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CLOUD / AI

ISSUE

February 2020

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CLOUD / AI ISSUE #195

Get your head in the cloud

February 2020

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CONTENT

Editor Laura Barnes laura.barnes@biz-media.co.uk +44 (0)203 143 8783 Graphic Designer Nikki Hargreaves nikki.hargreaves@biz-media.co.uk

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Printed by Buxton Press Ltd ISSN: 1742-8440 Copyright 2019

Biz Media Ltd, Axe & Bottle Court, 70 Newcomen St, London SE1 1YT All contents © 2019 Biz Media Ltd. or published under licence. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be used, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any way without the prior written permission of the publisher. All information contained in this publication is for information only and is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Biz Media Ltd. cannot accept any responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. You are advised to contact manufacturers and retailers directly with regard to the price of products/services referred to in this publication. Apps and websites mentioned in this publication are not under our control. We are not responsible for their contents or any other changes or updates to them. This magazine is fully independent and not affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein. If you submit material to us, you warrant that you own the material and/or have the necessary rights/ permissions to supply the material and you automatically grant Biz Media Ltd. and its licensees a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in any/all issues and/or editions of publications, in any format published worldwide and on associated websites, social media channels and associated products. Any material you submit is sent at your own risk and, although every care is taken, neither Biz Media Ltd. nor its employees, agents, subcontractors or licensees shall be liable for loss or damage. We assume all unsolicited material is for publication unless otherwise stated, and reserve the right to edit, amend, adapt all submissions.

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TheEditor The future is now

W

henever I get to cover topics such as the cloud and artificial intelligence, it can be tempting to get sucked into a futuristic world of robotic shop assistants, or even worse – some Skynet-style super self-aware intelligence system that will no doubt turn on all of us once it has become powerful enough to figure out that the human race has had its day. I think it’s safe to say that is probably not going to happen – and I’ve possibly been watching too much sci-fi. Thankfully, while compiling this issue of PCR, I’ve come across some much more useful, realistic and less frightening use-cases for both the cloud and AI. On page 16, Giacom’s Mike Wardell discusses the cloud distributor’s customer-centric way of working, on page 22 we look at how AI is being used to give retailers a better understanding of their customers, and on page 30 industry experts discuss the latest cloud computing trends. So have a read of what the future really does look like for the industry, and try not to worry so much about being destroyed by assassin cyborgs from 2029 – which isn’t really that far off...

“Try not to worry about being destroyed by assassin cyborgs from 2029”

Laura Barnes, Editor

laura.barnes@biz-media.co.uk

Editorial: 0203 143 8783 Advertising: 0203 143 8778

THE TEAM

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Sarah Goldhawk

Advertising sarah.goldhawk@biz-media.co.uk

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Graphic Designer nikki.hargreaves@biz-media.co.uk

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16 Feb 2020 06 Retail Analysis: The truth about biodegradable bags 10 Industry opinions 16 The Big Interview: Giacom's Mike Wardell 22 AI's place in retail 24 PCR Awards 2020: The shortlist is revealed 26 CES 2020 Review 30 Standing out in the cloud 32 Top 5 Tech: Noblechairs' Steven Levitt 36 Sector Guide: AI Toys and Gadgets 40 Crowdfunding Corner 42 Sector Guide: Cloud products 46 Life in the Channel: OnBuy's Cas Paton 49 Logging Off

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Retail Analysis

Unexpected items in the bagging area After discovering that current biodegradable and reusable bags may not be as eco-friendly as we first thought, scientists are coming up with interesting new ways to help reduce single-use plastic. Laura Barnes learns more about the new types of bags retailers could be offering their customers in the near future...

O

n 5th October 2015, the UK government put in place a law that requires large shops in England to charge 5p for all single-use plastic carrier bags. Supermarkets, high street stores and out-of-town retailers with 250 or more employees had to abide by this rule, and smaller businesses were encouraged to join in on a voluntary basis in a bid to reduce the amount of singleuse plastic being used in the UK retail industry. Shoppers were also given the option to buy a thicker, reusable ‘bag for life’, with the idea being that you’d pay slightly more for one of these, and you would be able to use it over and over again until it wears out. Five years on and the bag for life idea has also caused a boom in cotton tote bag sales. We’ve all got used to hoarding our tote bags in the designated kitchen cupboard and taking them out with us wherever we go. However, a new study has looked into just how eco-friendly tote bags and bags for life actually are, with some surprising results. In 2018, the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark looked at the environmental impact of different types of carrier bags throughout their lives, including heavy-duty bags for life, paper bags and cotton tote bags.

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It found that the production of some (not all) cotton tote bags was damaging to the ozone layer; caused by gases used to help transport the fossil fuels powering the pumps that water the cotton plants. Going back to the thicker, sturdier bag for life that you can buy from most large retailers, research from the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Greenpeace in 2019 found that UK shoppers have somewhat of an addiction to bags for life. Despite an 83% reduction in the use of conventional plastic bags, shoppers still bought bags for life at a similar rate. A whopping 1.5 billion were sold in the UK in 2019. It turns out that sales of the sturdier bags increased by 26% in the UK in 2019, resulting in enough for 54 bags per household per year. Breaking this figure down, it seems shoppers are only using a ‘bags for life’ for around a week before getting a new one.

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Retail Analysis

Biodegradable bags At this point, you’re probably thinking, well surely the answer to all this is to just use biodegradable bags? And you’d be right. However, in 2015 a British marine biologist, Richard Thompson, was wondering how well these new biodegradable shopping bags actually were, so he collected a handful of different bags labelled at biodegradable and buried them in the garden of Plymouth University. Three years later Thompson and his graduate students dug up the bags and to their surprise, not only had they all remained intact, but each one could carry almost five pounds of weight. Speaking to National Geographic at the time, Thompson commented: “It did surprise me that after three years you can still carry shopping home in them. They didn’t have the same strength as they had when they were brand new. But they hadn’t degraded to any meaningful extent.”

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Obviously this was only a three year experiment, and over a longer period of time the bags could very well degrade a lot more. But the point is that the general public has this idea that biodegradable bags are going to break down quickly and not cause harm to the environment. If an animal got its head stuck in one of these biodegradable bags, it could theoretically still be hanging off its neck three years on. There is some light at the end of the tunnel though. Scientists are working hard to come up with a biodegradable bag that doesn’t use plastic and is much better at breaking down. First up, Japan’s largest manufacturer of shopping bags, Fukusuke Kogyo, has developed a plant-derived, marine biodegradable bag. Developed with researchers from Gunma University, the bags are made from sugarcane and corn resin.

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Retail Analysis

“1.5 billion bags for life were sold in the UK in 2019, an increase of 26% compared to the year before. That’s 54 bags per household per year”

Designed to carry over 17lbs of goods, if they end up in the sea, marine bacteria will break down more than 90% of the bag into water and carbon dioxide within 180 days. Although they currently cost ten times more than conventional shopping bags, the company says there are already several firms considering buying them, with the bags set to go on sale as early as July 2020. If they are successful, perhaps they will make their way to the UK. Going bananas Japan isn’t the only country hard at work developing a new biodegradable bag that will actually do what it says on the tin. Researchers at the University of New South Wales have found a way to turn banana plantation waste into recyclable, biodegradable packaging. Associate Professor Jayashree Arcot and Professor Martina Stenzel discovered that, in most cases, only 12% of the banana plant is actually used when harvesting the fruit, with the rest being discarded post-harvest. “What makes the banana-growing business particularly wasteful compared to other fruit crops is the fact that the plant dies after each harvest,” Arcot told Packaging Europe. “We were particularly interested in the pseudostems – basically the layered, fleshy trunk of the plant which is cut down after each harvest and mostly discarded on the field. Some of it is used for textiles, some as compost, but other than that, it’s a huge waste.” The professors wondered whether these fleshy parts of the banana plant could be used to make carrier bags and

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packaging amongst other things, such as paper products and in the medical field for wound healing. The professors explain: “The pseudostem is 90% water, so the solid material ends up reducing down to about 10%. We bring the pseudostem into the lab and chop it into pieces, dry it at very low temperatures in a drying oven, and then mill it into a very fine powder. “We then take this powder and wash it with a very soft chemical treatment. This isolates what we call nanocellulose which is a material of high value with a whole range of applications. One of those applications that interested us greatly was packaging.” The researchers are urging the banana industry to get on board so that the pseudostem can become a realistic alternative to plastic bags and food packaging, saying it would “make sense for the banana industry to start the processing of the pseudostems into powder which they could then sell to packaging suppliers”. “If the banana industry can come on board, and they say to their farmers or growers that there’s a lot of value in using those pseudostems to make into a powder which you could then sell, that’s a much better option for them as well as for us,” explains Arcot. And at the other end of the supply chain, Arcot says that if packaging manufacturers updated their machines to be able to fabricate the nano-cellulose film into bags and other packaging materials, then banana pseudostems stand a real chance of making packaging much more sustainable in the near future.

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29/01/2020 09:44


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industryopinion

Collaboration and the state of the supply chain Dominik Birgelen, CEO at oneclick, discusses why collaboration in the supply chain is essential for minimising uncertainty between businesses and their suppliers...

