID19 pandemic to carry out highly advanced cyberattacks, regardless of industry or company size. During the first six months of 2020, several Fortune 500 businesses became victims of major data breaches, after which hackers were able to sell account credentials and sensitive data, as well as confidential and financial records of these organisations. The 5 highest-profile data breaches in 2020 included: 1. Zoom credentials hack in the first week of April 2020 2. Twitter phishing attack in July 3. Marriott social engineering attack In March 4. Nintendo credential stuffing attack In April 5. easyJet credential theft

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The biggest technology challenge of the pandemic has been the switch to remote working – a mobilisation of the workforce never seen before. 20 out of 21 industries agreed, according to a new Business Tech Priorities Report from Softcat. Enhancing the digital workspace to boost productivity, engagement and happiness was a major challenge during 2020 and one that will continue into 2021. So too has been strengthening cyber security in the face of complicated and widened security boundaries and leveraging the cloud as part of business continuity and disaster recovery strategies. According to AppsFlyer, there was a 25% increase globally in in-app purchase revenue during COVID-19 lockdowns. The rise was driven largely by casual games, which jumped 55% and maintained high levels of revenue through August. As mobile advertising faces challenges, marketers can look more toward purchases, since there’s evidence that consumers are becoming less tolerant of in-app advertising and willing to spend more in-app. IAP revenue climbed 67% between February to August. In contrast, In-App Advertising decreased by 16% in the same timeframe. Hyper Casual games saw an increase of 250% for non-organic installs. The growth is attributed to marketers understanding that many new players were trying mobile gaming for the first time during the pandemic. In-app purchasing in EMEA rose on iOS by 22% as people spent more time gaming during COVID-19 lockdowns. This was 20% higher than the overall share of paying users on Android in EMEA.

Christmas spending was forecast to decrease by £9.674bn during the six weeks leading up to Christmas due to the impact of lockdown, according to a report by VoucherCodes. co.uk. Further restrictions meant non-essential stores had to close until 2 December, resulting in an anticipated 11.6% drop in Christmas spending compared to the same six week period the previous year. Prior to lockdown, Christmas spending was expected to increase by £1.3bn compared to 2019. Naturally, a sharp rise in online sales was predicted due to the closure of many physical stores. Online sales were forecast to make up nearly half (48%) of the total retail sales, growing by a staggering £12.978bn (58%) versus 2019. Offline spending was set to drop by 37% (£22.653bn) on the previous year but will still make up 52% of total retail sales, due to certain items being available in shops that are open such as supermarkets and pharmacies.

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Top 5 Tech

Xxxxxxx Global Innovator, Valerie Vacante Standfirst Valerie Vacante, director of strategy at global experience and innovation agency, LiveArea and founder of Collabsco, reveals five pieces of tech that have shaped her life

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Top 5 Tech

VIDEO GAMES Probably some of my first experiences with video games were before starting elementary school, playing Pac-Man and Centipede at a local pizza place, there were loads of quarters spent, numerous rounds played and hot pizza. I remember feeling the utter excitement of playing video games as a kid, some of my very first encounters with video game consoles were with the Atari 2600 and Intellivision when visiting family friends homes. To this day, Breakout, created by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, continues to be one of my favorite Atari games of all times. Beyond eating pizza and visiting other people’s houses to play, my Mum and I went to a department store to purchase a Vectrex, an all in one video game console with a monitor and over 20 games for my Dad as the big holiday gift. My Dad let me play for years. There were a number of handheld games gifted, including Qbert and Electronic Pinball; however, it all changed when I received my very own NES complete with Super Mario Bros to play right out of the box. There were countless hours of reading Nintendo Power magazine, learning new games, working out the levels in the same room with friends and having the pure joy of play. To this day, video games influence my perspective on product and service design, specifically how we can gamify the world around us to have more fun in our everyday lives.

PERSONAL COMPUTING Growing up, one of the most exciting classes in elementary school was going to the computer lab once a week. It was a warm room packed with Commodore or Radio Shack like computer systems with TV monitors. There were a few Apple II e computers dotted throughout the school, in the fourth grade (age 10), the Apple IIe made it to our class, lucky students were able to take turns playing the glory of The Oregon Trail. It wasn’t until 1990 that our family purchased a computer for our home, mainly for my parents; however, I was now able to make my book reports look top notch with Print Shop covers and typed up reports using WordPerfect on DOS printed on a dot matrix printer. While writing for the school paper and yearbook in middle school (ages 12-14) I had the opportunity to work on an Apple Macintosh computer, the only one in the school and it was so fascinating compared to other computers that I had seen, there was a mouse and the UI was clickable magic. Fast forward to the mid-late 1990’s, I saved my money from my part-time job and purchased a floor model of a Packard Bell Computer, the first computer that powered my education beyond the 24 hour computer lab on campus. In my first role out of university, I had a desktop assigned to me; however after continuous business travel back and forth from the UK to the rest of Europe, with a company borrowed laptop, I was eventually provided my own work laptop - I felt like I was really moving up in the world and could work almost anywhere. Today, my life is powered by Apple, from my personal computer, work computer a long way from a once a week log in in the computer lab. We will continue to see personalised computer experiences across multiple platforms and interfaces.

