PCR July 2019

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TheEditor Share with the class WE ALL KNOW how important education is. It not only shapes our minds and social skills, but also provides opportunities for the future generations of our industry to discover their passion for whatever part of the market they end up working in. Of course, this will only be the case if those students are in a school or university where they are able to experiment with today’s technology. The likes of Raspberry Pi have helped immensely over the past few years to bring coding and PC building into the school curriculum (you can read more about that on p22), but there’s always more that can be done, so I would encourage anyone interested in getting involved in the education sector to do so. Whether it’s approaching schools to buy refurbished machines for students to dismantle, or having an apprentice scheme for newly-graduated students from your local university, every effort made to show the younger generation that the IT and tech sector is an exciting place to work is well worth it. As highlighted by Gekko in its Edtech column on p30, there are currently a whopping 32,113 schools in the UK, so ample opportunities to investigate. Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll find Acer’s UK country manager Craig Booth talking about its latest product ranges (p16), StarBoard’s VP Michelle Bulbring discussing her career to date, and a bumper sector guide featuring more educational hardware, software and accessories than you could shake a USB stick at.

“I would encourage anyone interested in getting involved in the education sector to do so”

Laura Barnes, Editor



Editorial: 0203 143 8783 Advertising: 0203 143 8778


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Beccy Barr

Advertising beccy.barrr@biz-media.co.uk

Nikki Hargreaves

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

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Contents July 2019 Working with schools Retail Talk


We investigate what the classroom of the future will look like

Tapping into Edtech


Gekko's Dan Todaro on the opportunities in the Edtech sector


How is Google's IT repairs ad ban affecting legitimate businesses?

Life in the Channel



We chat to StarBoard Solutions' Michelle Bulbring


Regulars 06 Retail Analysis: Conquering customer feedback 10 Industry opinion from Eggplant, Origin, OutSystems and ManagedPrintCompare.com 21 Number Crunching 26 Appointments 32 Sector Guide: Educational hardware, software and accessories 40 Crowdfunding Corner 43 In My Team: Channelstar Media 44 Events 49 Logging Off

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Retail Analysis

Conquering customer feedback With UK consumers demanding 30 positive online reviews before they’d trust a retailer enough to part with their cash, Laura Barnes looks at how businesses can impress consumers and diffuse negative comments from shoppers...


e’re all familiar with the saying “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”. While the idea that, whether positive or negative, no publicity can do harm might ring true in certain industries or with certain brands, when it comes to the retail channel, having consumers on-side is essential. However, in this day and age, it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out amongst the crowded marketplace in the first place, let alone offer up services impactful enough to convince shoppers to spread positive messages about your brand. A recent Cybera survey conducted by RetailEXPO 2019 found that offering a differentiated customer experience (31%) and increasing footfall (28%) are the biggest challenges for retailers. Cybera spoke to 150 retail professionals for the survey, finding that retailers are well aware of the need to positively differentiate themselves, with 83% of respondents citing that delivering an enhanced in-store customer experience is very important. Cybera says the key to addressing all these new challenges is additional applications and services, the majority of which will rely on secure, stable, and scalable network technology. However, nearly one quarter (23%) of the respondents have not introduced additional services to their stores in the past 12 months. The primary inhibitors included cost – 25% said they thought it would be too expensive – followed by IT security



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concerns (19%) and a belief that their network would not support additional applications (14%). Moreover, many retailers noted the ever-evolving regulatory landscape – including GDPR, PCI, and the upcoming PSD2 – as an added distraction. Nearly half (47%) said they were concerned about new regulatory demands, admitting it was time to review their technology and processes. “Retail technology and customer demands are constantly changing, but one thing that will always be critical is customer experience. The growth of IoT in retail is staggering and it threatens the ability to deliver a consistent, high-quality customer experience. All of these networkenabled devices are disparate, which means separate management and requirements,” explains Cybera SVP and GM EMEA Hubert da Costa. “This IoT growth is challenging for retailers – many of whom operate remote, smaller-footprint sites managed by a staff with limited IT expertise. The solution is to leverage a


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Retail Analysis

network platform that enables them to deliver these new breakthrough apps and services quickly, easily, and without compromising their security.” So what are the repercussions of failing to get ahead of the game? Quite a lot, if you take into account a recent report from Ayden, which showed that poor customer experiences cost British retailers up to £102 billion in lost sales each year. Nation of moaners Retailers certainly don’t have an easy ride when it comes to getting UK consumers on-side, as a new report from retail operations platform Brightpearl shows. It suggests that Brits are becoming a “nation of complainers”, particularly when they have bad online shopping experiences. The survey of 2,000 Brits found that almost a third of shoppers have left a negative review online, with nearly seven in 10 having done so in the last year. With

www.pcr-online.biz www.pcr-online.biz

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the digital age enabling consumers to quickly take to social media or online review sites to share their anger or dissatisfaction, worryingly, Brightpearl found that 76% of those surveyed will also share a negative retail experience with someone else they know to warn them off a particular brand. 55% of Brits are yet to leave a negative review of a company online, but the same percentage regret missing out on the opportunity to air their grievances with the brand or retailer when they’ve had a poor shopping experience. Derek O’Carroll, CEO of Brightpearl, commented: “Brits are famously awkward and averse to confrontation and complaining, but, with the rise of so many avenues for customer feedback, from online forms to social media, those habits appear to be changing. “Consumers have started exercising their right to have a moan when they receive sub-par service – and brands need to start paying closer attention.”

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Retail Analysis

Brightpearl’s research reveals that online consumers are becoming more reliant on the feedback of other shoppers to support their decision making. It shows that 46% of respondents regularly checking star ratings for online retailers before buying from them, and two in five consumers have been put off a brand or a retailer they might have shopped with by a single unfavourable review. Retailers will be pleased to hear that there are some positive steps outlined in Brightpearl’s research too. It might be tempting to ignore negative reviews or not draw attention to them, but 30% of shoppers look more favourably on retailers who actively respond to negative reviews posted about their services online. 55% of shoppers say they would also be likely to spend more money with an online outlet which had ‘excellent’ reviews or star ratings. And Brits are willing to spend as much as 22% more with a brand or retailer which has received ‘mostly excellent’ reviews than one which has been reviewed less favourably. On average, Brits want a brand or retailer to have a whopping 30 positive online reviews before they’d trust it enough to part with their cash. And anything rated below four out of five stars is generally considered negative by discerning consumers – with shoppers becoming highly dubious about handing over cash to any brand that has more than five negative reviews. “From our research, it is clear that a positive review – or 30 – can make a huge difference in the choices consumers make when it comes to selecting a brand or retailer,” says O’Carroll. “It is also important for retailers to be aware of the wideranging impact a negative review can have on their business, as well as understanding where those problems are coming from – whether it’s items not arriving on time or at all, to lack of delivery updates or cancelled purchases. “Customers pay attention to middling and lower reviews, resulting in lost sales opportunities and potentially damaged reputation. The best approach to negative reviews is to identify and fix the issues that can lead to unhappy shopping experiences.” However, Brightpearl’s survey found that just 19% of retailers have invested in technology or solutions to help them address the issues that most commonly cause poor feedback and ratings, such as problems with receiving items on time or overly complicated returns. “To help get the most out of online reviews, businesses need to consider solutions which allow them to fulfil the modern expectations of customers – from same-next day delivery options to real-time shipping, hassle-free returns and incredible response times,” explains O’Carroll. “With a great strategy – and the right technology – in place, firms can focus on generating the positive reviews and ratings which are more likely to capture the attention of today’s online shopper and lead to increased spend and better business.”



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Retail advice The good news is that despite this minefield, consumers are still actively looking towards retailers for guidance on affordability, giving companies another opportunity to impress with their customer service skills, which could in turn lead to more positive online reviews. A study from Divido found that 68% of UK consumers want retailers to advise them on affordability. However, three out of five retailers (61%) do not believe it is their responsibility to police consumer spending. In addition, 30% of UK retailers do not consider it within their remit to provide advice to consumers on the affordability of a purchase. While it is highly unlikely that retailers are actively choosing to ignore this consumer demand, it is probable that the industry is moving too slowly to address this issue, suggest Divido, which points to the fact that 26% of retailers have neither the expertise nor resources to advise on purchase affordability.

“Retail technology and consumer demands are constantly changing, but one thing that will always be critical is customer experience” Hubert da Costa, Cybera The other area of a clear disconnect between retailers and consumers comes with social media marketing. 89% of retailers believe that social media is an influential platform for its audiences when it comes to making high-value (£250+) purchasing decisions. The reality is, only 6% of Brits surveyed said social media influences them, admitting they are swayed more by advice from family and friends (69%), their loyalty to a brand (67%) and payment options available (60%) over marketing on social channels When asked about what influences their decision to buy a high-value item, 94% opted for getting a good deal. That’s well above the other influencing factors outlined above. Relentless discounting is not sustainable for retailers. Rather than getting in price wars with other businesses, retailers need to compete on other criteria such as brand loyalty and providing the best customer experience to drive footfall and increase sales. “Consumers are promiscuous and unpredictable creatures, and demand brands to constantly be updating and changing to reflect current taste,” says Andrew Busby, founder and CEO of Retail Reflections. “One of the key takeaways in Divido’s report is the danger of discounting. In my view, staying close to your customers outweighs price and produce because in an Instagrammable, selfie-strewn world, relevance trumps discounting every time.”