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s more sectors begin to deploy high-performing tech to drive collaboration and efficiency, it seems the current state of the supply chain is not living up to the same expectations. In fact, a recent study has shown that a third of firms are unaware of how their suppliers are performing. This is largely down to a lack of software support, which is essentially restricting collaboration throughout the supply chain, further leading to inventory inaccuracy and loss in profits. As it stands, suppliers are needing to work within several different solutions to interact. This means warehouse owners aren’t easily able to manage performance and access analytics. To address these concerns, suppliers are now moving away from the traditional ways they manage their systems on premise and are integrating to cloud-based platforms to streamline communications, improve productivity and boost profits. For bigger businesses and vendors, there is a pressure to keep ahead of the competition by adopting the best technologies to enable the highest productivity. In addition, with nearly 50 million tonnes of goods being moved every day in the US alone, it is crucial to implement a successful platform that can manage risks and resolve any issues that occur. It will also allow end users to monitor the overall process and make any adjustments if needed. Using collaborative technology, with a secure back portal, facilitates a system for multiple vendors or suppliers, enabling a more streamlined execution and guaranteed security in any location in-which data is accessed. With this in place, companies communications will be accelerated leading to multiple long-term benefits, including lower costs and overall ease of the process, which can be ensured with a collaboration platform to drive efficiency in supply chain. Furthermore, if both the suppliers and distributors work to deliver value for each other in the long term and both recognise the benefits of the system, it will strengthen their partnership going forward. In terms of admin, whilst many complex documents are going back and forth between multiple suppliers,

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vendors and buyers, it can be difficult to keep these organised with easy access. Using a cloud system allows documents to be stored safely in one location, making it easier to locate them at a future date. This also applies to data storage. To separate certain data, companies will usually require many different applications to store information. The cloud is able to carry out analysis on data and store it safely in an organised manner. Usually this task would be handled by an employee, so additionally, the time saved can be invested in places of the business that require greater attention. This will also significantly cut costs. As the cloud is able to replace many human tasks, employers have less pressure to hire new staff to maintain streamlined systems. In addition, these tasks performed by the cloud will be achieved considerably faster than if carried out by an employee. Over time, this will speed up the entire system of the supply chain, making the process increasingly efficient. In addition to this, employers won’t need to rely on IT support to fix internal technical problems, as the cloud can self diagnose and resolve issues in the system. This will save a crucial amount of time and money waiting for IT support to arrive and fix the issue for a hefty fee. Collaboration in the supply chain is essential for minimising uncertainty between businesses and their suppliers. A lack of collaboration leads to inventory inaccuracy, security issues and loss in profits, which can unavoidably decrease your businesses success. Working within one supported platform, all interaction and distribution analytics can be accessed in one space, with a simple request. With only a small monthly subscription, employers will experience a significant reduction in costs with a higher level of security by adapting to a cloud-based platform. This year, we can expect to see a 60% reduction in security issues when using the cloud. With this, and considering the multiple end users involved in the supply chain, using one secure platform will inevitably strengthen the collaboration and management of suppliers, vendors and buyers.

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29/01/2020 11:55


industryopinion

How AI is being utilised in the cybersecurity space Paul Lipman, CEO at BullGuard, discusses how AI is being used within its products and how it can be a compelling selling point for resellers...

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t’s a figure that is so large it’s difficult to comprehend, but 350,000 new malware programmes and suspicious applications are released every day according to the AV-Test Institute. That’s 2.45 million malware programmes a week, bombarding computers and networks the world over. In the face of this onslaught it’s understandable that we’ve reached a point in which traditional conventional malware detection is being overwhelmed. Of course, cybersecurity companies have been ahead of this curve and for years have layered behavioural-based detection on top of traditional malign code signature detection methods. And as artificial intelligence (AI) increasingly makes headway it is increasingly being deployed in cybersecurity. AI systems are being created and taught to detect viruses and malware. Sophisticated predictive AI models can identify even the slightest of aberrant behaviours that signals malware with significantly higher accuracy than conventional methods. AI can also be used at an individual device or user level which is useful for large enterprises to scan a system for abnormal activity, such as unauthorised access to a database from a computer within an organisation. By constantly scanning, enough data can be collected to determine when a particular activity is questionable. If abnormal activity is detected, AI models can help determine whether or not the activity may indicate a threat or whether it is a false alarm. At BullGuard, we have introduced predictive AI malware detection and layered it on top of conventional signature-based detection and behavioural detection that identifies code and activity irregularities that signal malware. This triple-layered approach to cybersecurity provides robust defences and can quickly recognise patterns as new malware activity begins to develop. However, in some senses it’s ironic that end users are typically not aware that AI is being used. AI is a bit of a buzzword these days and there is a perception that if AI isn’t being used in software and systems of all types then the service is on its way to becoming

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redundant. In fact, it’s become such an issue that some companies will claim to be using AI when they really aren’t just to satisfy their customers. This also illustrates that many people only have the vaguest of notions of what AI is and what it does. This can actually be an advantage for cybersecurity resellers, particularly in the under-served consumer and small office markets. These markets are often overlooked by many vendors when it comes to cybersecurity designed to meet their specific needs, for instance both consumers and small offices want the best protection possible together with ease-of-use. They don’t want complexity, and as a result, easy-to-use, advanced cybersecurity is attractive. AI malware detection layered in as predictive protection is an extremely compelling selling point to add. Unfortunately, hackers can also make use of AI to create malware. Truly skilled hackers, more aptly described as advanced computer scientists albeit with malign intentions, who are able to exploit to AI, are a relatively small minority. However, their malware developments typically cascade down into the larger underground criminal community who adopt and use their designs. There are signs that these advanced hackers are using AI to weaponise malware. For instance, criminals can use AI to conceal malicious code in otherwise benign applications. The code is programmed to execute at a specific time, say within six months after the applications have been installed, or when a targeted number of users have subscribed to the applications. This maximises the impact of such attacks. This is only one example of AI used to create malware, but as you can imagine such attacks could be devastating if successful. Which is why AI has been so readily and swiftly adopted by the cybersecurity industry. Among the release of 350,000 new malware programmes each day, we are beginning to see the early signs of AI-driven malware activity. As such the success of cybersecurity protection depends on being on top of and ahead of this fast-paced malware evolution.

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industryopinion

Is the public internet good enough to support cloud services? Emily Nerland, Channel Director EMEA at network and cloud platform Masergy looks at how leveraging public internet can be within the best interest of many businesses...

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usinesses have been using public internet as a cost-saving measure for decades, but as operations have started moving to cloud-based strategies, the money saved is being negated by lower productivity and reliability. In making that shift to the cloud, businesses may experience performance issues, especially when utilising public connectivity solutions. This article explores those issues and offers insight into when public connections should be leveraged for optimal performance. Understanding the limits of public connectivity While public internet connections have become the default option for cloud service access, it’s certainly not the most reliable option. Broadband is typically called a “best-effort” service because it comes without any Service Level Agreements or performancebased guarantees. Public connections also have significantly higher packet loss and latency than private network solutions and greater variability in loss and latency. If enterprises have business-critical applications running in the cloud, public internet connections may be too risky to support secure cloud access. With the requirements for more reliability, availability, and responsiveness and higher security, IT leaders are often searching for alternate connectivity options. ‎

Alternative Connections DCC – Direct Cloud Connections offer direct physical links for low-latency, fast and reliable connectivity. Users are able to send traffic directly to the service provider’s cloud at either a Layer 2 (ethernet) or Layer 3 (IP) level, though the service comes with a high cost of ownership. WAN-CX – WAN Cloud Exchanges act as a go-between, removing the requirement for direct connections to the Service Provider’s cloud. Instead, the exchange is connected to multiple

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CSPs that allows for virtual links to hundreds of popular applications, usually through an online portal, for efficient data transfer without the infrastructure of a DCC. Benefits of leveraging a public connection Whilst running an entire enterprise from a public internet connection is certainly not recommended, Masergy believes these alternative connections do not necessarily eliminate the requirement for public internet access. Businesses should still leverage low-cost connectivity for non-critical services like failover, back-up and applications that are not dependant on time or packet loss. In order to facilitate the easy routing of traffic over multiple connection types, businesses should implement an SD-WAN model, like those available from Masergy, where all available connection types are combined with the speed and automation of Artificial Intelligence to optimise a network’s performance. SD-WAN implementations are able to leverage all connected networks to direct traffic over the most efficient path, whilst only requiring the most basic set-up. This network model is ideal for reliable access to the cloud services that have become essential in modern working practices, like video calling and collaboration software. Bandwidth-hungry services can be routed over DCC or WAN-CX connections, (depending on the individual business’ infrastructure) whilst cost-efficient public networks can be leveraged for non-critical services and back-up at a reasonable cost. Depending on the specific requirements of the enterprise, most will opt for a WAN-CX strategy, whilst those operations that require the best possible connectivity requirements may choose DCC for the added guarantees and reliability. Though, leveraging public internet is still within many businesses best-interests when combined with SD-WAN.

www.pcr-online.biz

29/01/2020 13:32


industryopinion

Energy: How to prepare for 2020 With the onset of Brexit, the start of a crawl towards sustainability targets and more savings needing to be made than ever before, James Longley, Managing Director of Utility Bidder, suggests now is the time to review your energy as a business‌

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t can seem tempting to treat 2020 like any other year, with a majority of SMEs cautiously setting out goals and aims for the year. However, for those that are not aware, sustainability and energy efficiency should be the standout aims for the year. Targets have been set by the government of being carbon neutral by 2050. This may seem far into the future, after all, 30 years is a long time, but it is those that start to make the changes now that will reap the most benefits. The considerations of energy efficiency for vendors and retailers need to be two-fold, on one hand, measures to ensure equipment being created is energy efficient, but also that having the best procurement in place is also vital to ensure businesses are saving money in the long term. There are many strategic ways businesses can reduce costs and their carbon footprint at the same time, all it takes is a mindset and a commitment to change: Conduct an energy audit This is a relatively simple step most companies can set up for themselves. Simply taking a detailed look and review of energy efficiency can make all the difference. It can identify where excesses are being spent, where improvements might be able to be quickly actioned and also gives you an idea of whether you are paying too much for your energy. For retailers, this could make a huge difference to outgoings when considering that brick and mortar locations are some of the most expensive elements of a business to maintain. For manufacturers or production facilities, any costs shaved from overall running costs contribute to the bottom line. Set up an energy efficiency team On top of any changes businesses make to their energy policies or any advantages they can find from an audit, having a bought-in

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group within your business can help encourage culture change when it comes to energy. A monthly, informal meeting to discuss and set targets can really foster a sense of collective responsibility. Having targets shared will also help. Outsource data storage Taking steps to store data offsite or secure information to specialist companies can often be cheaper and more carbon-neutral than adding to already power-sapping and costly data servers. Although maintenance is relatively low-demand, the sheer amount of power being used to simply maintain something which could be exported to cloud providers is astonishing. Cloud providers are now so secure, the fear over losing often confidential or business-specific information should now not be so much of a concern. It is sometimes baffling that businesses do not address this as an issue earlier. In regard to the 2050 targets, many individual regions are bypassing this 30-year wait and are addressing their carbon footprint aims earlier. For example, the Greater Manchester region’s Mayor, Andy Burnham, has even announced that the region will be aiming for more than a decade earlier in 2038. This is mainly being achieved through encouragement of behaviour change amongst residents but will be a great tool to motivate SMEs and larger concerns in the area to take action too. The biggest hurdle we often have to overcome is apathy and mindset. Unless SMEs take this issue of carbon neutrality seriously, then the fight to make it happen is difficult before it even begins. Once major players get involved, it should be a relatively easy win, but until then we simply do not know. Add to this the uncertainty on the energy industry as we approach Brexit and you have more than reason enough to sit up and take notice of what could be a very interesting year indeed.