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INTERNET Growing up in Texas, a visit to Six Flags Astroworld in Houston was a must visit, in-between queuing up for the next rollercoaster ride my friends and I came across a US Videotel, popup. U.S. Videotel was patterned after the French Minitel technology, a monitor that connects a phone line with access to information like sports scores, movie schedules, shopping, games trivia and more. It felt like something out of a sci-fi film and I wanted it in our home. Our family computer did not have enough oomph to power the Internet and ultimately I could not convince my parents to invest in a US Videotel. After buying my own computer in 1996, I was able to “surf the information superhighway,” thanks to my free AOL CD-roms. The sounds of the cringy dial-up Internet connecting would keep me at the edge of my seat - once connected it was online for hours and hours, I felt like I could not consume information fast enough. Today, we can access the Internet almost anywhere, not only from our computers and mobile phones, but connected products like smart thermostats, fitness wearables, smart speakers, robots, toys, games and gadgetry to entertain, educate and inspire us in the physical and digital world.

MOBILE PHONES When I moved to London in 2001, I had to buy a phone to stay connected with friends and family back in the US, my first mobile was the beloved Nokia 3310, packed with SMS capabilities and the game Snakes. My world changed, and I could connect with my memaw and papaw and parents back in Texas while riding the night bus home. I could text friends when there were tube delays or to just say, “hi.” A few other phones followed Nokia 7250i, Blackberry Pearl and then my tech world changed again with the introduction of the iPhone. Nothing has matched the Apple iPhone, a computer in your pocket as well as a photo album soundsystem and remote control to almost everything, unlocking ways for us to be inspired and capture perspective from our friends and the world.

TOUCHLESS EXPERIENCES & IMMERSIVE WORLDS In my everyday life I am continuously experimenting, playing, researching and creating experiences with emerging technologies. Over the years products have included VR gaming, VR training with eye tracking and gestures, AR try-ons, AR gaming, QR code unboxing and web-based contactless payment experiences.Other work has been focused on, gaming and invention around IoT, NFC, smart speakers, data over sound and low cost light recognition technologies. While these are a collection of technologies they have all impacted how I create, collaborate, learn and shape the way we interact and connect. Everything inspires everything, some of the technologies mentioned have been around before I was born and others are in their infancy stage. But all of them have enabled a multitude of new technologies, business models and ways for us to move, play, learn and interact with the world around us. These technologies and innovations have ignited the future making everyday life easier, playful and a bit more magical.

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Sector Guide

Remote/Home-Working From the latest laptops and software to connectivity enhancing devices, PCR rounds up the latest tech to keep you up and running whilst working from home or remotely.

Acer TravelMate P6 Notebook “Combining feather-light portability and performance with the TravelMateP6. This slim, durable laptop weighs just 1.1kg, yet delivers first-class results with its powerful processors and user-centric design. The TravelMate P6 has numerous security and management features, making it ideal for enterprise.” Specs: 14.0” display with IPS (In-Plane Switching) technology, Full HD 1920 x 1080, high-brightness (300nits) Acer ComfyView LEDbacklit TFT LCD, Intel UHD Graphics 620, Up to Intel Core i7-10510U processor, Up to 24 GB of DDR4 system memory, Up to 1TB Solid State Drive (PCIe Gen3, 8 Gb/s, NVMe), Intel UHD Graphics 620, FHD Webcam, with Windows Hello face authentication (RGB-IR) on selected models, Optional eSIM-enabled 4G LTE and NFC, U.S MIL-STD 810G Tested, Different models available: Optional NVIDIA GeForce MX250 (P614-51G-G2), Optional Multi-Touch Panel (P614-51T-G2) Contact: Exertis, Techdata, Westcoast

