TECH IN EDUCATION
ISSUE June 2021 www.pcr-online.biz
ZEUS LETS YOU SEE MORE Expand The View Of Learning Applications, Documents And Virtual Lessons TECH IN EDUCATION ISSUE #208
DISPLAY SOLUTIONS READY FOR MODERN EDUCATION www.hannspree.eu June 2021
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CELEBRATING THE LEADING COMPANIES FROM ACROSS THE UK PC AND TECH INDUSTRY
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The learning curve
nhancing student engagement is a prime concern for education providers and as education technology solutions evolve in line with IoT, AI, AR, and VR, these technologies will go a long way in offering an interactive experience to learners. In the June issue we focus on the current EdTech market and how the channel is working to address industry needs. One apparent shortfall brought on by the onset of the Coronavirus is access to suitable computer and IT equipment for students and education providers. So the channel has a major role in fulfilling this need. We spoke with Intel to find our more about its Pandemic Response Technology Initiative and how this has helped the education sector. Trevor Evans, MD at Consenna discusses the channel’s role in facilitating home learning. Theis Mørk, Vice President, Global Product Management at EPOS looks at how audio technology has become vital to the education sector and remote learning. Dr. Andrea Cullen from CAPSLOCK discusses why the company was established in an effort to broaden skills and understanding for a career in digital security. We have come a long way from chalk boards and learning by rote and the future of education is set to be transformed by EdTech especially with the scope of IoT, AI, AR, and VR technologies and is why channel education initiatives are vital to realising this full potential.
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24 June 2021 06 Retail analysis: Making retail sustainable by taking it virtual 08 News 12 Industry Opinions 20 Big Interview: QBS’ Dave Stevinson 24 Intel: Enhancing education channels
28 Consenna’s Trevor Evans 32 EPOS’ Theis Mørk 34 WatchGuard’s Corey Nachreiner 38 CAPSLOCK’s Dr. Andrea Cullen 42 Sector Guides: Tech in education 48 Life in the channel: Mimecast’s Hannah Mayersbeth
42 48 @pcr_online
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Making retail sustainable by taking it virtual Lysa Campbell, CEO at Retail Marketing Group explores how online retailers can look to maximise content and user interaction, enhanced by virtual reality.
he last year has seen retail take a big hit, with companies finding new and innovative ways to cater to consumer needs. The Internet has been the industry’s saving grace, keeping customers and retailers connected to survive through the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there has been many snags along the way and bumps in the road to figure out what works and what doesn’t in order to take retail virtual. Then, with the Prime Minister announcing the roadmap for exiting lockdown, the main question on everyone’s mind is: what does this mean for e-commerce and the high street and will virtual retail still be relevant?
Retail Going Virtual
It is no surprise that Amazon took to the ‘new normal’ like a duck to water during COVID19, having the structure and business plan already in place for managing an increase in consumer demand and engagement. Competitors had to think outside of the box in order to stay relevant. This mainly revolved around the factors of retail that will never change; customers will always want low prices, fast delivery and a vast selection of products to 6
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buy from. It was just a matter of how quickly retailers could adapt technology to cater to these factors. Some retailers looked to drone applications to increase delivery time, whilst others turned to e-commerce and offered hundreds of products. Ultimately, the aspect that must be a primary focus is how you offer value to your consumers. What has been made abundantly clear over the pandemic is that human connection is a highly valued commodity and has been greatly missed since the shutdown of the high street. People miss being able to speak to a retail assistant and ask for advice on the best products: something that can be hard to replicate in a virtual setting. This is where retail can take lessons from the events industry, one which also thrived off human interaction. After lockdown was enforced, the events industry too had to develop hybrid technology to emulate pre-COVID life, delivering immense value to their audience. Massive leaps in innovation with technology have created a varied mix of virtual environments and platforms, which people can use for multiple purposes. Some aspects are already popular with retailers, with augmented www.pcr-online.biz
reality and virtual reality starting to play a big role in many retailers’ campaigns. This is only projected to increase in the coming months; according to Goldman Sachs, the market for AR and VR in retail will reach $1.6 billion by 2025. Virtual reality in retail can be used to plan, design, research, and even enhance the customer experience. It offers several benefits when considering how to appeal to consumers’ wants and needs, especially when they’re constantly changing. There are already many examples of retailers using hybrid methods to generate engagement with consumers. In 2017, IKEA developed the IKEA Place ARKit app, which allowed users a 3D preview of the chosen furniture in their own space. The users can look for their preferred furniture items, then reserve and buy directly through the app. Other examples of VR in retail include One Aldwych Hotel, who partnered with Dalmore Whisky to offer a unique brand experience where consumers could have a ‘VR whiskey cocktail’; the consumer would drink the cocktail while virtually visiting the distillery where the whisky was aged and see the barley fields that were used in the making of their drink. The next phase in retail is for brands to provide virtual showrooms; indeed, this is something that some retailers are beginning to roll out to customers. Consumers can be in the comfort of their own homes and ask a real person specific questions about the product and be shown the product they are interested in. Solutions like these are also more sustainable going forwards, an aspect that is a huge focus for the retail industry.