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Number

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

CRUNCHING 16-25 year olds A recent survey by Mediahawk has found that more 16-24 year olds (32%) prefer to pick up the phone to discuss a purchase than 35-44 year olds (24%).

37% New research from ESET revealed that only 37% of parents have installed security and virus protection on their child’s phone.

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27

Millions of workers returning to work after the New Year had to remember an average of 27 passwords, revealed Veridium’s latest research.

$30 Billion The AR, VR and MR combined market is estimated to be worth over $30 billion by 2030, according to IDTechEx.

41% A new report from Lenovo has found that 41% of employees believe they are missing the key technology tools needed for flexible working.

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“Our vision is to help our customers to become the most efficient and effective IT companies in the UK�

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thebiginterview

Giacom’s cloud vision Mike Wardell, CEO of cloud distributor Giacom, discusses the company’s passion for helping its customers become more efficient, how it stands out from competitors, and what its vision is for dominating the cloud distribution space...

B

oasting to be the UK’s fastest-growing reseller-only cloud services provider, Giacom has an impressive roster of vendors on the books, including Microsoft, Acronis and Bitdefender. With a promise to “support you throughout your journey”, the distributor has a strong focus on putting its customers first. Having won a number of awards in 2019, launching its own product, and seeing its revenue grow over 40% year-on-year, PCR caught up with Giacom’s CEO, Mike Wardell, to find out more about the distributor’s recent successes and its plans for 2020 and beyond. How was 2019 for Giacom and what were some of your biggest successes? 2019 was a pretty good year for Giacom. From a top-line point of view, we grew to £35 million in revenue, which was over 40% yearon-year growth, and we reached half a million end-users. This was underpinned with continual strong customer acquisition and increased product adoption from our customers. We also launched our own product, which we haven’t done for a number of years as we’ve been

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trying to find the right vendors and partners to fill the product gap, rather than necessarily building them ourselves. Last year, we identified some gaps in the market which is why we developed a Cloud Server and a Cloud Network Drive product, which effectively helps customers move from a physical infrastructure to the cloud more easily. This was a big step for us and is something we’re still excited about progressing with over the next 12 months and beyond. Another success of ours was picking up a fair number of awards, such as being named a ‘National Winner’ in the 2019 European Business Awards, one of the world’s largest business competitions, as well as winning ‘Fastest Growing Tech Business of the Year’ at the 2019 Hull Tech Awards. The market for cloud services appears to be growing rapidly. What are some of the challenges Giacom faces in terms of competitors and gaining market share? Firstly, the fact that it’s growing fairly rapidly is clearly helpful because if the market is growing, this, in turn, means we will continue to grow without having to change too much. Most of the challenges we face are internal as opposed to external – it’s about recruiting the right people and investing in their development.

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thebiginterview

As the market is growing so quickly, it’s creating huge opportunities and demand for everyone, so therefore we need more people across all areas of the business. One of our challenges is recruitment, especially when there is a skill-shortage and many businesses are having the same challenges. You can argue that our market share has grown, but fundamentally, in order to change that market share in the future, it’s all about the service you offer your customers. As long as we continue to provide a strong service with the right products and added-value. Giacom claims to be the UK’s fastest-growing reselleronly cloud service provider. A very enticing statement for many businesses to hear. Can you talk us through some of the benefits resellers will see by working with you over your competitors? We see ourselves as different from our competitors. Our vision is to help our customers to become the most efficient and effective IT companies in the UK. We’re not just coming at it from a product or service point of view, but instead a holistic and full business perspective. Anything we can do to help our customers be better, more effective or efficient, we’ll try to do. This means when a customer contacts us, we need to be there to help them in whatever it is; whether it’s an issue, opportunity or a solution – we aspire to provide high-class service. From a product point of view, we need to make sure we’ve got the right product on the shelf that helps them fix a problem for their customers. We also need to make sure we’re providing the right content, collateral, training and insight to help them

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educate their customers to ensure the solution fits the business. As for the platform, we need to make sure we optimise the ordering and provisioning process. We make it simple for our customers to partner with us. We don’t ask for minimum commitments, there is no minimum contract length, so our customers can cancel at any point, we have an easy sign-up process, and it’s easy to get assistance from the right person as we are a tight knit team all in on office. The fact that we have our own platform means that we can be very agile to our customer demands. If there is an issue with a customer, we have a quick and direct level of

“We make it simple for our customers to partner with us. We don’t ask for minimum commitments and there is no minimum contract length, so our customers can cancel at any point”

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thebiginterview communication, so we don’t have to go through many complicated tiers of support. Despite the concept of cloud computing and storage being around for some time, there are still a number of businesses that are wary or unsure of how to utilise it properly. What advice would you give to those looking to use a cloud service for the first time? There remains a large number of customers that haven’t adopted the cloud, but the world is changing and many people are transforming from ownership models to subscription-based models. It’s less likely for people to own CDs or DVDs, instead, they utilise subscription services such as Netflix and Spotify, which is becoming more relevant to the consumer’s lifestyle habits. However, some people are still used to owning or physically seeing something for their money. But for me, the benefits of putting things in the cloud far outweigh that ownership view. From a security aspect, if you have a physical server, there is an immediate physical security risk from the hard disk failing to other damage that could be incurred. Cybersecurity is also a consideration, if you manage your own server, you have to deal with an increasing number of complex threats and attacks. If you put information in the cloud, your small business will be increasingly protected. The cloud is more resilient as you can store your information in multiple locations – so that if one location fails, it will be backed up elsewhere. Additionally, the price is a lot more accessible now, making it more affordable to more people. The cloud is gaining more and more flexibility components as time has gone on, so there is no better time than now to make this change. What innovations have you seen in the cloud computing space in recent years? Cloud computing has been around for a while and in recent years the volume of software and applications being created has accelerated. We therefore have to work hard to understand that market in order to pick the right products to help our customers. Related to that, when these products originally became available, they tended to only be accessible for enterprise customers, the cost was prohibitive and consultants were needed. Now, the applications are available for the masses and there are a lot of small business-focused solutions without the need for a high cost implementation. What do you think will be the next big innovation in this space? I’m not sure what or whether there will be a big innovation.

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“Some people are still used to owning or physically seeing something for their money. But the benefits of putting things in the cloud far outweigh that ownership view” We’ll see improvements in existing technology including in performance and additional features. If you look back on cloud computing over the years, it’s difficult to pinpoint a specific point of innovation, as it’s developed steadily. I believe we’ll start to see more use of artificial intelligence within applications to see them reach their full potential. We’ve started to see it in chat-bots and many security products, but I think this will become more available in everything we use. What does Giacom have planned for the year ahead and beyond? Helping our customers and making them more effective and efficient is the anchor point of everything we do. Through our platform, our aim is to reduce or remove friction from any ordering processes; we want our customers to be able to order straight from their system without having to double key, reducing the potential for errors and manual reconciliation work. We are also planning to provide additional analytics and insight to our customers through the platform. We’re looking at launching some more security and IP products over the next 12 months by understanding the demand from our customers. Another aspiration we have is to enhance and continue our customer service. To achieve this, we need to ensure we listen to our customers and make sure we react to what we’re hearing. From a financial point of view, we want to hit close to £50 million in revenues and reach 1 million customer licenses. Overall, everything we do is directly linked to helping our customers be the best they can be.

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EVENTS MWC BARCELONA 2020

24th-27th February, Fira Gran Via, Barcelona

The GSMA MWC series (formerly known as Mobile World Congress) is the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry, and incorporates a thought-leadership conference featuring prominent executives representing global mobile operators, device manufacturers, technology providers, vendors, and content owners. MWC Barcelona brings together more than 2,400 leading companies and will focus on 7 core topics for 2020: AI, Connectivity, Customer Engagement, Industry X, Media and Entertainment, Our Planet, and Security and Privacy.

PCR AWARDS 2020

4th March, The Brewery, London

Save the date for the 2020 PCR Awards! We’ll be back at The Brewery in Central London on 4th March to once again celebrate the very best of the UK tech and IT industry. On the night, we will recognise those that have made the biggest impact in the channel. Vendors, distributors, channel services, resellers and retailers will all be celebrated in front of a room of 500+ industry members. Guests will enjoy an unmissable night of networking and hospitality as we reflect on the achievements of the channel over the past year. What’s more, for 2020 we have two brand new awards, and Strictly Come Dancing’s Claudia Winkleman presenting the show. We have also unveiled the shortlist for this year’s selection of awards, you can take a look at all the finalists on page 24. PCR Awards 2020 Partners announced so far include HANNspree as Event Partner, AOC/MMD as Distribution Category Partner, Exertis as Entertainment Partner, CMS Distribution as Retail Category Partner, Synaxon UK as Vendor Category Partner, Tenda as Red Carpet Partner, Smithie UK as Flower Wall Partner, and Zaboura as Event Partner. If you would like to find out more information about being a PCR Awards 2020 Partner, get in touch with Sarah Goldhawk at sarah.goldhawk@biz-media.co.uk now.

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Find out what tech and retail events you should be attending in the coming months…

WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY SHOW 2020 10th-11th March, The Business Design Centre, London

Now in its seventh year, WTS2020 is the biggest forum for forming partnerships and developing new business across the wearable, smart device and IoT landscape. Over 3,000 delegates, 200 speakers and 150 press will come together to exchange views, network and do business. The show floor will feature cutting edge technology attracting prosumers, distributors and buyers. Boasting eight conference tracks – in conjunction with the AVR360 Show, and Digital Healthcare Show – WTS2020 offers an unrivalled breadth and depth of content.

CLOUDFEST 2020

14th-19th March, Europa-Park, Germany

CloudFest 2020 will explore how AI helps you maximise the potential that hypervisor partnership offers. The Intelligent Cloud allows AI to manage and distribute complex workloads, with smart tools that make interoperability and scale more cost-effective and efficient. It’s a tech paradigm that is coming up quickly, and CloudFest will help pave the way so you can be in the driver’s seat. CloudFest will explore how the cloud industry is preparing for the AI evolution in terms of technology, oversight, economics, and morality.

INFOSECURITY EUROPE 2020 2nd-4th June, Olympia, London

InfoSecurity Europe is a leading event for information and cyber security, bringing business, tech and cyber communities together to discuss and discover how best to protect companies and individuals. Meet with the world’s most innovative suppliers and cyber experts, immerse yourself in hands-on tech and learn from world-renowned speakers and thought-leaders. At the conference you will get the insight and education you need to manage information and cyber risk to build resilience within complex organisations. At the exhibit, expect to grow your brand, generate sales leads and build relationships with 15,000+ of Europe’s top cyber security professionals.