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Education deserves more and managed print services can deliver it Michael Coulson, Founder and MD of managed print services comparison platform ManagedPrintCompare.com, explains why MPS resellers need to angle their approach to education carefully..


bundling it with a variety of services and software, and offering it to t’s often said that a good education is something which you can a customer for a monthly subscription fee. never take away from a person. Therefore, establishments This is all particularly important when you consider the vast tech which provide that education should be the best-equipped. gap between those in education and those delivering it. MillennialWith tightening budgets, it’s becoming ever more clear that aged teachers and education staff may understand technology, but schools, colleges and places of specialist education are going to be those older than this may not have the necessary knowledge to demanding more value than ever. When it comes to print devices recognise the needs of demanding pupils, students or associates. this is even more pertinent. This is where the DaaS model is incredibly useful. Those who can There has been the recent talk of a need to update the way SMEs procure the most suitable, up-to-date models of device and and education facilities manage their print services, not by then manage the servicing and lifespan are invaluable the establishments themselves, but for those that in a buying environment where resources, as well as provide and act as the go-between for budget, are limited. manufacturers and those using the devices. It should also be noted that there is a real The Managed Print Services (MPS) “Education is a precipice here too. Force a digital industry has a lot to glean from more forwardtransformation too quickly and you can run thinking sales models. Gone are the days of sector where more care into problems that are very real. blinding a client with science, as value and needs to be taken with Talking an education prospect into reaching service are placed more highly when it comes for a digital solution too quickly may be a to a buyer decision. customers than dangerous tactic too. Dragging teachers and Couple this with the aforementioned need ever before” education staff into a world they don’t for value and squeezing of budgets and you’re understand too suddenly may put them off left with a need to be transparent and to offer the MPS model altogether. A balance needs to added value. be struck and therefore a more thorough approach How to add this value? It’s easier than you think, by is also needed. combining customer experience with excellent equipment What is clear is the cut-throat days of selling a device contract at the fairest price possible, MPS could well be at the cusp of a then cutting all but essential contact is gone. Education is a sector new dawn of take-up and certainly in terms of perception and where more care needs to be taken with customers than ever before. customer expectations. Bad service will paint the whole MPS niche with a bad reputation Enter then the opportunity to become a value-added reseller. and that’s something nobody wants to be responsible for. There is a clear argument out there for the ‘Device as a Service’ The best way to approach this sector is with great care and a sense (DaaS) model. For the uninitiated, this is the way in which resellers of responsibility. The days of ineffectual and unhelpful MPS can help organisations mitigate costs by taking a typical hardware contracts are at an end if the industry moves together as one. device (such as a laptop, desktop, tablet, or mobile phone) and

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5 steps to building a digital contingency plan Antony Edwards, COO of Eggplant, outlines what procedures retailers should put in place before they launch a website...


hen a new store is set to open on the high street there are a number of procedures in place to ensure that it can provide the ultimate customer experience. For high-end retailers in particular, an inspector often visits to check that the store is ready to begin trading. Staff are trained and processes and rules are enforced before trading begins. So, if this is the case for physical stores, why isn’t the same applied to online retail? If your shop couldn’t trade because of flooding or a staff shortage, it wouldn’t be able to open. However, it is often the case that websites are rushed to completion and launch when they aren’t ready. This not only creates a poor customer experience, but it also impacts sales. Although some online retailers implement user acceptance tests for their online platforms, many still don’t ensure that their digital experiences are up to scratch before the website goes live. This leaves those websites at risk of performance issues and outages. Take IKEA for example. Over the May bank holiday its website suffered a three-day outage that left many customers turning to social media to vent their frustration. Those customers expected a great digital experience, and instead were left with a website that was suffering from technical difficulties for a number of days. If retail giants like IKEA can suffer from website issues, many others are at risk. What IKEA seemed to lack was a digital contingency plan to limit the damage it suffered. So, what procedures should be in place to mitigate the risks? Don’t focus on face value When it comes to getting a website ready, organisations need to test multiple user journeys, not just a few key pages. If the team only tests a few customer journeys, it will undoubtedly miss issues that real customers will find. Rather than manual testing, automated AI-driven testing can be used to track down hidden bugs, which developers can then fix. Be prepared Although having your website up and running is important all year round, there are specific periods that need extra attention. From Black Friday to Christmas to bank holidays, web teams need to


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prioritise mission-critical days, and ensure that the site can handle the increased number of users and purchases. That means load testing in order to understand how the website will perform as traffic increases. At what point does it become unusable? When does it break? It’s also crucial to understand the relationship between website load times and commercial KPIs – even a small slowdown can have a big impact on conversions, and optimising performance at key times can help to ensure that revenue is maximised. Don’t expect everyone to be as prepared as you Websites are often made up of a complex ecosystem, and if one of your third-party providers goes down it becomes your problem very quickly. Website teams need to understand the dependencies and have contingency plans in place should that ecosystem fall over. Have a backup If all else fails and you do indeed see more traffic than your website can handle, you need something you can fall back on. Some organisations choose to add capacity by scaling up into the cloud. Others may choose to implement a queuing solution. At the same time, it’s important to have a crisis team on standby if all else fails. They will need to address not just the technical issues, but the PR fallout and the knock-on effect on logistics, such as increased demand on call centres. Never skip testing Both in the run-up to and during peak trading periods, the pressure is invariably on to get releases and updates out fast. That can lead to the temptation to cut corners and skipping testing and QA. But even a small update can have unintended consequences, and it’s critical to test releases before they go live. When time is of the essence, test automation can be invaluable in ensuring new releases are error free. Although no organisation plans for their website to suffer from an outage, damage limitation is an important part of a digital contingency plan. By limiting the impact, and having a specific plan in place, organisations will ensure that any problems that occur are minimised, and the website customer experience is consistently optimised.

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Marketing trends to boost customer engagement Sud Kumar, marketing director at digital marketing agency Origin, reveals his marketing predictions for the next half of 2019 and beyond...


ew technology trends are continually emerging and contributing to the collective noise around marketing and advertising. This makes reaching and engaging customers difficult for your software and technology business. There are many new marketing and advertising trends, but I’ve focused on five that I think are most significant to enhance your customer engagement. Voice search Think of voice search and you probably think “Okay, Google”. This is due to the prevalence of smart speakers in homes that enable users to search, order items and even control other devices around the house. Research has found that one tenth of UK households already own a smart speaker and 41% of adults use voice search on a daily basis instead of picking up a device to look for an item. And, smartphone voice search further increases consumer convenience by overcoming typing issues on a small screen. In fact, global adoption of the technology means that Google’s voice search now processes commands in 60 different languages and has a 95% accuracy rate when the spoken language is English. I see this trend eventually rendering the keyboard obsolete – something that is worth paying attention to when investing in your business’ online search functionalities. Live video Live video streaming is a huge trend right now, especially on social media. But what is “live” video? A live stream is easily digestible content that provides higher levels of engagement. Recent research found that 80% of adults reported they would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82% prefer them to social posts. Even brand loyalists prefer to watch live video content, with 96% of people saying they’ve watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service. This is particularly useful in the software and tech industry, as it can help to explain systems and give audiences a deeper level of information. In addition, watching live video encourages audiences to conduct independent research, as 60% of viewers say they will do an online search while watching a live stream. This demonstrates that live

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videos help push audiences further down the sales funnel and act as an influential touch point. Artificial intelligence (AI) and personalisation Many brands superficially personalise communications, for example addressing customers by name but this is no longer enough. Companies such as Netflix, Amazon and Spotify have mastered personalisation using AI and algorithms that suggest previous activity-based content. I predict personalisation will go even deeper to understand individuals but striking a balance with GDPR compliancy is important for software and technology businesses boosting customer engagement. Augmented Reality (AR) AR is another trend gaining pace at present and is overtaking Virtual Reality (VR). For example, the retail technology industry has already started adopting ‘try on’ features. And, research suggests almost 70% of consumers expect retailers to launch an AR app within the next six months. Despite this, nearly two-thirds of companies don’t use AR at all, so it’s worth getting ahead with this one as it has obvious applications to the software industry. Marketing Automation Marketing automation is becoming increasingly popular because put simply, it saves time and money. But what is it? Automation simplifies omnichannel communications and a recent study showed that businesses using three or more channels in their marketing campaigns earned a 90% higher customer retention rate. Companies also achieved 250% higher engagement and purchase rates, suggesting this trend is valuable for software and technology businesses. I don’t see this trend slowing down but as an account-based marketer, I know that customers still engage the most when there are genuine human touchpoints. Leveraging these trends will be key for software and technology businesses to enhance customer engagement. And, as with any trend, the earlier you jump on the bandwagon, the better it is for your business objectives and standing amongst competitors.


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How manufacturers are overcoming the digital innovation deficit Nick Pike, VP of UK&I at OutSystems, looks at how manufacturers can counter the digital innovation deficit to become faster, more agile and more open...


anufacturers are facing an unenviable sea of challenges as they bid to realise the opportunities of Industry 4.0. The businesses achieving the greatest gains in productivity, growth and inventory control are those that are successfully leveraging data-driven insights, adopting digital platforms and developing enterprise and customerfacing apps that draw on that data to give them a competitive edge. However, a shortage of digital engineering skills, lengthy IT backlogs, and legacy technology act like an anchor dragging on the ship of progress. Navigating these choppy waters requires an evolution in mindset and the adoption of tools that facilitate innovation without needing uncomfortable levels of investment risk. The challenge of transformation is particularly acute for mid-sized manufacturers. Giant multinationals have vast resources to devote to innovation, and small youthful businesses haven’t yet acquired significant legacy technological complexity. Firms in the middle have the worst of both worlds and typically face four major barriers that combine to slow digital innovation: complex, slow-to-change ERP systems; the scarcity of web and mobile development skills; a collaboration shortfall between IT, engineering, and business staff; and risk-averse IT sourcing practices. These four factors create an environment that is overstretched and slow to adopt new ways of working. Recent research we conducted found that 64% of manufacturing businesses complain about IT backlogs, and only 31% of these respondents said that the backlog had improved in the past year. As a result, important innovation efforts, digital transformation programs, and Industry 4.0 initiatives risk getting snarled-up in lengthening IT queues. Such delays pose the risk that more nimble competitors will overtake you. What’s needed is a shift in mindset away from the tried and tested continuous improvement practices of the past. Manufacturers, many with decades or even centuries of history, are now being challenged to act like start-ups and adopt an agile


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approach that follows the “fail fast, fail forward” maxim. For an industry that’s grown accustomed to lengthy and costly ERP implementations – where even minor changes seem to take forever, and cost a fortune – the idea of experimental IT that’s fun, fast and low-risk must seem fanciful. One of the solutions to this conundrum is low-code application development. Low-code rapid application development platforms allow manufacturing businesses to build robust enterprise-ready mobile applications up to ten times faster than traditional coding and makes it possible for a much wider range of employees to collaborate with IT in jointly-staffed development projects. With respect to the four challenges of digital innovation mentioned before, the contrast of low-code rapid application development is that typical projects take 6 – 12 weeks, instead of multi-month or multi-year ERP projects. Engineers, business analysts, and process specialists can be quickly trained to help with application development. The collaboration gap between business and IT is bridged by forming co-creative teams, reducing the risk of shadow IT. And the firm’s appetite for digital experiments increases. Looking to the future Adding AI into the mix can help manufacturers to innovate and build new apps even faster. OutSystems’ new application development, AI co-pilot, suggests next-best-steps to developers based on a deep learning analysis of over 12 million anonymised development patterns. Results from the early-access-program include 25% faster development for experienced developers, and new OutSystems developers become proficient more quickly, thanks to the interactive AI assistance. Developments like this are yet another way that manufacturers can de-risk technology investment and counter the digital innovation deficit to become faster, more agile and more open to new approaches that will deliver the competitive edge essential to survival in today’s commercial environment.