‘Going green’ means so much more than bamboo straws and refillable cups. GlobalData found that 64% of UK consumers say they consider the impacts on the environment in their choice of retailer. To make a retail experience truly sustainable, companies must alter the perception of what a retail experience should be and what consumers want to take away from it, then drastically reduce the need for travel, hospitality, and waste, all of which have a severe impact on the environment. This is twice as important for the retail industry as retailers must also think about providing a sustainable product and helping their consumers achieve a ‘green footprint’. Retailers must consider virtual and hybrid alternatives to the high street. Virtual and hybrid environments are some of the most sustainable ways that companies can create meaningful engagement with consumers whilst helping minimise consumers’ environmental footprint. The retail industry as a whole generates a huge amount of waste and pollution, from the manufacturing and shipping of products to the use of landfill for unsold inventory. Whilst some retailers have made significant changes across their processes in www.pcr-online.biz
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order to minimise their impact on the environment, there is always more work that can be done. Providing hybrid or completely virtual shopping experiences reduces pressure on brick-and-mortar stores as significant contributing causes to retail’s environmental damage. Virtual and hybrid solutions reduce the extensive supply chains needed to fill stores with products. Not only this, but they are also much more accessible to people around the world, giving businesses the ultimate flexibility in reaching every consumer.
The Future of the Retail Industry
Yet, there are the ever-present questions surrounding whether this will still matter in the coming months, as people start progressing back towards the high street due to the phased reopening of society. The simple answer is that virtual solutions are not designed to replace every aspect of the high street, instead combining the best of both worlds to create a unique, greener experience. Immersive virtual or hybrid stores provide the engagement of the physical brick and mortar stores with the versatility of digital, to create the next generation of retail. This should be the goal for any brand or retailer wanting to connect with its audience and deliver on their ROI. In the end consumers want choice: they want brands to be on every touchpoint they are and offer others alongside it. Visualising products online - with an added element of personalisation and human contact - lets people fully engage and invest in your brand. People want to see what a product will look like in relation to quality and style before they spend their hard-earned money on it. With over 63% of Internet users from Goldman Sachs suggesting that VR would change the way they shop, it seems the concept has a promising future in the world of retail. As brands look to regenerate the Highstreet post-COVID, we will begin to see the true potential of immersive virtual stores as they gain in popularity.
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PCR’s 30 Under 30 2021: Last chance to nominate yourself or a colleague! PCR’s 30 Under 30 is back in July to showcase the most talented individuals under the age of 30 working in the UK tech and IT industry. From retail and marketing to distribution and manufacturing, nominations are open to those working in all areas of the industry. It couldn’t be easier to nominate yourself or a colleague. The deadline for entries is June 15th. Email your nomination to Michelle Winny at email@example.com Your nomination must include all of the following in a single email: • Your name (if nominating yourself) or your nominee’s name (if nominating a colleague) • A high-resolution headshot of the nominee • Company name and full job title • A paragraph on why you/they should earn a place in this year’s 30 Under 30 • Age (must still be under the age of 30 on 1st June) Incomplete applications will not be considered, and those featured in 2020’s PCR 30 Under 30 lists will not be included.
Tech Data to offer Digitate autonomous enterprise software solutions in Europe Tech Data is partnering with Digitate on its full range of solutions, built on the company’s ignio software platform. This includes their artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) product. Gartner predicts that by 2023, 40 percent of infrastructure and operations teams in large enterprises will use AI-augmented automation, with machine learning solutions a preferred and pragmatic option for many businesses. Tech Data has built a comprehensive data analytics portfolio to help partners address this opportunity and offers specialist in-country support through its data and IoT solutions experts, Solutions Factory methodology and Practice Builder programs. Digitate’s ignio applies artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to provide IT operations teams with insights that enable prediction, prevention and remediation of issues and risks. The software platform can identify and self-heal IT incidents, failures, or faults, without human intervention at machine speed. 8
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Ingram Micro partners with Circular Computing on carbon-neutral laptops Circular Computing is partnering with Ingram Micro to resell carbonneutral remanufactured Dell, HP and Lenovo laptops. Michael Farrah, Senior Commercial Director at Ingram Micro said: “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 reenforcing the benefits of the circular economy.” Circular Computing have invested years of research and development and built a state of the art facility to get to this point – where a remanufactured laptop can have reliability that is comparable to new and they can be produced in their thousands to the same high standard of quality. 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 procedures to ensure they meet the needs of enterprise users and have been proven to perform at 97 percent of equivalent new devices. Rod Neale, Founder of Circular Computing, said: “For many years, we focused on creating the right product as we knew offering reliability and highperformance, alongside a carbon-neutral laptop, was crucial to its success. We now need to let the world know about it and challenge IT leaders to rethink their procurement strategy.” Remanufacturing laptops reuses most of the original device therefore the emissions, water use, and resources needing to be mined are significantly reduced versus new equipment – they are also up to 40 percent lower cost.