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AI in retail

AI’s place in retail How is artificial intelligence being used by retailers to better understand their customers and what other benefits can AI bring to business? Laura Barnes speaks to the experts to find out more…

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rtificial intelligence has been slowly but steadily seeping into our everyday lives, from the smart home products that learn our habits to try and make our days easier to manage, to more complex use cases within areas such as cybersecurity, the financial sector and the automobile industry. But what about the retail sector? Aside from the futuristic ideas of robotic assistants whizzing around your shop floor, what are the more realistic applications for AI in the retail space for businesses of all sizes? “Artificial intelligence has been implemented across various industries over the past few years, particularly the retail industry,” Ryan Deutsch, chief brand advocate at digital marketing company Persado tells PCR. “While end customers may not be aware of its application, retailers have now been using AI to improve their services. It has the ability to run large data sets through AI algorithms to uncover information about customers or the business itself. With this advancement in data analysis, retailers can learn more about

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industry trends, their customer’s preferences and requirements – ultimately improving the overall customer shopping experience; by giving them exactly what they want, you can begin to build a more personal and bespoke relationship. “Some interesting AI technologies seen at NRF in New York this January include mapping customer activity in-store in real time – identifying hotspots and dead zones while understanding how store associates interact with customers, to what degree of success, and why. Drones for tracking store inventory – driving more efficient inventory management and purchasing. And intelligent shopping carts – identifying items placed in the cart and making recommendations for other items in real time,” explains Deutsch. Looking at how retailers advertise themselves, Persado researched 2018’s online marketing messages by various retailers, and found that when AI is applied to the actual words used in adverts, new language is created to better engage and interact with customers. “During the holiday season, retailers understood that in order to improve sales, they should rely more on digital

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AI in retail

channels as opposed to more traditional forms of broadcast media,” Deutsch tells PCR. “For example, by elevating a sense of excitement into gift guides by using superlative language during the holiday season, they seem to dominate the festive shopping market. Persado also found that while free shipping can drive engagement, it should go alongside event-based or achievement-centred language.” Deutsch continues: “McKenzie & Co. recently published an insights paper suggesting that the next great growth opportunity for business is the coming together of data (AI) and creativity, which found that companies who truly integrate data and creative deliver revenue growth rates twice that of the S&P 500 average. “An excellent example in retail is the use of AI to understand how language (words and phrases) impact traffic-driving messages and associated conversion. Some of the largest retailers in the world use Persado’s AI platform to understand how specific words convey critical ideas (emotions, personal narratives, brand) to segments and individuals. The AI platform then uses this insight to create content that is mathematically proven to outperform non-data driven language. Conversion rate lifts across Persado’s retail clients average 43%.”

“One of the key benefits of AI for retailers is the ability to uncover new insights and attributes that enable a more personalised experience online and in-store” Ryan Deutsch, Persado Retail Security When it comes to collecting large amounts of customer data, the retail industry knows as best as any just how important security is. Paul Lipman, CEO at cybersecurity company BullGuard, outlines how AI cybersecurity is developing and being used at retail. “Retail is a high priority target for cyber criminals. Traditional attacks such as fraud and point-of-sale breaches are pervasive but as retailers increasingly grow their online presence, attacks on ecommerce websites, data and the supply chain are growing. We need look no further than the Magecart consortium of hackers who have made a lucrative business targeting online shopping cart systems, usually the Magento system, to steal customer payment card information. This is known as a supply chain attack and this

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group of hackers have, and continue to, wreak havoc across the world,” explains Lipman. “Given its high profile among cyber criminals it’s hardly surprising that AI-driven cybersecurity is gaining a toehold in the retail industry. But that said, adoption is certainly slow. From a bird’s eye view, the industry is undergoing rapid digital transformation and in an ideal world the introduction of AI cybersecurity would run parallel with these changes. “But this isn’t the case. Certainly, AI is being adopted and is becoming a key element in the digitalisation of in-store retail. It is being used to personalise the customer experience and create a more engaged relationship with customers. In short it is creating a bridge between virtual and physical sales channels and we are seeing this taking place from Russia to the USA and Europe.” While adoption of AI cybersecurity for retail may be slow, AI technologies are certainly developing, says Lipman. “By using AI ‘triangulation’ software on endpoints, the network and bespoke investigative bots, it’s possible to understand threats contextually as they develop and to stop them. This is an advanced approach to cybersecurity but we’re not sure how many retailers are ready to adopt it. That said, AI and machine learning will over time become a cornerstone of retail cybersecurity,” he tells PCR. However, Lipman warns that it’s also important to keep in mind that cyber villains are working at a similar tempo to develop AIdriven malware. “It can only be hoped that the retail industry in general will take proactive steps to adopt deep learning AI algorithms rather than use them as a reactive measure to damaging hacks, which are surely coming given the highly lucrative opportunities retailers provide for cyber criminals.” Understanding Customers As well as helping with the retailer’s own business processes and bolstering its security, AI has the ability to help businesses better understand their customers, which, in turn can help them sell more effectively. “One of the key benefits of AI for retailers is the ability to uncover new insights and attributes that enable a more personalised experience online and in-store,” says Deutsch. “Any true AI is based on an extensive database of contextually relevant information that allows AI to create insights.” Persado maintains the world’s largest database of tagged marketing language, and this dataset, when combined with live experiments at retailers, can drive new customer insights. He explains: “For example, retailers can identify what emotions resonate with customers, do specific customers respond better to the emotion of Urgency or Gratitude? Even more interesting, AI can provide insights as to how segments associate and respond to “personal narratives”. “Customer A may make purchases that will support a personal narrative of Prestige, whilst Customer B makes decisions when she has the opportunity for Self Expression.” Deutsch concludes: “As AI becomes more pervasive in retail, I expect the level of personalisation to increase in completely new ways.”

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THE FINALISTS

And the nominees are... After sifting through a record number of entries, we present to you the PCR Awards 2020 Shortlist... The PCR Awards return to The Brewery, London on Wednesday 4th March 2020, and we now have a shortlist featuring the creme de la creme of the UK tech channel, all of which are in with a chance of taking home a coveted award. This year we have 19 awards across five categories: Retail, Reseller, Channel Services, Distribution and Vendor. Our panel of 34 industry experts will scrutinise every entry’s supporting material to vote on the companies that have made the most impact in the channel over the past year. On the night, we will also reveal the Company of The Year, which will be decided by the PCR team. Congratulations to every company that has been shortlisted, and thank you to everyone who took the time to enter this year’s Awards.

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RETAILER CATEGORY System Builder

Peripherals & Accessories Vendor

AWD-IT CCL Chillblast Cyberpower UK Fierce PC PCSpecialist Scan Computers Utopia Computers

ASUS BenQ CHERRY EZVIZ HANNspree UK MMD Philips Monitors MSI Computer UK SteelSeries Venom

Online Retailer

Components Vendor

BOX Buy It Direct CCL Fierce PC OnBuy Scan Computers

Antec ASUS be quiet! HyperX Kingston Technology NVIDIA

Independent Retailer

PC Vendor

Chips Computers Geeks on Wheels London iFixTech The Powerhouse

Lenovo Medion MSI Computer UK PCSpecialist Terra Computer

RESELLER CATEGORY SMB Reseller

Networking Vendor

Buy It Direct Ebuyer Kingsfield Computer Products

Corporate VAR SCC Softcat Transputec

MSP Specialist AML Neuways Silverbug Transputec

CHANNEL SERVICES CATEGORY Dealer Services Exertis Network Group SYNAXON UK Tech For Techs

Marketing & PR

Evolution Sales Gekko Plaster Creative Communications REL Field Marketing The PR Room Zaboura Consultancy

VENDOR CATEGORY Software & Services Vendor Appriss Retail BullGuard JeraSoft Smartsheet

ASUS D-Link NETGEAR Tenda UK TP-Link UK

DISTRIBUTION CATEGORY Software & Services Distributor Brigantia Exertis QBS Distribution Tech Data

Hardware Distributor Exertis Ingram Micro UK Spire Technology Tech Data

Consumer Electronics Distributor CMS Distribution Exertis Tech Data

Distributor Of The Year (Sub £150m Turnover) Brigantia Ci Distribution Genba Digital QBS Distribution Spire Technology Titan Data Solutions

Distributor Of The Year (£151m Plus Turnover) Exertis Ingram Micro UK Tech Data Westcoast Limited

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PCR Awards

When and Where? The PCR Awards 2020 take place at The Brewery, London on Wednesday 4th March, and will see the channel coming together under one roof for an annual celebration of the past year’s achievements in a must-attend event. This year, the awards will be hosted by Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman!

THE PARTNERS Confirmed Awards Partners so far:

AOC/MMD as Distribution Category Partner

CMS Distribution as Retail Category Partner

Synaxon UK as Vendor Category Partner

Exertis as Entertainment Partner

Tenda as Red Carpet Partner

Smithie UK as Flower Wall Partner

HANNspree as Event Partner

Zaboura as Event Partner

Don’t forget your tickets The PCR Awards is always a popular event, so we recommend you book your tables and tickets early. Book now to avoid disappointment over at https://www.pcr-awards.com/tickets/

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Sponsor the Awards There are a number of sponsorship opportunities available for the PCR Awards 2020. If you would like to find out more please contact Sarah Goldhawk at sarah.goldhawk@biz-media.co.uk

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CES review

Samsung’s Ballie – a tennis ball-like robot that rolls around, following its owner with a built-in camera to capture and store ‘special moments’

CES 2020 Review Gekko Field Marketing MD Daniel Todaro rounds up the interesting tech finds from this year’s CES...

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he New Year in tech wouldn’t be the same without CES, the Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas between 7th – 10th January attended by almost every established tech brand, start up brands, incubator and brand on the periphery of technology with something to showcase. The products on display range from the expected to the unusual, as in the case of sex tech, which for the first time seems to have found its place and acceptance at CES. As indeed has Ivanka Trump, who was controversially invited to headline as the keynote speaker when arguably there are far more qualified females, actually from the technology sector, rather than this particular privileged individual.