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25/06/2019 12:17


An Acer up the sleeve Laura Barnes chats to Acer’s UK Country Manager, Craig Booth, about the company’s gaming, thin and light, and lifestyle products, as well as its plans to further engage its education and B2B partners...


n amongst global concerns over CPU shortages, Britain’s Brexit-induced economic concerns, and the on-going challenges both online and high street retailers are facing, it would be easy to assume most tech manufacturers would be proceeding with caution when selling to consumers and businesses. Considering the numerous retail reports of late suggesting non-essential items are struggling to shift, many brands are being more reserved when it comes to releasing new products. The British Retail Consortium reported the biggest decline on record throughout May, with non-food items declining 2.7% on both a total and like-for-like basis. Away from retail, KPMG found that optimism in the UK tech sector dropped to a 10-year low in Q1, with firms reporting that “Brexit-related uncertainty and a subdued global economy” had dampened corporate spending. However, not one to follow the crowd, since the beginning of 2019, Acer has massively bolstered its tech offerings across a wide array of segments – and the bold move appears to be paying off. Despite CPU shortages continuing to impact on the brand’s core business operations throughout the first quarter, Acer’s gaming line still managed to maintain its strong momentum, with a 37% growth in revenue YoY. For year-to-May, the gaming line revenues grew by 18.7% YoY, while gadgets, server businesses and a number of subsidiaries achieved double-digit revenue growth YoY. Acer has been present at all the big tech shows – CES, BETT, Computex, E3 and so on – proving that despite industry cautions, the demand for new products is still strong, and there’s a lot to come from the brand. To name but a few new launches, within the first six months of the year, Acer has unveiled new 4K Predator and ROG


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gaming laptops, a number of new Chromebooks – including its first ever 12-inch model, Ryzen-powered Nitro 5 and Swift 3 notebooks, and the Predator Thronos gaming chair. Earlier this year, PCR went along to Acer’s Back To School event, which showcased a number of these products to its retail partners. The event reaffirmed just how seriously Acer is taking its gaming and education ranges, with a detailed history of Chromebooks, an impressive stand showing how advanced and feature-packed its “thin and light” products have managed to get, and an array of Predator and Nitro gaming PCs, notebooks, monitors and accessories covering every price point and gaming need required from casual gamers to esports enthusiasts. As well as getting to sit in the insanely extravagant Predator Thronos gaming chair, we caught up with Acer’s UK country manager, Craig Booth, to find out more about its biggest products across its gaming, consumers and education sectors, and what the company has up its sleeve for the rest of the year and beyond.

“The days of buying heavy notebooks with mechanical drives are really in the past, thin and light is where things are heading”

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At just 890g, the Swift 7 is unbelievably light, yet has a durable design ideal for an on-the-go lifestyle. Its magnesium alloy chassis is lighter and stronger than aluminium at the same thickness

Tell us a bit about your role at Acer I’ve been at Acer for two years and I’ve been the UK country manager for around one year of that time. My role is to look after the entire UK operation. I have accountability for the whole UK team, the product, marketing, sales, after-sales and P&L performance. With regards to the UK channel, what has Acer been focusing on over the past year or so? We are focused on driving our premium gaming (with the Predator and Nitro brands) as well as our thin and light (with the Swift range] product propositions. The gaming segment of the PC market continues to be one of our main focuses, as we continue to bring more Predator devices and accessories, and new Nitro notebooks for casual gamers, to market. Our aim is to be the brand offering the most comprehensive gaming line-up that features PCs, monitors and accessories for both hard-core and casual gamers. These markets also underpin our brand aspirations to build Acer ever-more into a premium brand offering. Another area of focus is the continued development of thin and light and lifestyle products in 2019. What are the biggest products in those areas? The thin and light area is very exciting from a Windows PC offering point of view, because that’s where the market is going. The days of buying heavy notebooks with mechanical drives are really in the past, and thin and light – sub 1.8kg with SSD – is where things are heading because it genuinely gives the consumer a better experience with more reliability, quicker



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to switch on, more power performance and a much longer, sustainable all-day battery life. So that’s exciting, and our Swift range of product has all these great features the end user wants. With Nvidia launching its latest generation of GPUs this year, the growth in gaming and creation devices has been incredible. The projection is that that will continue to grow, and that’s very exciting because we’ve invested a lot in our product road-map and Nitro and Predator brands.

“We have a very good story about our ability to provide reliable products and support those products through their life cycle” Then we have Chrome. Google are an unbelievable organisation with a laser-focus vision for where they want to take Chrome. The way Google is delivering the message and educating consumers about the proposition is leading to huge growth year-on-year. Chrome is around 8-10% of the overall PC market now and Google is looking to push even further with that this year and next. Acer sees much growth potential for Chromebooks; today we offer the most complete Chromebook portfolio for the different needs of consumers,


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With an 8th Gen Intel Core i processor, apps load faster, graphics run faster and many tasks can be run simultaneously without lag. This makes the Chromebook 714 ideal for heavy processing tasks like big spreadsheets and video transcoding

schools and businesses, including multiple screen sizes, touch screen, convertibles form factors, long battery life, and robust designs using all-metal housings military-grade for education construction. These designs and technologies are also in keeping with what future consumers demand. It’s a very exciting time for these products. How important is the education sector for Acer? I’m moving more of my attention to the commercial markets – and the education sector specifically. We already have an incredible presence in education, with some great partnerships with Microsoft and Google. Our intention is to take this to the next level and increase our footprint further. The Acer for Education ecosystem brings together hardware, software, and aims to offer a best in class service and a partnership network. Our plan in 2019 is to continue to develop these programs to engage our partners, education and B2B organisations further. Our big focus is our aftercare. We have a very good story about our ability to provide reliable products and support those products through their life cycle. What we haven’t done particularly well up until now is tell that story, so that will be our primary focus for the coming months. Over the next 12-24 months we will evangelise our reliability and our ability to respond and support if something does go wrong. That’s really important because downtime has a big impact on productivity for any organisation. So the vast majority of the time, when people are buying devices with which they intend to do work, a big part of their consideration is how reliable the device is going to be and, if things do go wrong, how confident they can be that the manufacturer is


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going to quickly help fix the problem. So, we’re putting a lot of investment into making our partners and customers aware of our capability here. How are you supporting your retailer and reseller partners? As a 100% channel-focused business, our retailer and reseller partners are intrinsic to our ability to deliver our message. A lot of our success over the last year has been about enabling our partners to deliver the message on our behalf and that will continue to be the case going forwards. The vast majority of my time over the last 24 months – and the greatest majority of my time over the next 24 months – will actually be spent discussing that point with all of our partners, asking them how we can deliver our message on their platforms in the best way. What plans does Acer have for the rest of the year? We are a year into a five-year plan that aims to build our brand presence in the UK, build the perception of our brand as a premium IT manufacturer and to have valued partners in both the consumer and commercial marketplace. This year is also about maintaining the value of our product and selling more of it to more people. We want to essentially see great growth in the amount of business we do in the commercial and education market. This growth will be underpinned by our product and partnering propositions, as well as our aftercare service. Our main focus is to talk about credibility and be a credible business in the eyes of our end-users and our partners, and genuinely bring value to what everybody does.

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PCR-JUL19 Mentor_Layout 1 25/06/2019 13:49 Page 1


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


Over a third of both generation Z and millennials purchased retro technology over the last 12 months, including cassette players, instant cameras and retro gaming consoles, according to research from Boost.

21,932 sq ft Microsoft’s first UK physical store will be located on Oxford Circus and covers 21,932 square feet over three floors.


New research from KPMG shows that nearly three-quarters of UK workers agree that embracing digital transformation is a key priority at their workplace.

44% Almost half (44%) of business leaders see data management as critical to their organisations’ success in the next two years, according to a report from cloud data management specialist Veeam. www.pcr-online.biz

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-2.7% Total retail sales in the UK were down 2.7% in May compared to the same period last year, revealed the KPMGBRC Retail Sales Monitor.

July 2019 |


25/06/2019 09:28

Working with schools

The classroom of the future From tech products and teaching aids to improving outdated infrastructure, Laura Barnes asks three key manufacturers how they’re helping to build the classrooms of the future...

Raspberry Pi supplies lowcost computing hardware to educational facilities, like the new Raspberry Pi 4 mini PC



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Working with schools


f there is one area of society that’s best suited to embracing new technology it’s the younger generation. Aside from the fact that it’s been proven that young people are better at picking up new things like learning new languages or musical instruments than adults, unlike most of you reading this feature, the children of today are growing up with the internet and rapidly-evolving technology stitched into almost every aspect of their lives. While I can remember a time when the only computer I had access to was a shared machine at primary school, tablets and smartphones are becoming just as commonplace in schools and at home as pen and paper. Ofcom research from 2017 looked at media use and attitudes from parents and children, finding that half of 5-15s regularly use a smartphone or tablet. And three in ten 5-15s say they regularly use a desktop computer, laptop or netbook. With technology use so prevalent amongst young people, how has it shaped the classroom in recent years? “Classrooms use more technology than ever, with interactive flat panel displays (IFPDs) as the focal point of the front of class experience we are increasingly seeing a wide range of products being connected to display and store information,” John-Paul Williams, sales director at networking, memory and data storage manufacturer Ortial, tells PCR. “Teachers now have access to vast amounts of online content curated by fellow teachers. This is typically downloaded to the teacher’s PC and then displayed to the class on the IFPD and can be shared to student devices, edited and restored to the cloud for future use. To make this a seamless experience we have seen schools investing in SSD and RAM upgrades to maximise the lifetime of existing IT equipment and provide the teachers with the performance they need to keep pace with this convergence between pedagogy and technology.” Ben Allcock, commercial director for B2B at networking brand TP-Link, agrees that schools are beginning to understand the importance of investing in IT more than ever before. “Schools are under the same pressures as businesses to provide operational infrastructure 24/7, however, the budgets are very different. Within the last few years, we have seen more schools adopt interactive learning tools and online resources to deliver a dynamic and engaging teaching environment,” explains Allcock. “However, in order to take full advantage of these resources, schools require high-speed connectivity, not only to facilitate excellent teaching and learning, but also for the school’s day-today administration. Delivering seamless connectivity can be challenging for some institutions, which are often made up of multiple buildings spanning across a campus.” Dr Eben Upton, CEO of mini PC manufacturer Raspberry Pi, points out that there is also a willingness from the teachers themselves to integrate technology into the classroom, and not just through IT classes. “I think we’re seeing a very welcome willingness to experiment with the use of technology throughout the curriculum. We’ve always been keen to promote technology, and computing in


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particular, as an enabler, rather than necessarily as an end in itself. Positioning it in this way feels like the route to engaging a greater proportion of students. It’s always exciting for us when an art, geography or English teacher attends a Raspberry Pi teacher training event.” Current trends It’s clear that the education sector is aware of the need to embrace technology, not only to keep children interested, but to help experiment with and implement new ways of teaching and learning. There are also many things the technology industry can offer to streamline and improve the workflow of educational facilities and the teachers that work there. Raspberry Pi has been supplying low-cost computer hardware into the primary, secondary and tertiary education sectors since 2012. “While we initially started out with a focus on home/ hobbyist users and self-directed learning, we’ve come to realise that our products have something to offer in the classroom too. We spend a lot of time polishing the software environment on the device, and the very low price point encourages consequencefree experimentation in a way that a $1000 laptop or $300 Chromebook doesn’t,” Upton tells PCR.

