SUSTAINABILITY & SMART TECH
July/August 2021 www.pcr-online.biz
SUSTAINABILITY & SMART TECH ISSUE #209
Switch to Heat-Free printing July/August 2021
The Arctic is melting before our eyes. “Choosing Heat-Free Technology to lower energy consumption will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help us slow permafrost thaw in the arctic.” Katey Walter Anthony, National Geographic Explorer.
as much carbon is found within permafrost layers than the atmosphere.
more methane is being emitted by arctic lakes than previously thought.
arctic oceans will become ice-free during summer months and polar bears could become extinct from the wild.
of global warming this century could come from thawing permafrost; effecting the entire earth.
increase in temperature is happening in less than 100 years due to fossil fuel induced carbon emissions.
CO2 emissions are produced by burning fossil fuels to create energy.
Choosing energy-saving technology can reduce CO2 emissions.
Source: ‘TURN DOWN THE HEAT’ article by National Geographic Creative Works.
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ith lockdown restrictions easing further and freedom day granting us permission to mingle more freely without needing to wear a face mask, business is beginning to return to normal, which is a much needed uplift
for many. With this ‘return to normal’ brings the opportunity for businesses to start to focus on new or previous initiatives such as sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint. Or for some their focus may be directed towards digitization to accommodate a newly mobile workforce. Whatever your new objective or revisited existing agenda’s may be, we have a broad coverage in this month’s combined bumper July/August issue, which gives an insight into what others are aiming for across the channel. You’ll find inspiring comment from QBS’ Dave Stevinson as he shares his personal and profession crusade to reach a carbon neutral status. In our sustainability focused roundtable we find out why you need to be considering your businesses sustainability practices as a matter of great importance within the channel. The tech channel has some fantastic young talented professionals. To celebrate this, we scouted out some of the best in the industry in this year’s Tech Channel Under 30’s Rising Stars of the Industry. The pandemic placed a huge emphasis on the importance of tech, with remote working and mobilizing the healthcare industry. In our smart tech focus we look at the importance of this smart tech enablement in the healthcare sector and it’s growing market opportunities. The digital age is truly upon us, so we delved in to the current trend towards digitisation and the role the channel has to play. We have some great insight into what and how this is taking shape. Also we are delighted to announce The Grand Connaught Rooms, London as the venue of choice for this year’s PCR Awards taking place September 29. So the time to dust off your dancing shoes and catch up with colleagues has very nearly arrived so don’t forget to book your tickets, we very much look forward to seeing you all there in person.
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July/August 2021 | 3
July/August 2021 05 Retail analysis: Driving fulfilment efficiencies with Artificial Intelligence 06 News 10 Industry Opinions 20 Big Interview: QBS’s Dave Stevinson 24 Industry Roundtable: Sustainability 30 Epson UK’s Daniel Quelch 32 PCR’s Under 30’s: Rising Star of the Industry
40 GEKKO 42 Wireless Logic’s Mark Appleby 48 Industry Roundtable: The Digital Transformation 52 Cegedim’s Mike Collier & Tony Thorne 60 Life in the Channel: WALLIX’s Kristine Kirchner 64 Life in the Channel: Tiger’s John Shannon
64 PCRmag www.pcr-online.biz
Automation in fulfilment – what’s the fuss? John Seidl, Retail Consulting Partner at GreyOrange looks at the impact the pandemic has had on the ecommerce supply chain and ways to handle the surge in online shopping
etail fulfilment networks weren’t prepared for the chaos generated by the pandemic. They had all sorts of inventory stuck inside bricks-and-mortar distribution centres and physical stores while consumer behaviours shifted entirely online. This unplanned surge in eCommerce activity, an onslaught of returns and increasing customer demands has pushed global retail fulfilment networks to near breaking point. Retailers are battling to meet consumer expectations across multiple channels while also trying to control costs and support positive working conditions for warehouse employees. Retailers now are asking themselves how they can manage near-term consumer expectations and deliver products fast and free while still generating revenue. Businesses are scrambling to update their supply chains by modifying the way warehouses operate and by making inventory visible and accessible across multiple channels so that fulfilment paths can be based on consumer choice in real-time rather than pre-set retailer decisions. A major transformation in fulfilment and store operations is long overdue so that retailers are ready for anything. Speed and convenience. These are the primary demands from today’s consumer and these desires are driving continued digital shopping habits and next-day delivery expectations. Nearly half of UK consumers expect their deliveries to arrive within 2 days or less and 49% of shoppers state shipping options are factors they consider when choosing which retailer to buy online from. Fulfilment centres are moving closer to the customer to support high-velocity product delivery. Core to this move is the use of micro-fulfilment centres and stores. Retail store replenishment warehouses also are being modified to support eCommerce fulfilment as part of this initiative. Warehouse space is at a premium globally and along with widespread labour shortages and increasingly high customer expectations is meaningfully impacting how fulfilment centres are designed, automated, and operated. Consumers are not only expecting faster deliveries but also policies that enable better and quicker returns. Unfortunately, for most retailers returns processing is a costly and time-consuming affair. With returns fluctuating over the course of the year, spiking at 40% or more during holiday periods, retailers need to identify methods to speed up the end-to-end process according to annual peaks. The current state of returns processing means many retailers can’t always offer free returns to digital customers. However,
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almost all (90%) of customers highly value free returns and 69% of shoppers won’t buy if charged return fees. Brands who request returns payment from customers risk losing out to competitors who are offering free returns and are building a consumer loyalty based on that offering. The final step of effective returns processing is item turnaround. Once a return has been made and the item has arrived back in the fulfilment centre, retailers must process it to get that item back on the physical or digital store shelf ready for the next customer to purchase. A lengthy returns policy will impact all aspects of a retailer’s offering from experience and loyalty to employee engagement and cost. Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven software combined with fulfillment robots will improve and accelerate processes within the warehouse to enhance the overall customer experience. From faster deliveries to better returns processing and increased productivity, the possibilities of automation in the warehouse are endless. Static storage will hold brands back and delay the time it takes to reach, pick and pack certain orders. With AI-driven robots, brands can keep their inventory moving at any given time in sync with customer orders and returns. Integrating automation in fulfilment operations keeps retailers a step or more ahead of the competition, market changes, and of future uncertainty. Customer retention also will increase as shoppers form loyal bonds with retailers best able to meet their expectations. What’s more, AI-driven robots assisting with distribution centre operations help to overcome the labour gap in fulfilment while also improving the employee experience by reducing heavy lifting, removing miles of walking and multiplying productivity by up to four times. By limiting the need for more space and labour, organisations will inevitably cut the costs of their fulfilment operation. Automation in the fulfilment centre is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The optimal configuration depends on a variety of factors, including types and sizes of inventory, order volumes, the complexity of delivery options offered to customers, distribution models and fulfilment network design. Choices need to be assessed from a customer-centric perspective to understand the payoffs of different automation investments. However, all retailers will benefit from modernising outdated fulfilment systems to take advantage of automation technologies designed to handle changing demands on retail operations today and in the future. July/August 2021 | 5
Ingram Micro and Circular Computing partner on remanufactured laptops
News Body text
Circular Computing is partnering with Ingram Micro on carbon-neutral, remanufactured Dell, HP and Lenovo laptops. Unlike refurbished IT equipment, which depending on the provider can be inconsistent and unreliable, remanufactured laptops go through a rigorous 300-step process and quality control procedure to ensure they meet the needs of enterprise users and have been proven to perform at 97 percent of equivalent new devices. For every remanufactured laptop Circular Computing sell, 316kg of CO2 emissions and 190,000 litres of water is saved, and 1,200kg of mining minerals is prevented versus the equivalent sale of a new machine. The resource and emissions savings businesses can achieve by opting for remanufactured IT, are significant. In fact, research shows that UK businesses could save £7.7 billion over the next nine years by buying remanufactured laptops instead of brand-new devices. The move would also
see carbon emissions reductions of nine million tons and 5.4 trillion litres less water usage – 10 percent of the volume of the North Sea – over the same period. If all businesses in the UK elected to move to remanufactured devices, the reduction in emissions by 2030 – when progress against the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be reviewed – would be equivalent to taking 193,002 cars off of the roads for a year. Michael Farrah, Senior Commercial Director at Ingram Micro said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Circular Computing, not only so we can offer our customers bestin-class remanufactured laptops, but also so we can offer a genuinely sustainable solution for the provision of IT equipment. Sustainability is high on the agenda in the IT industry and we feel that this partnership can be a significant contributor towards improving sustainability and re-enforcing the benefits of the circular economy.”
Kingston FURY Released! Kingston FURY, a division of Kingston Technology Europe Co LLP has begun shipping its high-performance memory:Kingston FURY Renegade, Kingston FURY Beast, and Kingston FURY Impact. Kingston FURY Renegade DDR4 RGB allows you to crank up your frame rate, keep your streams broadcasting smoothly and plough through your highlight reel editing. Offering speeds up to 4600MHz paired with quick CL15-CL19 latencies. The dynamic RGB lighting is powered by Kingston FURY‘s Infrared Sync Technology to provide smooth, synchronised lighting effects. With its own black heat spreader and matching black PCB Kingston FURY Renegade DDR4 also provides ultra-fast speeds up to 5333MHz, paired with quick CL13-CL20 timings. Both are Intel XMP certified with profiles that are optimised for Intel’s latest chipsets. Available in single module capacities of 8GB – 32GB and kits of 2, 4, and 8 with capacities up to 256GB Kingston FURY Beast DDR4 RGB and Kingston FURY Beast DDR4 provide powerful performance boosts for gaming, video editing, and rendering with speeds up to 3733MHz and CL15–19 latencies. Those looking for a cost-efficient upgrade will have the option of the smooth and stunning lighting effects of Kingston FURY Beast DDR4 RGB. Available in single module capacities of 8GB–32GB and kit capacities of 16GB– 128GB. Or the stylish low-profile heat spreader design of Kingston FURY Beast DDR4, available in single module capacities of 4GB–32GB and kit capacities of 8GB–128GB. Both feature Plug n Play automatic overclocking at 2666MHz and are Intel XMP ready and ready for AMD Ryzen. DDR3 kits also available. 6
Tech Data and Suunto embark on new consumer sports and fitness venture Tech Data has signed a European distribution agreement with Suunto, a global specialist in connected sports watches, dive computers and precision instruments. According to recent IDC research, the European wearable market saw strong year-on-year growth in Q1 2021 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.9 percent from 2020 to 2025. This growth is especially fuelled by increasing consumer interest in technology products that connect and integrate with leading third-party sports and leisure applications. Tech Data is expanding its portfolio of specialised mobile and consumer electronics lifestyle solutions to enable its partners to address this emerging opportunity. www.pcr-online.biz
Covid-19 recovery has derailed progress towards Net Zero by 2050
hree quarters of UK businesses support the government’s Net Zero by 2050 target. Yet, recovery from Covid-19 derailed plans and sustainability initiatives for 50%, and only one third (36%) have plans in place and are on track to make the deadline, new research has found. The survey of over 250 senior decision makers with responsibility for green initiatives across public and private sector organisations by circular ICT solutions provider, Stone Group, found that many are making headway with sustainability initiatives despite pandemic disruption and economic uncertainty. For 32% of respondents, sustainability is a big focus and they have lots of green initiatives already in place, and 45% said they’re beginning to take sustainability more seriously with a growing number of green initiatives being introduced. Just 19% of respondents said they were talking about sustainability and plan to do more when they can, and only 4% said they weren’t yet making any progress, despite a few initiatives being encouraged. Despite Covid-19 recovery pushing sustainability further down the list of business priorities, 42% of respondents claimed that the shift towards remote working has had a positive impact on their carbon footprint. However, for the UK to meet its Net Zero by 2050 target, more urgent action is required from organisations to bring
their plans and initiatives back on track. Given the UK government’s new ambitious climate change target to cut emissions by 77% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels, bringing the UK more than three quarters of the way to Net Zero by 2050, UK public and private sector organisations need to be contributing now to make these ambitions achievable. The research found that the sustainability initiatives currently being prioritised by respondents are recycling (50%), smart building technologies (39%), and green order fulfilment initiatives (33%). Sustainable IT asset disposal came some way down the list, as a top-three priority for just 29%.
QBS becomes first net carbon neutral distributor in the UK QBS has been independently verified as net carbon neutral. “We have actually been carbon negative for some time, but now we are officially certified and independently verified. It is all about being totally authentic and avoiding the greenwashing. This achievement is due to the exceptional hard work of the team – our carbon footprint has been certified at a modest 34.2 tonnes,” says Anita Bitard, Sustainability Director, QBS Technology Group. In June 2021, QBS was independently verified as carbon neutral as defined by the publicly available PAS 2060:2010 specification (the common definition and most scientifically valid definition). Verification was in accordance with the WBCSD/WRI GHG Protocol Standard. The independent verification and accreditation means www.pcr-online.biz
that QBS has accurately defined its organisational footprint, agreed boundaries and met all three scopes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with environmental integrity: Scope 1 – The direct emissions from sources it controls, including its offices and datacentres Scope 2 – The indirect emissions from the electricity and gas that it consumes Scope 3 – The wider emissions that it is responsible for through its upstream and downstream supply chain, the commuting and remote working of its employees July/August 2021 | 7
ConnectWise has appointed Regina Marrow as chief information officer (CIO). In her new role, Marrow will oversee the company’s global business and financial systems teams and initiatives. Prior to ConnectWise, Marrow held technology and transformation executive roles at companies such as Ernst & Young, LLP and Gerdau. Marrow will be responsible for the company’s business and financial systems, including the strategic transformation of the technologies to support these processes, which is currently underway. This long-term focus on ConnectWise business and financial systems helps support the company’s focus on partner success by becoming more operationally efficient.
Project Audio Visual
Bill Stewart has been appointed as Head of Technical and Support Services at Project Audio Visual. Stewart is focused on transforming the company’s service and support structure with new practices that are specifically designed for the evolving requirements of the hybrid workplace. With over nine years of experience in technical support, Bill holds over 150 qualifications and training certificates and has supported major brands and fortune 500 companies globally. His specialist skills focus on networking and unified communications applied to modern AV technologies. Bill’s aim is to redesign Project Audio Visual’s service and support practices to account for the changing nature of corporate environments and the rise of hybrid working. This includes establishing a new Virtual Expert Assist remote support, which replaces the traditional first- and second-line structure.
8 | July/August 2021
This month’s movers and shakers in the tech industry...
VIP UK has expanded its Board of Directors with 2 new appointments: Elliott Hodgeon as Sales Director and Elanza Butters as E-commerce & Marketing Director. Hodgeon has progressed within VIP over the last 5 years, and is keen to move forward in his latest role: “I appreciate the Board’s confidence in me, and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to lead such a great team. VIP is a fantastic company, with great people and it has been a pleasure to be a part of the huge success we have seen in recent years. I look forward to expanding this success in my new role whilst continuing to provide the excellent services and programmes our clients and vendors deserve”. Joining him is Elanza Butters who has been with VIP for the last 4 years. Elanza will be continuing to lead her department and support our vendors and customers alike, whilst also driving forward our investment in digital platforms and customer led infrastructure. Elanza said: “I am very pleased to be joining the Board and I look forward to playing a part in the continued development and growth of VIP UK, supporting our teams, our valued vendor partners and most importantly our customers”.
Adaire Fox-Martin has been appointed by Google Cloud as its new EMEA Cloud President. Based in Dublin, Adaire will lead the Google Cloud Sales organisation for EMEA. With over two decades of tech leadership experience, Adaire has built high performing teams across Europe, the Americas, and AsiaPacific. Most recently, Adaire was Executive Board Member and President of Global Sales, Services, and Customer Engagement at SAP, where she successfully spearheaded and grew the company’s customer-focused teams. Prior to SAP, she held various leadership roles at Oracle. Adaire currently serves on the Board of Directors of Equinix, a data center and colocation provider. In 2020, she was named in Fortune Magazine’s Top 50 Most Powerful Women International List for the fourth time running.
DivideBuy has appointed Heather Goode as Retailer Risk and Risk Oversight Manager, Jarone Macklin-Page as Business Development Manager, and Charlotte Bright as Marketing Manager. With more than eight years’ experience across the risk arena and roles at BNP Paribas Personal Finance and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, Heather will lead on risk management for both DivideBuy and its retailers. Her expertise in process development and automation will align efficiencies across the critical areas of the business. Jarone’s joins DivideBuy having worked as an Area Manager for Samsung and as Business Development Manager for Juul. Charlotte’s expertise in managing traditional and digital marketing channels will support DivideBuy’s overall multi-channel marketing strategy for 2021 and beyond, supporting the business’ retailer acquisition and consumer lead generation goals. She joins DivideBuy having previously worked in marketing communications at JCB.
BenQ has appointed Ben Whitaker as Education Technology Consultant. Whitaker begun his career as a teacher in 2007 and subsequently becoming Assistant Principle: Head of Sixth Form. During his 12 years of teaching, Ben saw firsthand the advancement of online resources such as Youtube and the changing role of educators and classroom contact time. Recognising early on that the education sector needed to embrace digital innovation, Ben became a Google for Education Certified Educator, Trainer and Innovator before joining award-winning #1 in the UK’s performance tables, Burnley College as a Curriculum Manager and Digital Transformation Lead, where he took on responsibility for apprenticeships, adult education, as well as business and digital courses. www.pcr-online.biz
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Efficient technology can play a huge role in sustainability With the UK Government pledging to cut emissions by 68% by 2030, there will be increasing pressure on businesses to do more to reduce their environmental impact. While reducing and recycling waste are some of the methods that spring to mind when helping to achieve a zero-carbon future, one area that is often overlooked is a company’s online carbon footprint. Melissa Hendry, Co-founder & Managing Director of digital transformation specialists, ddroidd, discusses how a business’ website could be significantly increasing its carbon emissions and even costs.
n its own, the software we use does not consume energy or cause environmental harm. The issue is the way software is developed and deployed. Software is dependent on hardware, and as reliance on software increases exponentially, so too does the reliance on the machines which support it. Currently, when a user accesses a webpage, the videos, text and images contained are requested from external servers. Each time the webpage is visited, most of this page information is served afresh and discarded once the user leaves. Constant information requests mean more servers are needed and there is more chance of overload as ‘new’ content must be retrieved every time. It is no wonder then that data centres collectively consume around 3% of all global power generated. It’s a scary figure but one data centres are making moves to tackle. According to the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact, 75% of the power supplied to data centres in Europe will be supplied through renewable or carbon-free energy by December 2025. While moves are being made to reduce this energy consumption, more needs to be done to reduce the amount of data being unnecessarily stored. Technology has the uncanny ability to provide solutions to the very problems it creates. Using smarter code, combined with an efficient set-up of hosting architecture, some technology providers can establish optimised applications that give businesses full control over their processing power. Rather than devices needing to continually retrieve the same data, technologies such as the ddroidd A+++ solution recycle and reuse previously processed information, eliminating the need for unnecessary information reprocessing that demands extensive resources. It’s a method that can cut information reprocessing by 90%, reduce a website’s energy consumption, improve reliability and responsibility as well as cut costs. Indeed, reducing the energy consumption of software can be 100 times more powerful than reducing the energy consumption of hardware. The benefits of developing and deploying ‘greener’ software speak for themselves and can be achieved in only three steps.