Westcon partners with Avaya on CCaaS solution Westcon’s latest UK Master Agent agreement for Avaya OneCloud CCaaS will now cover European countries following a successful UK pilot. Westcon will become the first Master Agent for Avaya OneCloud CCaaS (Contact Centre as a Service) covering the European region as the momentum behind its roll-out in 40+ countries continues to build. Marianne Nickenig, VP Network & Collaboration Westcon EMEA, said: “Over the last few years we’ve seen new products, services and disruptive concepts redefine the way we interface and engage with one another. Transitioning contact centres to the cloud is becoming a key priority for a growing number of businesses, and the ones opting for a CCaaS solution are able to gain numerous benefits relating to cost, convenience and, more importantly, customer satisfaction. As a result, Avaya’s CCaaS solution represents a crucial addition to Westcon’s portfolio.” “Traditional partner programmes often consist of multiple barriers and points of separation between the vendor and the customer. The Master Agent channel model allows us to minimise these points of separation and get as close to the customer as possible, therefore ensuring continuity of service and an improved customer experience,” Marianne adds. www.pcr-online.biz
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ScS Partners with Go Instor Go Instore is partnering with ScS to launch a live video service designed to offer personalised advice for customers shopping from the comfort of their own home. The myScSlive service, platform allows staff to deliver a virtual store experience and recreate the one-to-one in-store interaction for customers who prefer to shop online for home furnishings. This latest configuration offers an additional retail channel by allowing shoppers to have instant live consultations with ScS store staff, enabling customers to feel confident in their purchasing decisions, simply by clicking a button on the ScS website. Additionally, the myScSlive booking feature means customers can pre-book two-way personalised video calls with an in-store product expert at a time of their convenience to discuss how the products will fit their lifestyle. “The last year has revealed the need to expand our digital offering. Many of our customers are now choosing to shop online instead of in stores but we want to deliver the same experience across both channels. Go Instore will play an
important role in offering an enhanced customer experience, and the Appointedd scheduling feature will be key to our strategy now that stores have reopened, and customers are returning,” said Dan Bennett, Head of Online Sales at ScS. “Appointedd’s booking features allow our customers to book VIP consultations with specialists with no distractions, to completely focus on the products they are interested in. We have already seen great take up with this feature with over 30,000 appointments booked.” added Bennett. “Lockdown has caused a shift in consumer behaviour with almost half of all shoppers now choosing to shop online. Retailers must react to this change in shopping habits and consider how to replicate the in-store journey, online. Live video helps recreate the entire customer journey and bridges the gap between online and in-store channels. MyScSlive represents a hybrid way of visiting the ScS showrooms, adding a new and highly valuable channel to ScS’ offering.” said Andre Hordagoda, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Go Instore.