“Schools are investing in SSD and RAM upgrades to maximise the lifetime of existing IT equipment” John-Paul Williams, Ortial

“Our parent organisation, the Raspberry Pi Foundation, is heavily involved in teacher training and in the creation of online teaching and learning materials, and is a partner in the consortium which runs the National Centre for Computing Education.” Ageing infrastructure is a concern for many schools. Ortial’s Williams outlines how companies like itself can help facilities improve the performance of what they’ve got and help save costs with upgrades. “The University of Cambridge Network Services manages a complex system throughout the Cambridge collegiate where SFPs are an increasingly large part of the network infrastructure. They required cost effective and high quality SFP transceivers to use in an upgraded Cisco network that could support higher data throughput,” he explains.

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Working with schools

Ortial provided the University of Cambridge Network Services with high quality SFP transceivers that were compatible with the Cisco core system

“Ortial was able to provide 1GB, 4GB and 10GB SFPs at a fraction of the retail price of the Cisco alternatives, providing a saving of around 90%. Performance tested, simulating different line speeds and protocols, the Ortial SFPs were 100% compatible with the Cisco core system and continued to be supported through the service provision in place. The parts were supplied with a lifetime warranty and full technical support. “The University of Essex National Data Archive department were updating an ageing infrastructure to allow for improved performance, speed and scalability within the department, however, an all new system is extremely costly. Aware of the cost savings available, they explored the combination of buying refurbished hardware with third party components.” Ortial was able to offer high performance server memory and enterprise SATA 2.5 SSDs at a fraction of the retail price of branded alternatives. “Sold as part of a new system re-build, the components were fully compatible with both Dell Blades and Servers providing optimal reliability, offered a cost saving of around 40%, and came with a global lifetime (RAM) and 10 year (SSD) warranty for complete piece of mind,” says Williams. Another example that Ortial gives is how it has helped the IT team at Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate, an independent

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“I’m hopeful that we’ll continue to see a renaissance in computing as a subject in its own right” Eben Upton, Raspberry Pi school for children up to 18 years old, save money on refurbished components. “As part of ICT learning, children at Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate rebuild Intel NUC mini PCs using a combination of refurbished components from old machines, and replacement


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Working with schools

RAM and SSDs to assemble new machines. The IT team were looking for high quality RAM and SSD that would fit the NUCs but offer a lower price point than Intel parts. Since SSDs and RAM have become commodity items, they favoured a third party supplier that would flash within the system with no conflict,” says Williams. “Using Ortial SODIMM RAM and SATA M.2 SSDs represented a cost saving of around 10% compared to the Intel alternative. With no compromise on quality or performance, the components were 100% compatible with the Intel NUCs, presented zero conflict, and were easily inserted into the mini computers by children as young as seven years of age. The parts were also supplied with a lifetime warranty (RAM) and 10 year warranty (SSD).” TP-Link has also worked with a number of facilities to help improve their infrastructure. One example being its work with Dorset-based Lytchett Minster School to provide enhanced wireless connectivity across its 26 acre campus. “With a series of ageing, independent access points mounted in the school’s corridors with no centralised management, it became clear that the school’s existing wireless network was no longer fit to deliver the access needed to plan and deliver lessons,” says Allcock. “A TP-Link network survey identified the hardware required and best positions to achieve seamless wireless. The network team rigorously tested two TP-Link EAP225 access points on-site and chose them to provide unified, secure wireless coverage for staff, students and visitors. “Within just three weeks, TP-Link was able to successfully install 73 access points across the campus. These access points are also PoE-enabled and can be managed centrally, meaning that they can be located in individual classrooms rather than corridors for optimum performance and coverage,” explains Allcock. “The network is also able to expand to cover outdoor spaces too. A recently-constructed outdoor classroom space and general seating area already has Wi-Fi coverage; the network team has plans to provide further areas, such as its walled garden and sports pitches, with network access.” The classroom of the future So, what will be the defining characteristic of the classrooms of the near future? Ortial’s Williams believes technology will play an important part in the schooling of our children, “with more emphasis than ever being placed on technical and engineering disciplines and significant investment being made by government to raise the profile of these as careers of the future”. “Future classrooms are being pitched as spaces where students can work collaboratively or individually with the teacher at the heart of the learning experience and not just a lone figure at the front of class,” he says. “To facilitate this fundamental change in pedagogy, students and teachers are utilising a wider range of technologies than ever before. Recently we have seen VR /AR become a feature in classrooms where students can experience things or visit


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“Schools need to ensure that their networks deliver safe and secure wireless access that facilitates the learning process whilst restricting access to inappropriate content” Ben Allcock, TP-Link realistic digital creations of cultures past, for example the pyramids in Egypt, and look around these places in a more engaging way than ever before. “These technologies rely heavily on fast storage (SSD) and RAM to render these detailed 3D models in real time allowing the student to explore them in ways that were previously impossible. We see design and CAD studios requiring vast amounts of storage for student projects and even an increase in art as more creation is done on powerful workstations or just the scanning of traditional media. We only see the requirements for more storage and faster RAM increasing with more devices (phones and cameras) already recording at 4K and the move towards an 8K future for display and creation on the visible horizon. The future for storage looks bright!” TP-Link’s Allcock believes bring your own device (BYOD) policies will be focused on more in the near future. “We are witnessing a trend in which more schools are rolling out BYOD policies for older pupils; recognising that these pupils take more responsibility for their learning and therefore allowing them to bring and connect their own devices to the school’s network. However, in order to realise their BYOD policies, schools need to ensure that their networks deliver safe and secure wireless access that facilitates the learning process whilst restricting access to inappropriate content.” For Raspberry Pi, Upton believes we will see a “continuation of the realisation that technology is an enabler for most, if not all, subjects”. “I am hopeful that we will also continue to see a renaissance in computing as a subject in its own right. The coalition government’s curriculum changes, along with the recent investments in teacher training, make me hopeful that this is going to happen.”

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

Tech Data

Ingram Micro

Matt Child has been appointed to the position of advanced solutions managing director of UK and Ireland at Tech Data. L-R: Matt Child and James Reed Following Child’s move within the company, James Reed has been promoted to managing director of endpoint solutions. He also joins the Tech Data UK board. Child has been with Tech Data for just under four years, holding a number of senior positions. As MD of the endpoint solutions business, he has led the introduction of market-leading initiatives such as Tech Data’s Tech-as-Service proposition, which is now a standard offering across Tech Data Europe. Reed has been with the company for over 18 years and has enjoyed significant achievements in many roles within the firm.

Ingram Micro has appointed Brian Verburg as the new manager of its European cyber security center of excellence, which was recently launched in the Netherlands and extends support across Europe. Bringing 25 years’ experience in IT and security to his new role at Ingram Micro, previously, Verburg managed a large team of security advisors in the EMEA region in order to provide post-sales and implementation services and to support the overall managed security services (MSS) and security services advisory (SSA) for a global organisation.

Cisco David Meads has been named as the new lead of the Cisco Partner Organisation in Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia (EMEAR). He currently leads Cisco’s Middle East and Africa business and will continue in his position, based in Dubai, until the end of the fiscal year (29th July 2019). An accomplished leader with a deep knowledge of Cisco, its business and its opportunities, Meads is regarded for his international experience having worked across the EMEAR region for 10 years. Originally joining Cisco in 1996, he held several leadership roles in the UK before moving to Johannesburg as general manager for South Africa in 2010.

Lexmark Lexmark’s board of directors has selected Allen Waugerman as its new president and chief executive officer. Waugerman joined Lexmark at its inception in 1991 and has served in a variety of leadership roles, including leading the company on an interim basis during the CEO search. Since 2016 he has served as Lexmark senior vice president and chief technology officer. Waugerman succeeds Rich Geruson, who left the company in November 2018.

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Exertis Exertis has announced further changes to its Group structure to “take advantage of L-R: Jason Chibnall, Fiona Graham and Alan Lynch the opportunities provided by the organisation’s increasing global operations and to support its core business functions, internationally”. Jason Chibnall has been named chief information officer, Fiona Graham becomes chief marketing officer, and Alan Lynch takes on the role of global logistics director. All three are global roles, reporting into Tim Griffin, DCC Technology managing director. “These appointments reflect the evolution of our business as we continue to grow our operations into new geographies and provide our partners and customers with increasing opportunities to transact with us on a global basis,” said Griffin.

Doherty Associates Cloud managed services firm Doherty Associates has announced the appointment of Ian Thorne in the role of services director. Thorne will be responsible for overseeing the London and Kuala Lumpur-based service desk and 24/7 support and directing operations at Doherty. He brings a wealth of expertise, with over 20 years’ experience in the managed services industry, holding several senior service delivery-related roles to public and private sector clients.


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PCR is read throughout the channel, from store managers to leading executives. Put simply, PCR is the trade publication that everybody in the industry reads. Print is still the most effective way to target an audience engaged with the content they’re consuming. Find out more about advertising in PCR by contacting Beccy Barr at Beccy.Barr@Biz-Media.co.uk

@PCRMag PCR house ad ADVERTISE HERE_V1.indd 1

@PCR_Online 29/05/2019 14:14

DEALER DISCUSSION: HOW IS GOOGLE’S REPAIR ADS BAN AFFECTING TECH BUSINESSES? As Google removes adverts related to computer repairs in a bid to stop scammers, how is this affecting legitimate businesses? Tech For Techs asks its members... MIKE WHITEHOUSE, SUNDERLAND COMPUTER REPAIRS


www.sunderlandcomputerrepairs.com “I have worked with Google for a long time and I’ve resigned myself to having to spend £300 a month to get my ads on the search results. When I once tried an experiment and switched the ads off, my business plummeted. Google are judge and jury when it comes to adverts. They know that if they upset a customer, someone else will simply fill the gap. So I’m taken for granted. I guess that Heinz or Next can probably ring Google up if they want. I’m expected to send a message or find another punter in the discussion groups who has gone through the same thing. I recently got an email that Google had ‘disapproved’ my adverts. That means that they have stopped working. My customer numbers have plummeted. Why have they stopped? No idea. Google has told me that they contravene their policy on ‘other restricted businesses’. The same adverts have been running for the past 18 months with no issues. The way to deal with this is to try to change them (difficult if you don’t know what the problem is), or send Google a message, which I have done and 24 hrs later they continue to ignore. So Google changes a policy, cripple my business, have no means of explaining what I’ve done to upset them and I have no means of comeback. Welcome to the future everyone, where we ‘re told what to do by Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon. This is absolutely killing my trade. I will be lucky to survive another two months if this continues.”

www.radcliffe-computers.com “This is only a bad thing if you’re reliant on ads. Get the website running ok and there will be no ads above you – it could be a win. Time to research the SEO myself as my website SEO is shocking.”