Acer Chromebook Spin 713 “Specifically designed with the needs of business users in mind, the Chromebook Spin 713 offers both design and performance with its Core i Processor and full aluminum military grade chassis. This is also accompanied by a QHD 3:2 ratio touch display and features including Wi-Fi 6, Corning Gorilla Glass touchscreen and touchpad, a backlit keyboard, a built-in HDMI port, as well as dual USB Type-C ports to deal with everyday challenges. Add Acer USI Active Stylus to your CP713-2W to write and draw with greater control and precision. Featuring precise linearity and excellent moving offset as well as up to 4096 pressure levels, it has a stylish silver design with a button on the barrel for pen wake up.” Specs: Product Type Chromebook - flip design, Processor - Intel Core i3 & i5 (10th Gen) 10110U / 2.1 GHz (4.1 GHz) / 4 MB Cache OR, Memory- 8 GB DDR4 (8 GB (soldered)), Storage - 128 GB SSD, Display - 13.5” LED backlight touchscreen 2256 x 1504, Graphics - Intel UHD Graphics, Networking Bluetooth 5.0, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wave 2/ax, Battery3-cell - up to 10 hours, Part number NX.HQBEK.001 CP713-2W – i3 10th Gen, Part Number NX.HWNEK.001 CP713-2W – i5 10th Gen Contact: Exertis, Getech, Westcoast and TD have stock scheduled around Mar/Apr. www.pcr-online.biz 

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Sector Guide

Acer B7 Monitor “The B7 series enhances your professional needs with its robust height adjustable stand and wide range of colour enhancing technologies. The IPS screen provides wide viewing angles and optimum image quality, whilst looking after the comfort and wellbeing of the user with full ergonomics and Acer vision care technology.” Specs: Available in 21.5” to 28”, from FHD to UHD, ergonomic Height adjustable stand with tilt, swivel & pivot, IPS, ZeroFrame Design, HDMI & DP, USB Hub*, Acer VisionCare technology to protect your eyes, speakers, also available with Built-in webcam*, USB Type-C port* *Specification vary by model

Contact: Techdata, Westcoast and Exertis

BullGuard Small Office Security “Central to BullGuard Small Office Security endpoint protection platform is a single Cloud Admin Portal which enables MSPs and IT resellers to remotely manage multiple customers and all their endpoints, including Windows, Android and macOS devices. Whether employees are in an office, working remotely or travelling. MSPs can set up new customers within minutes with simple enrolment via email invitation. The MSP functionality provided also includes activating and deactivating devices, scanning for threats, applying updates, locking lost or stolen devices and creating user groups.” Specs: Single Cloud Admin Portal, remotely manage multiple customers and all their endpoints, Set up new customers within minutes, Activate and Deactivate devices, Scan for threats, Lock lost or stolen devices Contact: Bullguard

Dynabook’s Portégé X30W-J “Dynabook’s Portégé X30W-J is a slim, light, 13.3” convertible laptop that delivers every tool you need. Engineered to exceed Intel’s Evo classification, empowering unfettered productivity, creativity and collaboration. Equipped with a full-power 28W 11th gen Intel Core processor, Intel Xe graphics, 16-hour battery life and Instant Wake capability, Fast connectivity with Intel 802.11ax (WiFi 6) and Thunderbolt 4-enabled USB Type-C ports, plus premium audio and video.” Specs: Operating System: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit – dynabook recommends Windows 10 Pro for business, Processor: 11th Gen 10nm quad-core Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, Display: 33.8cm (13.3”), Non-reflective Full HD Touch display with Corning Gorilla Glass, 1,920 x 1,080, Battery life: Up to 13h30min (MobileMark 2014 running Windows 10), Storage: M.2 PCIe 512GB, Weight: Starting at 989g Contact: Dynabook Europe GmbH 48

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Sector Guide

Dynabook’s Portégé X30L-J “The dynabook Portégé X30L is a 13.3” ultra-lightweight business laptop specifically crafted to bring the latest technology to on-the-go workers. Weighing in at only 906g, every element has been considered to equip this ultralight device with the latest technology, including a full-power 28W 11th generation Intel Core processor, comprehensive set of connectivity ports and high brightness display. The Portégé X30L is ready to take on your workload and empower your flexibility.” Specs: Size and weight: 306mm x 210mm x 17.9mm; from 906g, Processor: 11th Gen Intel Core i3/i5/i7 Intel Celeron, Memory: 2x DDR4 (3200MHz) – 1x on-board up to 16GB and 1x S0-DIMM up to 16 GB, selection of different PCIe SSDs up to 1TB, 4-cell battery with 53Wh and up to 15hrs of Battery life, Screen: 13.3” FHD SHARP IGZO low power, high brightness 470 NIT, 13.3” FHD 400 NIT with privacy function, 13.3” FHD 300 NIT with In-Cell touch, 13.3” HD 220 NIT, Peripheral connectivity: 2x USB Type-C w/ Thunderbolt 4, 2x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1x HDMI 2.0, 1xRJ45, Wireless connectivity: Intel AX WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1, Camera: 0.9MP HD camera or FA camera with camera shutter, Chassis: Magnesium alloy (MIL STD 810G), Hinge: 180 degrees Contact: Dynabook Europe GmbH