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CES welcomed over 175,000 visitors to see over 4,500 exhibitors and 1,000+ speakers making it quite a big deal within the technology industry. It also means lots of product and innovation announcements, such as the smart shower head with Alexa built-in from Kohler, a smart frying pan that analyses your food whilst you cook it from SmartyPans, to autonomous vehicles from the now established brands in this sector and not so with Sony launching its autonomous vehicle prototype named Vision S. The vehicle is a prototype designed to show off the firm’s sensors and in-car entertainment technologies. The dashboard is flanked by an ultra-wide panoramic screen for driving information and entertainment. However, Sony did not indicate

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CES review

that it had any plans to sell the car to the public with Sony’s chief executive Kenichiro Yoshida only stating “We will accelerate our efforts to contribute to the future of mobility”. Do you Uber? Well in future you may be doing so in the Uber Hyundai flying taxi. The S-A1 concept is an electric powered aircraft with four rotors for vertical lift off and landing and conceptually able to travel at a maximum speed of 180mph carrying four passengers. Flying autonomously at 2,000ft for a maximum of 60 miles, it may be zipping across a city skyline near you in the not too distant future. Surveillance related technology seemed to be big this year with multiple brands showcasing security equipment such as cameras, doorbells and motion sensors, which is really rather boring and perhaps only serves to feed the paranoia of those who fear the worst. Loosely connected to this category is one of my favourite products to be announced, a smart mailbox developed by Canadian company Danby, which addresses the common problem of parcels thefts and re-deliveries. The device would assist in reducing the carbon footprint of our propensity to order online for delivery rather than buy in-store. The smart mailbox will apparently go on sale in the UK later this year offering a box which has an anti-theft drop-in slot for smaller packages opened with a code or smartphone app. The app will also be able to place phone calls between a parcel courier and a customer if they need to open the box remotely. I suspect this will get simplified should usage increase amongst users and online retailers. Another neat headline grabber announced at CES 2020 was the Samsung tennis ball-like robot called Ballie. It beeps and rolls around, following its owner with a built-in camera to capture and store ‘special moments’. Ballie also acts as a fitness assistant, can help with household chores, and activates smart home devices such as robotic vacuums when it thinks something needs to be cleaned. However, in common with the Daleks, it will find stairs a challenge! No release date has been announced, however AI and 5G are the main focus for Samsung in 2020 and not Bixby, as had been much hyped last year. Another product launched by Samsung and to be available in the UK and US later this year is the Sero TV, a rotating TV which connects to your phone. Perfect for Generation Z or those who spend equal time watching on a small device as they do TV. It can be rotated from landscape to portrait and is only available in a 47” 4k screen and estimated to land at £1,200. Another twist on the laptop came from Dynabook. Majority owned by Sharp and formally Toshiba, the brand that launched the world’s first laptop computer in 1985, Dynabook has delivered another first with the world’s lightest 13.3” laptop. Weighing in at an impressive 0.9kg and sporting a nifty 10th gen Intel Core U-series processor the Portege X30L-G is built using a magnesium-alloy chassis and includes a full-size HDMI. With Gigabit Ethernet, up to 24GB memory and Wi-Fi 6 the device also includes a TPM 2.0 IR camera and fingerprint reader. Not to be outdone was Lenovo with its ThinkPad X1. A dual/ folding screened laptop with an Intel processor that runs Windows on a 13” screen when unfolded. It is slated to arrive

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“Samsung’s Ballie can help with household chores, and activates smart home devices such as robotic vacuums. However, in common with the Daleks, it will find stairs a challenge” mid 2020 in the US at a price of $2,499 with no word yet on UK pricing. In fact, there were a rash of foldable screens on display this year and it certainly seems to be a trend not looking to abate soon, making 2020 potentially the start of a flexible decade. Foldable screens were launched on devices from turkish brand TCL and its prototype Foldable Phone (no name as of yet) and Dell with two concepts, the Duet – Foldable Notebook and Ori – a Foldable Device, unfortunately no plans to release these have been indicated. The much publicised Motorola Razr foldable phone was on display which has been available for pre order since December but was set for released during January 2020. As you can imagine, smart speakers and assistant-enabled products were everywhere at CES 2020. With over 46 third-party Google Assistant-endabled products and 40 Amazon Alexa ones, it made the presence of both brands more notable throughout the show, with Google creating theatre to engage, as they do best. Google revealed, for the first time, user numbers for the services is at 500 million people in a month and also a whole range of new features enabling users to schedule certain tasks with other connected devices. The features will allow users to, for example, schedule the washing machine to start its cycle at 6pm and also upload contacts from your phone to your Google Nest Hub. Users will also be able to leave Sticky Notes on the screen for others in the house to see and have the ability to control 20 different types of devices through Google Assistant, which is needed with the increasing third party product partnerships. Now we are all busy people and many time saving devices were on show but two stood out to me. The first will make sure we

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CES review

Dynabook has delivered another first with the world’s lightest 13.3” laptop. The Portege X30L-G weighs in at an impressive 0.9kg and sports a nifty 10th gen Intel Core U-series processor

never need to drink a warm tinny again. The Matrix Juno supercooler is a kitchen countertop device priced at £300 which uses a thermoelectric cooling engine to absorbs heat using electricity known as the Peltier effect. It can cool a can of beer from room temperature to 4oc in two minutes or a bottle of wine to its desired 9oc in five minutes. The other is the Y-brush toothbrush from FasTeesH designed to clean your teeth in 10 seconds. It’s a mouthguard type contraption packed with bristles that vibrate to clean all your teeth at the same time, arriving in March at around £100. I can’t help but think that making time by speeding up the process of cleaning your teeth has never been a priority for many, the cleaning is what counts. Not wanting to ignore the most progressive news at CES this year, I think it important to highlight and applaud the CES organisers decision to now formally allow sex tech brands to exhibit at CES in 2020 after many years of exclusion. What this means is that sex tech companies are on the same playing field as all but in particular the established tech giants. However, there are exclusions with those companies exhibiting sexual wellness products having to agree in addition to the CES’s standard contract and rules also a separate sex toy addendum. Why is this a progressive move? It’s predicted to be a $50 billion industry by 2025 and as taboos tumble and generations embrace a pragmatic approach to sexuality and sex, it’s an

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industry sector the ‘big players’ may wish to enter and penetrate as a lucrative growth market. With so many new products announced at CES 2020, what does it mean for retailers? And how must they adapt to innovation across existing and new categories? Experience. Consumers are looking to experience innovation in order to make educated purchasing decisions. Whether that be by seeing a foldable screen in their hand to believe it, engaging with a personal robot to realise its value to them as a user or see that TV rotate 180 degrees, it’s all about the in-store experience a retailer can create where no online retailer can. Innovation needs to be experienced live, not online and the retailers who can identify with this can cut through to make the tills ring by giving the customer an experience worth coming back for and spreading the word. People are never going to stop shopping on the high street. It’s just the way they shop and where they are do it that has changed. Retail, as an industry, is vital to the global economy, so as we enter a new era of high street retailing, my advice to brands is: Always let consumers ‘live’ the experience and feel the brand. Gekko is a full service field marketing agency, specialising in connecting brands with consumers in retail throughout the UK and Ireland. Find our more at www.gekko-uk.com

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APPOINTMENTS Westcon-Comstor

Value-added ICT distributor WestconComstor has appointed Geert Busse as business development leader for its Next Generation Solutions (NGS) distribution business in EMEA. The recently created unit provides Westcon’s cybersecurity business with expert leadership and dedicated resources that enhance its existing technical focus and allow it to take advantage of the significant new opportunities offered by ‘born-in-thecloud’ vendors and partners, as well as supporting the evolution of business models and solutions with existing vendor relationships. This increased focus and dedicated support aims to target existing customers as well as attracting new customer profiles to Westcon in emerging, high-growth potential markets. “This is a significant addition to our team in EMEA at a time of great opportunity for growth and differentiation for Westcon. Geert has built his career from the outset in technology business development and has always been at the forefront of the security market,” commented Daniel Hurel, vice president of Westcon EMEA – Cyber Security & Next Generation Solutions.

Datto

IT solutions provider Datto has announced the appointment of Justine Harris as its new sales director for UK & Ireland. Harris joins Datto from Vodafone Business in the UK, where she was the interim head of global sales, cloud, and security. Prior to that, she held the role of regional vice president EMEA at Akamai Technologies, responsible for strengthening Akamai’s channel ecosystem and enabling partners to deliver greater value to their customers. Harris has extensive experience from senior sales positions at CA Technologies, where she developed and delivered sales and goto-market strategies for its service provider and cloud solutions. At Datto, she will oversee the continued expansion of the UK and Ireland business. This includes building strong and successful relationships with both existing and new partners in the Datto community and enabling MSPs to unlock new business opportunities. “We welcome Justine to help lead our growing team,” said Mark Simon, managing director, EMEA, Datto. “Her outstanding experience in the areas of software, SaaS, and cloud computing are a perfect fit for us.”

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

Exertis

Exertis has announced the appointment of Michelle Roberts as UK head of Health & Safety (H&S) and facilities management. Reporting to Exertis UK’s operations director Sion Wineyard, Roberts will be responsible for leading, developing and managing, on an on-going basis, the facilities and H&S requirements at the distributor’s sites across the country. Roberts has worked in facilities management for a variety of companies in different markets, most recently at MKS Instruments. Previously she has worked at ALD Automotive, Broadcom and STMicroelectronics. “I am looking forward to the challenge of driving facilities management initiatives across the business as well as ensuring that the day-to-day operations provide the right safe and productive environment for Exertis employees,” said Roberts. “Facilities management is an important area for all organisations, particularly one that has grown at the pace of Exertis.”

Lenovo

Lenovo has named Alberto Spinelli as its new executive director of marketing and communications for Europe, Middle East and Africa. He brings with him a wealth of experience from the hardware and digital services industries – both as an entrepreneur establishing start-up businesses and as a company executive, pioneering the development and execution of digital ecosystems. Reporting directly to Francois Bornibus, SVP and president of EMEA, Spinelli, who will be based in Milan, will champion Lenovo’s digital transformation, developing a visionary, worldclass marketing function grounded in data, analytics and insights to drive greater engagement between Lenovo and its customers. “Lenovo has been an inspiration to me with its instinctive approach to developing innovative and intuitive products. It has empowered the lives of tens of millions of its customers across the world in their homes, their workplaces and when on the go,” commented Spinelli. “Our attention must now be in bringing these technological innovations together with a truly customer led approach, learning from and acting upon customer insights to build engagement, ultimately allowing our customers do more with their products.”

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The cloud

Standing out in the cloud Laura Barnes looks at how cloud services have evolved in recent years, and what your business needs to know about cloud computing in 2020...