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1. Articulate a strategy that guides trade-offs and allows for flexibility IT teams must firstly calculate the right level of tolerance for their software’s environmental effects. Inevitably, there will be trade-offs between business and environmental goals, and software engineers must determine where the go/no-go line is. For example, AI software requires huge amounts of energy to increase accuracy from say 96% to 98%. Whether that 2% increase in accuracy is worth the added energy consumption is a business decision that requires deliberation. 2. Review and refine the software development life cycle What is the smallest possible environmental footprint we could make with this application? The answer will guide the first stages of the software development cycle. Expectations may shift as further knowledge is gained, but this starting point is an important benchmark for defining the feasibility of objectives. From here, recommendations can be developed for algorithms, programming languages, APIs and libraries that can be drawn on to minimise carbon emissions. When it comes to deployment, monitoring real-time power consumption through techniques such as dynamic code analysis is essential for understanding the gaps between design choices and actual energy profiles. 3. Make the cloud green Today’s applications are invariably deployed over the cloud, which has led to an exponential growth in cloud-based services and a rapid expansion of power-intensive data centres. Though renewable energy sources and improved cooling systems are helping to address the problem, implementing green software solutions creates new opportunities to save energy. With ambitious targets to reach a zero-carbon future, businesses are at a critical point to find achievable yet impactful solutions to reduce their carbon emissions. Efficient technology can play a crucial role in a more sustainable future. www.pcr-online.biz
Tackling the ewaste crisis - it’s time for more IT resellers to step up Tim Westbrook, director, Stone Group speaks out about the channel’s responsibility towards sustainability and the actions needed towards a circular economy
It also revealed that an increasing number of s a circular IT provider to organisations across the organisations are purchasing refurbished IT UK, Stone Group are passionate about helping hardware because, in addition to its green our customers make the most of their “While it’s good to see benefits, it is more cost effective too. A technology. But we are also passionate about organisations choosing a more quarter of organisations claim to buy ensuring that the technology we sell to our refurbished IT where possible; 42% customers doesn’t end up in landfill at sustainable approach to IT hardware purchase a mixture of refurbished and its end of life and comes back to us for purchasing and disposal, it’s time for the tech new equipment, while only a third still refurbishment or sustainable recycling. firms who sell it to stand up and take insist on buying new models. Electronic waste is blighting our responsibility for their role in the creation of While it’s good to see organisations planet. It is the fastest-growing waste choosing a more sustainable stream in the world, and in 2019 ewaste. We want to see manufacturers and resellers approach to IT hardware purchasing alone, 53.6 million metric tonnes tell customers that they will take back and responsibly and disposal, it’s time for the tech was generated – the equivalent recycle any devices they sell to them. The firms who sell it to stand up and weight of 350 cruise ships. And, of responsibility should be on the reseller, and we see take responsibility for their role in this massive quantity of unwanted or many of them make claims on sustainability, the creation of ewaste. We want to broken old tech, just 17.4% was recycled see manufacturers and resellers tell responsibly, with the rest, either sent to but few manage the disposal of assets customers that they will take back and landfill, incinerated, or shipped abroad. themselves and instead sell them on responsibly recycle any devices they sell Worryingly, things look set to get even worse to third parties.” to them. The responsibility should be on the as researchers estimate that the global ewaste mountain will grow to 74.7 million metric tonnes by 2030. The UK is one of the worst offenders when it comes to generating ewaste and on average, each person created 23.9kg of it in 2019 making us the second highest per capita in the world. The UK IT industry sells over £30 billion of equipment each year, and only a small proportion of it is recycled. It’s estimated that recycling small electrical items could save the UK 2.8 million tonnes in CO2 emissions, the equivalent of taking 1.3 million cars off the road.
Our own research with senior decision makers with responsibility for green initiatives in both private and public sector organisations showed that sustainability is a priority and a third of organisations are keen to do more to sustainably manage their ageing IT assets. The research shows that only a fifth of organisations still send their unwanted IT hardware to landfill with two in five organisations donating old IT hardware to charities or schools, and a third sending their redundant devices to an IT Asset Disposal (ITAD) facility. www.pcr-online.biz
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reseller, and we see many of them make claims on sustainability, but few manage the disposal of assets themselves and instead sell them on to third parties. Urgent action is needed to help combat the enormous ewaste challenge we face, with real direction from the UK government to cement the vital changes needed. We’d like to see WEEE-compliance made mandatory for all equipment resellers, and if they’re not able to take ownership of the IT asset disposal process on-site, they should at least be able to demonstrate that they work with a fully accredited zero to landfill partner. In addition, IT resellers should be held accountable and made to report on the volume of equipment collected from customers and what they have done with it. Resellers should no longer be allowed to skirt around the issue and blindly outsource IT asset disposal to a third party with little or no knowledge of what is going to happen to the items. With many organisations making more sustainable choices when it comes to IT hardware, it’s time for our government to get tough with the tech firms who sell these items and make them take responsibility for their contribution to the world’s growing ewaste problem.
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The channel’s sustainability roadmap: what’s next? Shaun Lynn, CEO of Agilitas explores the current sustainability trends taking the Channel by storm
n the IT Channel, sustainability is no longer something to aspire Through this approach, partners can effectively extend the life of to. It is an absolute necessity for the future of our planet. This past hardware beyond the typical manufacturer lifespan, whilst ensuring year has brought the issue of harmful energy consumption and its the necessary quality standards and warranties for peace of mind effects into sharp focus for both better and worse. when delivering a first-class customer experience. While global reductions in travel and tourism paved Vendors in the Channel and beyond are going to be the way for reduced pollution and the recovery under increased pressure from Government policy “Fuelled by of natural life, the mass production of single and customers to reduce their carbon footprint. the Government’s use plastic products during the pandemic has If they need to extend the life of their products led to more waste and potential for a harsh and embrace a product refresh cycle, businesses targets to make the UK environmental impact. That said, there is will need to work alongside their partners to a net zero nation by 2050, hope for building a more sustainable future, find ways to match service with sustainability many Channel businesses and for the Channel, much of this work has to ultimately retain the customer through already begun. these longer periods. This is no easy feat and have spurred into action and Fuelled by the Government’s targets to will require close collaboration across the committed more resources make the UK a net zero nation by 2050, many ecosystem in order to make true change. to sustainability than Channel businesses have spurred into action We can anticipate new, eco-focused and committed more resources to sustainability partnerships with strategic partners who are ever before.” than ever before. From internal people projects to dedicated to supporting this mission for a circular wide scale technology-led initiatives, there has been a economy. In essence, it is now about working smarter significant mindset shift towards greater efficiency and less together and partnerships will have an important role to play waste throughout the IT Channel ecosystem. in order to significantly accelerate decarbonisation and work as one Recent research found that almost one third of channel partners towards the nation’s crucial net zero targets. are confident in mobilising a workable sustainability strategy within 6 Not only are channel partners concerned with extending the months to a year. While this is encouraging, there is still so much more lifespan of IT hardware, there is also a significant shift towards to be done. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the essential intelligent technologies that have the power to maximise resources and steps in the sector’s sustainability roadmap. drive energy efficiency across the supply chain. According to some estimates, the carbon footprint of our devices, In an effort to achieve more with less, many initiatives that the Internet and the systems supporting them account for about remove friction, waste and laborious tasks have been fast-tracked. 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions. With the European IT Channel Channel partners must utilise technologies that can alleviate predicted to get close to €100 billion revenue in 2021 through previously energy-intensive processes and replace them with increased demand for IT hardware and services, we must find better automated, real-time alternatives to optimise supply chains and ways to extend the life cycle of hardware, to minimise waste, reduce alleviate the strain on resources. environmental impact and maximise resources. This is where the As technology and people continue to converge, automation will circular economy comes into its own. be an undisputed cornerstone of any efforts to achieve greater energy Initiatives that convert inefficient, redundant stock which is often efficiency and build more productive workforces across a fast-growing single-use into reusable technology spares inventory - either as IT Channel for years to come. complete systems or their associated component parts - will be crucial While many channel partners are already taking avid steps to make on the road to a more eco-friendly IT Channel sector. their business more eco-friendly, maximum sustainability across the Sustainability should be firmly ingrained across inventory whole sector cannot be achieved in silos. To truly do things differently, management supply chains in order to truly support the circular partners must work closer together to drive innovation through economy. Wherever possible, partners should look to embrace a sharing ideas, tools and tactics that will build a better future. It’s only ‘repair, rework and reuse’ model to reduce carbon footprint and cost. the beginning. 14
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PCR SEPTEMBER ISSUE
HOW TO GET INVOLVED!!
In the September issue of PCR we will be looking at DIVERSITY IN THE CHANNEL. The issue also includes our annual Top 25 WOMEN IN TECH feature. Alongside this we will be looking at TECH CHANNEL INNOVATION: It’s been a difficult couple of years following the global pandemic so we are keen to look at how the channel is bouncing back. If you are embarking on new projects or rolling out new plans to navigate the road to recovery then we are keen to hear from you about this. We will be running a Q&A session with top industry folk to find out about their future road map. Keep an eye out for our Q&A questions, which will be posted on the PCR website soon. We will also be delving into the world of WEARABLE TECH with a focus on THE HUMAN MACHINE INTERFACE: If you are involved in this sector then we are keen to hear from you: This can be anything from smart watches to AR/VR devices.
Opinions: We are looking for 500-700 word opinion/ analysis pieces from the industry around diversity or wearables, the future of AR/VR and Post pandemic recovery. Top 25 Women in Tech – PCR’s Top 25 Women in Tech returns in our September print edition, where we’ll be highlighting the most influential women in the UK PC and tech channel. Nominations are now open for this year’s list. Diversity in the channel – We are looking for commentary on issues around diversity in the tech and IT channel. Please get in touch via the email below to find out how to contribute. In the September issue sector guides we will be covering: PCs, laptops, peripherals and tablets designed specifically for creative professionals, we will also cover creative software, wearable devices, AR-VR tech. If you are a vendor or distributor who works with retailers and resellers, get in touch with specs, 100 word product description and hi res images.
If you would like to be considered for any of these features and guides, email Michelle Winny at firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising in this issue If you would like to get involved commercially in this issue there will be a variety of packages available to showcase your business to tech vendors, distributors, retailers, resellers and PRs. Please contact Sarah Goldhawk at email@example.com to find out more.
The role sustainability has in driving IT sales through the channel With 5% of all global carbon emissions derived from IT and levels of e-waste continuing to increase significantly, the importance of sustainability within the channel is undeniable. Here, Simon Yates, COO at Consenna, argues that sustainability is not only vital in driving sales through the channel, but in moving the channel forward.
arely an aspect of modern life remains un-touched by the need And when resellers emphatically and authentically embrace these to be environmentally aware. Amongst large IT vendors, the tools, they’re not only supporting their customers to make the right main players have recognised the need to jump aboard the choice, they’re also making their own journey to securing a sale more sustainability train and they cite such actions as vital to commercial likely to succeed. In that respect, yes, sustainability certainly does have success – whether they truly embrace the rationale behind this, a role to play in driving IT sales through the channel. however, is a debate for another day. At the other end of the sales But a competitive advantage is only such for a finite amount of spectrum, customers increasingly demand their purchases meet time. For sustainability to not only drive sales, but continue to drive certain sustainable criteria – indeed, they’re not only prepared to pay sales and, importantly, create new opportunities, the channel needs more when they do, but they are under pressure to make such to push harder to identify new opportunities which ensure choices so that their own sustainability metrics are met. In sustainability’s unquestionable place in the channel. the middle, at the heart of the channel, sit the resellers As a first step, channel programmes that offer for whom the need to secure a sale is now balanced customers choice of ‘claiming’ an offsetting “The channel against a need to address sustainability demands. option or a green energy selection, must be needs to push How do they achieve this in an authentic and switched to automatically ‘opt-in’ – if they meaningful way that instead of simply adding exist as part of the programme, it makes it harder to identify new to sustainability noise, actually drives tangible nonsense to introduce an element of choice. change – and with it, those all-important sales? It’s bold steps that drive significant change opportunities which Resellers command a unique position and that’s exactly what the channel must ensure sustainability’s within the channel; they are the only players take. Comfort zones are out; challenging with a direct relationship with all other parties conversations are in. Resellers need to unquestionable place in and they consequently have the ability to question a customer’s purchasing desire: drive conversations in the direction of greater is printing really a requirement? Would a the channel.” sustainable action. The reality is, however, that too document management solution make more many have been too complacent for too long, focused sense? With an abundance of green cloud-based almost entirely on securing a sale. computing options, are physical servers still needed? Even With that sale increasingly hinged on the need to be laden with models of ownership should be challenged with both DaaS and certain sustainability criteria, however, has come a greater need for IaaS shifting responsibility to the provider to meet sustainability resellers to view sustainability as a tool to be used to their advantage. obligations at scale. Indeed, many are already entrenched with We work with partners throughout the channel on programmes and strong eco-credentials. initiatives that provide exactly this competitive advantage. Whether it’s The reality remains, however, that a continued lack of delivering recycling schemes partnering with fully accredited WEEE understanding of all these factors, means it’s only the largest partners providers, to manage the responsible re-use or remanufacturing of pushing these messages to customers. To address this, Consenna old devices; the provision of scientifically backed, real-world data is providing its market leading communications platform ‘Carbon’ that makes not only purchasing decisions, but also recycling choices, to any UK reseller, free of charge. We will promote sustainable mean something in tangible, comparable terms; or simply providing IT messaging, use cutting-edge digital marketing automation to compelling marketing collateral that makes the sustainable purchasing generate leads, and help resellers size the potential in their own choice clear and convincing, there are a myriad of means through customer base before making significant investments. It’s a bold which resellers are equipped to help customers make the right choice. move. It’s what’s needed to drive change. 16
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Innovations in solar energy: Accelerating the journey toward a carbon-neutral future Michael Rae, Channel Director at Huawei Enterprise discuses building an intelligent Internet of Energy for the generation, storage, and consumption of greener electricity
emand for green energy is on the rise in the UK among both domestic and commercial customers. According to research from Imperial College London, last year the UK generated more power from renewable sources than fossil fuels for the first time. This heightened demand carves out an opportunity for the tech sector to innovate in green technology and, at Huawei UK, we’re focusing on the development of cutting edge solar photovoltaic (PV) technology.
Why solar technology and why now?
While there are many sources of renewable energy available to us – such as wind and hydro – solar is predicted to become a main source of renewable energy. Solar energy is a reliable choice thanks to the constant energy generation from the sun and the sophistication of the smart solar inverters developed. As solar PV technology has advanced in recent years, the cost of installing the technology has drastically decreased, making it an affordable and dependable choice for customers, on top of all the green benefits it offers. As businesses and the wider public become increasingly conscious of their carbon footprints, we’re seeing a huge uptake in solar PV technology with the country shifting from finite energy to selfgenerated green energy consumption. An analysis from Solar Media Ltd. and Solar Energy UK revealed that last year 545 megawatts of new solar PV capacity was deployed in the UK, a 27 per cent yearon-year increase compared with 2019. That’s why our commercial and residential customer base has grown so broad; the solar PV team at Huawei are working with clients from logistics companies and warehouses to educational institutions like schools and universities to install this technology. As a crucial enabler on the UK’s path to net zero, it’s easy to make a business case for the prioritisation of solar PV technology. In comparison with bulkier renewable energy technologies like wind turbines or hydropower dams, solar PV solutions take up much less space. This massively opens up the market of potential customers available to us.
How can ICT companies help the UK reach its net zero target? Tech companies by nature are constantly thinking ahead and anticipating the future needs and wants of their customers. That’s www.pcr-online.biz
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why the tech sector should play to their strengths and draw on their expertise to innovate in green technologies by making them more efficient, cost effective, and to improve safety. We have drawn on our ICT expertise at Huawei UK to provide enhanced intelligence for PV systems through inverters and management systems, and have made the technology much safer. For instance, we have developed a residential solution that monitors and detects ‘arc faults’ to protect against sparks that could cause a fire: In less than 0.5 seconds, the system is shut down to protect the PV system from fire hazard – this makes our arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCI) more than 2 seconds faster than the industry standard. We also offer an end-to-end integrated energy storage system for residential customers, that allows the solar energy to be used, stored, or fed back to the grid. Huawei’s launch of the smart PV solution in 2014 was a defining step for making PV more intelligent. This technology is now widely used, making the maintenance and management of solar panels easier for households.
What does the future hold for solar PV technology? As a relatively new yet fast-growing industry, there’s potential for boundless innovation in solar PV technology. The green agenda isn’t going away and the UK tech sector has a real opportunity to help the nation reach its net zero target by supplying the right technology. Developing battery storage for solar energy, for both residential and commercial purposes, is a huge untapped market that we’re researching. Lots of buildings have installed solar panels but few have storage capacity, which would allow them to store any excess energy for a later date, increasing efficiency. We’ve also spotted an opportunity for innovation in the electric vehicles market. The UK government’s target to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 is ambitious; we need innovations in tech, to supply the infrastructure for practical charging stations across the country, to make this a reality. The tech sector has a huge role to play in the UK’s transition to net zero; the country needs innovation and strong infrastructure to reduce its carbon footprint and advances in solar PV technology is just the start.
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The importance of leading with sustainability Justin Marcucci, Chief Digital Officer at Endava explores the role of digital acceleration in driving more sustainable tech practices.
he onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting challenges in 2020 forced all kinds of well-documented shiftchanges, with businesses across sectors having to fundamentally rethink operations to meet the demands of an entirely digital customer interaction model. For the most part, these short-term changes addressed the strains IT teams faced, but as we continue to move away from a state of crisis, businesses are turning focus to the next challenge: climate change, sustainability, and how they can drive more responsible technology without accruing added cost or resource. Tackling this requires me to address the bigger picture – the cause rather than the symptom – of these ongoing internal battles; organisations seeking to move from ‘surviving’ to ‘thriving’. Because in order for companies to succeed in today’s economy, they need to focus more intently on leading with sustainability, not just for employee and shareholder satisfaction, but to maximise continued digital acceleration and business outcomes. We as technology leaders need to stop viewing technology as the beall-end-all – the goal of any business effort - and start seeing it for what it really is: a catalyst and a vehicle for what we can achieve. As people begin to focus more acutely on the climate crisis, sustainability will become a non-negotiable focal point within business as employees, partners, and consumers look to work with or buy from brands that make efforts to give back in some way. Sustainability as a driver of talent acquisition and retention is hugely overlooked, but so unbelievably critical. It’s no secret that end consumers are more often looking for brands that align with their values, but now that same mentality is extending to employees, whether they’re already with a company or looking to make a change. Younger generations are particularly vocal about their preference for working for more environmentally friendly businesses, even if it means earning less. As companies recognise the importance of these values, they’re stepping up to the plate to put their money where their mouth is. Microsoft recently started holding their internal departments responsible for emissions, while other global brands like Unilever have implemented a network of global partnerships to address environmental impacts across a number of key issues, from deforestation to ocean conservation, and the elimination of food waste. 18
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Whether investing into sustainability initiatives or giving employees more flexible options to work and give back as they want, what’s clear from these changes is that it’s an employee’s market. As they look for companies, which showcase moral values and ways of working, and as more businesses catch onto this growing trend, sustainability will become a key recruitment tool for tech talent in short supply globally.
It is my firm belief that technology has no agenda – it is simply an enabler of human drivers. Therefore, my goal - and the goal of everyone at Endava - is to drive sustainable technology across our customers’ business lines. Now, we are realists – this doesn’t mean that every program we undertake is based on a sustainability goal – but it does mean that we can go the extra mile when possible, and drive positive sustainability outcomes with our solution and product design. Taking a thoughtful approach to technology development and implementation is key to delivering solutions that yield positive business outcomes. For a lot of companies, it’s not necessarily a lack of desire for more sustainable projects that’s holding them back, but rather concerns over where the budget will come from, or what the end result will be on the wider business. There’s certainly a notable trend toward sustainability-driven projects that boost both cost savings, drive operational efficiencies, and give back in some way, whether that’s costcutting, CO2 emissions, reduction of paper usage and waste through digitisation, etc. We’ve actually started to see investment into these types of projects, as customers are coming to us asking how they can leverage technology as that enabler, while also driving results. In fact, we’ve even seen a number of projects go on to be fully self-funded. In conclusion, while sustainability initiatives may seem daunting to take on from an outside perspective, the benefits they create for businesses are well worth the investment. Attracting forward-thinking, ethically minded talent, who will in turn continue actioning projects around the responsible use and application of technology, is enough for many businesses to seriously conserving leading with a sustainability mindset. When you combine that with the reality that many of these projects pay for themselves, as illustrated above, there’s little reason not to invest company time and resource. www.pcr-online.biz
Dave Stevinson, owner and CEO of QBS Software places sustainability and corporate social responsibility high on his business agenda. Here Michelle Winny, PCR’s editor talks to Stevinson about both his personal and professional views on sustainability and the steps channel partners can take to achieve a carbon neutral status. 20
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thebiginterview This is what came up in the discussion with Dave Stevinson:
What are your personal views towards sustainability?
I am proactively learning more all the time about sustainability, and it is increasingly becoming a critical part of our family life. I try very much to follow the “Less is More” mantra from Jason Hickel. However, it is not always possible with a large family, historic bad habits and tight deadlines. We all moved some time ago to a predominantly plant-based diet, with planned reductions to our air travel too. As a family we are privileged to be able to make decisions where sustainability can play the lead. We now consider the carbon cost as well as the fiscal cost as a prime dimension in our decision-making.
How do you integrate this into running your business?
From the very conception of the business, sustainability and purpose were added to the QBS strategic agenda – I believe that these two issues are important differentiators and predict that they will eventually become a sine qua non for market participation. We have put ESG at the core of our business and hardcoded it into our purpose, vision and even the ‘articles of association’. We continually ask ourselves two critical questions: “What will be our material positive impact on society and environment?” and “How do we implement this policy through the group?” To aid on execution, we have two staff dedicated entirely to ESG, with a sustainability officer and also an iNED on the group board.
Why is sustainability and CSR so important to you?
I have long held the impression that an ESG rating will eventually become as important as the credit rating; In the previous question I talked about the sine qua non aspect of sustainability. I also care passionately about people and have geared QBS around the mantra of “Where great people work together”. Thus, with this vision – coupled with my personal beliefs – it is totally apparent that CSR and sustainability are of such importance to me.
How is QBS working towards becoming carbon neutral and how can the channel look to reduce its carbon footprint?