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GARY MORRIS, PC WRANGLERS https://pcwranglers.co.uk/ “Been going through this pain over the last three weeks watching the ads I’ve been running for years slowly dying. Sitting here waiting for my ads rep to call back. What annoys me is they announced this last August but didn’t bother to inform anyone that was actually paying for ads. We could have spent that time upping the ante on our website SEO. I’m still trying to pin them down on when this verification process will start (if ever). Maybe time for us to start pestering David Graff, Director of Global Policy – the guy that decided this was a great idea.” ◆◆◆

JAMES ERNEST BRYAN, JB COMPUTERS www.jbcomputers.co.uk “If Google won’t take my money, I’ll shift it to Facebook for a while, one of the main reasons for having an advert is that everyone had one, now no one has, I don’t need to.” www.pcr-online.biz

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Retail Talk


STEVE BARKER , DTEC COMPUTERS, https://dtec-computers.com/ “We lost all of our repair-focused Google AdWords, they were disapproved on 23rd May. Before this, we were getting approx. 120 – 130 impressions per day. We ask every customer how they found us and the majority say Google (this could be AdWords, Natural listing or Google Places). We come up well for Natural and Places, so all is not lost. I know Google is trying to stop computer repair scams, but I received a response from the company saying that until further notice, my adverts would not be shown. If I searched for ‘Laptop Repair Carlisle’ the top AdWords link was to a computer repair tool download, I think this is the opposite to what they are trying to achieve. According to Google customer services, even if we can prove we are a legitimate computer repair business, our adverts won’t be shown and they can’t tell me when this might be resolved. When I responded asking why the bogus software company’s AdWords were allowed, I got no response and that advert has now been removed.” ◆◆◆

DANIEL POTTER, GATEACRE COMPUTERS www.gateacrecomputers.co.uk “I’ve just done a search for ‘computer repairs Liverpool’ and the only ad showing is for Currys PC World. If they can make an exception for them why not us? We are doing exactly the same thing. Looking at the policy wording it’s saying ‘technical support’, I would define that as first line telephone support, not break fixing. This is understandable based on the scams. I have also asked Google to email me the full wording of the policy to see what they are trying to block/not allow and whether there is a loophole we can fall under.”

holiday hours, Google loves this and it really helps your SEO. I think Facebook and Instagram also give a way better bang for your buck.” ◆◆◆

PHILIP AND JENNI GRIFFITHS, TECH FOR TECHS www.TechForTechs.co.uk and www. WeFixAnyComputer.com “Google has basically put a blanket ban on all tech repairrelated adverts. This was done to stop a lot of the online scams, where people think they are calling a local tech support company or a specific company like Apple, HP, Microsoft, etc, but in actuality they are getting directed to scam websites pretending to be these support companies. Unfortunately, this has had the negative effect of stopping the adverts for genuine independent tech companies, which may have relied on Google Ads to get customers to their store or website, especially stores that are not in the centre of a town or city. It seems strange that Google has put a blanket ban on computer repairs rather than asking these stores to verify who they are with something like a tax bill or utility bill to prove they are a real store. Google also has a verification system in place already so they can verify where you are, so you get correctly listed on Google Maps, and what’s even more annoying is that large stores like PC World (at time of writing) have the monopoly on Google as they still have ads running. On a positive note, this is a good time to make sure your website is up-to-date, and you do everything you can to improve your search rankings. If you have done your Search Engine Optimisation well, you will not have to contend with the adverts above you on the listings (with the exception of PC World). Google are not the only search engine out there, you can always advertise with Microsoft Bing, or even on social media like Facebook and LinkedIn. You may be able to advertise in a sector where you have little or no competition in your area.”


MARTIN GAUNT, THE COMPUTER TECHNICIAN www.thecomputertechnician.co.uk “It was getting too expensive, so I was cutting back after using Google AdWords for 10 years. I stopped because of the ban on keyword ‘repair’ back in Jan. PC World is obviously not being treated as a 3rd party – as the word ‘repair’ in any way shape or form is being stopped for 3rd parties. The last email from Google has highlighted all my past ads, I have about 10 or so. Every ad I have run for the last 10 years with any combination of the word ‘repair’ has been removed.” ◆◆◆

CORMAC O DONOGHUE, CROSSHAVEN COMPUTERS www.crosshavencomputers.ie “With Google cracking down on AdWords for tech repairs due to scams, it’s not worth spending money on them. Use that time and money on SEO. Pro tip: always update your bank www.pcr-online.biz

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TECH FOR TECHS Launched in January 2018, Tech for Techs (TFT) is a new community for technicians of all kinds, including on-site call out services, retailers, resellers, managed service providers, vendors and distributors. Free to join, TFT is run by the team behind retailer Chips Computers and offers up insight and information on the industry, as well as product reviews, price comparisons, free directory listings and more.

For more info visit www.techfortechs.co.uk

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Tapping into Edtech With the back-to-school retail market worth some £1.45bn in the UK, Dan Todaro, Managing Director of field marketing agency Gekko, looks at how retailers can expand their sales within this sector...


he UK is leading the adoption of digital technology in education with schools allocated an estimated £900 million in funding from the Department of Education for 2019-20 for Edtech, according of the Institute for Fiscal Studies. In physical terms this equates to 3,392,100 computers in classrooms across the UK with an average primary school having 70 computers and secondary school an average of 431. There are currently 32,113 schools in the UK. Of these, 20,925 are primary schools and 4,168 are secondary schools. There are 2,381 independent schools, 1,256 special schools and 351 pupil referral units. The opportunity to expand Edtech sales are obvious for those who know how to tap into this growing market that values accessible technology to equip young minds for a successful ‘digital’ future.

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There are also benefits for already stretched schools to help bridge the gap through Edtech – as it’s proven to reduce teacher workload, boost student outcomes and help create a level playing field for those requiring learning support. So much so that the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, set out plans in April this year to support innovation and raise the bar in education establishments across England, backed by £10 million injection. School funding per pupil is expected to be frozen in real terms between 2017-2018 and 2019-20 albeit at a level of above 4%, reports IFS. Technology in education allows some students to open up channels of communication and makes learning accessible to all. The target audience is not exclusively schools that have the budget to grow Edtech, it’s also parents, as many public secondary schools employ a BYOD program, therefore parents are expected to buy


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Edtech opportunities their child a suitable device. However, this is becoming stricter as previously it was an “any device will do”, approach but due to different devices having different capacities and capabilities, this has changed. Today, school book lists stipulate the minimum requirements for a device to create a more uniform and compatible ecosystem that is hassle free for all. The retail market for back-to-school is worth, in all categories, some £1.45bn in the UK and is an increasingly important fixture in the retail calendar, becoming competitive for both brands and retailers endeavouring to appeal, in particular, to those students heading off to university. From PC to projection and display technology such as Jamboard from Google and BenQ, the classroom is a place where technology is the norm, and the standard for students as they transition through their education and eventually into the workplace. It’s not just about the hardware and software solutions, it’s also about the teachers who need professional development and training to understand how each device could work and how they can add them into their lesson plans. Figures from BETT highlight that 74% (rising from 60% in 2018) of educators surveyed said that educational technology is often not sufficiently easy to use for ordinary teachers. Something that vendors need to be considering as part of their proposition.

“The classroom of old is no longer the norm. Education, at all levels, relies heavily on technology” The classroom of old is no longer the norm. Education, at all levels, relies heavily on technology and some brands recognise this. Those brands that offer the end-to-end solution that enables education access to the best technology with the easiest interface, least maintenance and highest reliability will capitalise on this growing market. Chromebook by Google is one of these, Google shared in January 2019 that 30 million Chromebooks are now used in education, up five million from the last reported figures in 2018. Growth has been aided by education systems from around the world choosing to use Chrome OS devices and G Suite cloud based computing solutions that enable collaborative learning accessible whenever you need it. In London the brand has worked with London Grid for Learning to help over 90% of schools across the city bring technology to more students by offering free training in Google Classroom, G Suite and other tools to help improve the digital skills of teachers. Similarly, Epson has identified that 58% of students cannot read all content on a 70-inch flat panel. Epson’s interactive display solutions provide scalable image size. Having the right sized image for a room can make a huge difference to levels of concentration, enjoyment and understanding.


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The DFE in April 2019 published a white paper entitled “Realising the potential of technology in education: A strategy for education providers and the technology industry”. This white paper identified 10 challenges for the industry to assist in eradicating within education, quoting: “To catalyse change in the use of technology across the English education system, we are launching a series of Edtech challenges. They are designed to support a partnership between the Edtech industry and the education sector to ensure product development and testing is focused on the needs of the education system. The challenges are to the industry and the education sector (including academia) to prove what is possible and to inform the future use of Edtech across our education system.” THESE CHALLENGES ARE: • Challenge 1: “Improve parental engagement and communication, whilst cutting related teacher workload by up to five hours per term.” • Challenge 2: “Show how technology can facilitate part-time and flexible working patterns in schools and colleges, including through the use of time-tabling tools.” • Challenge 3: “Cut teacher time spent preparing, marking and analysing in-class assessments and homework by two hours per week or more.” • Challenge 4: “Show that technology can reduce teacher time spent on essay marking for mock GCSE exams by at least 20%.” • Challenge 5: “Identify how anti-cheating software can be developed and improved to help tackle the problem of essay mills.” • Challenge 6: “Challenge the research community to identify the best technology that is proven to help level the playing field for learners.” • Challenge 7: “Demonstrate how technology can support schools and teachers to diagnose their development needs and to support more flexible CPD.” • Challenge 8: “Prove that the use of home learning early years’ apps (both those aimed at parents and those aimed at children) contributes to improved literacy and communication skills for disadvantaged children.” • Challenge 9: “Widen accessibility and improve delivery of online basic skills training for adults.” • Challenge 10: “Demonstrate how artificial intelligence can support the effective delivery of online learning and training for adults.” Whilst the 10 challenges may not apply to all, it enables positive opportunities for all to develop the channel in Edtech initiatives. Interestingly the DofE chose to release this white paper after the 2019 BETT show, the world largest Edtech event that brings together over 850 Edtech companies and attracting more than 34,000 attendees. I suspect this may lead the conversation at BETT in 2020.