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lthough there had been a few mutterings about “the cloud” sprinkled here and there throughout PCR’s publications beforehand, it was around 2010 that we really started to knuckle down and try to understand this somewhat mysterious concept. Ten years on, and every man and his dog – within or outside of the tech industry – has at least some concept of what the cloud is. But what does the cloud look like today? How have cloud services evolved in recent years, and what does your business need to know about cloud computing in 2020? PCR does what it does best, and spoke to those in the know to find out. “Businesses continue to move applications and workloads into the cloud – and who can blame them? Increased flexibility, greater integration with agile ways of working and cost savings are cases for cloud migration we’ve all heard before,” Sascha Giese, head geek at SolarWinds tells PCR. “This past decade, we might have seen the first wave of ‘born in the cloud’ businesses – but for many organisations today, fully migrating to the cloud isn’t an option. The constraints of legacy systems lead most businesses to rely on hybrid environments made up of on-premises and cloud-based elements.

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“Any type of cloud migration shouldn’t distract IT pros from the age-old mantra – monitoring IT environments is essential. They also need to be aware of monitoring in today’s fragmented cloud environments,” says Giese. “On-prem and cloud-based components have different monitoring requirements – on top of this, it’s commonplace for businesses to incorporate multiple public cloud providers into their IT environments. Any public cloud provider worth their salt will provide monitoring tools for their products – but these tools won’t give IT pros an end-to-end view of their IT environment.” However, Giese ensures that all hope isn’t lost, because steps can be taken to improve the monitoring of cloud networks. “For a start, security and operations staff need to be involved in any conversations around proposed changes to IT infrastructure,” he explains. “Onboarding a certain public cloud provider might bring down costs – but it could also weaken the IT team’s ability to secure and monitor the network. Perspective is needed to ensure mistakes aren’t made. With a forecasted growth of 17% in the public cloud services this year, bringing the value of the market to total $266.4 billion, Jacey Moore, chief marketing officer at Giacom, details to PCR how cloud

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The cloud services now underpin every aspect of IT investment. “From office applications to core business systems and, increasingly, artificial intelligence, a robust cloud service offering is a fundamental component of any MSP business model,” says Moore. “Software as a Service (SaaS) currently remains as the largest cloud market segment, with Cloud System Infrastructure Services (IaaS) as the second-largest, with a forecast to grow 24% year-onyear – the highest growth rate across all market segments. “These results clearly demonstrate the demand for productivity tools and general software services. As organisations become more cloud mature, they’re starting to explore how different solutions work together, moving along the cloud maturity scale, expanding to offer multiple, complementary SaaS solutions and on to thinking about IaaS.” Moore points out that collaborative teams are an important trend in the workplace and it’s not just for large businesses. “The expectation for small businesses is there too, with demand driven by a new generation of digital natives who expect to be able to work anywhere, have full access to things wherever they are and collaborate with people on the move. “As collaborative ways of working are becoming a more native part of many workforces, we will see an evolution of workplace tools, such as Microsoft Teams, becoming the first window people look at when they’re logging in, rather than Outlook. “Those who have the skill and training to be able to navigate, use, configure and deploy systems such as Microsoft Azure are and remain a very scarce resource. When we look at how businesses manage their cloud services, these trained engineers will remain in short supply, but challenges will arise during periods of growth to find the time to up-skill more people to meet demand.” It is forecasted that 60% of organisations are going to be using an MSP or a specialist to delegate IT operations by 2022, which is double the amount in 2018. Moore believes that there is “no doubt” that MSPs will see an increase in competition, demand and expectations from their customers to make them more productive and efficient. “They’ll need a CSP who can support and enable them through this period.” Speaking of IaaS, Iain Shaw, commercial director at Brigantia Partners points to the distributor’s own Cloud Business IaaS as an example of a “simple, predictable, and inexpensive way for channel partners to put their customers business or development systems in the cloud”. “What was once at the heart of the SME’s network, the server, is being diluted slowly out of existence. Traditionally server provision has taken the form of supplying a large lump of tin to be installed somewhere in the client’s premises and on this, some form of Windows Server would reside and hopefully behave itself for the most part. These days though, is it really good advice when the old lump of tin looks to be breathing its last, to just replace it with a newer version of the same? “What does Brigantia’s Cloud Business IaaS bring that selling an actual physical server does not? For one thing it brings a recurring revenue stream. This doesn’t just add predictability to your monthly turnover and profit, it adds realisable value to your business. I mean that at some point you are probably going to want to hang up your spurs and cash-out. Whether you wind up selling to your staff or a third party, the higher value that you can demonstrate in your

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“The cloud offers simple solutions which enable businesses to remain productive, peoplecentric, flexible and data-driven” Jacey Moore, Giacom business then the more you ultimately get to take out,” says Shaw. “Aside from the money angle, Cloud Business IaaS means building a server is now very easy. In fact, you just spend a few minutes in the Cloud Business IaaS drag-and-drop console putting a design together to generate a quote. When the client decides to proceed then you just press the build button and then it gets spun up, you configure it and you’re good to go. Forget bench testing and having to lug a monolith to the client’s site, this is very straightforward. Just set up the VPNs for access and that is it. “Your client may also be surprised to discover that remote workers can log into the network just as easily as their office-based colleagues. This opens up all kinds of opportunities for the client business to have various members of staff working effectively form home or even on the road.” Another issue that affects small businesses as much as large businesses is cyber threats. “One in five small firms experienced a cyber-attack in the two years between 2017 to 2019,” reveals Giacom’s Moore. “Security threats have always existed, but as they continuously rise statistically, the cloud enables security solutions to become advanced and adaptable, which plays an important part in the SaaS landscape. “As businesses become more data-driven using analytics and leveraging exponential amounts of data, security remains a key trend. By utilising advances such as AI and Machine Learning, which support gathering threat intelligence, well thought out SaaS security solutions can adapt, monitor and protect MSPs and organisations from both targeted attacks and unknown threats. These solutions are leveraging the combined pooled expertise of thousands of world leaders and security experts’ operations collaboratively in a way that simply cannot be achieved elsewhere. “The growing awareness of the benefits of cloud computing is changing the business outlook. By offering simple solutions which enable businesses to remain productive, people-centric, flexible and data-driven, the cloud offers significant opportunities to extend current business models, adding much needed new revenue streams through informed decisions and scalability.”

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Top 5 Tech

Noblechairs’ Steven Levitt Steven Levitt, Business Development Manager at luxury gaming chair brand noblechairs, reveals five pieces of technology that have forged his personal and work-life experiences... 32

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1 Top 5 Tech

INTERNET

Pshhhkkkkkrrrrkakingkakingkakingtshchchchchchchcch*beep*beep*beep* – that’s the sound of dial-up. I am sure everyone can agree with me on this one, the internet is a weird and wonderful place which has had a huge impact on our lives. For me, I grew up in the golden age of AOL CDs being available everywhere and often used as coasters whilst hearing “You’ve got mail!” through the PC speakers. The internet has helped me through school, university, work and personal life today. I can’t imagine what life would be without it now.

HEARING AIDS

This isn’t for everyone but it’s definitely something I feel is overlooked and is personal to me as I am deaf in both ears. Technology in hearing aids have improved over time. When I was young, most deaf people would have to carry a box around with them, nowadays it’s a little earpiece that does all of the magic. Technology enables me to live a normal everyday life which is absolutely magical to me. Without this technology, even simple things that people take for granted would have been impossible.

GAMING PC COMPONENTS

PC components is a vague one, so I am including all of the parts that make up a PC and the peripherals. PC gaming in general has changed my personal life, I find it incredible how fast the performance has increased over the years and also how stunning graphics have vastly improved too. Gaming has helped me pass time, wind down, and meet new friends. Also I wouldn’t be in the career I love. I literally live and breath PC gaming!

MOBILE PHONES

In general, mobile phones are not just phones anymore, they are pocket friendly computers that allow us to connect and interact with people across the world. It’s convenient for my personal life, for example, I can do a video call with my dad who lives in Australia for free! When it comes to work life, it means I can do my job out and about without worrying that my files or emails are stuck on the work computer.

CLOUD STORAGE

Cloud storage has been a lifesaver at times, from backing up photos from my phone, to saving settings on a game/program, to working on Google Drive. I love being able to access my documents from any device no matter where I am, it means I can work more efficiently, be more organised and also share my projects with the rest of the team. I can only see cloud services getting better and better over time.

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Sector Guide

AI toys and gadgets From robots that can teach children to code, to indoor air quality monitors, we round up some of the most interesting AI toys and gadgets out there… Airthings Wave Plus Specs: Sensors: Radon, CO2, TVOC, Temp, Humidity & Air Pressure. Visual indicator: Red/Yellow/Green glow ring. Long battery life (Bluetooth: 16 months, SmartLink Hub: 18 months), supports wall or ceiling mount, free mobile app for iOS and Android, web dashboard, mobile notifications, wireless connection (Bluetooth or Airthings SmartLink). “The Airthings Wave Plus indoor air quality monitor with radon detection and sensors measures VOC’s, CO2, temperature, humidity and air pressure. The Airthings Dashboard includes interpretation of indoor air quality data with alerts and tips to reduce indoor air hazards, optimise ventilation and save on energy costs. The Wave Plus comes with a free, simple to use mobile app that shows clear indoor air quality data and radon levels. Versatile for offices, schools, homes or any public space, the Wave Plus is a great addition for improving air quality which is linked to increased productivity, energy levels and decreasing absenteeism.” Contact: Daniel Bastone, daniel.bastone@airthings.com – airthings.com

Vortex Coding Robot Specs: Simply pair the robot via bluetooth, and it’s ready to run. The Vortex Robot and apps are fully functional right out of the box. Pair the robot with each child’s personal phone or tablet (compatible with both iOS and Android) via bluetooth. “Children have endless opportunities to create their own games and can also play the pre-programmed, free games including: Bumping Fight, Virtual Golf, Driving And Robot Soccer. We fully believe in the educational benefits of robotics, and have seen a huge demand for truly effective STEM education tools. We want Vortex Robot to be one of these tools, so we invent “Whendo”, which is for learning graphical programming. Besides, it’s compatible with technology such as open source platform Arduino and programming language Scratch.” Contact: DFRobot – DFRobot.com