The channel has a very realistic opportunity to lead from the front, and carbon footprint reduction is such an obvious way forward. I am pleased to say that rather than paying ‘lip service’ to the climate emergency, QBS has been one of the pioneers in moving to externally-verified net zero carbon as a core part of our sustainability narrative, and I am pleased to confirm that QBS will be net zero carbon by July 2021. This is the result of four years’ hard work, so our team are cognisant of the challenges faced and are happy to share our learnings with any company in the channel to help them steadily reduce their own operations and also those of their partner, vendor and employee ecosystem. www.pcr-online.biz
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What sustainability initiatives is QBS currently involved in?
Though there are many – and throughout the interview I will constantly refer to these initiatives – one I want to highlight is how closely we are working with PlanetMark to meet 9 of the United Nation Sustainability Goals, but what I am most pleased about is delivering on the QBS Climate Change Narrative which supports people, planet and profit through software delivery. Our stated purpose is “to create sustainable long-term stakeholder value”, and these 6 words clearly articulate that sustainability is key to QBS’ current and future existence. Sustainability focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The concept of sustainability is composed of three pillars: economic, environmental, and social - also known informally as profits, planet, and people.
How does QBS look to encourage its partners to adopt a more sustainable working ethic?
Most importantly we are trying to bring the entire industry with us on this journey. We have invested in dedicated staff, specific budgets and carbon literacy training for our employees, customers and publishers. We also believe that this decision actually demonstrates significant benefits to our business: cost and efficiency savings through reduced energy usage, compliance to anticipated future legislation, improved stakeholder management, and compliance with the most rigorous tender and pre-tender qualification questions. Above all, it increases transparency for our stakeholders and demonstrates our core values of responsibility and good governance. On World Earth Day, this April 2021, in my capacity as QBS Group CEO I formally signed our official ‘Pledge to Net Zero’ in conjunction with IEMA/SocEnv/EIC/WSP/ AECOM. This was to publicly make our commitment visible and inspire others to follow our lead. Even this interview is here to encourage others in the channel to adopt a more sustainable working ethic.
What plans for the future does QBS have in regards to driving sustainability forward?
Despite our modest size and perceived low environmental impact, we are not aware of anyone else in our industry that is taking action with the clarity of vision and speed of execution that we are. We are investigating the feasibility of becoming a certified B Corp and then aiming to achieve over 100 points (25% more than the baseline assessment). This is a very complex and lengthy process for an international company like ours, but it ties in with the company values and also those of my own. We undertake clear and concise actions, demonstrating environmental integrity with clear documentation and commitments. We will correct, prevent and repay. Thus, eradicating our entire company’s historical carbon footprint by 2025. The route to the decarbonisation of QBS is a long and winding one, blending carbon avoidance and removal. July/August 2021 | 21
What message can you offer channel partners to adopt a more sustainable working ethic? Become a B Corp. In the meantime, be authentic and avoid ‘greenwashing’ (a term that describes an exaggeration of sustainability claims). Voluntarily comply and publicly disclose your carbon footprint and progress on your energy use and carbon emissions reduction in compliance with SECR in your annual accounts. Regulation is coming and companies will have to start disclosing sustainability metrics, similarly to financial reporting. The taxonomy is expected to be used as a tool to cut down on ‘greenwashing’. Meet as many of the UN SDG that you can, and finally, please read Less is More by Jason Hickel.
In your opinion where is the greatest shortfall or areas that need addressing most in regards to sustainability within the channel?
This is my opinion only. The greatest shortfall is that most channel organisations do not even know their current carbon footprint, do not even have a CFMP (Carbon Footprint Management Plan), do not know how carbon neutrality will be achieved or have not successfully implemented decarbonisation strategies. It would be nice to see that most channel companies can be net zero carbon in the next few years. I realise that carbon neutralisation will be necessary based on many channel businesses – please only partner with the most reputable and accredited certification bodies to include only offsets which retire after 12 months and meet the VCS (Voluntary Carbon 22
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Standard) and GS (Gold Standard – stored in an independent and credible registry).
What are your thoughts on B Corp certification?
Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. Society’s most challenging problems cannot be solved by government and non-profits alone. By harnessing the power of business, B Corps use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment. The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high-quality jobs with dignity and purpose. B Corps form a community of leaders and drive a global movement of people using business as a force for good. The values and aspirations of the B Corp community are embedded in the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence. Certifying as a B Corporation goes beyond a product or service certification. It is the only certification that measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance. From supply chain and input materials to charitable giving and employee benefits, B Corp Certification proves a business is meeting the highest standards of verified performance. www.pcr-online.biz
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Going green A reduction in carbon footprint or ultimately going carbon neutral is a key agenda for many businesses within the channel. But there is still much more work to be done if the channel is to ultimately reach this goal. Here Michelle Winny, editor of PCR talks to Craig Hume, Managing Director at Utopia Computers, Trevor Evans, MD at Consenna, Alastair Wynn, Operations Director at Softcat and Kevin Brzezinski, SVP Operations at Westcon about their views on sustainability within the channel.
Craig Hume, Managing Director at Utopia Computers
Trevor Evans, MD at Consenna
Alastair Wynn, Operations Director at Softcat
Kevin Brzezinski, SVP Operations at Westcon
How is your company involved in sustainability within the tech channel?
Craig Hume - Managing Director at Utopia Computers: “Over the past 10 years, discussions around sustainability at Utopia have grown, with considerations on our impact to the environment now being discussed by my team multiple times each day. I think sustainability is a journey that many go on without knowing the end destination. For some businesses, it will be a simple checkbox exercise, and for others, like Utopia, it will be a transformational journey. I think of it akin to joining a gym, some gym users go there and grind it out because they think they need to and for others, it becomes a way of life. For Utopia sustainability is now a consideration of every aspect of our business, from our clothing to our packaging and our energy supply. We want the world to be a better place because of the actions we take.
Trevor Evans, MD at Consenna: “Sustainability is very much on the radar of OEMs and resellers, and we bring their strategies to life in a way that brings greater impact and visibility. “Sustainability is non-negotiable. It’s no longer a strapline or a ‘nice to have’. We support the channel - from the largest IT vendors to niche specialists to authentically embed it in their brand identities. Not because it’s a lucrative revenue stream, but because it’s right.” Alastair Wynn, Operations Director at Softcat: “We, as an IT reseller, have been working with our vendors, suppliers, partners and couriers to deliver a Net Zero Supply Chain for our customers and the planet. We have aligned our sustainability strategy with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Science Based Targets and it can be summarised as being focused on People, Planet and Prosperity – we need people to adapt, change and influence
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for the good of our planet, to deliver a prosperous outlook for future generations. “On top of this, Softcat is involved with organisations such as Tech UK and Techies Go Green.” Kevin Brzezinski, SVP Operations at Westcon: “As a distributor, we are at a critical vantage point to understand the impact of the supply chain on the environment. At Westcon, we work hard to consciously and actively reduce our carbon footprint. Our CSR programme has long been integral to our business, and we focus a large amount of our resources on energy conservation and utilising recyclable materials. “To take this one step further and truly hold ourselves accountable, we partnered with sustainability ratings provider, EcoVadis in 2020. EcoVadis creates a scorecard based on our sustainability performance, which we use as a means of evaluating our long-term progress. Our goal is based on four major indicators: Environmental, Labour & Human Rights, Sustainable Procurement, and certifications based on GRI, UNGC and ISO standards. “Through the use of more efficient lighting and motion, the optimisation of our energy usage and our continuous recycling efforts, we’ve reduced our energy consumption by 27% and CO2e gases by 18%, primarily in our logistics operations, which equated to a 14% reduction in costs year-over-year.”
Do you feel corporate social responsibility should be a key consideration of all channel partners if so why and how can this be achieved? Craig Hume, Utopia Computers: “The tech industry has a lot to answer for, we produce huge amounts of e-waste and use large amounts of energy. The supply chain in the UK still uses excess packaging and single-use materials to ship a lot of its goods and the global brand’s flagship products still ship in hard plastics that will no doubt end up in landfill, save for the few collectors that decide it should have space on a shelf. We all need to take ownership of this and make the hard choices now before the choice is taken away from us. Corporate social responsibility needs to be more than words on paper, it needs to filter down to every action.”
Trevor Evans, MD at Consenna: “Absolutely - CSR generally is a value to be upheld and the channel certainly has a key role to play. In the same way that as individuals we seek to do the ‘right thing’, doing the ‘right thing’ is the best option in business also. We see no distinction between our role as everyday consumers and our professional responsibilities within business. All channel partners know the customer has the power to choose the business that is making the right decisions across all aspects of CSR, not just from a sustainability perspective. “Once channel partners recognise that customers are increasingly demanding a strong CSR commitment, and that they’ll hold resellers to account in this respect, those resellers have no choice other than to act. Yes, to attract more custom but also because it’s right. Those that are slow to act have no cause for complaint when customers vote with their purchase orders.” Alastair Wynn, Operations Director at Softcat: “We all need to 26
play our part, no matter how big or small. Nobody can conquer this alone, so we need to work together as an industry to tackle this monumental challenge. Collective energy, influence and action is key.” Kevin Brzezinski, SVP Operations at Westcon: “Absolutely, CSR is a crucial component of a company’s competitiveness and should be a key consideration of all channel partners. To achieve this, it should be part of their core strategy which has for overall aim to improve environmental, ethical, human rights, and collaborate and work closely with other channel partners and stakeholders.”
What if any initiatives is your company involved in regards to sustainability?
Craig Hume, Utopia Computers: “Utopia’s biggest impact project is our new Tech Sustainability Centre which opened in February this year. From this centre, we have brought in new employees that don’t have a background in technology and train them up to be able to repair and upgrade all kinds of technology, keeping those items out of landfills. Once trained, those new members of the team will move on to work with the part of our business that most attract them, be it the system building, managed services or even our accounts and marketing teams. We will then bring more trainees into further the work in our Tech Sustainability Centre. Trevor Evans, MD at Consenna: “In the last year alone, we’ve worked on recycling strategies for vendors that have prevented over 44,000 devices going to landfill. That’s an impressive figure, which translates to a huge 363 tonnes of electronic waste, 7,595 tonnes of CO2e and, staggeringly, the equivalent to 4,688 return flights from London to New York! It’s good but not good enough. There is a lot more to be done and we’ve only just got going. “Furthermore, we only ever work with specialists in their fields. Whether that’s recyclers with the highest WEEE Directive accreditations to carry out device recycling, or other experts who work with us to provide real-world, scientifically backed data and insight into the impact of purchasing and recycling decisions. This is key to informing the vendors and resellers we work with and, ultimately, their end customers. Information has never been more valuable. “’If the sustainability credentials of those we partner with don’t stack up, we can’t risk the damage to our own reputation. There is no level of compliance here; it’s either 100% or not at all.” Alastair Wynn, Operations Director at Softcat: “We have internal initiatives to be net zero ourselves, including using renewable energy across all of our offices by 2040, but most of our goals span beyond Softcat. Our ambition of a net zero supply chain needs the help, support and co-operation of all of our partners and we’re working with many of them to share understanding, increase awareness and increase the pace of adoption and change. We’re also working with a number of other partners to improve the traction in relation to circular economy. As a channel we’re great at product design and delivery, but we don’t always complete the loop with recycling and reusing as much as we could. We need to increase awareness, build scale and deliver a truly circular economy, that keeps the wheel/ circle turning.” www.pcr-online.biz
“To reduce our impact in 2020, we’ve successfully complied with the new German Packaging legislation, which was approved on behalf of the German environmental agency.” Kevin Brzezinski, SVP Operations at Westcon
Kevin Brzezinski, SVP Operations at Westcon: “We engage in several activities in regards to sustainability, more specifically to reduce our carbon footprint and that of our partners. “The first initiative is automation. In our warehouses, we’ve adopted automation and robotics to help drive sustainability through optimised inventory performance, warehousing and fulfilment. A more efficient supply chain helps our vendors receive products quicker, while reducing the environmental impact. “The second is around packaging. To reduce our impact in 2020, we’ve successfully complied with the new German Packaging legislation, which was approved on behalf of the German environmental agency. “The third is about reducing e-waste. Our reverse logistics expertise and hardware lifecycle management promote the reuse, recycling and refurbishment of end-of-life equipment. Our partnership with Cisco enables us to offer like-new equipment through the Cisco Refresh program, which is part of our own Circular Technology Solutions programme. “Finally, sustainability also sits at the heart of our employee strategy. We run initiatives, which give our people the opportunity to be good corporate citizens of their local communities – and the world. For example, to celebrate the last Environment Day, we distributed indoor plants to all employees as a step towards fighting indoor air pollution and raising the importance of global warming as an issue.” www.pcr-online.biz
How is the tech channel currently contributing towards negative environmental impact and how can this be addressed?
Craig Hume, Utopia Computers: “I’m watching with real interest the Right to Repair movement in the States. Global brands like Apple have been very vocal about sustainability and what they expect from their partners, but they still provide almost no parts or support to repair centres to keep their devices out of landfills. I’d like to see more pressure put on brands like Apple to allow consumers to have the free choice to repair a device and for those parts to be available. I’m not saying the repair needs to be easy, that’s where skilled technicians come in, but deliberately building barriers against repair is not what the world needs right now.” Trevor Evans, MD at Consenna: “Frankly, too many resellers were complacent for too long and focused disproportionately on securing the sale. As organisations, they’re often relatively lean so their own carbon footprint hasn’t been overly pronounced. “However, resellers also need to use their influence with greater effect. We need to see more channel partners applying pressure on vendors to be increasingly transparent about their CSR credentials, not only in respect of environmental impact, but on topics such as anti-slavery, equality and diversity. Just imagine if ‘everyone’ in the channel collectively used their leverage to raise the bar across the vendors. The impact would be profound and rapid. July/August 2021 | 27
“With all these factors of increasing importance to end customers and their purchasing decisions, it is imperative that those at the heart of the channel recognise the role they have to play. They too can vote with their purchase orders.” John Gladstone, Lifecycle solutions lead at Softcat: “One of the biggest areas the IT channel can make improvements on has to be the logistics within its supply chain. Our vendors are working hard to reduce packaging and ensure packing is produced using sustainable materials, however, more still needs to be done. The introduction of electric delivery vehicles internally, plus the supply chain becoming more carbon aware as well as chasing their own goals around carbon net zero, will make a huge difference to the overall environmental impact. “Other key areas that the tech channel need to work on is the circular economy, including the reuse and the recycling of IT equipment. With the ongoing pressures and awareness for organisations to adopt the use of remanufactured equipment, we need to ensure equipment that no longer has a use is recycled or disposed of correctly. Currently the process between the different elements of the channel is disconnected, resulting in a sometimes negative experience for end user organisations.” Kevin Brzezinski, SVP Operations at Westcon: “The products and services that are procured today have a bigger environmental impact as they consume more carbon and energy due to the increase in online demand and new technologies such as 5G. Manufacturers turn raw materials into components or these products, and along with warehousing them, transporting them across the supply chain requires a massive use in energy and carbon usage. This has become even more complex with the current global semiconductor supply shortage. This can be addressed and reduced through the usage of circular technology, by jointly collaborating across the channel in contributing to a more circular and low carbon economy. This can also be addressed by using recycled or less ‘new’ natural material, extend a product’s lifespan by reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling it and improve energy efficiency as much as possible.”
Do you feel the channel has a key responsibility to help towards the reduction of our carbon footprint? If so how?
Craig Hume, Utopia Computers: “We need to do all we can to reduce our footprint. When Covid-19 hit we saw the amazing innovation that we are capable of when we adapted, providing services in products in ways we never dreamed possible. When the pressure is on, we can do amazing things. Thinking about packaging is key for me, a reduction in single-use plastics, as well as considered shipping materials, would be a great start. On top of this, we are now well adapted to letting employees work from home when it suits them so I hope that fewer people will have to commute. Once physical events return choosing trains over flights can also go a long way to reduce our footprint. These are all small changes, but cumulatively they will make a big difference.” 28
Trevor Evans, MD at Consenna: “When engaged with a customer, they can discuss and encourage the options for recycling end of life devices; they can demonstrate how some devices are better from an environmental perspective than others and that whilst these may initially cost more, the long-term cost is comparable; or they may provide the customer with tangible, real-life comparisons of the impact that their purchasing decision will have. The channel’s power is to help customers make informed decisions. In doing so, they not only build trust and credibility but also play their part to a more sustainable future.” Alastair Wynn, Operations Director at Softcat: “Absolutely – everyone has a part to play and we all need to get involved. My call to action for everyone would be to read and learn more about the topic and the issue, challenge yourselves to adapt and change in line with what our planet needs and to determine a plan with the right pace and priorities for your business and your partners.” Kevin Brzezinski, SVP Operations at Westcon: “Yes, the channel plays a critical role in reducing its carbon impact on the whole value chain. The industry needs to develop circular solutions that encourage the use of recycled and refurbished material for end user equipment and develop supply chain sustainability solutions that encourage the use of recycled or organic-based materials as well as reduce multiple points of transport, logistics, warehousing and fulfilment, that create Greenhouse Gases like CO2, CH4, N2O that trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.”
Does your company provide products or services that if adopted can help run a more efficient business if so what and how?
Craig Hume, Utopia Computers: “I think all tech providers are doing this and in some cases just are not aware, from managed services that allow Cloud Computing, Paperless Offices, Remote Working and energy-efficient products, to repair stores that help keep end-users devices out of landfills. I think the trick is to start thinking of your services and products through the lens of sustainability. The more we talk about it to our suppliers the more they will bring more services and products like this to market and, even more importantly, is the understanding that clients and end-users now put a high value on items and services that come with a sustainability credential. They will often pay more for the same device or service if they know it has a lower impact on the environment. This isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for the businesses bottom line.” John Gladstone, Lifecycle solutions lead at Softcat: “Softcat is working with vendors such as Apple, HP, Lenovo and Logitech around their end user products and how they can support end user organisation’s ongoing sustainability journeys. There are some impressive options available from devices made from recycled materials, through to carbon neutral products. www.pcr-online.biz
From an infrastructure prospective the cloud providers are making very good progress and are very mature in the space, with some being carbon neutral from as early as 2007. “Organisations need to consider their journey to net zero, how they want to get there and what their priorities are. Softcat do have a sustainability assessment service which will allow an organisation to understand the emissions created by their IT estate as well as the operational Scope 3 emissions, which include business travel and employee commuting. Completing an assessment like this will not only allow an organisation to understand the emissions caused by their IT estate, but it will assist in the planning of their IT strategy going forward, allowing them to prioritise areas that need to be addressed.”
adopting a document management strategy. Printers, print cartridges and paper will continue to have a legitimate role to play, however small changes will make a big difference. Just imagine if every print partner committed to only supplying recycled paper, ink and toner cartridges. Just imagine if printer life cycles were extended by two, three or even five years? Just imagine if sufficient pressure were applied to a vendor to produce a recyclable printer? It would dominate the market in a heartbeat. There are many additional considerations such as how to keep monitors and AV equipment out of landfill? Is the case for new onpremise servers now completely flawed in favour of cloud based infrastructure? These questions far from causing concern for customers, will engender trust and integrity on the reseller asking them.”
“The last piece is the
education and adoption by employees.
If employees can be
educated around all areas of sustainability and are able to
John Gladstone, Lifecycle solutions lead at Softcat: “Everyone has a key role to play in reducing our carbon footprint; from a business and a personal perspective. Education and understanding is the most important area and the channel needs to work with the end users and its supply chain to understand what needs to be done and put appropriate plans in place to help reduce emissions. “Promoting green solutions is one area that can make a difference – but John Gladstone, organisations need to understand why Lifecycle solutions lead at Softcat they need to adopt the change and visualise what their journey looks like. “Organisations challenging their supply chain will help increase What else can be done to reduce our carbon footprint that awareness and drive suppliers on their sustainability journeys, resulting the channel can assist with? in more sustainable solutions and products being made available. Craig Hume, Utopia Computers: “During Covid-19 the tech industry Working to accreditations such ISO 140001 and 50001 will help was there to guide many businesses through a fast transition to home organisations to understand their emission footprints and put controls working and other technology, we were the thought leaders in this in place to manage and improve them. space and we excelled at it. Now we need the tech channel to become “The last piece is the education and adoption by employees. If climate leaders. We need to encourage every business to adopt – for employees can be educated around all areas of sustainability and are itself, its clients and most importantly for our planet. There’s no able to adopt it in their professional and personal lives it will be one downside to this. Renewable energy, electric cars, energy conservation more way to spread the awareness which is hugely needed.” and waste reduction will all save you money – and your clients and team will respond positively to these changes. One thing is certain: as Kevin Brzezinski, SVP Operations at Westcon: “The channel needs the level of Co2 increases in our atmosphere and bad weather becomes to set climate targets jointly, and work together to reduce carbon the norm, business as usual is no longer an option.” and CO2 emissions and the usage of natural resources. To achieve Trevor Evans, MD at Consenna: “We all need to do more, the channel a true circularity or circular economy, we need to reduce the use of new raw materials and natural resources, switch to more sustainable included. We all need to be more challenging, more probing, and less tolerant of the myriad of statistics our industry is so fond of producing. materials that reduce energy and carbon usage or extend the lifecycle of products and services. We need to focus on standardisation, reusing, “It should consider reducing the sales of products people ‘think’ refurbishing, recycling, and avoiding the use of natural resources and they need but, in many cases, no longer do. Consider a different, reducing our carbon footprint. We also need to setup and monitor more sustainable solution to the same customer problem. Resellers metrics, goals and progress and be transparent on the data. We all have command a unique position whereby they can influence both vendors a responsibility and need to work together to bring about a circular and customers. They should not underestimate this influence. economy and minimise the environmental impact to our planet.” “For example, a print focused reseller must consider the merits of
Kevin Brzezinski, SVP Operations at Westcon: “We work closely with our vendors and partners to make sure they have a strong sustainability programme in place. If a partner has a poor programme, it’s reflected in our scorecard. When they don’t meet our criteria, we work with them on improving programmes such as reverse logistics. Over the last 12 months we’ve notably provided some of our key partners with a complete asset management, end-to-end reverse logistics solution.”
adopt it in their professional and personal lives it will be
one more way to spread the awareness which is hugely needed.”