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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Sector Guide

Educational hardware, software and accessories From security software designed to keep children safe online to student-centric laptops and classroom monitors, we round up the best tech for the education sector... Newline Trutouch 65” Widescreen LED Interactive Display Specs: 3840x2160 4K UHD resolution, 1432x807 display area, touchscreen with infrared touch, anti-glare glass, extensive connectivity. “The RS Series from Newline delivers a collaborative and engaging display experience that lets students interact using a stylus or their fingers. The versatile responsive 4K UHD 60Hz 65-inch interactive screen features 20 touch points. Thanks to its tactile response, anyone can take notes, write and draw on the screen for a truly collaborative classroom experience. An essential versatile classroom solution, the Trutouch RS TT6518RS couldn’t be easier to use and interact with.” Contact: VIP UK

Panda Adaptive Defense 360 Specs: Windows XP SP3, Server 2003, Exchange 2003 or greater. “With Panda Adaptive Defense 360 providing 100% attestation of processes, malware is not allowed to run. Hackers are changing their approach, with an increase in Living Off The Land attacks using legitimate admin tools, such as Powershell and RDP, to spread undetected across networks and silently steal data. To protect your learning environment you need an EDR solution with Threat Hunting capabilities such as Panda Adaptive Defense to be able to detect these invaders.” Contact: QBS Distribution

Zyxel NebulaFlex Access Point Specs: One-click remote management access to neighbouring Zyxel devices, direct DC power or Power over Ethernet (PoE), up to 1600 Mbps maximum WLAN throughput. “The WAC6303D-S has been designed with Smart Antenna technology, to provide users with the ultimate wireless experience, especially in highdensity environment. Additionally the WAC6303D-S supports NebulaFlex Pro which includes three years of Professional pack and triple mode functionality (standalone, hardware controller and Nebula).” Contact: Zyxel 32


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Sector Guide HANNspree HF554PJB 55” Large Format Monitor Specs: 55” 16:9 LED, 3840x2160 UHD 4K, 178°/178° ultra-wide viewing angle, USB media play with auto-play, HDMI, VGA, 5W stereo speakers, VESA (wall mount and RC included), ultra slim, narrow bezels, 3 year warranty. “Designed for demanding applications requiring both stability and exceptional performance, the HF554PJB is a cost effective, 55” large format monitor for displaying and communicating information. Featuring an ultra-UK 4K display and HS-IPS panel this monitor delivers high quality visuals from any direction, ideal for display to large groups. It also boasts a powerful, practical USB media player with auto-play, making it simple to display messages, images and videos, while integrated stereo speakers complete the immersive multimedia experience.” Contact: Exertis, GNR Tech, Ingram Micro, Midwich, Westcoast

Epson EB-710Ui Ultra-Short Throw Projector Specs: Up to 100-inch laser display, full HD WUXGA resolution, 3LCD technology (up to 4,000 Lumen), multi-PC projection software, moderator function, wireless connectivity, maintenance-free laser technology, HDMI connectivity, 16W integrated speaker, microphone input, split screen, dual-pen and finger-touch annotation. “Teach without disruption and ensure your students can read everything on the screen with this interactive ultra-short-throw laser display solution, delivering collaborative lessons on a large scalable display to promote greater sharing and participation in the classroom. The EB-710Ui is a maintenance-free interactive display solution making use of a large, scalable screen up to 100 inches to enhance learning without disruption.” Contact: Midwich, Sahara, Exertis

Kaspersky Security Cloud Specs: Personalised real-time security alerts, password generation, auto log-in, flexible parental controls, data leak detection, instant notification of devices joining your home Wi-Fi. “Kaspersky Security Cloud (KSC) is the first security-as-aservice solution with a tailored approach for the individual and for family needs. The new service combines patented adaptive technology and comprehensive protection to defend users from viruses, trojans, worms, phishing and more, uniquely configuring itself to its user’s behaviour, regardless of the device he or she is operating.” Contact: Exertis


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Sector Guide Optoma Interactive Flat Panel Display Specs: 65”, 75” and 86” multi-touch interactive flat panel, 20-point touchenabled, anti-glare glass, blue light filter, wide viewing angle, extensive connectivity including 3x HDMI inputs, wireless content sharing encourages BYOD, ready-to-use whiteboard software pack with pre-installed annotation tools, built-in cloud for easy access to Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, wall mount included, optional stand available. “Lessons can be more streamlined and collaborative than ever with Optoma’s new interactive flat panel displays. These come with a number of pre-installed apps as well as free compatible apps that can be easily downloaded from the marketplace area on the display. These include the super quick Screenshare app that allows students to simply type in a code and be able to share their laptop or PC screen with the rest of the class. Microsoft Office documents can be opened on the screen with the pre-installed WPS app, Cloud Drive then allows teachers to save documents via Google Drive or OneDrive. Compatible with Oktopus software, the displays boast 4K UHD resolution and 20-point touch to allow multiple students to work on the screen simultaneously and are available in 65”, 75” and 86” sizes.” Contact: Exertis

Zoostorm All In One Specs: 24” ultra slim aluminium AIO chassis, full HD IPS screen, Intel i5-8250U processor boosting to 3.4GHz, integrated UHD 620 graphics, 8GB DDR4 2400MHz RAM, 240GB SSD, Wi-Fi, Windows 10 Pro. “Stylish and compact, the new Zoostorm All In One PC possesses an ultra slim 24” aluminium AIO chassis with a full HD 1080 screen, perfect for viewing spreadsheets, checking email and online browsing.” Contact: CMS Distribution

AOC 22P1D Full HD Ergonomic Display Specs: 1920x1080 @ 60Hz native resolution, WLED, TN panel, height adjustable 130mm, tilt, swivel, 4x USB 3.0, HDMI, VGA, DVI, DisplayPort 1.2, built in speakers, headphone out, VESA mount. “The 22P1D is an entry level but fully capable display with a 21.5” TN panel in FHD (1920x1080px) resolution, ideal for educational settings. Its VGA, HDMI and DVI inputs offer rich connectivity options. Easy assembly without screws, flexible stand with 130 mm height adjustment included.” Contact: Tech Data, Exertis, VIP UK



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Sector Guide BullGuard Internet Security Specs: Works with Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, Mac OS X 10.11 or later, Android tablets and phones, Android 4.0 and higher. “BullGuard Internet Security provides award-winning malware protection that keeps students safe online. A next-gen triple layer threat detection engine and layered firewall provide outstanding protection against all sorts of threats, ranging from malware and banking trojans to cryptocurrency mining malware. It is particularly effective in identifying zero-day threats and phishing attacks, an important point for students who are often specifically targeted by phishing mails. Safe Browsing also flags up websites that are hiding malware or are known to be used to harbour malicious code. Cloud integrated back-up is another important educational tool, enabling students to store their projects and work safely in the cloud thanks to encrypted cloud transfers.” Contact: Spire Technology, Target Components, VIP UK, Centerprise, MicroWarehouse

VigorAP 903 Mesh Wireless Solution Specs: Concurrent dual band, plug-n-play meshing, self-healing and self-optimisation technologies, 5 gigabit port (including 1 PoE), 1 USB port, wireless optimisation technologies. “VigorAP 903 is a high-performance mesh wireless solution, designed to expand the wireless coverage, eliminate wireless Wi-Fi dead zones and significantly reduce the cost of network deployments. VigorAP 903 comes with a vast array of wireless optimisation features for increased transfer speeds of high volumes of traffic, security and remote management features that make it perfect for schools that want to deliver 21st century digital education without increasing their budgets. Adding the VigorAP 903 to a wireless network takes just a couple of minutes with the Wireless mobile app (free download on App Store and Google Play).” Contact: CMS Distribution

Acer Chromebook Spin 11 Specs: Intel Celeron N3350 4GB, 32GB SSD, 11.6” Chrome OS touchscreen laptop. “The Acer Chromebook Spin 11 has several features designed to facilitate school lessons and activities, rather than limit them. Its high durability design is specialised to handle the rough and tumble of the classroom. Thanks to a reinforced chassis structure and rubber bumper, surrounding the keyboard, the Chromebook Spin 11 can withstand drops. Solid component features mean, it is perfect for school administrators, who want a durable, secure laptop, that is simple to use for students and can be easily managed at an individual or group level.” Contact: Exertis, Tech Data, Ingram Micro


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Sector Guide ASUS P3B Portable DLP LED Projector Specs: DLP display technology, LED, 1280x800 resolution, 800 lumens, 16.7m display colour, 2W speaker, HDMI, MHL, VGA, Micro USB, 65W battery power. “ASUS P3B ultra-short-throw battery-powered projector is a lightweight and compact projector with a footprint about the size of a CD case, so it fits easily into a briefcase or bag. The brightest battery-powered portable LED projector available, P3B provides crisp WXGA 1280x800 resolution images with a maximum brightness of 800 lumens. Its built-in rechargeable battery gives you up to three hours of cable-free projection time and also doubles as a 12,000mAh power bank for charging mobile devices. A ultra-short-throw lens lets the P3B project images measuring from 25 inches (0.45m) to 200 inches (3.4m) at very close range. The P3B is designed to be used anywhere – outdoors while camping, in a home theater, or in small meeting rooms.” Contact: Spire Technology

Ortial Plus SATA III 480GB 2.5 SSD Specs: 100% guaranteed compatibility, free technical support, free 10 year warranty, 3 step performance testing process, global distribution, significant savings. “Engineered for desktop and laptop PCs, the Ortial Plus SSD offers a fine combination of performance and value, and provides a cost effective upgrade solution for schools and universities in need of high capacity and high performance storage when working with limited budgets. Providing superior speed, reliability and responsiveness compared to higher priced HDDs, while enabling their big data capacity, the Ortial Plus features the Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller, and offers data transfer speeds to reach up to 560MBs read and 460 MBs write.” Contact: CMS Distribution

Hama Basic4Music Over-Ear Headphones Specs: 3.5mm jack connection, 6.35mm adapter, extra-long 2m cable, 40mm speaker diameter, frequency range: 20Hz – 20kHz, impedance: 32 Ohms, sensitivity: 113 dB/mW. “A top seller in the educational sector, Hama Basic4Music headphones provide lasting long-wear comfort through close fitting circumaural earcups, padded headband and ear cushions, and 2m long-reach cable ideal for a large classroom set-up. Despite their name, Hama Basic4Music is not only limited to music playback, but is specially designed for universal compatibility across TVs, computers and Hi-Fi set-ups in addition to most stereo systems and mixer boards (via the included 6.35mm gold-plated adapter).” Contact: Hama UK