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Sector Guide

Meccano M.A.X Robotic AI Toy Specs: 12” tall advanced robot featuring both artificial intelligence and customisable programming, built-in infrared sensors, requires kids to engage in critical thinking, recommended for kids aged 10+, build time of 1-3 hours. “Unlike anything else Meccano has created, M.A.X. combines artificial intelligence (AI) with customisable programming. The result is a one-of-a-kind robot of your own creation! Budding engineers, innovators and creators can expand their knowledge of programming as they personalize this robot to their specifications. Control it using voice commands, buttons on the MeccaBrain, or the free app. You’ll know exactly what its thinking based on its expressive facial graphics. As a S.T.E.M robotics platform, M.A.X is designed to engage kids in intellectually stimulating play, drawing on their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math. Try playing on M.A.X’s built-in gaming platform; test your knowledge in a trivia game or listen to some funny jokes.” Contact: Meccano – meccano.com

Tado Smart Thermostat Specs: Geofencing, Open Window Detection, Weather Adaptation, New V3+: Air Comfort, Smart Schedule, Multi-Room Control, Hot water control, Insightful reports, Seamless Smart Home integration & voice control (compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant & IFTTT). “Designed to save energy and costs for users by up to 31%, tado° is an intuitive smart thermostat and app that is compatible with any smart home and can also be used to control multiple rooms. The app allows users to manage heating schedules, whilst showing information such as temperature, savings and the quality of the air at home. Using Geolocation, tado° can turn off the heating when nobody is at home and begin to heat when a resident is on their way back. Using Weather Adaptation and Open Window Detection, it also can change and adapt based on the environment.” Contact: Exertis – Dan Bieny, Sales Director, +44 7920361598 – exertis.co.uk

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Sector Guide Google Home Specs: Capacitive touch sensors, high-excursion speaker with 2” driver and dual 2” passive radiators, 2-mic array, supports Android and OS. “Get answers, play songs, tackle your day, enjoy your entertainment and control your smart home with just your voice. Listen to music, playlists, audiobooks and more, getting rich sound from Google Home’s high excursion speaker. Get personalised help with your schedule, reminders, calls, news and more, whenever Google Home recognises your voice. The Google Assistant that powers Google Home is your own personal Google, ready to help when you start by saying “Ok Google”. You can ask it questions and tell it to do things. It can help you get the quickest route to where you want to go – and if it knows when you need to be there it can prompt you to leave to get there in time. Many of the Assistant’s helpful features are based on data. The more the Assistant knows about you, the better it can assist. That’s why you’re asked for permission to use data such as your address or calendar entries during setup.” Contact: Google – store.google.com

Sphero BOLT Specs: Create and customise games, draw, block and text coding, built-in sensors, 8x8 LED Matrix that animates and displays real-time data, infrared communication. “Sphero BOLT’s eye-catching, programmable 8x8 light matrix opens up an endless array of coding and gaming capabilities. Use advanced sensors to track speed, acceleration, and direction, or drive BOLT without having to aim your robot thanks to the compass. BOLT also features infrared communication, allowing your robot to “talk” with other BOLTs. Equipped with Bluetooth SMART and a strong scratchresistant shell, this robot’s brawn matches its brilliance.” Contact: Sphero – sphero.com

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Fingerbot Upgrading your house to the convenience of home automation is a daunting task. Different protocols and different compatibilities for every device or appliance makes the transition difficult. Replacing all the existing appliances with IoT devices is possible, but it is extremely costly. Imagine if there was a way to enjoy the benefits of customised smart home automation at a fraction of the cost… that’s where Fingerbot comes in. Fingerbot is the world’s smallest robot which can remotely and mechanically control all the buttons, switches, and toggles anywhere in your home through voice and app. A quick, simple and affordable way to retrofit your existing devices into IoT devices. With a modular design, you can replace the robot arm to adapt a button, touch screen, wall switch, wall toggle and more with the Fingerbot Tool Pack. So now you can control your fan, kettle, coffee machine, and almost any traditional appliances remotely. For more information visit: http://kck.st/34wGctc

Mutrics GB-30 Mutrics GB-30 is the world’s first pair of smart glasses that are specially designed for video gamers. Its striking design, open-ear audio, advanced surround sound system and anti-blue light lenses combine to deliver gamers unparalleled sound experience as well as ear and eye comfort and protection for longtime video gaming. Mutrics GB-30 uses open-ear audio technology to transfer stereo sound to your inner ear without the use of earbuds. Playing video games with Mutrics GB-30 for prolonged periods does not make your ears feel any discomfort or soreness. It leaves your ears unplugged so you are still able to hear and interact with the world around you when playing video games. Mutrics GB-30’s near-field surround sound system transforms your game experience to virtual 5.1 on your mobile devices, delivering you rich, immersive and true-to-life sound. You are able to capture the slightest changes in the surrounding sound and pinpoint the enemy’s position to dominate the most intense, fierce matches. For more information visit: http://kck.st/2N0ZukB

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InCharge 6 The inCharge 6 claims to be the “Swiss Army Knife” of cables. This single cable offers the ability to charge all of your devices – whether they use USB, USB-C, Micro USB or Lightning. The cable itself promises to be able to withstand daily life, and features a metal housing for stability and a cable guard to prevent wire damage. Designed in Switzerland, the inCharge 6 is available in gold, white and grey. And for those needing a longer cable, the inCharge 6 Max offers up a 5ft (1.5m) cable. In addition, if you have a smartphone with a USB-C input, you can use its battery power to charge your other devices via the inCharge 6. For more information visit: https://igg.me/at/incharge6/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…

HyperJuice HyperJuice is the world’s first 100W GaN USB-C charger. The size of a credit card, the device can quickly charge four devices (2x USBC, 2x USB-A) at the same time. 100W power provides the ability to quickly charge a laptop (such as a MacBook Pro), a tablet or iPad, a smartphone, and any mobile device such as AirPods or a smartwatch – all at the same time. With 100W Dual USB-C power delivery, a single HyperJuice charger can also power two laptops simultaneously. HyperJuice utilises the industry-leading Navitas GaNFast NV6117 Power IC to miniaturise components normally found in traditional chargers. The new Gallium Nitride semiconductor material allows for power devices that can operate at higher voltages and switching frequency which results in smaller and more efficient chargers. HyperJuice also supports worldwide universal 100-240V voltage and comes with UK/EU/AU pin converters so that it can be used in virtually any country. For more information visit https://igg.me/at/gan100w/x#/

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Sector Guide

Cloud products We round up the best cloud software, services and products the channel has to offer…

Cloud Business IaaS Specs: Cloud Business IaaS’s Xterity Platform delivers: Public Cloud, Private Cloud, Dedicated Compute Cloud, Bare Metal Servers, Disaster Recovery Solutions and Cloud Backup as a Service. “Cloud Business IaaS provides advanced, easy-to-use and highly available cloud server infrastructure solutions with no upfront capital costs. Cloud Business IaaS’s Xterity platform is an enterprise-class, managed Cloud service specifically built for MSP and IT channel partners. The Xterity platform provides an intuitive, drag-and-drop cloud management solution that simplifies all cloud workflow processes including customised server/solution design, deployment, management, pricing, margin analysis, and billing.” Contact: Brigantia Distribution – 020 3358 0090, info@brigantia.com – brigantia.com

Giacom Cloud Server Specs: Giacom’s Cloud Server is available in 3 sizes: Entry, Standard and Premium. With CPU ranging from 2CPU to 4CPU with RAM ranging from 4GB to 16GB, the Cloud Servers come with a range of storage options from 64GB up to 2048GB. Each server is hosted within Microsoft’s UK South Data Centre. “Exclusive to Giacom, Cloud Server is a simple, out-of-the-box, fixed cost server solution. It’s powered by Azure, but provisioned quickly and easily in the Giacom portal, whether you’re an Azure newcomer or expert. If you want to replace an end of life server such as Windows Server 2008/R2, Cloud Server saves you time and effort, whether you sell physical servers or build replacements directly in Azure. Perfect for IT companies supporting SMBs who want to future-proof their business in the cloud, it’s a secure, flexible and reliable solution available with optional VPN and backup. With its healthy, predictable and recurring margins, Cloud Server is the smart choice.” Contact: Giacom – cloudmarket.com

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Sector Guide

D-Link Nuclias Cloud Specs: Fully-hosted solution with out-ofthe-box optimised feature set and dedicated cloud devices. Zero-Touch Provisioning – it’s as easy as powering up, plugging in and managing via the Nuclias Cloud app. Pay for what you need, with the ability to expand or scale back in line with business demand. “Automate, monitor, manage and scale your network without the complexity or cost. Automate, monitor, manage and scale your network without the complexity or cost. D-Link’s Nuclias Cloud-Managed Switches come pre-configured and are controlled remotely through the Nuclias Cloud web-browser interface or Nuclias app. Enjoy feature-rich yet easy-to-use cloud management, rapid deployments, and unlimited scalability to match the requirements of your network.” Contact: Exertis – Luke Lee-Nutbrown, Exertis Networking Product Manager – exertis.co.uk

SolarWinds AppOptics Specs: Full-stack application performance monitoring (APM), including infrastructure (server, host, and containers). 150-plus out-of-the-box integrations, plugins, dashboards, and intelligent alerting, including dozens of AWS and Azure integrations. Auto-instrumented distributed transaction tracing. Custom dashboards combine infrastructure, application, and business metrics. “SolarWinds AppOptics is a next-generation, SaaS-based application performance monitoring (APM) solution. It’s a convergence of APM, infrastructure monitoring, and custom metrics into a single, simple, affordable tool that delivers a deeper and wider understanding of system availability and performance.” Contact: SolarWinds – solarwinds.com

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Sector Guide

Atlas Cloud Specs: Atlas Cloud is one of the UK’s fastest growing Managed Service Providers. It aims to help reduce business risk and increase company agility by delivering effective, hosted IT solutions. Its suite of business cloud services include secure file-sharing, email security, web security, Office 365, graphics, network connectivity, telephony and VoIP. “Atlas Cloud offers a comprehensive infrastructure management service which covers everything including servers, storage, firewalls, hardware, end user issues, switches, connectivity and more. Comprehensive cloud infrastructure services (IaaS), from server to user, the service will seamlessly convert a company’s existing setup and processes to the cloud. Atlas Cloud’s cloud infrastructure consultants will build a cloud computing infrastructure that best suits the needs of your business.” Contact: Atlas Cloud – atlascloud.co.uk