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Where the grass is greener Epson is working together with the channel to commercialise sustainability, offering tangible business growth opportunities that are driven by sustainable technology solutions without compromising their customers on cost or productivity. Epson UK’s Sustainability Manager, Daniel Quelch explains more.
pson products and services are developed by Epson, in Epson owned award winning manufacturing sites using Epson technology, therefore is addressing sustainability at every stage of the product lifecycle, from design and manufacturing to transport, usage and recycling. As all of Epson’s business sales are conducted through the channel, our partners are at the forefront of bringing sustainable solutions to end-users. And as a key part of Epson’s business model, it is actively securing end-user sales opportunities before they are then secured and cultivated by the channel, which is helping Epson to further advocate sustainability through the channel to a wider audience. And thanks to the eco-consciousness of Epson technology solutions, the sales message our channel partners are delivering to their end customers is increasing sustainability awareness and discussions. Through its sustainability team, Epson also takes great responsibility in educating its channel partners on how they can reduce their environmental impact, from ISO compliance and circularity to general best practice in environmental and social governance (ESG). It is for this reason that Epson has been accredited with platinum awards both from EcoVadis and the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA). Every company is responsible for addressing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and ESG in a similar fashion that every person is responsible for their own individual impacts to the environment. There’s no tiptoeing around ESG and if companies are truly willing to make a demonstrable interest then it needs to be addressed from the very heart of the business. Recent research has shown that 3/4 employees want more focus on environmental and social issues, post-Covid, while 4/5 employers believe sustainability’s role in business is increasing. That said, only 25% of employees and 29% of employers believe it will be 100% embedded in their return-to-workplace and recovery 30
plans, post-pandemic. The same research revealed that 78% of people believe strong sustainability credentials impact brand perception and performance, while 70% of employees choose to work at a company with a strong environmental agenda. That said, if channel partners aren’t considering ESG in their business, why should they expect their customers to invest their trust and money in them? Sustainability has been core to Epson’s management philosophy for decades now and it is a firm part of the company’s DNA. While there are many ways in which a business can start to seriously consider ESG, a good start would be to integrate all relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals into their business framework, setting smart targets that can be communicated and adhered to across the business. To better contribute towards a more sustainable society, Epson participates in numerous external initiatives. In April 2019, Epson joined the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), a global coalition dedicated to CSR in global supply chains, and in December 2020 Epson achieved platinum status for socially responsible manufacturing, the RBA’s highest CSR accreditation. In 2019 Epson took a permanent seat on the board of directors for CSR Europe, a network supporting businesses with their sustainability journey, to help lead in their creation of sustainability guidelines and policies. In April 2021, Epson joined RE100, a global initiative bringing together the world’s most influential businesses driving the transition to 100% renewable electricity, as a means of further encouraging its customers and partners to make the switch to renewable energy. And in March 2021, Epson reaffirmed its commitment to its Key CSR Themes materiality matrix, which identifies key initiatives from Epson in addressing the 169 targets of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. In the UK, Epson has trained an internal team of 30 ‘green gurus’ in new waste management to monitor and educate employees www.pcr-online.biz
regarding recycling and other environmental concerns, and it participates in the 30% Club Women’s Mentoring programme to help achieve a greater gender balance in its industry. Epson UK provides interactive presentations to local schools on the importance of sustainability and how they can make ecoconscious decisions at school and at home, and Epson provides its local charity partner in the UK, the Human Milk Foundation, with thousands in financial support along with print, labelling and projection product donations, up to 30 volunteering days from employees per year and brand building efforts to promote their cause. DECARBONISATION
The environmental impacts made by the tech channel and how to reduce these are not dissimilar to those in other sectors. This generally requires assessing the carbon footprint generated internally (scope 1: direct emissions, under the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol) as well as the collateral footprint generated through third parties (scope 2 and 3: indirect emissions), up to and including the downstream emissions emitted from end-users with the products they buy. The big push currently is decarbonisation and understanding how to become net zero, and there are numerous analysis tools available from different firms on how to analyse risk versus compliance that cover decarbonisation and the entire ESG landscape. A big part of this analysis includes distinguishing real action from businesses to tackle environmental issues versus more imitated efforts, i.e. ‘greenwashing’. Epson’s decarbonisation strategy of reducing the environmental impacts of its own technology is one that can be adapted by the tech channel and the products they choose to offer customers. It not only reflects the reduced carbon emissions and waste generated by customers as a result of Epson product usage, but it reflects the collective carbon footprint Epson strives to minimise throughout its entire product lifecycle. When it comes to manufacturing, Epson is committed to leveraging innovative technologies that help solve issues that affect us all and contribute to sustainability and enrich our communities. Here are just a few examples: If all European businesses switched to Epson inkjet technology, we could save 1 billion kWh a year, the equivalent to a €151 million energy saving and could reduce carbon emissions by over 410 thousand tonnes of CO2, a volume it would take 18 million trees www.pcr-online.biz
a year to absorb. The design that gives us these eco savings is the same design that generates faster first page out times (FPOT), runs on fewer consumables and requires minimal intervention. Epson is also in the vanguard of more sustainable solutions for fashion, an industry that produces 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions. Localising fashion using more ondemand digital printing can save up to 4Kg of CO2 per item. Our digital textile printers reduce water use by up to 90% and energy use by up to 30%. Epson is also playing a key role in digital transformation thanks to its range of affordable, low-energy consumption desktop scanners, which are not only digitising paper documents but are helping businesses to streamline communications, increase efficiency and save time. Other efficient technology solutions that are helping customers reduce their environmental impacts can be found across Epson’s wide portfolio of projectors, smart glasses, robotics and more. CHANNEL INITIATIVES
One of the best ways the channel can help reduce the industry’s carbon footprint is by taking a vested and emotional interest in the environment, taking the time to educate its employees on the environmental implications their roles are each responsible for, and actively advocating positive change. As a global manufacturer that spends approximately $1.2m daily on research and development, Epson is both able and responsible for making great commitments towards ensuring its products, offices and factories, employees, and its supply chains are meeting the highest possible standards for sustainability. But a business doesn’t need a daily budget of $1.2m to reduce its carbon footprint. The reduced energy consumption and consumables of many Epson products is actually offering our partners a means of carbon offsetting, while a lot of channel partners are taking this a step further with environmental and conservation initiatives to further support the cause. For example, Copytype in Ireland recently pledged financial donations to the Burren Pine Project for the sale of every inkjet printer as a celebration of the new commitment to sustainable inkjet printing. Sharples Group as another example have pledged to plant a minimum of six trees in The Mersey Forest for every hardware product they sell. These efforts are highly contagious and the message we strive to deliver around sustainability as professionals is increasingly mirrored in the decisions we make in our personal lives as well. July/August 2021 | 31
PCR’s Under 30’s
PCR’s Under 30’s Rising Stars of the Industry The tech channel has some fantastic young talented professionals. To celebrate this, we scouted out some of the best in the industry. Here’s who shone the brightest.
Winner of this year’s Rising Stars of the Industry Award Ben Clark
Global Partnerships Manager COROS Wearables Incorporated Age 25 “Aged just 25, Ben Clark has risen to Global Partnerships Manager in one of the fastest growing sports wearable tech companies in the world. Starting as UK Market Manager (HoM), and being promoted to Northern Europe Market as well as holding similar roles in other companies in the industry including Garmin, and mymo, Ben is quickly gaining the skills and development required for a very successful career in tech. “During his time in marketing with COROS, Ben has brought in over 1000 pieces of global PR and guest content (micro-influencers), as well as multiple technology partnerships and products awards all in the space of less than a year, equating to approximately £5.1M additional revenue.” ** Congratulations Ben! We look forward to welcoming you and a guest to this year’s PCR Awards night**
PCR’s Under 30’s
UK Operations and Technical Manager Hannspree Age 28 “Scott Walker plays a vital role in the dayto-day running of the HANNspree business, with an ell-encompassing skill set. Notably, his invaluable technical knowledge perfectly lends to the management of HANNspree’s operations, and technical and product management. Scott is a key cog in the HANNspree product development process, from influencing conception to actively participating in market delivery. Thanks to Scott’s dedication to customer satisfaction, coupled with his technical experience, he delivers a 5 star rated technical support inbox management, consistently praised for his professional and knowledgeable handling of customer technical support communications. Scott is a true team player, and an asset who continually thrives within the company.”
Sales Manager UK, Ireland, South Africa & Benelux, Razer (Europe) Age: 29 “Since joining Razer, Haydn Boyd has invigorated the channel and retail sectors of the gaming business, with multiple successful B2B and B2C initiatives, resulting in Razer consistently increasing market share across multiple categories, both in the UK as well as the Benelux and South Africa regions. Haydn’s ability to identify potential opportunities coupled with his deep understanding of the technology and gaming markets, has proven to be a major asset for the company. In an increasingly competitive market, Haydn continues to work smoothly with buyers, distributors and retailers to maximise run rates and sales, with outstanding success.”
Retail Sales Account Manager Intel Age 27 “Hannah Freeman is a rising star within Intel and the UK tech ecosystem. With a wealth of experience from working with multinationals and formulating end-toend pricing strategies, she compliments her skillset with energy, enthusiasm, and motivation in a sales environment. Hannah is known for strategic thinking which enables her to create and deploy successful, scalable sales plans. At the tender age of 27 she has a big future ahead of her!!
Consumer Product and Business Manager Lenovo Age: 29 “Oana Pirtan joined Lenovo in November 2020 and quickly became a key member of Lenovo’s Consumer 4P/ Category Team. Oana manages Lenovo’s Consumer Desktop and All-in-One Segments and our newer consumer visuals business. She’s embraced the challenge and driven Lenovo’s market share to record levels in visuals – achieving our highest market share in March 2021 and driving significant year-on-year growth. “Oana also presented live alongside TV Host Suzie Perry at Lenovo’s RX21 virtual event and was a natural, showcasing the new lineup and demonstrating the new Yoga 7 All-in-One to all our retail customers.”
IT Solutions, HR Coordinator Agilitas Age: 27 “Since joining Agilitas, Maddie Hill has made a huge impression in supporting our people strategy, such as recruitment and onboarding. Not only does she achieve this with great efficiency, but does so with a smile. Maddie demonstrates her can-do, positive and proactive approach daily. She plays a crucial part in our company’s recruitment and retention strategies. Maddie has developed good and strong work relationships with management during a short period of time. She works extremely hard, with resilience and pragmatism, whilst strengthening our human resources platform from a system and policy perspective.”
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PCR’s Under 30’s
Logistics Team Leader Comms Care Age 26 “Laura Cross has been with Commscare for over 5 years. Laura initially started as a Project Coordinator and after 12 months in that position she transitioned over to the Logistics Team to become our heart of Stock Control. As a key member of the Commscare Team, Laura now develops system processes, implements strategies to maintain customer satisfaction and to make sure the users around the business have the best tools to complete and deliver the best service possible. “Laura is not afraid to jump into any project assigned to her, presenting to Director level, new ideas for best practice, she is a highly respected part of the Commscare team.”
Account Manager CMS Distribution Age 28 “In the 18 months Lewis Welsh has been at CMS Distribution, he has demonstrated an exceptional talent for developing business partnerships within the PC Components & Gaming category. Lewis has exceeded expectations by adding new accounts to our portfolio, which has contributed to a growth in sales and market share. He is customer focused, dedicated and a strong team player which has resulted in new and existing vendor relationships being strengthened.”
Zaboura, Account Manager Age - 28 “Just before lockdown was announced, Deborah D’Costa was promoted to a Junior Account Manager position, and went from working face-to-face with her team every day, to managing them at home. This was the first time she had ever managed a team and learning how to do so remotely, she says was definitely a challenge. In overcoming that challenge and working through various struggles, D’Costa felt herself grow both as a person, and as a member of the team. She stepped up to the mark and knowing what needed to be done, when it needed to be done, was able to motivate the team when things were increasingly difficult for everyone.”
Sales Manager BenQ Age 27 “Starting his career in Technical Support, Alex Astbury decided to take his extensive knowledge of technology into the world of sales. Beginning his journey as a Sales Apprentice in 2014, Alex completed the entire training programme in an incredible six months. “Alex has since moved into the gaming world, where he has managed relationships with Amazon, Argos and SDG, leading to extremely successful business and eCommerce partnership development, brand awareness expansion and ultimately, sales activation increases. Now working as BenQ’s B2C Sales Manager, Alex has already made huge positive waves across the business and made an enormous impact within the team.”
BenQ B2C Marketing Executive Age 29 “Only three years into his marketing career and six months into a role at global electronics manufacturer BenQ, Richard Mackey has already made an impact in the world of technology. “Joining BenQ in January 2020 as UK marketing executive within its consumer division, Richard was quickly tasked with rapidly deploying a new marketing strategy to correspond with changes to the business caused by the global pandemic. “As a result of lockdown, BenQ has had to rely on its B2C division more than ever before. Whilst businesses have delayed AV installations and procurement, Richard had to think quickly and effectively about how to ensure his division could maintain success.”
Logistics Team Leader Comms Care Age 28 “Jake Armstrong is very approachable and a genuinely nice person. Since he joined Comms Care, he has developed hugely, taking on increased responsibility becoming a team leader. He cares a lot about the work that he undertakes and the way the department and company are perceived. His passion for Comms Care is second to none and we are very lucky to have him. Jake has helped develop the skills of others that have allowed his peers to succeed in their role. His desire to do what’s best for comms care and to continue with improvements for his department is astounding.” www.pcr-online.biz
PCR’s Under 30’s
Senior Business Client Engineer Utopia Computers Age 27 “Cameron McGill came to Utopia as a repair technician and sought out ways to learn wherever he could. In the last year, he has been key to the exponential growth of Utopia’s business, playing an integral role in securing our largest contract to date. Throughout his career at Utopia, he has shown a natural flair for staying calm under pressure and an innate ability to retain information about networking and server installations. This year he was promoted to Senior Business Client Engineer, heading up new technology rollouts and keeping Utopia’s clients safe and secure while making the vast transitions required during the pandemic.”
PR & Social Media Executive PFU (EMEA) Limited Age: 29 “Robyn has made a huge impact on the business since joining two and a half years ago, bringing with her valid previous experience from big tech names including Panasonic, Samsung and Vertu. She has quickly established herself as an invaluable member of the PFU EMEA marketing team, where she manages an external PR agency to plan and build regular, engaging content including a PR and social media calendar. Most recently she project-managed brand campaigns including the ScanSnap 20th anniversary, the Happy Hacking Keyboard launch and achieved great results with PFUE’s first ever influencer campaign in July 2020.”
Senior Marketing Strategist Rawnet Age 29 “Freddy has been at Rawnet for 4 years, starting as a solo marketing strategist with the intention to grow our SEO services. Rawnet used to be known for their web design and development skills and wanted to offer more digital support in these areas. In these four short years Freddy has created and grown a whole other area in Rawnet’s strategy team from just himself to a team of 11, the marketing strategy team is now one of our strongest and most profitable service offerings, which has changed the direction we serve our clients and the direction of the business.”
IT-Specialist - system integration, Customer Support Engineer SEH Technology Age 27 “Felix first joined SEH Technology as a trainee in 2015. During this time, he has worked in all areas of the company for three years, including sales, marketing processing, hardware and software development, and production, before moving to customer support. Within his role, he has worked to develop holistic service standards and created interfaces between development and end customers. Not only has this improved customer satisfaction and retention for the company, but Felix has also successfully completed over 6,000 customer support tickets. He is also SEH’s single point of contact for business and project partners, building strong and long-lasting relationships with stakeholders.”
Channel Marketing Specialist PFU EMEA Age 26 “Since joining the team in early 2020, Midhula Mahendran has made an immediate impact and brought great value to the PFU EMEA marketing team, supporting Field Sales, Sales Leadership and Marketing. In the short time she has been with PFUE and despite global challenges, she has built exceptional marketing relationships with our most important channel partners and press, improved brand awareness, quality of content and has driven significant improvements in the company’s go-to market offering. Her colleagues would describe her as enthusiastic and determined, and always looking for proactive ways to drive change and improvement.”
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Using IoT to help businesses survive and thrive Nick Sacke, head of IoT and products at Comms365 discusses how IoT and the use of data can boost and support industries and the wider economy.
ith the UK going into its first financial recession since In a pandemic when workforces are remote, it’s vital for businesses 2009 as a consequence of COVID-19, many businesses to have a robust, high-quality Internet connection and IoT connected are struggling to stay alive. Without the right technology device. This will provide visibility on-site and remote access as and continuity processes in place, organisations were unable to adapt required, reducing the need for engineers and IT teams to make their models quickly enough to survive. Now it’s a wake-up unnecessary and potentially risky site visits. call to get the right solutions implemented to ride the The deployment of 5G will help to increase network waves of any future economic storms. capacity and data flow; supporting connections “With the With the increase in the volume of data that of one million devices per square kilometre. By increase in the is being produced, identifying, analysing supercharging the potential of IoT with new 5G volume of data that and using the information that is scattered networks, connected buildings and transport is being produced, around an organisation is a key business infrastructure could benefit from the value identifying, analysing challenge, but also an opportunity. This can this enhanced connectivity will bring. Smart and using the information be addressed by the optimal use of data, buildings are the future, and post-COVID-19, that is scattered around deploying innovative IoT technologies can help to boost the economy by reducing the an organisation is a key including sensors, and targeted insights from costs of running the public sector estate, such as business challenge, ‘Big Data’ analytics systems. the introduction of smart lighting. IoT, smart sensors and connected Elements that have had a significant impact but also an technologies are starting to play a key role in on the economy are the need for social distancing opportunity.” providing valuable data for effective decision measures and other safety elements that have had making across all industries. Improving processes to be implemented. Particularly for industries such as through data collection and analysis is necessary for manufacturing and logistics, with fewer staff, organisations faced companies to future-proof their businesses in a highly volatile global significant challenges to meet demand. But this is where IoT is playing market and identify new revenue streams. a vital role, especially once employees start to return to work. By taking a circular economy approach, organisations can reduce The use of IoT can support automation of shared touchpoints waste, extract the most value and obtain cost savings by optimising needed to limit cross-contamination. For example, monitoring the their use of resources. Through the collection and analysis of data, distance between people via infrared beams and alerting when social interconnected devices have the potential to outline the key areas of distancing thresholds are crossed. By deploying these technologies, waste of resources and inform real-time decision-making on how businesses can operate safely and productively while generating to address these issues. By capitalising on innovation, businesses revenue to remain operational. can benefit from a rise of new economic opportunities, such as the If businesses were to embrace innovative technology and use the mitigation of supply risks, while ensuring that assets are used to their data they collect in the right way, the ‘new normal’ post-COVID-19 maximum potential. may be a smoother transition for many. By leveraging the most value Moreover, by having visual insight into the condition and from their resources, as well as the management and more efficient availability of each asset, this overview is of value to businesses use of data to meet green agenda objectives, organisations can help to to enhance their productivity through factors such as predictive keep their running costs low, which is particularly important during maintenance. Overall, this helps to make products and services uncertain times. This preparation, in turn, will help businesses to ride more effective and efficient, while reducing costs and waste in the the waves of uncertainty and keep them trading to boost the economy supply chain. in both the short and long-term. 36
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Smart tech keeps on getting smarter Ryan Thomas, business unit manager for mobile, CE & mixed reality at Tech Data considers the smart technology segment.
ech Data has an array of complementary vendors that sit within the smart home category. From the Google Hardware portfolio to Arlo cameras, Yale security and much more. To provide added clarity and focus, we have organised smart home solutions into a number of sub-categories, as follows: • Ecosystem (Google, Alexa, Apple Home Kit) • Networking (TP Link, D-Link) • Security (Yale, Arlo, Nest) • Climate (Nest) • Lighting (Philips Hue, Wiz, LifX, TP Link) • Entertainment (Philips, Oculus, Facebook Portal, TCL) • Lifestyle (Fitbit) • Energy (Eaton, APC) When engaging with new prospect partners we talk about the full smart home ecosystem and how we can assist in creating a shortened decision-making journey for the customer. We are also expanding our presence in augmented and virtual reality, particularly in the enterprise space with brands like Facebook Oculus, Microsoft Hololens and Google Glass. These are all being made available via Tech Data’s wider solutions aggregation platforms, alongside relevant software solutions and service and finance options. Smart home is an ever-evolving and growing segment of the market. According to ResearchAndMarkets the global smart home market size is expected to grow from $78.3 billion in 2020 to USD $135.3 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 11.6%. Separately, GFK values the UK market at €2.3 billion, so we can perhaps expect it to approach €11 billion by 2025, so the potential for growth is huge. Over the last ten years, AR and VR have begun to show massive promise and many of the tech giants are investing in these technologies, with the global market expected to reach $18.8 billion in 2020 – an increase of over 78% on 2019. More and more hardware developers are popping up and it’s the start of something completely new.