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Sector Guide HANNspree HT248PPB 23.8” Touch Screen Monitor Specs: 23.8” 10-point touch LED, 1920x1080 FHD, 3,000:1, 178°/178° ultra-wide viewing angle, HDMI, VGA, DisplayPort, USB hub, 7H toughened hard surface, stereo speakers, smart stand / VESA, 3 year warranty. “The HT2488PPB combines practicality, design and performance to create a touch screen solution with an all-inclusive feature set. Featuring a high-end multi-touch display including multiple user screen interaction, this monitor is perfect for today’s touch enabled education applications, while HS-IPS technology ensures precise and comfortable viewing for any angle ideal for group use. A 7H hardness rated glass surface provides defence against impact, scratches and dirt for durability. A triple input interface and an additional USB hub enables partnering which a whole range of external hardware.” Contact: Exertis, GNR Tech, Ingram Micro, Midwich, Westcoast

BenQ GL2460BH Monitor Specs: Full HD 1080p, 16:9 ratio, low blue light technology, fast 1ms GTG response time, 75Hz refresh rate, brightness intelligence technology, integrated speakers, high-speed multimedia interface. “BenQ GL2460BH LED monitor features a dynamic ratio, HDMI connectivity, 1ms GtG response time and 75Hz refresh rate. This 24” 16:9 LED monitor delivers every image detail with the best viewing quality. BenQ’s exclusive eye-care technologies reduce eye fatigue for user comfort, enhanced productivity, and safety during an extended period of use. The exclusive flicker-free feature eliminates flickering at all brightness levels and reduces eye fatigue effectively. So relieve your eyes from the uncomfortable flickering effect by switching to a BenQ flicker-free monitor.” Contact: BenQ

Lenovo V130 Laptop Specs: 15.6” screen size, backlit LED, 1920x1080 resolution, Windows 10 Home 64-bit OS, Intel Core i5-7200U processor, dual core 3.1GHz turbo, 1TB HHD, 4GB memory. “The Lenovo V130 15.6-inch laptop delivers great performance in a patterned, textured cover that bespeaks a modern style. A simple, clean design features a large, one-piece touchpad and hinges that open 180 degrees – perfect for collaborating. Powerful Intel technology keeps you working productively, while enhanced security protects your critical data. Contact: Spire Technology


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Sector Guide BullGuard Premium Protection Specs: Works with Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, Mac OS X 10.11 or later, Android tablets and phones, Android 4.0 and higher. “BullGuard Premium Protection protects PCs, Macs and Android devices with one license. It includes all the features found within BullGuard Internet Security but also features Identity Protection which safeguards all personal information, from bank account numbers to driving licence numbers, passport information, debit/credit card numbers, email addresses and passwords or student card information. Thanks to a unique algorithm, Premium Protection scans the Internet, including the dark web. If any of the information is detected the user receives an immediate alert and advice on what steps to take. A Home Network Scanner is also included which constantly monitors a network for any vulnerabilities. Students might want to use this to let their parents know that the smart device they have added to their home Wi-Fi network is vulnerable to hacking or the network they are using has vulnerabilities.” Contact: Spire Technology, Target Components, VIP UK, Centerprise, MicroWarehouse

Zoostorm Evolve Desktop Specs: AMD Athlon 200GE processor (3.2GHz), AMD A320 chipset, Radeon Vega 3 graphics, 8GB DDR4 2400MHz RAM, 240GB SSD, Windows 10 Pro. “Let the Zoostorm Evolve be the focal point for your creativity. This tower is not only stylish and sophisticated; it’s smart too. Filled with the latest components it’s perfect for editing complex documents, maintaining your social media presence and anything else you do throughout the day.” Contact: CMS Computers Ltd

Hama MC200 Mouse Specs: 1200 dpi resolution, optical sensors, 3-buttons including scroll wheel, left and right handed use, USB-A connection, cable length: 150cm, dimensions: 6.4 x 3.7 x 11.4cm, operating system: Windows 10/8/7/Vista/ XP, Mac OS 10.10 or later. “A statement of sophisticated simplicity, the conveniently ambidextrous Hama MC200 can be adapted to provide comfortable, precise control to both left and right-handed users – ideal for an educational setting. Available in black and white colour options, the traditional cabled design and 3-button symmetrical design has timeless application, with 1200 dpi high-accuracy optical sensors registering each and every click for a range of long-term classroom, or educational office applications.” Contact: Hama UK



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Sector Guide Philips 222B9T LCD Monitor Specs: 1920x1080 @ 60Hz resolution, TN panel, SmartStand features a Z-shaped structure that allows users to raise/lower/tilt the screen, 2x USB 3.1 (with fast charging), HDMI, VGA, DVI-D, DisplayPort 1.2, built in speakers, headphone out, SmoothTouch, touch-type with 10 fingers, VESA mount. “A sturdy, water-resistant and dust-resistant, anti-glare touchscreen monitor for flexible use anywhere, with articulating stand to fit angles you need. Offering simple and intuitive use across applications, greatly boosts productivity.” Contact: Tech Data, Midwich, Exertis, VIP UK

Iiyama ProLite T2736MSC Monitor Specs: Touch technology, works with human finger and stylus-pen, two stereo speakers, variety of sizes suitable for smaller and larger groups, Iiyama 5 year warranty. “With its Full HD (1920x1080) resolution and accurate projective capacitive 10 point touch technology, the ProLite T2736MSC delivers seamless and accurate touch response. The AMVA panel technology guarantees high performance with excellent colour reproduction and high contrast, making it an excellent choice for a vast array of demanding interactive applications. The flexible stand can be positioned at several angles creating a comfortable and ergonomic user experience.” Contact: CMS Distribution

Acer Chromebook Tab 10 Specs: Chrome OS, 32GB, 9.7” IPS TFT, LED backlight, 2048x1536, multi-touch, stylus included. “With the combination of planned support for Google Expeditions AR and easy administration, students and staff have a better experience. A host of technological features combine to make this a fantastic state-of-theart tablet.” Contact: Exertis, Tech Data


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AirSelfie Aerial Camera AirSelfie clams to be the smallest hands-free way for you to take panoramic HD photos and videos from the air in any environment. All you have to do is take your aerial camera from the powerbank and switch it on. Open the AirSelfie app (available on iOS and Android), press the lift button and watch your aerial camera hover to heights up to 65ft (20m). From there you can adjust the device’s height and direction with the app, let auto-hovering take over and take an HD aerial shot or video. Land AirSelfie safely and smoothly onto your open hand or grab it while it’s hovering in mid air and place it back in the powerbank where it will be recharged. The device also lets you seamlessly share your experience on social media. For more information visit https://igg.me/at/airpix/x#/

Blackview BV9700 Pro Rugged Phone Rugged outdoor phone expert Blackview has unveiled its new Transformers BV9700 Pro. Features include a night vision camera, air and heart rate app, air quality detection and FullNetcom global 4G coverage. “As the world’s best rugged phone maker, Blackview has a rock solid reputation as an innovator and a rugged smartphone producer,” says the manufacturer. “We had an epic unveiling of our new BV9700 Pro Transformersthemed MTK P70 multi-functional rugged phone during MWC 2019. We poured our hearts into designing BV9700 Pro in order to provide you with the best rugged phone ever and we are bringing it to life now. “If you work in a tough environment or if you are an engineer, a mechanic, a farmer, a medic, a firefighter, or an outdoor person, Blackview BV9700 Pro is the one for you.” For more information visit https://igg.me/at/blackviewbv9700-pro/x#/



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Winston Hardware Filter Winston is a plug-n-play hardware filter that promises to reclaim your use of the internet on all connected devices at home to help you stop the tracking, spying and hacking of these devices. Winston’s makers say: “Mobile apps exist to track you. Winston stop embedded tracking and advertising scripts on your phone. ISPs collect and sell your data. With Winston, they Don’t. We encrypt DNS so they can’t see what you are doing.” Winston’s zero-knowledge technology doesn’t allow anyone (including its own makers) to see, log or decrypt your internet activity. It does this by scrambling and encrypting your home network, preventing anyone from watching what you’re doing. Its anonymous privacy mesh network conceals your location from advertisers, hackers and other snoops. For more information visit http://kck.st/2VT8FtW

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…

Flic 2 Smart Button Flic is a small push button. In the Flic app, you choose what you want to happen when you push once, push twice, or hold it down. There are a large number of integrations already in the Flic app and ready to use. Through third-party services such as IFTTT, Zapier, and Microsoft Flow, practically anything is possible. And if you’re an advanced tech user, with Flic’s versatile HTTP Request function, you can write your own commands in the Flic app. Flic 2 can give you visual feedback in three colors: green, yellow, and red. It can blink green if your action was successful, yellow while you’re waiting, and red if there is something wrong. Flic 2 can toggle multiple apps at the same time, so you can push to turn on your lights via one app and push twice to snooze the alarm in another app, for example. For more information visit http://kck.st/2Ehz1Lp


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Channelstar Media PR firm Channelstar Media reveals how they founded the company, why building relationships in the channel is still important, and how Rambo the cat helps out when things get stressful... Who makes up the team? Essentially, Simon Meredith and Neville Street. Both of us have worked in media or media-focused roles most of our careers and most of the time as freelancers or part of a small virtual team – which is really what we are. That means we can respond quickly when we need to. We also have a small team of people who sometimes help out with other tasks – John with the books, Jo on research and admin, and whatever else needs doing. Generating content is about 75% of what we do. From time to time we also collaborate with other people or agencies, such as Nick and Gino at NSPR. Rambo the cat provides some moral support when it’s needed – and when he feels like it. How and when was Channelstar formed? About ten years ago, although the story goes back a lot further. We knew each other socially, but then also found themselves opening the batting for a local cricket team. That partnership worked really well. One was the more aggressive and ready to play shots – and more likely to get out fast; the t other more steady, cautious and careful, Rambo the ca and tended to hang around longer. The different styles complemented each other. When we started to understand a bit more

about the work we did, we realised we could help each other professionally as well. We also found out that we are both big fans of Aztec Camera, and former front-man Roddy Frame. What more do you need? How has the industry evolved since then? As one of Roddy’s songs says, ‘Everything’s changed, nothing has changed’. We have new technologies and ideas, and the shape and role of the channel is changing. But it’s still fundamentally about people and building relationships. There is more realism and understanding now though – people want to help each other more, which is very positive. What projects are you working on at the moment? Channel companies are having to redefine their respective roles. A lot of what we are doing right now is about helping them to understand those changes are affecting their business relationships and perceptions of their business in the channel. Who has the best claim to fame? Simon: I picked up the phone once to Alan Sugar – but he wanted to talk to Guy Kewney (former colleague at PC Dealer and sadly no longer with us), not me. And I got a bit drunk with Carl Smash from Madness one night. Nev: I once met Paul Weller on Oxford Street.