Seedtag to offer contextual advertising to brands during Euro 2020 Seedtag will offer its full stack advertising platform to advertisers during the Euro 2020. Its technology enables advertisers to serve ads on relevant articles, on a large amount of partner media, offering a reach of over 56 million monthly impressions in the UK. Finally taking place a year on from its original date, Euro 2020 is set to be one of the biggest sporting events of the summer. Appetite for sport is at an all time high, with users spending on average over 7 hours a week consuming sporting content. The previous Euros in 2016 achieved a viewership of over 2 billion across the competition, generating over $2.13 billion in revenue (an average of $42m per game). Due to take place over June and July, Euro 2020 will be hosted across 11 major European cities, and is expected to reach over 5 billion viewers. Throughout the Euros, Seedtag is providing advertisers with premium advertising inventory to enable them to associate their brand with the event. With the help of contextual AI, advertisers will be able to reach football fans by serving ads relevant to the Euros, such as general team and injury news, match previews and postgame analysis. 10
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QBS Software partners with SmartBear SmartBear, a provider of software development and quality tools is partnering with QBS Software. “QBS Software’s approach to the delivery of best-inclass software solutions and their level of service makes them an ideal channel partner for SmartBear,” said Darin Welfare, SVP, International Sales and Channel at SmartBear. “We’ve been very impressed with their vision, strategy, and ability to execute. We look forward to working together with them to meet the increased demand we see in the market for our solutions that support the rapid acceleration of digital transformation and ecommerce initiatives.” “SmartBear offers a compelling advantage to our partner base,” said QBS CEO, Dave Stevinson. “There’s massive demand for innovative solutions that solve big challenges around software quality, particularly those around APIs. QBS has served the developer community since 1987 and we are proud to bring SmartBear to the forefront of our managed publishers as their European distributor partner.” “SmartBear and QBS have a strong track record of success, which has continued amidst these challenging times around the world,” said, Ed Greenwood, SmartBear EMEA Channel & Alliances Manager. “This partnership complements our existing, market-leading portfolio, and offers some compelling opportunities to partners and resellers in EMEA. The SmartBear solution portfolio provides them with proven pathways to land-and-expand business and increase ARR.” www.pcr-online.biz
BICS supports hybrid network connections to Google Cloud BICS is supporting Google Cloud’s Partner Interconnect, a service from Google Cloud that allows customers to connect to Google Cloud’s platform globally. With Partner Interconnect, customers can now choose BICS to provide connectivity from their facility to the nearest Google edge point of presence. The cloudification of services provides end-to-end security, ultra-low latency, and real-time autonomy through BICS’ fully automated service portal. The collaboration combines BICS’ multi-cloud connectivity solution, Cloud Connect, along with Partner Interconnect, to provide connectivity between enterprises’ on-premises infrastructure and Google Cloud locations in the US, EU and Asia Pacific. With more than 100 points-of-presence across the world, BICS’ multi-layer network offers connection to Google Cloud, at speeds from 50Mbs to 10Gbps. “We are witnessing an unprecedented acceleration in digitalisation projects,” said Johan Wouters, Sr. VP Infrastructure & Sourcing, BICS. “Where migration to the
cloud may have previously been a long-term objective for many enterprises, this past year has prioritised the need for fast, flexible and secure cloudification of services. Through our collaboration with Google Cloud, BICS is enabling global enterprises to instantly connect to the cloud, creating new opportunities for companies to rapidly innovate and transform.” The current momentum in cloud strategies, accelerated by the sudden demand for business continuity throughout the recent pandemic, is expected to continue post-Covid. Gartner predicts that worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is set to grow to $304.9 billion in 2021, adding that almost 70% of organisations using cloud services today plan to increase their cloud spending. The market for Platform as a service (PaaS) is projected to grow from $43.8 billion in 2020, to $69 billion by 2022, with Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) will also increase by a further 26%.
Arrows Group Futurescale Academy creates “job ready” grads Charlie Sell of Arrows Group Global is offering free mentoring and training to increase the flow of rising young talent in the channel. With sixteen years of experience in the tech recruitment industry, Charlie can see objectively that when it comes to increasing the numbers of women and minority groups in tech, it’s no good moving a few people around at the top. The industry needs a steady flow of fresh talent and they need to be nurtured and supported to become what Charlie calls ‘Job Ready’. FutureScale is the product designed to deliver this. A knowledge academy for STEM grads, FutureScale takes the SELECT, DEVELOP, DEPLOY & SUPPORT approach, where hirers invest in training STEM graduates through a two-year continuous learning journey to full employment with them. The only requirement is that they are committed and passionate about a STEM career and that they are bright and capable of staying the course. Candidates undergo a bias-free assessment for selection, not based on what school they went to, or who they know, but purely on their potential. They are then interviewed by potential hirers and if successful undergo an intense threemonth training program, for free. They then have a job with that hirer at the end of the course. The training alone is worth £5,000, but FutureScale offers a far greater value to STEM graduates in that it promises to double their market value after two years of training and www.pcr-online.biz
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employment with the hirer. (FutureScale graduates’ market value estimated at £40/50k p/a versus their market value straight out of University at £27k p/a). The academy does away entirely with the cliché of hirers wanting ‘a grad with three year’s-experience, as, with FutureScale, that’s exactly what they’re getting. Even better, their grads are tuned into their brands from the off, fully engaged in the company culture and embedded community and ready to go. The cost of investing in FutureScale grads is very competitive to hirers too, saving up to £300 per day on an equivalent consultant day rate. The plan is for FutureScale to be a continuous learning journey for Charlie, the Universities and hirers involved too, as they will be able to identify the barriers and issues causing the drop-off rate when it comes to women and minority groups, and to all those hoping to embark on STEM careers. What better way to uncover unconscious bias than to see it in action? “We always talk about why there aren’t as many women in tech as we’d like, but it’s often left to the minority of women to raise the point. We should be challenging the language throughout the recruitment process, right from school. In an industry with an abundance of men, writing the job specs and the courses in very male-orientated language, it’s no wonder women become switched off. I want to call out to all the men in tech to be vocal about changing this dynamic.” June 2021 | 11
Education under cyber attack Jon-Marc Wilkinson Director Sales, UK and Ireland from WatchGuard Technologies looks at the education sector under siege from cyber criminals and the need to ensure our schools, colleges and universities are protected.