Dynabook’s Portégé X40-J “With a sleek, mobile and robust design, the Portégé X40 is elegantly engineered to help you power through every working day with the utmost security. With the latest full-power 28W 11th generation Intel Core processors and new Separated Airflow cooling technology, the Portégé X40 helps you create and react faster than ever. It meets Microsoft’s strict Secured Core device requirements and an optional switchable e-privacy filter keeps your screen from prying eyes when you’re on the move. And you won’t even have to stop to plug in, thanks to its battery life of more than 14 hours (MobileMark 2014 running Windows 10).” Specs: Size and weight: 323mm x 220mm x 17.9mm; from 1.4kg, Processor: 11th Gen Intel Core i3/i5/i7, Memory: 2x DDR4 (3200MHz) – 1x on-board up to 16GB and 1x S0-DIMM up to 16 GB, selection of different PCIe SSDs up to 1TB, Battery: 4-cell battery with 53Wh and up to 14hrs of Battery life, Screen: 14.0” FHD 400 NIT with privacy function, 14.0” FHD 300 NIT with In-Cell touch, 14.0” FHD 250 NIT, Peripheral connectivity: 2x USB Type-C w/ Thunderbolt 4, 2x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1x HDMI 1.4, Wireless connectivity: Intel AX WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1, Camera: 0.9MP HD camera or FA camera with camera shutterChassis: Magnesium alloy (MIL STD 810G), Hinge: 180 degrees Ontact: Dynabook Europe GmbH www.pcr-online.biz 

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Sector Guide

HANNspree HP Series Monitors with Built-in Webcam “Virtual communication has become essential for businesses and schools as well as a ‘normal’ way for friends and family to stay in touch of late. The new monitors HANNspree are introducing to its HP series of ergonomic monitors include a handy built-in webcam. Featuring a pop-up design, the 5MP high definition camera can be securely tucked away when not in use, and revealed with a simple touch when it is time to engage. They also feature height adjust, tilt, swivel and pivot manoeuvrability as standard as with all of HP series monitors, enabling personalised viewing comfort and ideal orientation for specific applications.” Specs: 23.8”-27”, 1920 x 1080, 178° Ultra- Wide Viewing Angle, Built-in Webcam, Height Adjust, Pivot, Swivel, Tilt and WallMountable (VESA), Triple Input: DP, HDMI, VGA, USB 3.0 Hub, Built-In Stereo Speakers, Low Blue Light & Flicker Free Contact: Exertis / Ingram Micro / Westcoast

HANNspree HS322UPB Monitor “The HANNspree 31.5” HS322UPB features a 2560 x 1440 QHD resolution which offers superior picture quality for demanding graphic intensive professional applications, gaming and much more. Enjoy over 77% more workspace compared to conventional 1920 x 1080 FHD monitors and increased pixel density for super sharp, crisp images. Ideal for countless hours spent in front of displays working, gaming for long hours or watching movies, the HS322UPB monitor has Flicker-Free Technology, Low Blue Light mode and an anti-glare panel to ensure a comfortable viewing experience during continuous use.” Specs: 31.5”, 2560 x 1440 WQHD, 178° /178° Ultra-Wide Viewing Angle, DP + HDMI, USB 3.0 Hub, PiP / PbP, Built-In Stereo Speakers, Tilt and Wall-Mountable (VESA), Low Blue Light & Flicker Free Contact: Exertis / Ingram Micro / Westcoast

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Sector Guide

Vivitek NC-X700 “The Vivitek NC-X700 is a new addition to Vivitek’s range of NovoConnect devices. It’s an addon device that’s ideally suited to those who already have a screen or a projector, but wish to enhance or extend their existing AV infrastructure with wireless presentation functionality, or to maximise their screen use with digital signage.” Specs: Wireless collaboration & digital signage integrated, Windows 10 Miracast screen mirroring, Supports 4K display resolution, Wireless screen-out duplication 1-way (NT receiver) Contact: Vivitek

TP-Link’s Archer MR600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router “TP-Link’s Archer MR600 router provides you with the ability to work wherever you want, with improved performance even in areas with poor broadband. Fully Gigabit Ethernet ports provide warp speeds and reliable connections for high-intensive wired devices. Enjoy unmatched convenience and versatility. Tested in the field for years to ensure universal compatibility, with two advanced LTE antennas to deliver a smooth connection. Simply plug in a micro SIM card and power on this elegant piece of technology to utilise fast and stable Wi-Fi, whether you’re at home or working remotely.” Specs: TP-Link’s First 4G+ Router – supports 4G+ Cat6 to boost the data speeds of up to 300 Mbps, Full Gigabit Ports, Plug a SIM card and play, Two external LTE antennas, Wi-Fi router mode – plug an Ethernet cable into the LAN/WAN port for flexible access as a backup option if you can’t get a 4G connection, Supports TP-Link OneMesh Contact: TP-Link UK

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SOUNDPEATS H1 Hybrid Dual-Driver TWS treble at all volumes. Many existing earbuds offer too much bass response, creating a deficiency in higher frequencies that can lead to inferior quality for podcasts, e-books, voice and video calls. When it comes to turning up the treble for exceptional clarity and realism, the Knowles BA Driver, reproduces clear and precise treble that doesn’t extend excessively and penetrate your ears, so more acoustic genres are achieved on SOUNDPEATS H1.