Increasingly, smart home technology products from different vendors are compatible and will work together out of the box. This has made integration easier and led to further acceptance of smart home tech in both the consumer and business markets. We have also seen huge leaps forward in acceptance and use of in AR/VR – again in both the consumer and business segment. Much of this has been driven by products such as Facebook Oculus and Xbox Kinnect. This is making a huge difference across the whole category, and the rate of development and user acceptance is accelerating all the time. AR & VR are now able to bring the digital world to life, either in a completely virtual environment or by bringing digital images and information into the real world with augmented reality. Tech Data has been working with partners to promote and deliver smart home solutions with a number of sectors, including construction and hospitality. We recently supported one of our reseller partners on a project to voice-enable all guest rooms and services for a large UK hotel chain using Google solutions. This solution enables guests to use simple voice commands to interact with the hotel and personalise their experiences, from making service requests and setting alarms, to asking for local recommendations and hotel information. With AR and VR there is a real demand for solutions in construction, engineering, medicine, education, and training. Independent software vendors are building solutions that support an array of situations for any given environment. Millennials are now of an age where they will begin to purchase their first home and as they have grown up with these technologies, they will both expect and want to make use of smart home tech. Historically, augmented reality has been confined to smartphones, with apps like Snapchat and Pokemon GO leading the way. Over the next few years, we can expect to see players like Apple and Facebook start to get involved and extend the use of AR through head-worn AR glasses.
“When engaging with new prospect partners we talk about the full smart home ecosystem and how we can assist in creating a shortened decision-making journey for the customer.”
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Smart thinking EZVIZ UK’s Simon Buckingham, Brand & Marketing Manager gives his personal view on where the smart tech industry is headed.
“As I look back on previous PCR editions over the years where I have spoken about the market and improvements made in the AI/IoT sector in various articles and opinion pieces, I write this knowing that the progress continues.”
ith the pandemic situation has come a need for transformation into advances of technology within Security, technology that has always been there, just perhaps never the need for it just yet or specific legislations. Moving forward, for example, you will see football stadiums integrating facial recognition terminals as you enter stadiums, automated temperature screening cameras as well as general AI aspects of cameras picking up on human/vehicle shapes to define better notifications and security solutions as well as sensational improvements in both resolution and night vision capabilities. Improved entry solutions to residential and commercial, as well as general public spaces such as events etc. will put people’s minds at ease and encourage a new stage of human/tech relationships. EZVIZ has taken its products to another level, not just aesthetically but technologically as well, leading the way in features such as Colour Night Vision, further enhancing security to a true detailed 24/7 scenario, AI Human Shape and Vehicle Shape detections, catering for various requirements and needs of the customer. Removing false notifications and informing you of what really matters, in a fast paced lifestyle, this is an important aspect to provide a solution for. We strive to educate our customers via content and support systems to encourage why you need our products and how they benefit your life. New and improved internet infrastructure being rolled out nationwide (and from space!) will benefit the IoT industry even further, as we have more and more connected devices at home and at work, more opportunity arises for further integration and automation within these kind of environments. Couple with things like Geo-Fencing, recently a feature we added to our app, customers can do things such as have Smart lights turn on when they are near home or if a camera detects motion. This is a basic idea, but adds another dimension to our busy lives and it does not 38
stop there as things like kitchen appliances interact in various IoT systems too. Kettles, washing machines, vacuums, the list continues to grow. The addition a few years back of voice devices such as Alexa/Google Home, allows the Smart market to really take off, people finally got it and understood what is possible, the demand is now there and will continue to grow over the many years to come. More are now accustomed to this new lifestyle approach; we are waiting for the next steps, and with my research recently I can see the path. Blockchain technology is something I have a great personal interest in, both from an investment perspective as well as general technological interest (I love tech), I see the future where IoT and AI will thrive in this new way to pave the way for a true Smart City approach and enhance our smart home experience to beyond our imagination this coming decade and beyond. IoT and AI has no boundaries, autonomous drones, automated taxi pickups based on your integrated schedules and needs, automatic medical assistance. Whilst we have no application via Blockchain yet, I know of many companies in the AI/IOT industry working hard on this kind of project and I can see many many more joining the revolution as time goes on. Quicker, faster, cheaper, machine to machine learning (M2M) and paving a way for a fully interoperable infrastructure that will benefit every aspect of life and bring all the technologies and products collectively into one streamline that will simply…. Just work. Machine to machine learning, with less and less human interaction as technology develops, will mean a new decentralised system where instead of relying on one server, you will rely on a multitude of servers, if one product fails in your system, another will take over to avoid any reduction in service throughout your home or business, I truly believe that blockchain, AI and IoT will be the future sooner than we think, and it will pave the way for the 4th industrial revolution. www.pcr-online.biz
However, for now, with IoT of course comes the Cloud services, not only powering some of these new exciting features in various products, but also the ability to store data such as evidence and playback footage of your cameras. Here at EZVIZ we have a comprehensive Cloud offering with various price points to fit the various needs our customers ask for. Cloud Storage provides a cost effective and full proof solution to ensure you have what you need, when you need it in a highly secure manor. As you know from reading the previous PCR edition about how important privacy and encryption is, we take this aspect very seriously, especially being a security solution company! Multiple sources suggest the Smart home market in the UK alone being approximately £158 billion, but I believe it will be higher personally with all the factors mentioned in this article as well as all the ones I have not mentioned! Consumer behaviour is changing; education of the sector is accelerating as is the media attention, the requirement for Smart, AI and IoT has even greater demands than ever before. The adoption of Smart home/IoT sector is not catered to any specific age group in my opinion and rightly so, I believe anyone and everyone can and will benefit from further smart adoption.
The next growth having already seen the results of devices such as alexa/google home, will be things like smart HVAC solutions, home and business air conditioning solutions that are in line with latest climate goals and programmes such as Agenda 30, smarter tech will result in the reduction of carbon emissions and improve the efficiency of all aspects, turning things off for us when not in use, adjusting power/heating as and when needed. This coupled with the fact that some technological components are mass produced more than ever before will suggest more can be made cheaper, thus improving pricing for both business and end users like you and I. The pipeline for EZVIZ is very exciting and we will see more and more smart home products enter our portfolio to increase and improve the ever growing and already impressive eco-system. Mark my words, when it comes to AI and IoT, we haven’t seen anything yet and there is a lot more to come and I look forward to this progressive journey with you all. I know that EZVIZ will continue to push its technology even more in the Smart Security market as well as other areas I cannot wait to look back at this article in the future like I have done with previous ones and discuss how much further we have come between now and then, that goes for the whole smart market in general too. See you in the future!
“Blockchain technology is something I have a great personal interest in, both from an investment perspective as well as general technological interest (I love tech), I see the future where IoT and AI will thrive in this new way to pave the way for a true Smart City approach and enhance our smart home experience to beyond our imagination this coming decade and beyond. IoT and AI has no boundaries, autonomous drones, automated taxi pickups based on your integrated schedules and needs, automatic medical assistance.” www.pcr-online.biz
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Be Smart Tech Savvy Daniel Todaro, Managing Director of Gekko, gives his take on consumer demand for smart tech.
he pandemic has changed the way we interact with our homes. Having spent an inordinate amount of time lounging around the house with our families, we have found new and interesting ways to not only entertain ourselves but also protect ourselves. At the heart of this has been smart technology that has enabled us to stream, cast, view, listen, observe and command and it’s unlikely we’re going to see an immediate cessation of the trend. In the UK our thirst for smart technology continues and revenue in the Smart Home market (not including smart TV’s) is set to reach £5,277m in 2021 with an expected annual growth rate (CAGR 2021-2025)* of 15.06%, resulting in a projected market volume of £9,249m by 2025. So what does this mean for brands and retailers? It’s a positive trend that nods to an opportunity for all to continue focusing on as our homes become outdated and the need to update becomes essential and not merely fanciful. The trend is set to see the Smart Home market increase across the number of active households to 18.7m users by 2025. This 40
household penetration will increase from the forecasted 37.4% in 2021 to hit 63.0% by 2025. That’s not the only positive signal. The amount we are prepared to spend is also uplifting with the average spend per installed Smart Home currently forecasted at £481.83 and even if this does not materialise, it indicates the scale of the opportunity from every customer that enquires or starts the journey of upgrading to Smart technology. The global comparison reveals that most revenues in the sector are naturally generated in the United States, where the size of the market is over four times that of the UK at £22,408m in 2021. So even though we may not be in the same league as our US cousins, we are performing well for a nation of our size, one that is full of early adopters looking to spend on new technology before our EU neighbours. More importantly though, just look deeper at the demographic spread. In 2020 the share of 36.5% of users adopting smart technology was in the medium income group but even more interesting is that the share of 28.8% of users/purchasers were in the 25-34 year old age range. www.pcr-online.biz
So as we look to develop our living environments to control our home, become better connected to streaming platforms and increase our peace of mind with total security, the need to engage with consumers at a level which increases sales is critical. Consider every factor from the usage and the ecosystem that works best for your consumer and know your stuff. A key element of the formula for success in store is a shoppers’ engagement with retail sales advisors. Are they proactive, helpful, skilful, knowledgeable, and capable of providing a personalised experience? This is something the online experience can’t replicate and physical retailers need to exploit to their advantage. Much is down to individuals, their training and management the retailer provides, but when it comes to talking about a brand and its products it is vital they are informed, motivated and most importantly advocates. The need to keep up to date is essential in order to capitalise on sales opportunities through trends in smart technology. Many brands have adapted ranges to meet the changing habits of consumers and our increased levels of time spent at home that have seen us cook, clean and entertain ourselves in the home more than we have ever done before. The space we occupy has evolved, we are now not only bothered about how it looks but increasingly also about how it works as a space to live in. This will no doubt ease once we come out of restrictions but changes are likely to stick. Consumer demand will remain dynamic and therefore the current situation means that interest in products is still unpredictable. As household demand shifts, it alters long standing behaviours and creates new ones e.g. homeworking leads to more interest in home luxuries and smart technologies as does the inert nature to protect our possessions and loved ones. Innovation in the category will create more demand as brands bring to market more connected devices that integrate smart technology into the inanimate objects. A great example of this is where Ikea is working with Sonos on a hidden speaker built into wall art. Previous collaborations include a revamped version of the Symfonisk table lamp selling for around the same price (£150) as the original product. The Sonos Play 1 hardware is implemented into the body of the lamp to link into your existing system or used as a stand alone Sonos streaming solution. The second product that Ikea and Sonos are rumoured to be announcing in 2021 is completely new: www.pcr-online.biz
a piece of wall art with an integrated speaker concealing the technical bit and integrating smart technology into lifestyle products. Beyond speakers, home security and computing, integration across many categories from white goods such as laundry and cooling are now becoming commonplace and for product line ups from some brands, are now standard features. With initiatives to integrate these seamlessly irrespective of brand and assistant underway, it will undoubtedly expedite demand. One category that naturally did well in 2020 and will continue to do so in 2021 are those smart devices that help with a home’s health and cleanliness such as intelligent air filtration systems. These can automatically detect air quality and begin operation or be pushed to purify on-demand via app or voice control, not only do they provide cleaner air within the home but offer peace of mind and tap into the zeitgeist. So when you factor in the need for better compatibility, it’s welcome news that the initiative is underway to make it easier to create a smart eco system from many brands such as Google, Apple, Amazon, Philips who have agreed to collaborate to make all of their smart home devices compatible with one another. This has been entitled the ‘Matter’ Project which will create more choices for consumers. The goal of Matter is to increase the compatibility of your hardware to make sure you’re able to use your smart home devices with the voice assistant you prefer, whether that be Apple’s Siri, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant. At launch, when it is unknown yet but when available, Matter will run on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Some might say that this is a long overdue initiative that in reality expands the category and consumer reach for all brands whilst offering convenience for consumers. As a retailer or reseller, put yourself in your customer’s shoes and consider what you aspire to achieve, and redouble your efforts. Use this personal approach to enhance the customer journey, engaging in the most effective manner possible with your target consumers. This begins with propositions that grab the imagination and reveal the possibilities a smart home can achieve. Explain creatively a story that envelopes the consumer, enough to become a customer through informed choices of Smart Tech purchases that work seamlessly for them and their lifestyle. *Statista July/August 2021 | 41
The rise of eHealth Mark Appleby, Business Development Manager at Wireless Logic discusses the role cellular connectivity played in reducing the strain on the healthcare system during COVID-19 and beyond. eHealth is a steadily growing industry that advanced hand-in-hand with connectivity and digital communication. For years, eHealth solutions have allowed healthcare providers the flexibility and freedom to take care of patients remotely, gradually easing the demand on a strained healthcare system that was under pressure even before COVID-19 took its toll. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, hospitals and their staff were quickly overwhelmed with priority patients. The UK’s struggling healthcare system needed to allow as many patients as possible to receive medical care from the safety of their own homes, reducing overcrowding and unnecessary contact that could further transmit the virus. As well as reducing the impact on ongoing healthcare systems - such as GP waiting times - cellular-enabled solutions offer a resilient and secure way to meet the ever-changing requirements of healthcare organisations.
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eHealth and cellular
The impact of COVID-19 on an already-strained healthcare system meant there was an urgent need to be able to relieve this, by providing care to patients remotely in a way that wouldn’t risk further transmitting the virus. Both patients and care staff needed to stay safe, so by taking advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT) - enabled by cellular connectivity - people were able to still have their medical needs met remotely. One of the effects of the pandemic on the eHealth sector was an accelerated need for reliable remote patient monitoring and independent living. For many years, Wi-Fi was predominantly relied upon within hospitals as a means of communicating data. However, as remote patient monitoring and assisted living became more crucial, the need for alternative communication types became clear. Cellular has become a key method for connecting these solutions as it allows quick and secure access to mobile networks without the need to rely on patients’ own home network. This development has been particularly significant for those (especially older generations) who may not have Wi-Fi in their homes, meaning they can still access medical support without the additional hassle and expense of having broadband installed. As we steadily move through and past the pandemic, the healthcare system must continue implementing solutions that can support a growing population who are living longer, and who need medical care and assistance to do that. Crucially, this can be done using resilient, reliable and secure IoT technology in medical devices (whether used by healthcare workers, paramedics or even patients). Connecting these IoT devices to medical staff and organisations via cellular networks will allow for real-time monitoring of patients’ vital signs and the ability to rapidly transmit data back to a central hub. Additionally, healthcare providers can take advantage of 4G connectivity for higher bandwidth applications that require fast and secure connectivity, or newer LPWAN networks for low www.pcr-online.biz
latency, high-speed applications. This is ideal for devices that require longer battery life, or those that need to send large packets of data in a short space of time: often required for heart monitors, dialysis machines, wearables, or implants with cardiac and biometric sensors. These devices can track vital signs and send an emergency communication in realtime to care providers, or alert the patient to taking a specific action such as an at-home test. Cellular connectivity has quickly become a key enabler of eHealth and related technologies, providing a controlled and secure method of communication that can work from any location. Managed cellular connectivity offers the potential to add significant levels of security when transferring data (as opposed to Wi-Fi or other connectivity methods), as well as the ability to provide connectivity for a large number of devices simultaneously. Specifically in the age of IoT, having extremely reliable and low-latency connectivity is paramount, particularly when even the slightest of delays can have the potential to cause severe consequences.
eHealth challenges during COVID-19
There is a significant need for existing healthcare systems to adapt in order to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in an ageing population, focusing on meeting patient needs, keeping care-workers safe and ensuring processes are working efficiently. At the same time, new connectivity solutions can be embraced and implemented to address ongoing and upcoming issues for the post-COVID-19 era. The pandemic has further highlighted the need to embrace these solutions and has accelerated the adoption of eHealth technologies. Smart healthcare systems provide patients and staff with more reliable and safe health services and environments through the use of IoT technology and cellular connectivity. By working with solution providers who can tailor full end-to-end solutions, the healthcare industry will be better equipped to support hospital environments, remote healthcare applications and disaster response units. As a result of rapid actions of healthcare solution providers, we’re now seeing that cellular technology has already been transformative for the healthcare industry during COVID-19, in areas such as remote medical appointments, or by allowing the emergency services to quickly record patient data in the field. Indeed, a recent IEEE study highlighted how cellular-enabled technologies such as IoT have been at the forefront of helping the UK and other countries combat the COVID-19 pandemic and alleviate the strain on the healthcare system, reducing unnecessary human contact.
Security of eHealth
With private health data being transferred between people, locations and devices, the consequences of a data breach would be severe, whether the subject is personal health data, the results of a medical study, or pharmacy records. Wireless communication links are vulnerable to security threats such as eavesdropping, hamming and spoofing. Without secure links, external parties can access critical patient information or even manipulate data, potentially leading to fatalities. In addition, there is a risk of network disruption and reputational damage through loss of customer data and intellectual property. www.pcr-online.biz
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Healthcare systems must ensure that health data can be shared in a trusted and secure way. Through the use of VPNs or direct interconnects, organisations are able to protect data whilst still communicating effectively with relevant parties. To support their security efforts further, healthcare systems should aim to work with a Managed Service Provider with ISO27001 certification, demonstrating that IoT security is being taken seriously. Ultimately this will create an ecosystem of secure data management and processing. Hardware security is also increasingly pertinent. Expensive medical devices are being shared with patients, often taken offpremises and used for long periods of time. Healthcare organisations must be able to track and monitor these devices, as well as making sure they are being used for the right purpose. Methods such as IMEI locking can help to minimise financial loss by ensuring the SIM is locked to one particular device, while IP whitelisting can make sure that patients can only access the relevant content for the intended use-case.
Future of eHealth
Cellular connectivity and emerging technologies have played a significant role in reducing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to support a very strained healthcare system. When properly deployed, cellular connectivity enables secure, rapid and efficient communication between the hospital, remote care staff patients, and disaster response teams. For healthcare solution providers, working with the right Managed Service Provider will ensure the right connectivity, network, security and hardware are selected to tailor a flexible and scalable solution to meet the requirements of the healthcare organisation, particularly as we see new and enhanced applications being developed. Finally, with the ongoing development and roll-out of 5G technologies, this will further drive innovation and open up new and more effective ways of working. Once 5G coverage has been significantly improved (current coverage is only focused on major cities), healthcare systems will also benefit from increased speeds, more reliable coverage and crucially, reduced latency. July/August 2021 | 43
The road ahead Iouri Prokhorov, CEO at Intelastel explains how Intelastel is facilitating a shift towards digitisation.
n the well-warehoused world of ecommerce, online retailers soon realised there was a fine line to tread between providing a dazzling array of options and provoking the agonising decision paralysis that led to cart abandonment. How do you cater to every possible choice, without triggering option overload? The answer was in distinctive difference; retailers took pains to ensure clear delineation between each option, and mercilessly discontinued product lines with shared features to make customer decision-making a logical process. The result was an uptick in sales, as buyers were able to satisfy their consumerism with the surety of reasoned feature filtering. In the world of B2B buying, the story has been remarkably similar. Decision paralysis has hung over the heads of many businesses seeking to digitise their operations. With so many options for software development, seemingly so little differentiation between each, and such throttling expense and responsibility riding on the outcome, how could decision makers come up with a confident choice? The emergence of no code application builders like Intelastel has provided an innovative answer to this conundrum. No code builders offer a platform in which users can create business applications without code, via use of a visual interface. This opens up the development playing field, giving non-tech ‘citizen developers’ across the business the chance to build, deploy and revise applications as they need them, instead of vying for developer attention among a sea of support tickets. Compared to traditional software development, no code software is far cheaper to buy, much quicker to implement and more versatile. No code platforms are often free to begin working with, enabling users to trial applications with their own data and processes, but without the pressure of commitment. In doing so, decision makers are able to evaluate software with a confidence not previously possible, and roll out digitisation piece by piece, splitting the time and cost into installments. From a management standpoint, time to value and pricing structures are two of the key selling points for decision makers. But in terms of facilitating a shift towards digitisation the no code movement goes much deeper. No code platforms are reimagining the entire software development process, devolving developer power outside the IT department to champion a modernised, united organisational structure. In an ideal model, citizen developers sit within each department and create or revise applications independently of IT teams, who provide 44
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support when needed and ensure overall system security. This will massively benefit departments with less bearing on profits, such as HR or marketing who generally find their tech requirements continually deprioritised against those of sales or customer services. By freeing IT teams’ time for higher profile tasks, while empowering all departments with the ability to create and streamline their own platforms, Intelastel’s no code platform has the potential to accelerate digitisation from both ends of the candle.