n September last year, the UK government’s NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre), part of GCHQ, issued an alert to the academic sector following a series of online attacks against schools, colleges and universities. The attacks coincided with the return of pupils and students after the first lockdown and prompted the NCSC to urge immediate steps to mitigate the risks, and deal with possible breaches. Many of the incidents reported by schools and other educational establishments were ransomware attacks. These typically involved the encryption of pupil, parent and school data by cyber criminals, who then demanded money in exchange for its recovery. In a series of high-profile attacks, at least seven higher education institutions in the UK were hit in a global ransomware attack that targeted their USbased cloud-computing provider. While no bank account, credit card or social security details of any individual were accessed; the hackers were allegedly able to steal names, gender, contact information, emails and addresses. While schools, colleges and universities have once again been returning to on-site teaching after the second lockdown, the COVID19 pandemic has driven the move to remote learning and extended the traditional network perimeter to connect thousands of remote devices not under the control of the IT department. This has radically changed the threat landscape for education and presents new challenges for schools and their IT managers, facing a different future of learning. Education is a more challenging environment to protect than most businesses, largely because of the diverse user base and wide range of personal and unmanaged devices connecting to the network. These devices may also be shared with other family members, so if they are compromised, or already infected with malware and then reconnected into the school environment, that could lead to a cyber incident or potential breach. Since the beginning of the pandemic, IT security vendors and their channel partners have stepped up to help education institutions across the country face new challenges. Both value added resellers and managed service providers have had to climb a steep learning curve over the last 15-months as they witnessed a seismic shift in the way education IT services are delivered. Channel partners are now expected to facilitate secure learning to
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every staff member, pupil and student, whether located onsite or at home. To compound these challenges, IT services need the ability to flex their requirements and budgets on the fly, which requires an extremely agile approach. However, with challenge comes opportunity and the pandemic has accelerated the shift to new ways of centralising the delivery of services using the cloud. Adopting a centralised cloud architecture to deliver end-to-end security services provides the channel with multiple benefits. With no onsite servers, zero touch deployments and remote monitoring and management, there is no need for service visits. Everything from configuring firewalls, to providing endpoint protection or delivering modular security courses can be provisioned, deployed, managed and reported on via cloud. When it comes to technology defences, a layered approach to cybersecurity is vital. While every network needs a strong network firewall, they also need a full arsenal of scanning engines to provide visibility, threat intelligence and protection against spyware and viruses, malicious apps, data leakage and unknown zero-day threats. Then there is the age-old problem of passwords. As we all struggle with remembering a multitude of long, complex and secure passwords, the use of multi-factor authentication (MFA) is compelling. Using a one-time-password sent to a mobile phone means that MFA is flexible and affordable for education establishments. And with a cloudbased system, there is also an array of flexible payment options. For example, if a school requires 10 MFA users one month but 100 MFA users for another lockdown in two months’ time, this is all possible, enabling budgets to be used on a consumption basis. These offerings create immediate value for the channel and enable their customers to purchase security as and when required. Like all other sectors, COVID-19 has changed the face or education forever. Education’s IT requirements will continue to evolve and it’s the channel’s responsibility to help facilitate this change in a seamless manner, whilst ensuring security efficacy is maintained. The bottom line is there is no silver bullet when it comes to defeating cybercrime – in our education institutions or anywhere else. The best way to combat the growing threat landscape is through education and by implementing a layered approach to security, whether that is managed locally or remotely. www.pcr-online.biz
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In-Class, Remote, or Hybrid Learning? How Technology in Education Can Help Nadav Avni, Marketing Director at Radix Technologies discusses the advantages of device management in education and the future of remote learning.