SOUNDPEATS H1 Hybrid Dual-Driver TWS earbuds are capable of delivering superb wireless sound performance. The feature set includes a highperforming hybrid dual-driver system, advanced Bluetooth chipset, adaptive compression algorithm and professional acoustic tuning. The driver system combines a Knowles balanced armature driver, a customised dynamic driver, and a patented crossover. This all works together to create earbuds with an advanced For more information visit: https://igg.me/at/soundpeats/x#/

BIGSOFTI: A portable soft-light For improved photos and videos on your phone, tablet, laptop & camera the BIGSOFTI portable softlight has been created by Australian film professionals to soften light around facial features, and even out skin tone and diffuse any hard shadows on images. BIGSOFTI is a mobile, high quality, bi-colour LED soft panel that delivers stunning diffused lighting on portable devices. With a universal clip it fits all leading smartphone, tablet and laptop brands. It can be shoe mounted with 1/4”-20 thread that fits all cameras, tripods and light stands. It also comes with a 3M Adhesive 52

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Mount for computer monitors and other general surfaces. Match the lighting in your surroundings with the variable colour temperatures - with Cooler daylight for scenes lit by the sun or Tungsten for indoors with warmer light

globes. The clean white mode allows for when there is a mix in the scene, or those times when you’re not quite sure. Control your lighting angle by up to 45 degrees with the rotating barrel connector built into all accessory mounts. The prototype battery was 1000mAh. In testing, run times have been measured at approx: 95 mins at MAX | 140 mins at MID | 240 mins at LOW and full charge from flat is around 2 hrs. USB-C allows for operation while charging, so the unit can be run from a power source. For more information visit: https://igg.me/at/bigsofti/x#/ www.pcr-online.biz

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GMK NucBox 4K Mini PC The GMK NucBox is an ultra-small highperformance mini PC designed for onthe-go productivity and 4K entertainment. Adopting the powerful Intel 4-core processor and small design, it could just be the best replacement for the clunky traditional PC. Its compact chassis measures in at just 2.4x2.4 inches, which is small enough to fit into any pocket or handbag, for full transportability. Engineered with textured metal CNC process, it is extremely sturdy. Featuring a high-performance Intel Celeron J4125 CPU, which has 4-core 4-thread up to 2.7GHz frequency and the latest Intel UHD Graphics 600, it offers powerful performance with quick response speed. The GMK NucBox can run most mainstream lightweight games smoothly at a very

high frame rate. With up to 4K@60Hz playback capabilities it supports H.264, H.265/ HEVC, VP-9 video encoding and decoding, for an advanced entertainment experience. Its 8GB LPDDR4 high-bandwidth memory offers seamless multitasking and lag-free switching between multiple resource hungry software. While 128GB/256GB/512GB SSD high-speed storage options enable fast boot up and app launch. Designed with multiple input/output connection interfaces including 2 USBA, 1 USB-C and 1 HDMI, the super-compact GMK NucBox offers multiple interfaces for different types of peripherals – without

being confined to the space inside the enclosure. The Intel Wi-Fi card provides super-fast and stable wireless Internet connection anywhere, anytime. With 2.4GHz/5GHz dual-band 2x2 AC Wi-Fi, it can reach up to 867Mb/s wireless transfer speed, which is two times faster than devices using 1x1 AC (only 433Mb/s). In-built Bluetooth can be paired with a variety of Bluetooth-enabled peripherals, such as: mouse, keyboard, speaker and so on. For on-the-go productivity and entertainment, the latest 4K(3840 2160) portable monitor can be paired with the GMK NucBox. For more information visit: https://igg.me/at/gmk-nucbox/x#/

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…

Biktrix Juggernaut HD Duo Biktrix Juggernaut HD Duo is the ultimate range extreme performance eBike. With a 1500W mid-drive motor & 2002Wh battery it has a top speed of 35mph & 200-mile range. It comes in Black, Blue, Reptilian and Camo and is available in three sizes: Small, Medium and Large, each in StepThru and Step-Over Frame Styles. The standard battery range is up to 30miles/50km, whilst the extended battery adds additional range. Other options like frame style (step thru/step over), colour, wheel sizes etc. can also be selected. The dual battery technology allows the use of two batteries at the same time. This extends the range up to 200miles on a single charge. The eBike weights in at around 70lb with integrated battery, with the range extenders weighing in at 10lb-12lb. www.pcr-online.biz 