More information at http://www.channelstar.co.uk/ www.pcr-online.biz

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

6th-11th September, Berlin ExpoCenter, Berlin



Technology is transforming our lives – making everything newer, faster, better – and to thrive in the IT industry, both staying current and seeing what’s ahead are essential. That’s why attending the EMEA conference is a must for anyone in the business of technology; whether it’s selling solutions anywhere they’re needed or training and teaching tech skills. Don’t miss this fantastic, annual learning and networking opportunity. This two-day event welcomes all organisations building, selling or influencing the adoption of technology to collaborate, partner and share best practices to prosper in this expanding ecosystem.

IFA in Berlin presents the latest products and innovations in the heart of Europe’s most important regional market. Only IFA offers such a comprehensive overview of the international market and attracts the attention of international trade visitors each year from more than 100 countries. IFA is the main meeting place for key retailers, buyers, and experts from the industry and the media. The show will also feature IFA NEXT – a global innovation hub bringing together researchers, industry professionals, start-ups and retailers for a dynamic transfer of knowledge, information and business ideas.

11th-12th September, NEC, Birmingham

Channel Live one of the UK’s leading ICT trade specific conference, exhibition, thought leadership and networking events rolled into one. At Channel Live, resellers, VARS and other channel partners will openly discuss margin opportunities with vendors and solution providers. Described as the “David Attenborough of the business jungle”, business writer, humourist and director Guy Browning will be the after-dinner speaker at the Channel Live gala dinner.


27th September, The Cedar Court Hotel, Bradford

2018 marked Target’s 20th anniversary year, with the annual Open Day taking a celebratory turn, particularly in the evening. The day’s exhibition – Target’s biggest yet with over 40 exhibitors – included new brands like Thermaltake, ECS and Patriot. There were also business workshops, which included product roadmaps and training for the first time, with highlights including those from Tenda, ECS EliteGroup, West Yorkshire and Humber Cybercrime Unit. For 2019, Target promises more exhibitors and brands than ever before, with everything from the latest products and technologies, to market research information, demonstrations and even the opportunity to chat with Target’s Customer Service team.

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7th-8th October, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel, London


9th-10th October, ExCeL, London

IP Expo is back for its 14th year and promises to be “better, bigger and cooler”. If you’re in IT or cyber security, this is the show for you. IP Expo Europe has built a reputation as the best event for cloud, infrastructure and cyber security pros in Europe. It has now extended to include data analytics, AI and software development as well as IoT and Blockchain.


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. If you would like to find out more information about being a PCR Awards 2020 Partner, get in touch with Beccy Barr on 07703 503 101 or at Beccy.Barr@biz-media.co.uk.


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@PCR_Online #PCRAwards

For sponsorship opportunities please contact Beccy Barr beccy.barr@biz-media.co.uk PCR Awards 2020 Save the Date House ad 210x265mm_v1.indd 1

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“We see our touch technologies as a great way for children to be more involved in the learning process�



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StarBoard Solutions’ Michelle Bulbring The brand’s Vice President discusses her thirst for interactivity, why StarBoard’s touch technology is ideal for learning, and outlines its plans for new product launches in 2020... Tell us a bit about your work history and your current role I’m the vice president of StarBoard Solutions Limited, and I have two decades experience of working in interactive technology. My journey began when I was deeply involved in the NEC projector bid for BECTA in the early 2000s, after which NEC projectors took the majority of the market share accompanying most SMARTBoards. A natural progression was to then join Steljes, the exclusive SMART distributor – and formerly one of the UK’s largest distributors – working my way up to sales manager. My thirst for interactivity was growing, trying several contractual roles, such as a short stint with BenQ, to finally be headhunted by Luidia, the manufacturers of eBeam. During my time with Luidia, I was promoted from country manager to vice president, where I managed their global channel initially based out of Europe and finally California. After that I moved to Shenzhen iBoard Group, to work with major global OEM accounts and now to also take over as VP of EMEA for their channel product StarBoard.


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StarBoard Solution is a subsidiary of Shenzhen iBoard and a leader in the field of touch screens and presentation technology. We specialise in the production of interactive whiteboards, interactive flat panel displays, digital signage and associated devices. I’m now based in Germany, where I head the rebuilding and restructuring of StarBoard’s operations and sales teams in order to push on with the momentum we have in the interactive screen space. I work principally across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. StarBoard was born out of a partnership which began with a manufacturing contract for Hitachi Solutions in 2001, where they nominated our factory in Shenzhen through an extensive selection process. When Hitachi decided to pull out of the touch market to refocus their efforts elsewhere, we, as their OEM factory, decided to purchase the brand “StarBoard”. We had already developed and nurtured the Hitachi StarBoard product while acting as the R&D factory behind the scenes, so we made a bold decision to purchase it, as this was already our creation. Furthermore, this made sense for us as an OEM, given that Hitachi had a footprint into over 70 countries

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which we would inherit, offering us an immediate reach into the international markets. Can you tell us about any projects that your team is working on at the moment? We cannot say too much on this front yet, but at the moment we’re very active in the Middle East. For example, one of the largest schools in Kuwait has just chosen us over all our traditional, well-known top competitors for a large order of flat panel interactive displays. How important is the educational sector to StarBoard’s market strategy? The educational sector is of huge importance to StarBoard. Approximately 60% of our global business is currently geared towards the sector, with a wide range of educational products like interactive whiteboards, flat panel displays, and projectors being our company’s

Digital flipcharting is an incredibly fast way for children to learn as they can transfer the impulse of creativity or thought straight into writing or drawing without delay. Whatever idea is in their mind, it can be written down instantly, and there’s plenty of evidence from research into education that agrees with this. If a child is able to express themselves near instantly, it’s a fantastic thing for a young person’s imagination. However, that’s not forgetting that our projectors also see a lot of applications in educating at a higherlevel for adults and older students. Our products are growing in use at conferences, universities and company training. What type of companies are you looking to work more with in the near future? We are always seeking strong value-add distributors throughout EMEA. Our model is not to work with

“We view the education market as crucial for digital writing and flowcharting because we’re currently seeing a shift with young people away from traditional writing tools in favour of touch technology.” bread and butter. Many of our products tie in well with education as they’re based around touch technology, and we’re currently seeing a huge shift in the education market towards this space. We view the education market as crucial for digital writing and flowcharting because we’re currently seeing a shift within children and young people away from traditional writing tools such as pencils, pens and paintbrushes in favour of touch technology. Basic skills are falling by the wayside that older generations may take for granted, such as how to hold a pen properly and how to form letters, and these are a gateway for many other important abilities that also rely on fine motor skills – opening jars is just one example. With the growth of digital technology, there’s a real risk that these skills could be lost. We see our touch technologies as a great way for children to be more involved in the learning process.



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broad-liners but rather focused interactive distributors, who become our brand ambassador in their country. My role involves looking to grow these partners, while seeking out new alliances in my regions. What does StarBoard have planned for the rest of the year and beyond? In the next year we have plans to launch over 10 new products. We unfortunately can’t go into too much detail about the products now, but the new launches will feature some updated technology that has been highly-patented. We have launches coming up focused on true bond technology, and some new digital flipchart products to strengthen our primary position in the education sector. We also have some interactive flat panel displays coming for corporate buyers – another important area of our business.


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<Logging off>\\| Out and about in the industry

<New Horizons for Synaxon> Synaxon UK held a successful New Horizons National Conference in Hinckley last month where Frank Roebers (pictured, right), CEO of Synaxon AG, presented a keynote where he outlined plans to make further significant investments in the UK and emulate the group’s runaway success in the German market. In his opening address, Roebers said: “We are going to invest a whole lot of energy and money into Synaxon UK, so that we reach the same level of performance as we have seen in Germany.” The members of the Synaxon board responsible for the key services were introduced to members at the UK conference, along with the new recruits to the UK team. An extensive series of workshops enabled members to hear about the new services in more depth. Tim Suhling, VP of global business intelligence at headline sponsor Ingram Micro, gave a keynote explaining how the business is using data and analytics to drive more insights for customers and assist them in customer retention and development. The riches-to-rags and back-to-riches entrepreneur, Gerald Ratner, gave an entertaining speech to members in the afternoon of the first day, which concluded with a gala dinner, sponsored by AMD, at which the annual Synaxon UK Awards were presented to top-performing member and supplier partners.

L-R: Head of Sales Bastian Volberg, Project Manager of iTeam UK Christian Krueger, Head of Purchasing Jan Schwarzenberger, Chief Executive Officer Frank Roebers, Head of Synaxon Academy Friedrich Pollert and Head of Marketing Karlheinz Stiewi www.pcr-online.biz

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www.pcr-online.biz @pcr_online



<Biggest tech news from… July 2009> 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... Netbooks “becoming more like mobiles”

Facebook stung by privacy flaws

Back in July 2009, Forrester warned that netbooks could “change the face of the IT industry”, moving it closer to the telecoms channel. According to a report, a combination of netbooks moving away from x86-based processors, and the increasing influence of mobile and communications dealers, would see the devices become more like the iPhone than a laptop. It said that Microsoft’s reliance on Windows XP to hold off Linux had left it in a “precarious position” and any move towards ARM-based processors would mean that it was at “the greatest risk of any company in the netbook sector”.

One of the world’s biggest social networking sites was reportedly in violation of Canadian privacy laws in 2009. Completing a thorough investigation into the practices of Facebook, Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart claimed that the site was not doing enough to safeguard user’s personal information. The report claimed that Facebook’s key flaw was in how it does not delete user details of those who have terminated their accounts. Facebook’s retort to this was that the website needed to keep personal data because a large proportion of people who deactivate accounts eventually end up reactivating them.

Windows 7 pre-orders sold out

HMV moves into laptop market

Speaking of Windows, the pre-order discount deal on Microsoft’s Windows 7 had sold out less than two days after it began, causing the Microsoft Store webpage to go down. Many online visitors were greeted with a multilingual message reading: “Due to the eagerly anticipated Windows 7 pre-order offer, we’re experiencing a higher level of demand on our website than usual. This means you can’t access the site right now and we’re sorry about that.”

What was once the UK’s largest entertainment retailer, HMV saw an opportunity to move more boldly into the tech sector in 2009, expanding into the laptop market. It all started with a trial area in Oxford Circus followed by Leeds, Bristol Cribbs, the Merry Hill Centre and Dudley stores. The trial areas were part of the retailer’s new focus on technology products. As well as laptops, a full range of accessories and peripherals were also available.

Send stories to Laura Barnes at laura.barnes@biz-media.co.uk

NEXT MONTH Security Special The next issue of PCR will be our Security Special, where we’ll be looking at the current shape of the security landscape. As well as opinions and analysis on the market, we’ll be showcasing the latest security hardware and software in our sector guides and interviewing some of the biggest players in the field.



July 2019

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

ADVERTISING SALES Advertising Beccy Barr beccy.barr@biz-media.co.uk +44 (0)203 143 8778


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