he pandemic effectively displaced 1.2 billion students from receiving classroom education in 2020, catching many schools and teachers off guard. Consequently, many institutions received little time and resources to transition the shift from in-class training to online. This isn’t saying that technology in education, specifically remote learning, is a new concept for schools. However, most schools had to come up with a plan to change their mode of learning from in-person classroom to fully remote. How did different technologies help this rapid transition from traditional to virtual classrooms? How can a fully-featured classroom management solution help resolve issues? At the minimum, an effective teaching session requires three platforms for the teacher. First, a classroom management solution that gives the teacher the authority and the tools to keep students in check and maintain their attention. The second is video conferencing software to serve as the primary means of visual and audio communication. And lastly, a learning management system (LMS) to manage the cloud storage for school and study-related documents. This includes school and student records, course syllabus, subject materials, activity books, and other data. A typical online class session involves the teacher multi-tasking and handling multiple tasks and challenges at the same time. This includes ensuring all students are present and accounted for, making all course materials and activities ready for the sessions, managing the classroom, minimising disruptions, and running the video conference meeting. Given the limited class hours, teachers are fighting a losing war with technology in education. Instead of devoting most of their teaching hours to educating, online sessions often mean more time spent managing the technology and making sure everybody stays connected. Then, there’s the matter of managing the students’ devices. In an ideal world, the prevailing technology in education means each student reports to the class using the same laptop that the teacher uses. In reality, issues in infrastructure and the limited availability of affordable computing machines mean varying network quality and device types. A crucial issue that took a back seat during the early days of the pandemic is data security. School administrators need to ensure that students’ data are kept secure and confidential. With online classrooms, data keeps flowing back and forth between participants with minimal network protection. On top of that, teachers require continuous access to school records that contain private information. 14
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Ideally, the teaching system should be compliant with existing policies regarding student data privacy, such as the provisions listed in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Both parents and teachers can feel better knowing that the cloud software used by students is FERPA-compliant and ensures secure connections during every session. In most teaching systems, the learning management system is where the class syllabus and materials are stored and managed. It’s designed to ensure that students and teachers alike have access to data anywhere and anytime. While LMS features an efficient way to manage information, it often does not provide an embedded communication system that teachers can use to talk to their students. Hence the need for a separate video conference software. A modern approach to education in technology involves integrating the functions needed by teachers to successfully conduct an online class. This means providing a cloud-based distance-learning platform that combines classroom management and video conferencing capabilities and access to learning management systems. Distance learning solutions often come with an integrated video conference system that provides better means to manage the classroom. Using distance-learning solutions, educators can provide personalised instructions and assistance. Each student’s monitor can be accessed at any time, and the system allows teachers to engage in 1:1 sessions. Teachers can also use and share interactive virtual whiteboards and launch websites. Classroom management solutions also allow the simultaneous transfer and sharing of files during sessions. This facilitates better collaboration between teachers and students, just like they do face-to-face. Modern distance learning platforms can manage numerous devices running different operating systems, meaning students can use their computers or mobile devices without worrying about compatibility and ease of use. OEM device manufacturers and vendors are looking for a cost-effective solution to bundle their hardware offerings with these scalable classroom management applications. The choice of remote teaching systems becomes crucial once schools realise that they will have to accept new methods of delivering classes at some point. In particular, schools can benefit from a flexible system that can be used for in-person learning, remote instruction, or hybrid classes. Investing in a learning system that can handle all three methods provides the school with the advantage of being ready for any situation. www.pcr-online.biz
How UK businesses can avoid a digital skills disaster Sean Farrington, SVP EMEA at Pluralsight explores How UK employers can build a cultural environment that promotes learning and development, and ultimately boosts productivity and morale.