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Using pedal assist, the user can select various levels of assistance as needed and the motor automatically helps as the rider pedals the bike. Using the throttle transforms the eBike into a moped that makes pedaling optional. The throttle turns the rear wheel but doesn’t force the user to pedal. Maintenance is the same as a normal bicycle including regular chain cleaning and lubrication with drivetrain adjustments and replacements as needed. Battery care consists of: storing and charging within 41°F-75°F (5°C-25°C) and keeping charged above 50% when not in use with regular top ups. The LCD can be set to restrict pedal and throttle-only top speeds. For more information visit: https://igg.me/at/biktrix-juggernaut/x#/ December/January 2021 | 53

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Interview

Life in the channel

Vestel’s David Flintoft Turkish home and professional appliances manufacturer, Vestel recently launched its digital partner VIP programme. Here David Flintoft, Vestel’s Sales and Marketing Director explains the key benefits of this new sales support mobile app and web page and how the company is well poised to enter into 2021. 54

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Interview

So tell me a bit more about Vestel? Vestel Visual Solutions is a global manufacturer of professional display solutions, which help to digitally transform organisations within the corporate, retail, education and hospitality sectors. As one of the largest display manufacturers in Europe, our professional display solutions enable resellers to create new revenue streams within a growing technological space - through hardware and software, as well as support and maintenance services. What is your experience in the channel and your current role? I’ve been in my current role as Sales and Marketing Director at Vestel for five years now. While initially assuming responsibility for the Toshiba consumer TV business here in Northern Europe, my role expanded about three years ago as Vestel entered the professional display market in the region. While at Vestel we’re just launching our first ever partner programme, I’ve held several roles previously within which I was engaging with the channel on a daily basis, and so I fully understand the value channel partners bring to a business like ours. The goal at Vestel was always to establish the professional display business at a certain level to then reach the point where we were able to rollout a fully-fledged and tiered partner programme. We’re delighted to now be at that stage – the platform is there but we can only continue to grow with the support of the channel, in what we’re sure will be a mutually beneficial partnership.

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Please could you tell me a bit more about the launch of Vestel’s first partner programme? Accessibility was a key requirement for our first ever partner programme, even more so in these times of remote working where, while we may not be able to meet our partners in person, we can still ensure a personal and human touch is there. As such, we’ve made everything easily accessible through Vestel VIP, a mobile app and web page. This provides channel partners with quick and easy access to the necessary sales tools and support required to grow their business. Throughout building the programme, it was important to keep our partners in mind, and we engaged with them throughout its development to help us shape the content and incentives according to their needs. Through the portal, partners are given varying levels of access to resources and benefits based on the type of partnership with Vestel, as well as access to either Gold, Silver or standard pricing for Vestel’s products. How will this benefit your partners? By bringing the entirety of the programme together within one, easy-to-use app and website, our new portal will save our partners valuable time and resources required to gather these insights, so they can focus on targeting new customers and increasing their sales. The portal gives Vestel partners access to the latest industry trends and information across the education, retail, hospitality and corporate sectors. This information helps them to plan their business strategies accordingly. We’ll also provide access

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Interview to demo products to support the sales cycle, as well as a host of sales and marketing collateral. In addition to this, it will also help us to strengthen partnerships with the channel outside of the traditional, revenuebased relationships. Our partners will have support from our account team, as well as the opportunity for hands-on or in-app training with the latest products, so again that human contact is a vital element for us. What features does the new channel partner VIP portal offer? The portal features important sales information such as stock availability and pricing of the latest Vestel AV products, after-sales support, product & training videos and content and case studies. It also comprises a Vestel communications guide, marketing assets and sales incentives, as well as prizes, for example, Love2shop vouchers or UHD TV’s - all of which are available through a tiered incentive system. Given the current climate, the portal also ensures partners still have access to the personal relationships they need in a digital way, providing direct access to a dedicated account manager, as well as the option of face-to-face or online training. What about Vestel’s growth target here in the UK? We have ambitious targets here in the UK, with an overarching objective to double our growth year-on-year in 2021, which in turn will grow the proportion of our business dedicated to B2B. We know that our partners will be central to helping us achieve this goal, which is exactly why now is the perfect time for us to launch our first ever partner programme. From an onboarding perspective, our initial target is to sign-up 100 new partners by the end of 2020. We’ve had an excellent response so far with almost 70 new partners engaging with us via the new portal already.

“Accessibility was a key requirement for our first ever partner programme, even more so in these times of remote working where, while we may not be able to meet our partners in person, we can still ensure a personal and human touch is there. As such, we’ve made everything easily accessible through Vestel VIP, a mobile app and web page. This provides channel partners with quick and easy access to the necessary sales tools and support required to grow their business. Throughout building the programme, it was important to keep our partners in mind, and we engaged with them throughout its development to help us shape the content and incentives according to their needs.”