The true age of agility
Software development’s traditionally cumbersome cycle has long been at odds with the increasingly agile demands of business strategies. Agile became the B2B buzzword over a decade ago now, but it’s only since the pandemic struck that businesses truly experienced the need for agility on a dime. In the era of uncertainty, business processes needed an instant but adaptable digital overhaul. In uncharted terrain, versatile no code solutions like Intelastel gave adopters a key advantage, allowing them to adapt and revise applications in real time, in line with lockdown guidelines. Traditional software development was simply not quick enough to cater to the pace of changing market conditions. 2020 also drove a sea change towards remote work, making digitisation an inevitability as businesses sought global accessibility for files and systems. Again, this need created a visible divide between companies using immovable and manually ungraded on-premise software, against those benefiting from the ease and accessibility of cloud-based applications. ‘Anywhere operations’ - the movement toward businesses reaching customers, hiring employees and delivering services from and to anywhere - was one of Gartner’s predicted trends for 2021 and beyond. Full-business digitisation is the only way to achieve this, meaning pioneering organisations are seeking full-service solutions that can span their full enterprise, integrate with their existing systems, and offer global accessibility on demand.
Driving wider changes
Digitisation is here for the long haul as businesses seek to remake and then optimise their processes through software and automations. With the rise of no code solutions like Intelastel, however, the process is becoming modernised and accessible, enabling easier uptake for a growing vein of businesses - and the personnel within them worldwide. www.pcr-online.biz
Clearly Cloud Robert Belgrave, CEO at Pax8 UK explains why during times of uncertainty, the Cloud came out as king
loud computing has been crucial for so many over the past 12 months as the world has adapted to considerably greater levels of operating from home. While Cloud prominence and growth has, of course, been on the rise for several years now, few would have anticipated its unprecedented growth and importance through 2020 and into 2021. Cloud has proved to be the spine of data-driven, app-based tech that has been vital in helping us manage our everyday lives. Home delivery services and remote working and, amongst others, have been made possible remotely by substantial advancements in Cloud services. The growth in cloud usage and the market value of Cloud-based software, go some distance to underlining just how exponential this growth has been and how much of a role Cloud has played in helping us carry on with our daily lives through these most extraordinary times. According to Forrester Research, the global public Cloud infrastructure market is expected to grow 35% to $120 billion in 2021. The overall Cloud Computing Industry is also projected to grow substantially in the next few years, from $371.4 Billion in 2020 to $832.1 Billion by 2025. The pandemic seems set to have an insurmountable impact on the rate of Cloud software’s growth; according to Gartner, the surge in spending on public Cloud will run until 2024. This article further states that 70% of Cloud-using organisations plan to increase their adoption of the technology in direct response to the pandemic. The pandemic has brought a multitude of factors to the forefront of the IT industry’s mind, that have helped facilitate the growth of the Cloud, these include flexible computing power, disaster recovery, lower cost for backup and disaster recovery, resilient core for business process and business continuity. According to Flexera’s 2020 State Of The Cloud Report, 27% of leaders found an increase in cloud spend due to covid-19. The growth in Cloud can be most clearly seen through the eyes of big tech; Microsoft in the past year has seen huge revenue growth from Azure, it’s Cloud computing service, benefitting from the shift to home working and e-learning. The change to working from home has accelerated the switch to Cloud-based computing, with Microsoft and rivals such as Amazon benefitting through their respective Cloud software. Microsoft’s revenue drawn from its “Intelligent Cloud” portfolio rose 23 per cent in 2020 to $14.6bn, with 50 per www.pcr-online.biz
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cent of this growth down to Azure. Amazon’s Cloud business added $1bn in profits compared with the previous year, even as earnings from its core online retail business soared. Alphabet was also helped by fast growth in Cloud services, providing access to data centres, an area of the IT sector that has of course experienced a surge in demand following stay-at-home advice. Retailers that have adapted and incorporated Cloud-based software will likely be better positioned to adapt in the short term and thrive in the long term as we shift to far greater levels of online retail. The e-commerce industry has been one of the main areas that have seen rapid growth during the pandemic, and this is partly due to the growth in Cloud. As more stores shift online, this will be a crucial factor to consider for business owners. As we place a greater emphasis on sustainable solutions, Cloud has certainly been no exception in this regard. Many companies have placed Cloud systems at the forefront of efforts to be more sustainable. The UK Government’s department DEFRA is set to lead Cloud-focused IT sustainability standards across all government departments. In addition, IT companies have transitioned to more renewable IT solutions, placing Cloud at the epicenter of these efforts. Many companies that were previously skeptical about Cloud, are now spearheading this transition. Several factors have facilitated the exponential growth of Cloud computing over the past 12-18 months. Among these is the continued presence of the pandemic with a drastic shift towards home working, schooling and shopping. The growth in Cloud hasn’t been limited to these areas however with growth in Cloud-based gaming and with the Cloud playing a part in the shift towards more sustainable IT solutions. Might we see Cloud grow into areas like edge computing, hybrid software and areas like automation and AI? While the areas addressed undoubtedly have shown the substantive growth of the Cloud, we should certainly not isolate its growth to these areas and it will be interesting to see how widespread and fast-paced the development is going forward. As we begin to embrace more glimpses of a return to normality, it is clear that the growth of Cloud is not going to slow down in a hurry and is a theme we will be discussing more frequently in the months and years ahead. July/August 2021 | 45
Accelerating growth in the energy sector via digital transformation Kerry Grimes, Head of Partners at AVEVA discuses the role digitalization is playing in the energy sector, optimising operations and offering long-term sustainability.
here is a renewed growth in energy organisations globally. This is being driven by data to better inform current decisions in the here and now; digital innovation through the use of predictive analytics to better anticipate the future; digitisation and automation to deliver speed and cost efficiencies. According to analyst research, organisations that have pivoted to digital successfully, are already seeing an up to 10 percent improvement in expanded production and up to 30 percent savings in cost. PwC’s “2020 Digital Operations study for energy: Oil and gas” report found that the main barriers to the implementation of changes provided by digitalisation are due to limited knowledge sharing (77%), insufficient digital training (74%) and a lack of digital talent (72%). Regarding the lack of digital talent, 2019 data from oil and gas companies, collected by KPMG, found that chief information officers (CIOs) feel there are skills shortages in business analysis (47%), big data/analytics (41%), artificial intelligence (37%), cybersecurity (35%) and enterprise architecture (33%). Industrial technology is key to realising a more resource-efficient value chain and will support circularity as well as enable the transition to renewables and low-carbon energy. Digital tools, powered by human insight, can leverage integrated data and analytics to make efficient, intelligent operations a reality, and AVEVA is working with leading EPCs and owner-operators to do so. According to IDC, a new era of efficiency and profitability is upon the oil and gas industry. The Internet of Things (IoT) is improving business productivity and reducing cost, which is a game changer as it creates new competitive advantage. IDC predicts that investments in IoT will rise though partnership with technology companies that have proven solutions to deliver improved efficiency and profitability while combating risk and security threats. The critical success factors are now to deliver value to the business and increase return on investments. As digital technologies transform the energy sector, channel
partners need to be ready to play the role of innovative solution providers and strategic advisors for their customers. However, in the beginning, platforms and solutions involved in digitalisation will not be interoperable. Channel partners have an opportunity to map the expectations of the plant managers, CIOs, CDOs, and CFOs who have traditionally not had visibility to this level of detail within their operations. Such proactive discussions by channel partners with their customers can build better long-term engagement, deep and strategic relationships, benefitting the bottom line, and medium and long term cash flow of their customers. Channel partners, therefore, need to skill themselves and build solutions for the following pain points of their customers: • Enabling remote work: Engineering subject matter experts need to be enabled to work remotely and must have data visualisation tools to monitor plant operations virtually. • Early warning systems: Predictive analytics as an integral part of the automated asset performance management strategy will be critical to avoiding unplanned downtime. • Younger workforce: A new generation of digital-native workers will have a shorter attention span, shorter base line of experience, and expect a highly interactive user experience through inbuilt industry best practices using AI and ML. • Production efficiency: As supply chain interruptions create havoc, digitally integrating demand planning with plant floor operations can help build agility. As markets continue to evolve, the pace of change will also accelerate, and the possible gains are increasing. Combining information and artificial intelligence with human insight is crucial to optimising engineering and operations in order to drive performance intelligence and support the energy transition.
“Digital tools, powered by human insight, can leverage integrated data and analytics to make efficient, intelligent operations a reality, and AVEVA is working with leading EPCs and owneroperators to do so.”
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The importance of having the right data Peter Ruffley, CEO at Zizo discuses why creating a robust data foundation for digital transformation is imperative.
igital transformation is being merged with the Internet of to rapidly build new applications that use diverse data resources Things (IoT), Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to drive operational change. And with this data platform in place, (AI) to create an unmanageable, unfocused concept of ‘doing organisations can confidently scale and embrace a raft of digital things better’ without addressing the fundamental, underpinning innovation, from AI to cognitive analytics. essence of that change – the data. A data-first culture is one that makes decisions based on all the With many innovative technologies coming to the fore, it is easy information available to it, using data found within the business. to get distracted; but organisations need to focus on the core An example of this could be using data to experiment with new objectives – what is the point of increasing the amount of business models and new products to drive innovation, but data collected if the business does not have complete with the ability to share the data across the business “Data trust in that data? If individuals are not prepared to to gain further insights, bridging gaps in teams and accept that data resources enable better decisionbreaking down silos of data. In order to achieve transformation making than intuition, a business cannot be this idea of ‘data democratisation’, the business digitally transformed. must learn to trust the data that is being used. should be a key Data transformation should be a key part of This is where ‘big data’ comes in. By having part of any company any company strategy, not only a key element access to all of the data at a granular level, we of digital transformation. Whereas digital are able to remove elements of ‘gut feel’ and strategy, not only a key transformation reflects the change that is the ‘anecdotal’ decision making which many impacted across the entire business through new companies still rely on. element of digital technologies and approaches, data transformation There is no one size fits all approach. But transformation.” reflects the changes that should be made across by taking a solution-led approach, rather than a the business using data. It is vital that organisations nebulous ‘digital’ strategy, organisations can embark use data to learn more about their customers, their own upon the transformation journey. Critically, the focus products and their competition to stay in the game. must be on addressing specific business requirements, whether Boards of major corporations still do not understand that the prompted by the need to upgrade a dated system or respond to new data held within their business is as big an asset, if not bigger, as operational requirements. By ensuring developments are businessthe machines and the factories, and can have a much wider impact driven, data-led and customer-focused, with the right foundation a on their bottom line than launching a new product or service. The business can use its data to make essential changes. current unicorn businesses such as Uber are so successful because Communication, vision and transparency are essential they have simplified the movement of data between two parties. They components when undergoing this pivot. As with anything work so well because they have convinced each party that sharing transformational, there will be areas where people are not willing data with each other enables a simpler, faster transaction. If big to embrace change. However, if the reasons for the change and the corporations thought the same way, imagine what they could do with future effects can be proven and highlighted using the data that the wealth of the data they own. we are looking to use, then winning the hearts and minds of the A cloud-based analytics platform provides the essential data naysayers is possible. foundation. It creates the building blocks for the cultural change that With access to affordable, secure, flexible and scalable cloudwill define a digitally transformed organisation, an organisation that based analytics, the rest of the transformation will take care of itself. will have immediate visibility of all data and, critically, implicit trust Remember that not every idea will be a good one, but no idea is in that data. While existing applications will continue to perform as necessarily bad when you back up the reasons why using data. This usual, the digitally transformed platform will enable organisations approach is key to moving forward. www.pcr-online.biz
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The new digital age In an industry roundtable with Halil Aksu, co-founder and CEO of Digitopia, Hasina Dhanji, Business Development for Cloud in Europe, Middle East and Africa at CommScope, Peter Ruffley, CEO at Zizo and Rob Hancock, Head of Platform at Giacom, Michelle Winny, Editor of PCR delves in to the current trend towards digitisation and the role the channel has to play in this.
he pandemic has created a new era of technological advancement for UK businesses. We spoke with three key industry figures heads to find out more. Here’s some of what came up in the discussion.
Please could you explain what ‘digital transformation’ means to you and your company? Halil Aksu
Halil Aksu, Digitopia: “Digital transformation is a long journey. With the abundance of the Internet, mobile phones, social media, and disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and the Internet of things, digital transformation has reached a new level of importance.” Hasina Dhanji, CommScope: “For our customers, ultimately digital transformation is a way for them to deliver more value to their customers - be that through more efficient processes, delivering new services or evolving and innovating their internal operations. However, these projects can often require complex changes, which lead to failure or stalling of projects. This is where cloud comes in as a key enabler of digital transformation. It offers a flexible and scalable foundation that is crucial for success in this
new agile world. Reducing the complexity of many digital transformation projects by adopting effective cloud solutions is usually the key to their success. Ultimately, companies that adopt cloud and digital transformation will bring new capabilities to market faster, innovate easier and scale more efficiently.” Peter Ruffley, CEO, Zizo: “Digital transformation is as much about embracing the changes that have taken place and the possibilities that exist. To achieve true digital transformation, it is vital not to be constrained by existing IT installations and solutions. Instead, it is absolutely necessary to look for new, innovative and fast ways to deal with data to enable participation in the new digital age.”
Why is digital transformation so important now? Halil Aksu, Digitopia: “The pandemic has drastically accelerated digital transformation efforts of many organisations. It has become a core component for businesses in their efforts towards innovation and growth. As organisations become more reliant on technology, measuring and ensuring that they are receiving maximum returns on their investment is essential. “Digital transformation is essential for businesses. If they don’t embark on their digital journey, they will face many obstacles when trying to reach their goals.”
Hasina Dhanji, CommScope: “The term digital transformation is a broad industry trend, and is extremely far-reaching and multifaceted depending on how it’s realised. We’ve all seen that Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation in many organisations – most of which needed to quickly shift business models to virtual ways of working, so this term has become more popular with the huge increase in tools like video conferencing, CRM systems and finding innovative, remote ways to keep operational.”
How is your company supporting the shift towards digital transformation?
Halil Aksu, Digitopia: “Digital transformation isn’t only about technology, it is made up of 6 different dimensions: technology, governance, innovation, people, operations and customers. We help our clients to understand this. We help them to assess their digital maturity, understand where they are excelling, and where there is room for improvement.” Hasina Dhanji, CommScope: “We help businesses to cope with having more devices and data-demand on their wired or wireless network infrastructure than ever before, as they roll out their digital transformation. From IoT sensors to multiple mobile devices, or the increasing appetite for data to feed data-hungry services and applications – we believe the strength and reliability of the wired and wireless network underpins many areas of digital transformation. “In recent times, these applications have been critical in keeping organisations and people connected and must all work flawlessly, securely and consistently. Enabled by the cloud, “lean” IT organisations can easily provision, manage, optimise, and troubleshoot a high-performance enterprise wired and wireless networks via a single web dashboard or native mobile application. This is a significant transformation on previously manual and time-intensive processes.” Peter Ruffley, CEO, Zizo: “In order to meet edge computing requirements, a complete re-think has to happen. In a world where data is growing exponentially, Zizo decided to build solutions that were flexible, adaptable and cost effective; with the ability to be deployed either at the edge, or in the data centre.”
How are companies missing out by not being digitally savvy? Halil Aksu, Digitopia: “If businesses don’t adapt, then they will get disrupted somehow. Digital transformation will not only help businesses www.pcr-online.biz
survive, but it will be the gateway to long-term success and a more intelligent, digitally connected and sustainable future. “Businesses that fail to invest in their digital journey will get left behind. Not only will they fail to keep up with competitors but will lose their competitive edge also - creating a barrier in their efforts to grow. “Those that are also behind digitally will struggle to partner with digitally savvy companies which will have an impact on their long term business Peter Ruffley growth.” Hasina Dhanji, CommScope: “In today’s postpandemic world, organisations have seen they need to embrace digital transformation or they risk being left behind by competitors. Without digital technology being embraced as a key part of business models, companies are missing out on a whole raft of benefits from increased efficiency, cost-savings, improved business continuity, delivering more personalised experiences and generating revenue through new services. And that’s just a few examples! Rob Hancock Furthermore, where companies are relying on too much traditional technology, their IT team’s time is spent simply on managing and maintaining the network, not allowing them to look ahead at their digital transformation strategy and potential for future success.” Peter Ruffley, CEO, Zizo: “How many digital transformation strategies will ever extend beyond the boardroom? What, in effect, do they really entail? Digital transformation is being merged with the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, even Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create an unmanageable, unfocused concept of ‘doing things better’ without addressing the fundamental, underpinning essence of that change – the data. “If individuals are not prepared to accept that data resources enable better decision-making than intuition, a business cannot be digitally transformed – however much it has expanded its connection with customers, suppliers and partners. “There is no doubt that better use of data can have a dramatic impact on the bottom line. Being able to effectively and reliably use the data that a company owns and generates, means that every aspect of the business can be managed more effectively. “There is no one size fits all, of course; no prescription for a digitally transformed organisation. But by taking a solution-led approach, rather than a nebulous ‘digital’ strategy, organisations can embark upon the transformation journey.” July/August 2021 | 49
What risks do companies face if they do not keep up with technical advances?
What industry sectors are falling behind most with the shift towards digitisation?
Halil Aksu, Digitopia: “For all industries there is an economy of scale issue here. Larger and richer organisations have more ability to invest and grow in digital. Smaller ones suffer from finding the right talent, funds, and peace of mind to think, plan, and execute digital. “Manufacturing is split into two camps. Some segments, such as automotive or household appliances get more digital every day, so do their suppliers, and even the whole value chain. But other industrial areas such as mining, heavy industries, asset intensive industries still remain very physical and analogue. “Interestingly, retail is behind. They are heavily disrupted by e-commerce and last-mile-delivery services, however they are only very barely able to cope with the amount of change. Having a shop on a main street was enough for decades. But we see bankruptcies every week in the retail industry, not only because of the Internet and e-commerce giants, but also because they were not satisfying their customers and are not optimising their value chains.” Hasina Dhanji, CommScope: “As a result of the pandemic-enforced shift to remote everything, we’ve seen sectors like hospitality, healthcare and education start to lead the way in their digital transformation journeys. “Many organisations that were once wary of the complexity and the time associated with large-scale digital transformation projects have prioritised what will deliver for their employees and customers in the required moment. With flexibility and scalability a key requirement for most, cloud deployments have been seen as a clear enabler. “For example, in education, their digitisation has accelerated with smart whiteboards and laptops now being commonplace in many classrooms. These customers are also investing in AI-driven applications to personalise learning journeys for the future. They are exploring the opportunities of augmented/ virtual reality to provide an immersive experience for students, in a safe way without being limited to the classroom – for example exploring the depths of the ocean or outer space when science museums are closed/restricted! “The hospitality market has leveraged technology to keep employees and guests safe by using robots to deliver meals to guests, or contactless login using mobile check-in and keyless entry. Retailers have invested in digital stock tracking to elevate the shopping experience and go the extra mile to delight their customers.” 50
Halil Aksu, Digitopia: “Simply put, those who don’t digitally transform will be rendered obsolete, sooner or later. Digital transformation won’t always mean developing a mobile app or becoming the platform of your industry. It can also mean customer centricity, value chain integration, demand forecasting, data monetisation, or just superb employee experience. “Consider the younger generations who are born digital. They don’t know a world without the Internet, mobile phones and social media. They are used to working on the road, in the office, working late, or playing sports during office hours. Those companies, which will not be flexible enough in terms of working environment, freedom, flexibility, and diversity - by all means - will fail to attract talent. That will have existential consequences for them.” Rob Hancock Head of Platform at Giacom: “Digital transformation initiatives have sped up almost overnight. And, while the initial scramble focused on business continuity and technology upgrades; across the board, the cloud evolution has not ceased and neither will digital transformation. COVID-19 has accelerated the need for digital transformation, as without the right technology in place, organisations will either sink or swim. “Part of the digital transformation happening throughout the UK, businesses in every sector are migrating to digital solutions that rely on high-speed fibre Internet, rather than legacy copper infrastructure. In 2025, the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) will be switched off, meaning telephony as we know it will no longer be supported; instead, businesses will need to switch to a VoIP solution, but not all businesses are leveraging the technology available to them. We encourage partners to start having the conversation with end customers about transitioning and upgrading to a VoIP solution now, before the opportunities are lost to another supplier.” Hasina Dhanji, CommScope: “The risk here is losing customer loyalty. Now more than ever, customers have great choice at their fingertips. If you are offering a poorer customer experience than your competitors who have embraced technological advances, they’ll quickly move on. “Internally, organisations are also missing out on improved efficiency, cost-savings, and opportunities to grow revenue through new services. Without investing in networking infrastructure to support these goals, many organisations may fail to realise the true value of their investment or struggle to launch due to the increased complexity that IT teams have to manage.” Peter Ruffley, CEO, Zizo: “The disillusionment with digital transformation really comes about when organisations fail to do that by trying to reuse or re-purpose their existing IT www.pcr-online.biz
infrastructures and ignoring the potential new ways of doing things. It is only when organisations decide what and how they are going to change that they will be able to identify the ways in which IT can support them. “Critically, the focus must be on addressing specific business requirements, whether prompted by the need to upgrade a dated system or respond to new operational requirements. By ensuring developments are business driven, data led and customer focused, with the right foundation a business can use its data to make essential change.”