Cloud Business Phones Specs: Cloud Business Phones Altos Platform delivers flexibility, scalability and ownership: Partner owns customer and contract, Partner margin control, Partner controls feature set, Full whitelabel available, Technical and sales training included as standard. “Cloud Business Phones provides a comprehensive range of features that allow businesses to link their fixed and mobile telephony easily and efficiently, helping them to improve their productivity and corporate image. Quick and easy to install, with no capital outlay, the Cloud Business Phones System provides all the functionality of a traditional telephone system with advanced features that make communicating with staff, customers and suppliers easy and efficient. Instant messaging, presence and click to call features enable you to instantly see who is available and connect with them, while hunt groups and wallboards help you manage and monitor your inbound calls and group communications. The easy to use portal enables company administrators and site administrators to view team activity and make real-time changes. Users can quickly and easily access standard features such as call forwarding, busy and much more.” Contact: Brigantia Distribution – 020 3358 0090, info@brigantia.com – brigantia.com

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Distributed by Tel: 01282 776776


Interview

“Everything we do is designed to drive more sales for our sellers�

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Interview

LIFE IN THE CHANNEL

OnBuy’s Cas Paton The Managing Director of the UK online marketplace discusses its unique approach to sellers and OnBuy’s plans for the year ahead... First off, tell us a bit about your background working in the channel and how OnBuy came about? I’ve been involved in ecommerce since I was 14, working as a web designer before starting my own web development business at 21, frighteningly 14 years ago! I was constantly hearing from the online retailers I worked with that they were tired of the way the major marketplaces like Amazon operated. With their feedback in mind, I saw the huge opportunity present so I created OnBuy: a new marketplace that would provide a fairer ecommerce ecosystem for everyone. How was 2019 for OnBuy? 2019 was our best year yet. We created five times our growth compared to 2018 (which had five times growth compared to 2017), made over £1,000,000 in sales for our sellers on Black Friday alone, and enjoyed our best Christmas to date. I’m also pleased to share that we secured funding from a major venture capital firm (to be announced shortly). You’ve seen significant growth, how are you supporting this going forwards?

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Fuelled by our partnership with the venture capital firm, we plan to immediately double our team. This will allow us to welcome more sellers on board, deploy more developments (including new solutions, features and integrations), and focus on more marketing – all enabling us to keep pushing OnBuy forwards at the same rapid pace. OnBuy has noted that it’s marketplace is “more ethical, more transparent and more trustworthy”. Can you tell us a bit more about this and how it benefits your sellers? Our unique approach creates a fairer ecommerce ecosystem. By treating sellers fairly and being transparent with them, they know we’re on their side. They feel confident enough to add their entire product range to our marketplace (rather than holding products back due to concerns their data will be harvested for the marketplace to then undercut them as a retailer). This is because OnBuy is not a retailer, only a marketplace, so we do not sell our own stock, only the stock of our sellers. Every sale we get is a sale for our sellers. Our competitive fees mean sellers can offer lower prices as well as more product choice, so buyers benefit

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Interview

massively. Plus, buyers know they’re supporting a marketplace that in turn supports its sellers and consequentially brings buyers the best deals. It’s an ecosystem based on transparency and fairness.

“2019 was our best year yet. We created five times our growth compared to 2018 and made over £1,000,000 in sales for our sellers on Black Friday alone” What types of sellers are you looking to work more with in the future? All of them! OnBuy caters to businesses of all types and sizes, whether tech, tools or toys, our doors are open to all online retailers. Sellers love our competitive selling fees and our Transparent Fee Guarantee – we offer all sellers the same fees, so you don’t have to worry your competitors have an unfair advantage. What does OnBuy have planned for 2020 and beyond? Everything we do is designed to drive more sales for our sellers, so our focus, as always, is on expansion and growth. 2020 is a really exciting year for us as we plan to launch our first dedicated country site. We’ll launch a further 22 country sites this year and by 2023, we’ll have launched 140 locations in total. We’re so pleased to be able to evolve OnBuy and offer buyers and sellers the world over a fairer marketplace to shop and sell through. Going forward, we plan to launch more integrations and services to bolster our already-impressive offering. There’s even an OnBuy app in the works – watch this space!

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A YEAR IN ONBUY January 2019: OnBuy integrates with ChannelAdvisor, one of the largest e-commerce multi-channel management systems, to further improve its accessibility. The system enables sellers to manage their global sales through dozens of online channels and seamlessly facilitates multi-channel relationships. February 2019: OnBuy is named the largest UK-owned marketplace, according to internet analysts Alexa and Similar Web. The results show that the marketplace is number one in UK traffic rankings for UK-owned marketplaces, outranking competitors Fruugo and Flubit. February 2019: The marketplace integrates with Royal Mail Click & Drop, the online postage and label solution. The integration aims to help sellers take the hassle out of sending and further improve the OnBuy experience. Sellers can now create, buy and print UK and international postage, permitting a simplified and automated delivery procedure for sellers. April 2019: OnBuy celebrates a successful start to April, with year-to-date sales 13 times higher in 2019. As well as showing 1300% year-on-year growth (March 2018 to March 2019), the fast-growing marketplace also reports that transactions for the first week of April 2019 were up 112% on the first week of March 2019. April 2019: The marketplace unveils an extensive revamp of its deals page, with a complete overhaul to how deals are featured on the site. Designed to make deals even easier to browse, the page now showcases a wider choice of products available at discounted prices. In addition, a monthly deals newsletter and a ‘Deal of the Week’ feature across OnBuy’s social pages. August 2019: After previously raising £2.7 million to launch the ecommerce platform, OnBuy seeks a top-up of £500,000 to develop the offering, become profitable and fuel it’s growth. October 2019: OnBuy introduces a new dedicated department for refurbished electronics, following a significant increase in demand. The move comes as consumers are increasingly realising the advantages of buying refurbished products with both sustainability and cost being key drivers. December 2019: OnBuy celebrates incredible Black Friday results after a decision was taken to reduce prices on each of the 17 million products available on the site. The marketplace saw huge sales across every department, but particularly in tech, landing a transaction every 10 seconds. With over £1 million in sales made on Black Friday alone, the trading results came in five times stronger than the same period last year.

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<Smithie UK on the hunt for experienced storage salesperson > Distributor Smithie UK has announced that it is on the hunt for an experienced storage salesperson to join the team. The company is looking for someone to sell Samsung SSD Client & Enterprise from 250GB-30TB, Samsung RAM, and 3 optical franchises, Pioneer, Liteon and Asus. The role offers no commission caps and is office-based in Basingstoke, or with an option to work remotely. Established in 2003, Smithie UK LTD is a family run, Basingstokebased storage specialist. It has direct relationships with Samsung Electronics and Samsung Semiconductors, along with Asus, Liteon and Pioneer. Smithie also has an LED lighting side to the business, providing high-end solutions to project based clients across the country. The company says that there is opportunity within the team to grow and expand its customer base for “anyone with the passion and focus to go out there and find it”. If you would like to apply for this role send your CV to sales@smithieuk.com

<RuneScape hits impressive milestones>

Jagex, the UK developer and publisher of RuneScape – the world’s largest and most-updated free MMORPG – hit a number of key milestones in 2019. As well as hitting an all-time membership high for the franchise and winning a BAFTA for the mobile version of the popular PC game, Jagex also raised a whopping £261,692 for charity and won both the

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Charity Times Corporate Community Local Involvement award and the Gamesindustry.biz Best Places to Work CSR award. With RuneScape reaching its 19th birthday on 4th January 2020 Jagex is now building towards the 20th anniversary in 2021 with a series of initiatives that will celebrate the community of players that make both RuneScape and Old School RuneScape so special.

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<Biggest tech news from… February 2013> Now you’re up-to-date with the latest issues in tech retail, let’s take a trip down memory lane to some interesting stories from yesteryear… Google unveils its first touchscreen laptop

Apple’s latest patent reveals iWatch

It was seven years ago that Google unveiled its first ever touchscreen laptop – the Chromebook Pixel. The device carried a 2560 x 1700 high resolution display and was rumoured to have a higher pixel density than any other laptop at the time – including Apple’s retina displays – and was 25% brighter than the competition too. The Pixel came with an Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and 32 GB of SSD storage plus an additional terabyte of Google Cloud storage. It also came with a price tag of £1,049.

Speaking of Apple, 2013 was the year that the industry started to get an idea of what its mysterious smart watch was all about, with a new patent being filed by the tech giant. The patent showed off a device which strongly mirrored the firm’s highly rumoured “iWatch” product – which was what we all thought the Apple Watch was likely to be called. Little was known of the device at the time, with many speculating that an iWatch could offer a touchscreen interface that would allow for a variety of purposes, including music browsing, texting, email and “even phone calls”.

Samsung leads in PC, tablet and smartphone sales In 2013, Samsung was delighted to reveal the results of its previous year’s work, as it reigned supreme in the smart connected device market, beating out the likes of Apple, Lenovo and HP. In the market where Apple reigned supreme, Samsung rose to the competition in 2012 and snagged the top spot with a portion of the market greater than that of any other single company. Market research firm IDC released the report, which revealed Samsung to have dominated the market with its devices and a 20.8% market share – a sharp increase from the 12.3% it achieved in 2011. Meanwhile, Apple was left to settle with second place with its 18.2% share of the market.

7 million Brits have never logged on to the web It may have only been seven years ago, but amazingly, in 2013, more than seven million Brits had yet to access the internet for the very first time. The data was released by the Office for National Statistics within its Internet Access Quarterly Update report. Within the report, 7.42 million British taxpayers were found to have never accessed the internet. The elderly were identified as a key group within the survey, with 44% of those who admitted to never logging on were found to be aged 75 and above.

NEXT MONTH March: Distribution In the next issue of PCR we will be looking at the world of tech distribution and logistics. Features will include: • •

Our annual list of Distributor Profiles An overview of the rugged tech market

We will also be running two sector guides in the March issue, one covering Rugged Tech, and the other covering Desktops. If you would like to get involved in the March issue, here’s how: For editorial enquiries contact Editor Laura Barnes at laura.barnes@biz-media.co.uk. For advertising opportunities, contact Sales Manager Sarah Goldhawk at sarah.goldhawk@biz-media.co.uk

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ADVERTISE YOUR BUSINESS HERE AND REACH THOUSANDS OF READERS IN THE IT AND TECH INDUSTRY.

PCR is read throughout the channel, from store managers to leading executives. Put simply, PCR is the trade publication that everybody in the industry reads. Print is still the most effective way to target an audience engaged with the content theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re consuming. Find out more about advertising in PCR by contacting Sarah Goldhawk at sarah.goldhawk@Biz-Media.co.uk

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CLOUD / AI ISSUE #195 February 2020

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