ecent research has truly brought home the existence and implications of the digital skills gap in the UK. Conducted by The Learning and Work Institute, the study has revealed that more than ever, young people are leaving formal education without sufficient technology skills. As a result, their entry into the workforce is met with an expectation that they’ll learn on the job, with 70% hoping their employers will invest in their training and development to fill the gaps in their knowledge. And yet, the conflicting reality is that more than half of these businesses have no plans to do so. Whether constrained by budget, resource or know-how, this misalignment will only serve to accentuate the skills gap. In a postpandemic world, this runs the risk of stifling productivity, growth and performance. The UK is facing a tough road towards economic recovery, so it’s crucial that businesses are equipped to champion the digital cause, offering robust learning and development (L&D) opportunities to employees. Over the last year, we have seen unprecedented levels of engagement to learn new skills. Case in point was the uptake of our Free April initiative last year when we offered free access to our entire course library for one month, and saw over one million people sign up to learn a new digital skill. This year we have launched the same program in the hope that companies will take the opportunity to skill up or reskill their teams for free. This willingness to learn gives businesses a head start, but it’s critical that they do not disenfranchise their workers by adopting the wrong approach to L&D. For instance, our research following the first lockdown in the UK found that a quarter (25%) of office workers wished they had been offered access to online learning tools as opposed to other mediums for learning, while 84% of Gen Z employees had not been offered any skills development opportunities at all. Wherever possible, businesses should look to avoid a formal, onesize-fits-all approach. It is not sufficient to meet modern working habits or keep up with the pace of technological change. It doesn’t offer the same flexibility or measurement as online, on-demand alternatives. Furthermore, upon completion, the knowledge gained will, more than likely, be out-of-date already, such is the pace of digital transformation right now. By contrast, digital learning platforms allow new entrants to the workforce to learn in bite-
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sized chunks, upskill quickly on specific tools or technologies, in a way that is personalised for them, tailor their learning to career progression and benchmark their knowledge against their peers. As a form of best practice, businesses looking to upskill their employees and avoid the economic ramifications of an ill-equipped workforce should closely align their L&D programmes with their business priorities. As a starting point, they need to be able to accurately map the skills at their disposal and the different levels of competency within the workforce, so they can match employee skills with client projects, or understand which areas need extra support or investment. Using digital measurement tools like Skill IQ, means businesses can identify knowledge gaps and provide an L&D roadmap to bring employees up to the level required. As a next step, successfully addressing the skills gap will require UK businesses to be one step ahead of customer requirements. This means working with their employees to anticipate which technologies and skills are set to rise in popularity. This, in turn, will then drive business priorities. According to our aforementioned research, UK office workers believe that cybersecurity (19%), data analytics (19%) and cloud computing (19%) will be particularly sought after technologies and skills over the next five years. The pandemic has led to a boom in digital-first services, so these technologies will no doubt support business continuity, allowing operations to run securely and efficiently. Therefore, to truly address the digital skills gap, UK businesses should turn their attention to these solutions, ensuring that their workforce is sufficiently prepared.
As we look to rebuild from 2020’s turbulent business environment, there’s no doubt that the digital skills gap could serve to hamper business efforts to support the UK’s recovery unless appropriately addressed. Businesses must be prepared to help new employees develop their knowledge and understanding of technology or they will face stagnant growth. It all rests on the approach; using digitalfirst learning platforms and aligning skill development to business priorities will keep pace with demand, giving them that competitive edge, so that they’re able to serve their customers effectively now and into the future. June 2020 | 15
selling IT to schools: Let’s get digital! The events of the past twelve months have significantly accelerated technology adoption for many schools and opened up new approaches to teaching and learning. But what has this abrupt shift to digital learning taught us and how can schools make the most of their IT budgets moving forward? Mark Whitefield, director of school sales, Stone Group explores.
he pandemic has firmly placed the spotlight on the huge disparity in how schools use technology for teaching. While some schools rose to the challenge and were able to deliver full live lessons to their pupils, others were limited to setting online work challenges created by third party providers; sharing PowerPoint presentations or worksheets online; or even in some cases posting out manual learning packs to pupils’ homes. Even before the pandemic hit, we’ve seen first-hand the vast differences in how technology is used in schools. Some are able to offer handheld devices to each student during lessons and fully embrace the use of technology to help bring ideas to life for pupils using 3D and data visualisation tools. They also realise the importance of these tools to help spark creativity, encourage collaboration and problem solving with immersive engaging apps, and to enhance independent learning for students of all abilities. However, we still see plenty of schools where the ‘fixed’ ICT suite of desktop computers is still very much the norm, with two or three pupils huddled around the monitor. The pandemic also brought to life the digital inequality facing families throughout the UK. It was estimated that one million children and their families still don’t have adequate access to mobile devices or connectivity at home. As a result, many young people struggled to complete work set by their teachers while schools were closed putting them at a distinct disadvantage to their peers who had a device and access to broadband. We work with schools who operate a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative where each student has their own device connected to the school’s online platform. We’re also seeing growing interest from schools and academy trusts keen to start their own 1:1 programme, either buying devices to distribute to students or asking parents to contribute. Our GetYourTech4Schools programme enables parents to buy devices for their child with easy to manage payment options, spread over time. I suspect over the next two-three years
we’ll see almost every student have their own device for learning and it’s likely that this will become imperative as schools face ongoing uncertainty and the possibility of having to send pupils home to isolate. The creation of hybrid learning environments has become the most viable option for delivering uninterrupted education and access to devices for home learning is key to this. As young people spend more time online, it raises another challenge for schools as their pupils become increasingly exposed to the risk of cyberbullying. Reports suggest that almost one in five children experienced bullying online last year, with the situation worsening during lockdown as they spent increasing amounts of time online. Ongoing training is needed to help teachers navigate this increased exposure to bullying in virtual environments. Aside from imposing strict code of conduct guidelines, schools should also be monitoring for good online behaviours during interactions with their pupils. Schools can also take advantage of software such as Impero or Senso, which enables a safe and productive digital learning environment for pupils by monitoring their online activity. The software helps identify online bullying, the viewing of adult content or radicalisation and enables teachers or IT administrators to report on any concerning behaviours and take control of what users can or can’t access. Limited IT budgets As schools look to evaluate their future tech needs, one challenge that remains a constant for schools is stretching their IT budgets as far as they can. We’re now seeing many more IT managers and head teachers look to refurbished devices as a cost-effective alternative to buying new models. Refurbished devices enable schools to stretch their funds much further as they are more cost effective than the cost of new devices. They also typically come with lengthy warranties and are the ideal choice for schools looking to make more sustainable buying decisions.