What first or key step should partners consider to make the move towards digital transformation?
Halil Aksu, Digitopia: “Digital transformation is a long journey. It will occupy all of us for the next decades. There are business opportunities for everybody who provides value and are able to partner. “Digital transformation is a team sport. There are very few companies on the selling or the buying side, who can accomplish everything with their own capabilities or resources. All the others are dependent on a functioning ecosystem. The ones who know how to partner, how to collaborate and provide value will outperform all the others.” Rob Hancock Head of Platform at Giacom: “This shift towards digital solutions presents a fantastic opportunity for Channel partners to become trusted advisors to their customers, while supporting them with digital transformation and maximising the efficiency of their home-based teams. “To capitalise further, though, means MSPs need to align with CSPs that can provide the strong foundations they need to support their customers with their cloud journeys. Can their preferred CSP offer collaborative consultancy? Do they support with training and marketing? Can they bring value to the MSP’s proposition by offering a breadth of technologies that enables them to expand their portfolio of products that they offer to customers? What is their long-term technology roadmap? The right CSP partner will have all these bases covered.”
such as Service Level Agreement driven models, offering cloudbased solutions, and building complementary offerings.”
What role does the channel have to play in digitisation?
Rob Hancock Head of Platform at Giacom: “During the pandemic the channel demonstrated how adaptable it is to step up and meet customer needs fast. Strong relationships between CSPs and MSPs were at the heart of this success. But, it can’t stop there. Digital transformation is a long-term destination and the use of the cloud to support organisations is here to stay: be it for collaboration; data security; or to enable business applications to shift to the cloud. The opportunity is almost endless. “The role of the channel has been to continuously support its customers through the journey of adapting to remote working and digitally transforming in order to stay ahead. By educating customers on the importance of security, as well as the available technologies and strategies that can support their transition, they will have the right support system in place to maintain business as usual – or even unlock additional productivity – during unprecedented times.” Hasina Dhanji, CommScope: “The channel has a big role to play because customers are looking to the partner and reseller community as their trusted advisors and guides when it comes to making these large-scale investments. It’s important for the channel to understand their customers’ long term goals, meaning any investment can deliver today, tomorrow and beyond.”
How can partners look to get involved in facilitating the digital transformation?
Hasina Dhanji, CommScope: “Now is the time for channel partners to invest in cloud; many analysts predict that nearly half the WLAN market will be cloud-based in the next few years, so in order for partners to stay competitive they need to build expertise in this space. If partners are not already selling cloud products and services, then this is a big opportunity for them.”
Hasina Dhanji, CommScope: “Channel partners need to carefully consider which technologies to adopt, first and foremost ensuring a solution delivers on the necessary performance. Next, ensuring the solution provides the necessary speed to market is key. Intuitive, automated, cloud-based platforms bring new capabilities to partners to turnaround and set-up customers’ networks faster, more reliably, and remotely. “Considering the flexibility and scalability of the solution is also critical as more businesses adopt a pay-as-you-grow approach to conserve CAPEX budgets and will need a network that can grow alongside their digital transformation strategy, rather than having to “rip and replace” frequently. “Finally, investing in their own people, skills and expertise is also important. This shift towards digitisation means partners need to find new ways of serving customers, www.pcr-online.biz
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Journey to the Cloud Cegedim Healthcare Solutions’ IT Director, Mike Collier and Primary Care Product Director, Tony Thorne discuss how suppliers play a significant role in realising the NHS’ Cloud First strategy.
Tony Thorne 52
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he healthcare industry is now well into its digital transformation journey, having embraced new digital platforms in order to reduce costs while providing higher levels of service and engagement for all stakeholders, including providers, physicians, payers, and patients. The Cloud is becoming ever more critical within the transformation journey and whilst the healthcare sector started cautiously – migrating non-critical and back end services – it is swiftly learning that the benefits far outweigh any risks and is accelerating the shift of clinical applications and data to the Cloud. However, while the many benefits of Cloud technology for healthcare organisations and, indeed, the wider ecosystem, are largely understood, the journey to the Cloud is not without its roadblocks. The acceleration in digital transformation that has occurred throughout the NHS during the past 12 months has challenged perceptions and addressed many legacy technology constraints. The use of the Cloud, for example, enabled 111 calls in London to be handled by a team in Newcastle when London resources were overwhelmed; and anytime, anywhere access to shared patient records has been vital in supporting COVID-19 vaccination clinics. Technology enabled collaboration has driven essential change and, as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said recently: “This has been a difficult time for us all, but what we have found though is that the power of using the best available technology and developing new technology quickly has proved its worth – saving lives and keeping our health and care service standing at a time when it was under unbelievable strain like never before.” Digitisation of services is now a priority and that is changing the way services are imagined and deployed. The NHS now has a ‘Cloud First’ strategy – which means digital services should move to the Cloud (hosted in the UK) ‘unless there is a clear reason not to do so’. The goal is clear – public Cloud services not only transform the www.pcr-online.biz
speed with which new services can be deployed and ensure they can be rapidly scaled up in line with demand, they also provide the availability and accessibility required for the federated delivery of healthcare and community services that underpin NHS strategy. The public Cloud also provides the wider IT healthcare ecosystem with unprecedented access to data and services – something that will be vital in enabling the innovation required to deliver healthcare that is safe, efficient and fit for 21st century needs. The sheer scale of the expertise and intelligence provided by the large public Cloud providers is not only aiding the migration of existing solutions to the Cloud but also accelerating the speed with which new services and solutions are being developed. Companies such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) provide an extraordinary array of services, tools, migration support and advice. The service includes nearly 200 tools that help software developers achieve innovation, for example through leading machine learning and artificial intelligence tools. These tools can provide risk stratification within patient cohorts and support healthcare professionals with easy to consume diagnostic insight – all vital resources in an increasingly federated model that will reduce the reliance upon personal relationships between clinicians and patients. Combining the ability to manage huge amounts of data in the Cloud with incredibly powerful analytic tools will provide clinicians with new, immediate insight that has the potential to transform patient outcomes. Understanding Cloud Strategies However, it is important to understand the journey to the Cloud and the role that suppliers play within this. While NHSX guidance is clear, that digital services should be delivered from the public cloud – there are caveats. For example, if service level characteristics, such as availability or recovery time objective (RTO) times, or cyber/ information governance cannot be met by the public Cloud, an alternative model – such as a private Cloud hosted by the supplier - is permitted. This is key because there will be challenges associated with a wholesale shift to the public Cloud within a healthcare sector that relies upon vast quantities of diverse services and solutions, both recent and heritage. In fact, many of these technologies are excellent. There is no need for the wholesale replacement of all technology with brand new digital solutions designed from scratch for the public Cloud – even if the budget was available. It is also not viable to move all legacy applications in to the public Cloud – without the right migration model solutions become expensive and unproductive. The ‘pay as you go’ public Cloud model does not fit with many legacy designs, such as traditional desktop applications which rely on local hardware and data storage. All of these considerations very much place the onus on suppliers to take the right approach to ensure the NHS is using solutions that are both cost effective and productive. Indeed, this public Cloud cost of delivery has been an issue for some suppliers: having announced a wholesale shift to public Cloud, www.pcr-online.biz
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the commercial reality has led to a rapid reversal of Cloud strategy. This creates huge concerns for any NHS organisation: trust in suppliers is paramount at any time, but during this rapid digital transformation it is vital to have confidence that suppliers are 100% committed to a development roadmap. Trusted Open Model Which is why it is important to understand how a supplier’s Cloud strategy is being delivered. Does it require products to be reengineered? Will the use of public Cloud technology incur additional costs? How will data privacy and cyber security protocols be assured? How will Cloud strategies help drive innovation? It is this level of insight that is key to building confidence in Cloud strategies. A supplier’s Cloud technology strategy should be strongly aligned to NHS aspirations and positioned around a clear vision for the future of Healthcare. It begins with a concept of placing tools in modern apps to enable healthcare professionals and patients to choose a device of their choice on which to use apps and access data; and extends to cover adoption of Internet first and public Cloud technology alongside open standard APIs and the best cyber security layers. Best practice would also suggest working closely with both public Cloud providers and NHS bodies to ensure products and applications are intelligently re-architected and re-engineered to deliver the optimal Cloud model for each solution. It is also essential to take into account the fact that this push to the public Cloud is just one part of the wider story of creating a patient centric model that encompasses both health and care services. Interoperability is an essential part of the model, which is where the use of open standards, such as the FHIR, developed by Health Level-7, are key. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that use this standard ensure that health and care information can be shared between providers and systems. This not only enables collaboration between healthcare professionals based on shared care records but also overcomes many of the development constraints that have restricted innovation in the past. When suppliers open up their systems and data, everyone – from providers to clinicians and patients – benefits from an acceleration in digital transformation. For NHS organisations, the Cloud offers an extraordinary array of benefits, from an improved security posture to a level of systems availability – typically 99.999% - that would be impossible to achieve on premise. From a strategic perspective, the combination of Cloud and open standards are the foundations for an extraordinary journey of digital transformation that will introduce new ways to deliver care. Successful provision of federated services across health and community care is just the start. It is the use of the Cloud and powerful analytics across population health data that will unlock the next level of innovation – improving patient outcomes, reducing hospital admissions and improving prevention strategies. The true power of a digital NHS is as yet untapped – and a successful transition to the Cloud is the next essential step in unleashing that potential. July/August 2021 | 53
PCR Awards 2021
Meet the Judges! As momentum builds during the run up to the much anticipated PCR Awards 2021 we are delighted to unveil this year’s awards judges - a diverse panel of discerning experts from across the industry.
UK and Ireland Regional Sales Director AOC International Paul Butler has worked in the global displays industry for over 35 years. He has specialised in technical displays through companies such as Aydin Displays, iiyama Corporation both UK and International and for the past 10 years at TPV brands - AOC and Philips in Northern Europe, specialising in the UK and Ireland markets.
Consenna Ltd Trevor Evans has a diverse and highly accomplished career within the global IT community, spanning some three decades. Having held domestic and overseas director-level roles at both HP and Apple, he joined Consenna as Managing Director in 2019.
Jon Atherton David Tulip
Managing Director Network Group/Technology to Go David Tulip has over 25 years’ experience in the Channel, and the tech industry. He began programming in 1985 and worked his way through various roles and organisations until becoming Managing Director of Network Group (NG) and their sister company Technology to Go (TTG) in 2019.
Group Director – CI-Distribution & Marketing. Jon Atherton is an accomplished commercial lead with a proven track record of consistent achievement supporting growth and performance within leading distribution technology businesses.
Agent42 Linda Hassall has over 20 years’ experience across retail, channel and the UK tech and gaming industry.
Channelstar Media Simon Meredith has been working as a journalist, consultant, media expert and copywriter for more than three decades.
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PCR Awards 2021
Senior Marketing Manager EZVIZ UK Simon Buckingham is a Senior Marketing Manager with 14 years of experience in both Sales and Marketing, from grassroots to senior level in multiple sectors, more recently in the Smart Security & IoT / AI sector.
Head of Consumer BenQ UK Carly Cheshire’s professional background is within the AV & IT industry, with over two decades of experience.
Regional Director - UK & Ireland Kingston Technology Ann Keefe is regional director for UK & Ireland at Kingston Technology. She is responsible for driving the business for all Kingston product lines and for managing the Business Development team for UK & Ireland.
Global Band Ambassador & Senior Sales Channel Manager Seagate Technology Jack Legate started out in the industry at vendor level as an Account Manager. Six years on he is now a Global Band Ambassador & Senior Sales Channel Manager for UK, IRE & EMEA markets.
TP Link Retail & eCommerce Sales Director Lino Notaro’s sales career within the IT Retail Channel spans across almost 30 years, having worked for the likes of Logitech, Garmin, Archos & TP-Link. Notaro is currently Sales Director for Retail & Ecom and is in his 8th year at TP-Link.
Owner Heaven Media Mark Reed is business owner of Heaven Media and subject matter expert in eSports and the world of Online Gaming. This is based on 20 years experience in PC hardware, including VR/AR.
Head of UK Channel Kaspersky Andy Bogdan has more than 20 years of experience in the IT industry. Andy spent 17 years in distribution working alongside vendors, resellers and direct customers predominantly in the data storage industry, before making the move to cybersecurity five years ago.
Distribution category partner
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OnBuy.com Ambitious and passionate public relations manager with over ten years’ experience in the consumer and business technology industry.
Marketing and PR category partner
Reseller Category Partner
July/August 2021 | 55
PCR Awards 2021
PCR Awards 2021: Here’s who made it into the shortlist We are very pleased to announce the shortlist for the PCR Awards 2021! Congratulations to everyone listed below, and thank you to everyone who took the time to enter this year’s PCR Awards.
The finalists for the PCR Awards 2021 are: CHANNEL SERVICES Dealer Services of the Year Tech for Techs Network Group SYNAXON UK Ltd
Marketing and PR Agency of the Year Evolution Sales and Marketing Ltd Berkeley Communications Tech for Techs Revere Gekko Jargon PR The PR Room Zaboura Communications
DISTRIBUTION Hardware Distributor of the Year Tech Data Ci Distribution Ingram Micro UK Northamber PLC
Consumer Electronics Distributor of the Year Tech Data CMS Distribution
GAMING VENDOR Gaming Monitors Vendor of the Year AOC BenQ ASUS - Republic Of Gamers MSI UK
Gaming Peripherals Vendor of the Year ASUS - Republic Of Gamers ROCCAT MSI Lenovo Seagate Technology MSI UK TP-Link UK Ltd CORSAIR Netgear Shure
Software and Services Distributor of the Year Tech Data Genba Digital QBS Software Ingram Micro Cloud Westcon-Comstor Pax8
PCR Awards 2021 RESELLER
Corporate VAR of the Year
Business Monitors Vendor of the Year
BlueFort Security SCC Softcat
MSP Specialist of the Year Neuways Silverbug SCC Next Generation IT Agilitas AML Midlands Ltd Transputec LTD
SMB Reseller of the Year
Ebuyer Kingsfield Computer Products Ltd Scan Computers Softcat
RETAILER Gaming Retailer of the Year Fierce PC Scan Computers G2G Limited Box GAME
Independent Retailer of the Year Chips Computers Fierce PC CCL Computers Ltd The Powerhouse (Jersey Electricity) G2G Limited Scan Computers
Online Retailer of the Year Ebuyer OnBuy Fierce PC CCL Computers Ltd Box Ltd Scan Computers G2G Limited
System Builder of the Year Utopia Computers PC Specialist Ltd Cyberpower UK Fierce PC Chillblast CCL Computers Ltd Box Ltd Scan Computers
ASUS BenQ HANNspree UK Ltd Philips Monitors/ MMD MSI UK
Business Peripherals Vendor of the Year Vivitek CHERRY GmbH Kingston Technology Europe Co LLP Shure Twelve South
Networking Vendor of the Year SEH Technology Infoblox Glide ASUS TP-Link UK Ltd Seagate Technology Netgear Tenda
PC Vendor of the Year PC Specialist Ltd AMD MSI NVIDIA Lenovo
Security Software Vendor of the Year Zix Redstor Bullguard Kaspersky SentryBay Infoblox
Security Hardware Vendor of the Year CHERRY GmbH Seagate Technology Kingston Technology Europe Co LLP EZVIZ UK Yubico
Smart Home Vendor of the Year TP-Link UK Ltd EZVIZ UK Netatmo NANOLEAF Eve Systems
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Smart home automation and security cameras PCR rounds up some of the latest smart tech devices from security cameras to smart lighting and energy monitoring plugs
LC3 Outdoor Smart Security Wall-Light Camera
“Introducing the NextGen LC3 Outdoor Smart Security Wall-light Camera - The LC3 is an innovative integration of a brightness-adjustable floodlight and a powerful 4MP security camera, which enhances your home safety at all levels – even at night. Doubling as a sleek wall lamp, the LC3 fits into any household to light up dark places with remote smart controls. A security camera at its core, the LC3 features AI-powered person detection, active defence, and two-way communication to effectively watch over outdoor spaces such as patios, hallways, courtyards, and more.” Specs: Outstanding 4MP resolution for crystal clear video, Active Defence – 100db Alarm and Floodlight to deter suspicious behavior, Colour Night Vision for 24/7 Superior Security Footage, Push notifications sent to your phone when motion is detected, View Live or Playback HD footage at any time via the EZVIZ App, Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT Contact: EZVIZ
C8C Smart Pan/Tilt Outdoor BC1 Battery Camera Twin Kit with Colour Night Vision Camera with AI Base Station “The next gen pano camera for outdoor use – Boasting clear images, colour night vision, AI Human Detection capability with manual pan/ tilt feature via the app and zoom functionality and spotlight deterrent, this is the ultimate outdoor camera. After enabling the pan/tilt function via the app, you can manually move the cameras field of view and even allow zooming in up to 4x to track a moving object so you can easily tell what’s going on when viewing live. Your surroundings are covered with this outdoor pan/tilt camera.”
“The NextGen Battery Camera Kit from EZVIZ includes 2x BC1 Cameras and 1x Base station. The BC1 is a weatherproof indoor/outdoor standalone 100% wire-free, batterypowered security camera with 128 Degrees viewing angle. Equipped with an impressive 12,900mAh rechargeable battery, the BC1 can last for up to a year on one full battery charge, offering you up to 365days peace of mind with pairing to the base station included. Up to 6x BC1 cameras can be connected to the base station and additional BC1 cameras can be purchased separately. Experience 24/7 outstanding video quality, knowing that in the dark you will see as much detail as possible”
Specs: 360-degree Pan/Tilt Visual Coverage, manually operate via the EZVIZ app on your smartphone, Secure the outside of your home, all angles covered, Colour Night Vision and Spotlight Deterrent, View Live or Playback HD footage at any time via the App, AI Human Detection, avoid false alerts
Specs: 2x BC1 Cameras + 1x Base Station, Up to 1 year of battery life on a single charge, Secure the interior/exterior of your home for peace of mind, Colour Night Vision for superior 24/7 security, Built in Alarm Active Defence, Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT
Tapo P100 Mini Smart Wi-Fi Socket
“Tapo P100 is the superior smart partner for small appliances, bringing ultimate home convenience. Using 2.4GHz Wi-Fi connection, users can control and manage connected devices via smartphone from a single app for iOS and Android. With Bluetooth onboarding technology, the P100 can be set up within 20 seconds. Its compact design avoids blocking adjacent sockets for use anywhere in the home. ‘Away Mode’ lets users set specific ‘on and off’ periods, saving energy and improving safety. P100 can be controlled by voice command via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.”