How has business been over the past 12 months? While there’s no doubt that the pandemic has been a challenge for all businesses, as mentioned previously the AV industry is playing a critical role in helping many sectors manage the crisis and resume their operations safely. For example, the retail, hospitality, education and corporate sectors are all using digital signage solutions to provide the necessary safety guidance and advice, manage gathering numbers and also provide solutions such as LCD hand sanitisation stations. At the same time these solutions offer significant benefits to organisations beyond the pandemic, so for many customers it has brought about an opportunity to enhance the way in which display technology will support them, both now and in the future.

What predictions do you have for 2021 across the channel? Businesses have had to adapt quickly to new ways of working this year. This has ultimately helped many to strengthen their operations and understand the importance of remaining agile. This agility will be even more critical for the channel in 2021, as the uncertainty around Governmental restrictions makes it difficult to predict industry demands. In this current environment, we cannot know for sure what 2021 has in store for any industry. However, we know that our market is resilient and we expect this strength to show throughout 2021. Whatever happens, we will be there to support the needs of our customers as they adapt to these new trends and demands from their own customers.

What advice do you have for partners in this current business climate? It’s of course a difficult and uncertain time for everyone, but fortunately we’re seeing a more buoyant market now than perhaps we were six months ago. Within the AV space, installations continue to take place – particularly in places like schools and shops where the technology is not only beneficial for educational or retail purposes, but also in helping to manage the pandemic itself. So our message to partners is one of cautious optimism, and to reiterate that we’re of course here to support them through this time as best as we can.

Does Vestel have any major projects planned for 2021? While we can’t reveal a great deal right now, I would certainly say to watch this space. We’ll be launching some exciting and innovative new display products across all of our key target sectors, from retail and education to corporate. At the same time, we’ve had a really positive response to the launch of the partner programme and are well on course to surpass our initial targets for this by the end of the year. Heading into 2021, we’re excited to work with so many new and existing partners, and we’ll continue to work with them to enhance the partner programme and the ways in which we can support them.

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2021 Predictions

A brave New World PCR talks to IT management software company, SolarWinds’ head geeks including Patrick Hubbard and Liz Beavers about what lays ahead for post pandemic 2021, the future of remote/homeworking and how companies can implement a fully digitised infrastructure Is a multi-cloud strategy really the best approach for organisations?

Patrick Hubbard: The benefits of a multi-cloud strategy have been hyped significantly and include everything from flexibility and reliability to cost-performance optimisation. But deploying data and workloads across multiple clouds shouldn’t be an industry best practice. According to a 2020 IDG survey, 55% of organisations use two or more public clouds, but 79% struggle to achieve synergy across their multiple platforms. Now and in the future, we’ll see a growing number of companies rethink multi-cloud or consolidate around a single cloud provider. With multi-cloud adoption, there’s a lag between initial investment and deployment. Those who first started with a multi-cloud strategy may grow to realise how expensive and quickly complicated it can get, making the return on investment (ROI) questionable. It’s expensive because it requires a high level of understanding for each target platform, a strong development team, an observability and monitoring focus, orchestration-first processes, nearly complete change automation, and more. For most businesses, there are also some lost cost opportunities because not all cloud providers offer the same services mix, especially for advanced services - and this is where things start to get more complicated. Businesses must develop and maintain advanced crosscloud services in-house for anything not common to all target platforms. As we see organisations rethink multi-cloud, they must also think about what success looks like. This usually depends on two “must-haves.” First, businesses pursuing a multi-cloud strategy must either wield a high-performing, DevOps-focused team of IT professionals or have the budget to outsource multi-cloud engineering and monitoring to someone else. Second, they must have a well-researched case for why they www.pcr-online.biz

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believe multi-cloud will meet their business needs in the first place.

Where are CIO’s spending their budgets in 2021

Sascha Giese: According to Gartner, the abatement of revenue uncertainty in late 2020 will allow for the resurgence of more predictable IT spending by CIOs, but social distancing will continue through 2021, capping office capacity at 40%. IT teams will need to get even more creative with how they’re spending their money, with IT spending expected to decrease. Though organisations don’t need to put digital transformation on pause, there will be pressure for them to do more with less, leading them to focus on strengthening the tech already in place to optimise businesses. As a side effect, we’ll see further accelerated growth in cloud adoption in international markets like EMEA and APJ. As we try to adapt to the new normal, tech priorities will also continue to be shuffled around until we find the right balance. When it comes to network management, for example, the systems and infrastructure once business-critical (e.g., the fiber backbone running across the campus) are now secondary, while parts of the network once viewed as “nice to have” (e.g., client VPN connections for every employee) are now more than mission-critical - they’re the essential tools of the business.