KP115 Kasa Smart WiFi Plug Slim with Energy Monitoring “The KP115 allows you to monitor your connected devices’ real-time energy consumption and learn which ones use the most power, while reducing unnecessary energy loss to lower your electric bills with the schedule and timer. Control your smart plug remotely on your phone or tablet to save energy and avoid electrical hazards. It’s small, compact design fits into any standard socket without blocking adjacent ones. An integrated button ensures no switch is out of reach”
Specs: Instantly turn connected devices on/off wherever you are through the Tapo app, Preset a schedule to automatically manage devices, Create countdown timer lists for connected electronics, Manage your smart plug with voice commands via Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant, Automatically turns devices on and off at different times, Mini-sized to avoid blocking adjacent sockets, No hub required, set up quickly and manage easily through the free app
Specs: Control from Anywhere, Analyse the connected device’s real-time and historical power usage, Voice Control, Works with Alexa, Google Home, and Samsung Bixby, Set a schedule or timer to switch your devices on or off automatically, A sliding safety cover protects children from electric shock. Grouping – Use Grouping to combine your smart plug with other Kasa Smart devices for seamless control
Deco X20 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System
“The Deco X20 is the perfect device to create a seamless smart home with firstgrade connectivity. Armed with Wi-Fi 6 technology, Deco X20 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi is designed to deliver a huge boost in coverage, speed, and total capacity. WiFi 6 also enables more devices to be connected simultaneously - perfect for smart homes where every smart device has its own IP address. With clearer and stronger signals, Deco X20 boosts broader whole-home Wi-Fi up to 5,800ft2 (3-pack). Wireless connections and optional Ethernet backhaul work together to link the Deco X20 units, providing even faster network speeds.” Specs: Wi-Fi 6 speeds up to 1,800 Mbps — 1,201 Mbps on 5GHz and 574 Mbps on 2.4GHz, OFDMA and MU-MIMO technology quadruple capacity to enable simultaneous transmission to more devices, Achieve seamless whole home coverage with a clearer and stronger whole home Wi-Fi signal generated by Wi-Fi 6, Greater reduction in latency enables more responsive gaming and video chatting, Multiple units form a whole-home network that auto-selects the best connection as you move around your home, WPA3 encryption and TP-Link HomeCare provide Parental Controls, Antivirus, and Quality of Service Contact: TP-link www.pcr-online.biz
Tapo C200 Home Security WiFi Camera
“The Tapo C200 Pan/Tilt Home Security Wi-Fi Camera is designed for users to protect their homes and keep track of their loved ones. Equipped with 1080p resolution, 360° horizontal and 114° vertical range, and up to 30ft of night vision, Tapo C200 delivers a high-quality live viewing experience day and night. With a built-in microphone and speaker, users can take advantage of Two-way Audio via the Tapo app to keep in touch with their family anytime, from anywhere. Its Motion Detection and Activity Zone features will send a notification to a user’s smartphone once suspected motion is detected.” Specs: High-Definition Video: Records every image in crystal-clear 1080p definition, 360º horizontal and 114º vertical range, Advanced Night Vision: Provides a visual distance of up to 30ft, Motion Detection and Notifications: Notifies you when the camera detects movement, Sound and Light Alarm, Two-Way Audio, Locally stores up to 128GB on a microSD card, equal to 384 hours (16 days) of footage, Voice Control. Contact: TP-link July/August 2021 | 59
Life in the channel
WALLIX’s Kristine Kirchner Kristine Kirchner, VP of EMEA channels for cyber security company WALLIX, discusses more about her career and role in coordinating the company’s channel team towards success.
ristine Kirchner is leading a 15-person channel team in strengthening WALLIX’s presence within existing territories by working closely with MSSPs and accelerating the company’s Business Partner Programme. Michelle, Winny. Editor of PCR caught up with Kristine to find out more. Tell me a bit more about your current role in your company? I am the VP Channel EMEA for the cyber security company WALLIX. I joined the company earlier this year and I am responsible for heading up our channel strategy. A key part of our global mission is to grow our channel base and work closely with channel partners, resellers, value-added resellers (VARs), MSSP and OEM alliances across the world. At WALLIX we have 180 partners from the small companies that signed one deal to larger ones. As part of my day-to-day role I support and oversee our 15-person channel team, which manages our distribution network through the WALLIX Business Partner Program. I’m also in charge of managing the program dedicated to influencers, which will allow us to support key accounts in international projects. My role is to think global but act local, ensuring we are working in a true partnership and that each of our partners are fully supported.
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A second part of my role, but just as important, is focused on generating growth and expanding our presence when it comes to Operational Technology (OT) and working with Managed Security Service Providers (MSSP) and developing the OEM business. This new approach is based on the development of our strategic alliances, which will help us to position ourselves in new markets and strengthen our presence in key sectors such as OT. WALLIX has an ambitious growth plan and by strengthening the partner program and expanding into key sectors, such as industry, healthcare, and financial services, we will be able to achieve this. WALLIX is also strengthening its links with major integrators (GSI) to offer cybersecurity solutions, which are increasingly adapted to the unique needs of sectors subject to strong regulations, such as financial services. What is your professional background within the channel? During my career, I developed my experience in the channel by working with various tech companies and managing different accounts in both direct and indirect sales. I like to describe myself as an expert in software. I have spent a good part of my career focusing on this and I like to keep my finger on the pulse when it comes to the latest technology and software
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developments. I think it is important to not only understand the channel and how it operates, but to really understand the technology as well and where the industry is going. My expertise in the channel has been built after years of experience working in a variety of channel related roles. I have previously worked at bigger well-known companies such as ORACLE, as well for start-ups where I have successfully helped brands launch into the channel for the first time. I can definitely say that I’m not a newcomer when it comes to the channel. How have you found working as a female in the tech channel? I absolutely love my role and I am lucky enough to say that from personal experience I have not noticed any major differences. However, as an industry, it is widely recognised that we need a more diverse workforce. I personally feel that within the channel we are starting to achieve this, however there are still some sectors in the technology industry such as sales or software development that are more male dominated. I have found that if you are working in a forward thinking and innovative company then diversity will top the agenda and everyone’s ideas and thoughts are welcomed. Do you feel the channel still has some way to go in addressing diversity and equality? I’ve seen a lot of noticeable progress recently in addressing these issues. For me, it’s not a male or female mission - it’s a compound of people and profiles. From what I’ve seen, the channel allows more space for women as I had the opportunity to meet some amazing ladies along my journey. I would say there is also a different level of representation depending on the job role you have. As an example, in the case of sales representatives, which is a key position for a software vendor, I was surprised to see more men than women in this type of job. I’m not sure why this is the case, but it’s definitely something that I’ve noticed during my career. The same goes for the channel - I came across more women working in the channel environment, but I can’t seem to find a reason behind that. Of course, this is definitely something I’m happy to see but we shouldn’t forget there’s always room for improvement. What challenges have you encountered working as a female in the tech channel? From an industry standpoint, we need to do more around diversity and encourage more women to pursue a career in technology. Drawing from my own personal experience, luckily I have not encountered many challenges, and a key reason for this is because I strive to only work for companies where I really believe in the ethos and values. The company’s culture is always a good indicator of their perception of inclusivity. Why are you passionate about the channel? I love working in the channel and I’m passionate about it because every day I need to adapt myself to a new environment. Each challenge and day is different - for example, one day I might be working on managed security services and our product in the cloud, then I need to pivot and think about the future of the business and how we are going to sell tomorrow. The diversity of the work and the fact that each day brings something different is one of the most interesting parts of the job. 62
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What plans do you have to drive your business forward? The overarching objective in my role is to develop a global approach in different areas. My responsibilities include developing a channel programme and rolling out the programme across different countries worldwide and providing training on how to find new partners. There’s a growing focus on operational technology, and a critical part of my role at WALLIX is bolstering the strategic alliances within this space. This work will then enable us to strengthen WALLIX’s presence in areas where cybersecurity is more essential than ever, in OT, healthcare and financial services for example. Please could you explain more about the Business Partner Program? The WALLIX Business Partner Program follows a classic model. We recruit a partner, train and certify them, and depending on the level of certification, they have a different level of partnership. We provide partners with content, tools and an online portal to access information. All tools are developed to help sell products that depend on where they are located around the world. We have an academy for teams working on sales and pre-sales, who can find specific online tools for product training. We also set up various roundtable events to help partners to develop their knowledge. What words of encouragement would you offer other women or other interested candidates to pursue a career within the channel? I would say to all women who are interested in pursuing a career within the channel to go for it! A successful team requires diversity as each person brings something unique to the table, and diversity is the key for businesses to thrive. As a manager, I quickly jump from topic to topic, so candidates would have to manage this well. Candidates also need to be willing to be part of the team because it’s a collaborative effort. It’s important for CEOs to be mindful of balancing diversity and gender within their business, for any type of job - from technical positions, to sales. I know how tough it is for women to be hired in these positions, but diversity brings more energy, a variety of perceptions and a different style of leadership. It’s very rich to have diversity in the company, and men and women both deserve a seat at the same table. What makes you passionate about your role and company? What makes me passionate about my role is the very fact that there’s always something new to do and new challenges to experience - you don’t know what’s around the corner. The IT space is also moving at speed, and IT professionals need to continuously adapt themselves - it’s a very exciting time. Managed security services are a new way of doing business in IT and is also something I work closely on. It’s quite a new topic for a lot of companies and vendors, so it’s really key for us in the IT space to truly understand what we can do with it. Looking back to five years ago, practically no businesses had managed security services in their infrastructure, and this demonstrates how far we’ve come. We’re in a new world of business and it’s continuing to develop at pace. www.pcr-online.biz
Here are some of the most interesting stats and facts from the tech channel…
CRUNCHING 7 in 10
According to Lenovo’s UK research, seven in 10 (70%) parents and teachers in the UK believe digital skills gained during the pandemic will set children up for life beyond school. Over half (53%) of parents in the UK believe that the way education has been delivered has changed for the worse due to the pandemic. Teachers are a lot more positive about the situation, as six in 10 (59%) say that the situation has improved. Of these teachers, over half (51%) say it is a result of increased emphasis on independent learning while almost half (48%) believe it has enabled children to work at their own pace and revisit topics at ease. What’s more, demand for a blended approach to learning that combines online interaction with traditional classroom methods is set to increase, with more than half of teachers (54%) and almost half of parents (47%) in the UK wanting to see the approach carried over into the future school curriculum.
Gift cards were the preferred payment method for 64% of fraudsters who used attacks to compromise business emails in the second half of 2020, according to data presented by the Atlas VPN team. eBay gift cards were the most popular, with nearly a quarter (24%) of cybercriminals requesting eBay gift vouchers as a form of payment. Google Play gift cards ranked second on the list. They were the gift card of choice of 15.5% of hackers involved in BEC attacks in the second half of last year. Google Play is followed by its competitor iTunes. Apple’s iTune gift cards were sought after by close to 12% of cybercriminals in H2 2020. On average, hackers demanded about $1,270 worth of gift cards per BEC attack. However, 22% of cybercriminals preferred wire transfers over gift cards as a payment method in BEC attacks. In the meantime, 10% of hackers preferred payroll diversion.
Last quarter, cyber adversaries shifted from low-return, mass-spread ransomware campaigns toward fewer, customised Ransomware-as-aService (RaaS) campaigns targeting larger, more lucrative organisations, according to a McAfee report. The report also found, a proliferation in 64-bit CoinMiner applications drove the growth of cryptocurrency-generating coin mining malware by 117%. Additionally, a surge in the growth of new Miraibased malware variants drove increases in malware targeting Internet of Things (55%) and Linux (38%) systems.
88% of Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning decision-makers expect the use cases that require these technologies to increase in the next one to two years, according to a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Redis Labs. The study revealed that companies are developing increasingly more models based on real-time data. Still, more than 40% of respondents believe their current data architectures won’t meet their future model inferencing requirements. Most decision-makers (64%) say their firms are developing between 20% to 39% of their models on real-time data from data streams and connected devices. As teams develop more models on real-time data, the need for accuracy and scalability is becoming increasingly critical. Significantly, thirty-eight percent of leaders are developing roughly a third of models on the real-time spectrum.
The share of enterprise 5G deals led by Communications Service Providers (CSPs) has fallen from 21% in 2020 to 16%, found a report by Beyond by BearingPoint, in collaboration with Omdia. While the number of enterprise 5G projects doubled over the course of the year, and despite telcos recognising the need for a multitechnology, omni-partner, solution-oriented approach for enterprise 5G, competition from alternative service providers has significantly impacted CSPs share of the market. The study found that CSPs are starting to realise the importance of the enterprise 5G market but must fully commit and put the dedicated resources in place faster if they are to capture the opportunities as they emerge.
Household spending tumbled 11% in the first quarter (Q1) 11% of 2021 compared to the same period last year reveals figures from the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) Consumer Trends report. The report shows that hotels and restaurants were hardest hit: spending on meals and accommodation collapsed by 63% this January-March, compared to Q1 last year. According to recent Atlas VPN team findings, the United States and United Kingdom lead in commitment to cybersecurity. However, many countries still lack training and education programs for many professionals. The United States earned a perfect score of 100, getting all 20 points in each GCI indicator. However, while the US has the most cybersecurity resources, the latest cyberattacks on Americans have shown room for improvement. The United Kingdom follows behind, scoring 99.54 points in GCI. The score indicates that the UK has to employ more computer incident response teams, enabling a country to respond to incidents at the national level using a centralised contact point and promote quick and systematic action.
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Life in the channel “Every organisation possesses huge amounts of data that they need to get meaning from – this creates a significant opportunity for us. Our core purpose is to deliver analytics that transform how enterprises work, collaborate and perform. We do this by capturing patterns and changes in detail generated by telephony, unified communications and collaboration systems – and giving it context so that business leaders and their teams can make better-informed decisions.”
Tiger’s John Shannon Tiger’s John Shannon, the workplace data analytics business’s partner director discusses what skills are vital for organisations operating in the channel, whether we’re headed for a hybrid future and Tiger’s company and software ambitions for 2021 – and beyond. 64
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orkplace data analytics firm Tiger – formerly known as Tiger Communications hit its predicted growth targets for the end of 2020, with a 15% increase in EBITDA. This was achieved despite COVID-19 and follows a significant investment in product development, recruitment, high-profile partnerships, customer relationships and the creation of a fresh identity. This forecast comes despite COVID-19 and follows a significant investment in product development, recruitment, high-profile partnerships, customer relationships and the creation of a fresh identity. The £4.2m turnover software organisation – which helps customers make sense of over three trillion pieces of call data per year – has recorded a 25% uplift in its subscription-based businesses during the global crisis. Tiger has also expanded its 600-strong client portfolio in sectors including financial services, legal, manufacturing, and public sector including the NHS. Tiger’s John Shannon had this to say: Tell us about your work history in the channel and your current role? Much of my career spans the channel space and it all started when I was working within Cisco’s partner community. I supported several gold certified businesses – including TNS and Lynx Technology, both of which are now part of BT iNet – and was accountable for revenue targets and developing the Cisco relationship. I started my own partner consultancy business, Channel Intellect, in 2006 and supported some of the UK’s most successful technology partners. Our key mission was to share our collective experience of working in the channel and guide enterprises to get more from their vendor investment. A key milestone was launching the Comstor Mentor Program – which is still running today. I later crossed paths with Jon Pickering when he was CEO of Block Solutions. Fast forward to 2020, he’s now leading Tiger – my first client at Channel Intellect – and I joined in 2018 to enhance Tiger’s partner capability, support them in differentiating their offering and ultimately deliver sales growth. What is a Data Analytics Consultancy Service? Data is everywhere. And for businesses that have
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Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) technology at the heart of their operations, the volume of data is increasing at a rapid rate every day. But data without context offers organisations zero direction – meaning teams can quickly feel lost and overwhelmed, and not quite sure what to do with all the insight. Unfortunately, this is when decisions are made upon assumptions instead of ‘hard evidence’ – which can have a detrimental impact on both the customer and employee experience. Why is data analytics important for business? You may or may not have heard that we’ve just launched our brand-new Data Analytics Consultancy Service – and some of you may be wondering exactly what that means. Data analytics software solutions – such as Tiger Prism – enable enterprises to collect and harness the power of their data, by drilling down into the detail in segmented dashboards and reports. And given the fact that a single voice call generates around 600 pieces of data – it would be impossible to collate, and evaluate, this volume of intelligence without the help of technology. What software developments is Tiger working on at the moment? Every organisation possesses huge amounts of data that they need to get meaning from – this creates a significant opportunity for us. Our core purpose is to deliver analytics that transform how enterprises work, collaborate and perform. We do this by capturing patterns and changes in detail generated by telephony, unified communications and collaboration systems – and giving it context so that business leaders and their teams can make better-informed decisions. July/August 2021 | 65
As a vendor-agnostic analytics platform, we’ve got a fantastic opportunity to help IT leaders make sound investment choices, futureproof their businesses and help them evolve. We know the collaboration market is accelerating rapidly so it’s vital we continue to dissect insight to help customers save time, money and resources. We’re entering an exciting period of growth and our latest product release of Tiger Prism further enhances Microsoft Teams integration. This includes new Teams calling analytics capability, which gives customers valuable insights into adoption and utilisation. The introduction of our new budget alerting module allows supervisors to set budget levels for departments and receive automated alerts when telephony spend is exceeded, offering increased control of communications spend.
What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for workplace data analytics right now? The digital workplace is here to stay. Remote working continues to rise and paperbased processes – and even partially automated solutions – are being replaced swiftly as the ‘physical world’ evolves. Economic flux offers many challenges to technology and infrastructure, security, visibility of staff performance and more. On the other side of the coin, the acceleration of collaboration tools adoption – especially video – means businesses are generating more data than ever before. The next big consideration for the marketplace is to ensure organisations unlock their insight and analyse it all, to arm leaders with insightful, actionable information that can truly enhance business performance.
What is Tiger’s relationship with the channel? Approximately 80% of Tiger’s business is transacted through our network of partners, so the channel is extremely valuable. It’s important to understand what organisations are trying to achieve and work collaboratively on the best ways to support them in achieving their goals. It’s core to our strategy that we continue to work alongside these enterprises and take away the ‘heavy lifting’. Many businesses are technically very strong and when they’re able to talk about Tiger’s provision, this can underline the difference for our end users – which are critical to help us scale.
Are we headed towards a hybrid future? The number of people combining an in-office and home-based set-up has undoubtedly increased because of COVID-19 – and with mixed response and success rates. Back in March 2020, many organisations, which hadn’t previously invested in a unified communications infrastructure were suddenly faced with the unknown – every employee working from a remote location. And they had to make it work; whereas companies, which were more au fait with flexible operations were geared up to transition more seamlessly. Businesses must remain focused and refrain from any knee-jerk reactions. I believe that hybrid working is a marathon, not a sprint, and one which more businesses will consider taking part in. No matter the location of a staff member though, communication should be constant, teams must continue to collaborate and share knowledge and learnings throughout.
What advice would you give to fellow directors operating in the channel? There is no ‘silver bullet’ for achieving your objectives when working with vendors. However, there are some fundamentals that – when they’re applied – can provide a better success rate. These include having an agreed strategy – that’s centric to an individual vendor or portfolio – alongside understanding the business’s position and direction of travel, budget allocation and crossorganisational ownership. Additionally, any partnership development programme requires commitment from the senior leadership team, to ensure swift and effective adoption and progression. What skills and roles does a tech firm need to be successful in the channel? A structured, ongoing plan of activity can ensure that a company’s individual proposition, roadmap and ambitions are all understood. In turn, this should be backed by a strong sales function and supported by an ongoing and consistent communications strategy. This is ideally driven by a marketing function to ensure all activity is executed on time to create sufficient demand. 66
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What does 2021 – and beyond – look like for Tiger and the channel in general? Tiger has supported some of the UK’s most successful technology partners on their high-performance journeys – with the ultimate objective of delivering sales growth. This remains a key focus throughout 2021 and beyond. From a channel perspective, the entire employee lifecycle is becoming more digital, which means organisations require more collaborative and communications tools to help teams stay connected, productive, engaged and motivated. Data and information must be accessible to all – at speed – and that means fostering a working environment that is transparent and agile, maintains a positive culture and empowers employees and leaders to make business-critical decisions based on datadriven insights. www.pcr-online.biz
What can I do right now to reduce my environmental impact? The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the Earth. As its permafrost ice melts, powerful methane greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, which speeds up global warming in an increasingly destructive cycle. © Jasper Gibson
Professor Katey Walter Anthony is an Arctic researcher and National Geographic Explorer, and her work has helped to reveal that Arctic lakes are emitting five times more methane than previously thought. As she explains, “The Arctic is literally melting before our eyes, and what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. It affects the entire planet.” While this paints a grim picture, Katey emphasises that there are ways that businesses can minimise their impact on the environment. “Heat destroys permafrost, and when we choose to use heat free technology, we lower our energy consumption which helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slows permafrost thaw.” © Jasper Gibson
“The Arctic is literally melting before our eyes, and what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. It affects the entire planet.”
© Jasper Gibson
To make copies of maps and data from her field research, Katey uses Epson’s innovative inkjet printers. Their HeatFree Technology saves as much as 80% of energy used in comparison to traditional laser printers*. They use less power as they don’t require heat to warm up, which means that as well as saving energy consumption, they cost less to run too. The environmental burden from manufacturing and recycling spare parts is also reduced, as Heat-Free Technology uses fewer consumables and parts that need replacing. As Katey says, “Our choices really do matter in work and in life. And when businesses make smart decisions about what technology they use, that will also make a positive difference for our environment.” If you’d like to know more about Katey’s quest to understand climate change and how your business can make a difference by switching to Epson’s Heat-Free Technology, visit www.epson.eu/Heat-Free
*See www.epson.eu/heat-free for details
Switch to Heat-Free printing Switching from laser to Heat-Free printers helps you to use less energy and reduce the environmental impact of printing. To explore the insights from National Geographic visit epson.eu/Heat-Free