How is the IT help desk evolving and what can we expect in the near future? Liz Beavers: In 2020, we saw a sharp uptick in the number of inquiries being fielded through the IT help desk. This will continue in 2021, but as organisations explore how to drive efficiencies throughout the business, we also anticipate the IT help desk will further embrace technology and streamline their operations to become a more central resource for all

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2021 Predictions

employee tech requests: the IT service desk. Before the broader transition can begin, teams must put the proper infrastructure in place so they’re able to sufficiently manage employees’ systems. Organisations will then begin to look at how all factions and departments within the business can utilise the service desk. By reviewing - and in some cases rethinking - their processes, we expect to see numerous businesses decide the IT service desk should become the central resource for employees so they can get the help they need, when they need it as remote working becomes the norm. The IT help desk won’t be responsible for owning all requests, but with their experience and expertise, they can suggest ways to automate, delegate operations, and encourage crossdepartmental collaboration. For example, where a technician would’ve traditionally coached a user through a one-off ticket like a password reset, automated classification and responses in IT service management (ITSM) solutions will be put into place in 2021 to eliminate manual triage, make categorisation more efficient, and lead to a faster resolution for the requester. For the more complex business practices like offboarding or hardware intake, IT teams will leverage their ITSM platforms to digitise the collection of information and automate changing access rights. Implementing these updates won’t shift the onus from the IT help desk, but it’ll help eliminate service silos and enhance visibility.

Does automation still have a role to play in the modern organisation and if so, where?

Chrystal Taylor: In 2021, we’ll begin to see a reversal in the industry’s “automation anxiety.” With tightening budgets and other pandemic-induced operational challenges, organisations and tech teams will have no choice but to fully embrace automation to optimise environments and reduce the time spent on monotonous tasks. This will include automating time-consuming tasks like workstation patching, configuration changes for network devices, compliance checks and remediation, server patching, and more. One area primed for greater automation is the IT help desk. As monitoring and service desk integrations become more prevalent, tech pros will start the process of automating ticket assignments, asset updates, configuration management database (CMDB) updates, updates to customers, and more. This will not only keep monitoring and service desk systems and teams in sync but take menial tasks and delays out of the equation, allowing common issues to be resolved faster and saving the business time and money.

What part will full-stack APM play? Adam Hert: Though the move from on-premises to the cloud and hybrid IT was well underway before the pandemic, this transition was accelerated by COVID-19. In 2021, traditional IT professionals will have to rethink how to best manage apps as hybrid IT becomes the new reality. One of the major challenges accompanying this is simultaneously managing legacy and modern applications. To do this effectively, tech pros will

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need to refocus efforts on implementing full-stack application performance management (APM) to best optimise their environments and resolve application performance problems faster and more efficiently. With integrated APM, applicationlevel assessments such as root cause summary, response time, load patterns, and resource usage will make it easier to identify problems, allowing optimal performance and freeing up tech pros’ time. In turn, this will lessen the impact on users and the bottom line, which will be the main business priority in a postCOVID world.

What about database performance management?

Thomas LaRock: Let’s face it, applications run the business - but applications run on data. Since 2006, the industry has been referring to data as the new oil. It’s what gives businesses a competitive advantage, making the need to protect and optimise its performance of the utmost importance to give the highest value back to the business. Visibility is critical because database performance is often where the experience goes wrong. Ensuring your database performance in the cloud is at least as good as it is in your data center is critical, as IT organisations “lift and shift” more workloads to the cloud - something that’s been accelerating since the workforce went remote. Otherwise, the digital transformation you expect to deliver for your business can suffer, bringing your business down with it. Because the database is critical to infrastructure and application performance, IT pros and business leaders have to strike the right balance for their organisation’s growth, and grapple with making their data perform its best, regardless of where it resides. And while many look at either the applications, or the infrastructure supporting them, the data management itself is a top priority.

How will security perimeters be impacted?

Thomas LaRock: According to a recent survey, 20% of organisations have reported they’ve faced a security breach as a result of remote work. As remote work continues in 2021, employees will keep using work devices outside the office and at home, loading up personal devices with business email accounts and company data and leading to a higher risk of a security breach. In the year ahead, it’s imperative for businesses to extend the new cybersecurity perimeter outside the four walls of their physical offices. Rather than managing devices internally, tech teams will need to shift responsibilities to managing people to stay one step ahead of an evolving threat landscape. Teams will need to work on closing the skills gap by educating and training more tech pros (and employees) to understand and mitigate cybersecurity threats. But this will need to go beyond on-thejob training- tech pros should be looking to gain security skills when they’re studying at school and universities. Companies will want to ensure the security data scientists and/or third-party products deployed have a solid foundational understanding of the changing threats to business security.

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19/11/2020 10:27


CELEBRATING THE LEADING COMPANIES FROM ACROSS THE UK PC AND TECH INDUSTRY

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09/12/2020 09:39 11:20 02/12/2020

Profile for Biz Media Ltd

PCR December/January 2021  

PCR December/January 2021