“It was estimated that one million children and their families still don’t have adequate access to mobile devices or connectivity at home.”
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APPOINTMENTS Cognito Learning
Training and education industry leader, Allan Pettman has been appointed by technology and learning specialist, Cognito Learning. Allan Pettman, who has more than 20 years senior management experience, has joined the Yorkshire based firm as chief executive officer. He was previously the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) President at worldwide IT and business skills training company, Global Knowledge, where he helped to achieve record revenue and results for the region. Pettman said: “Cognito Learning is a business with a passion and intent to grow and continue to evolve. It cares about the customer journey and has incrementally developed its offering with customers at the centre of its strategy, which was very attractive to me.”
This month’s movers and shakers in the tech industry...
4ICG Group has appointed Lydia McKinnon as European Operations Director. McKinnon has joined to lead the expansion of 4ICG’s team in Malaga as well as the establishment of its new office in Tenerife, which was announced by the company in March. McKinnon said: “This is a really exciting opportunity to work with a fast paced, progressive and ambitious Scottish business as they build their presence in Europe. The Malaga office has been a great success so far for 4ICG but will benefit from additional leadership on the ground as we target new business and add to the existing team. “The chance to help establish the Tenerife office will also be really enjoyable in the months ahead and I’m looking forward to using my experience to help the company flourish in these locations.”
Network Services Provider Flomatik has appointed Dean Checkley as CEO. With a background in the telecoms industry, Dean brings 45 years’ experience to Hampshireheadquartered Flomatik – a firm where he previously served as its chief delivery officer. Formerly an interim managing director for Rural Optic – part of Airband Community Internet – as well as The Law Society’s head of shared services and IT operations, and a director of service and operations with Virgin Media Business WiFi, Dean has a strong background in senior management across both public and private sectors. Speaking about his new role, Dean said: “The minute I joined Flomatik, I fell in love with the business. The tenacity, resilience and commitment to the customer I saw in our colleagues was phenomenal – I was invested in the company from day one.”
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Ken Kennedy, chief operating officer and head of revenue management and digital monetisation for CSG has joined TM Forum’s Beyond Connectivity advisory board. With over 25 years’ experience in the technology and telecom industry and an original founder of software company Telution, Kennedy is a forerunner in cloud technology. Throughout his career, Kennedy has built and transformed product platforms, partner ecosystems and global strategies to deliver real world use cases that fostered growth and enabled further industry innovation. “The Beyond Connectivity Advisory Board aims to accelerate the growth of new open B2B2X services, transforming traditional connectivity to be fit for the future, and unlocking the value of service provider capabilities,” said Nik Willetts, CEO, TM Forum. “We are delighted to welcome Ken Kennedy to the Board. His expertise in monetizing ecosystem challenges will be valuable to this ambition.” www.pcr-online.biz
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QBS’ Dave Stevinson Dave Stevinson, owner and CEO of QBS Software is clearly a man on a mission to drive his business forward. Here he speaks about the QBS journey, the company’s commitment to being carbon neutral and what lies ahead.
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ave Stevinson is the owner and CEO of QBS Software and the associated companies in the QBS Technology Group. Stevinson has a background in technology firms and a passion for analytics, SaaS and automation. He holds a BSc (Hons) from Lancaster University, an MBA from Manchester Business School, and is currently enrolled on the OPM course at Harvard Business School.
QBS Technology Group started in May 2017 – you now have revenues in excess of £100M, Can you share your journey?
QBS was conceived to scale exceptionally quickly with 9 acquisitions on top of a very fast organic growth cadence defined by a rigorous focus on delivering value for thousands of application software publishers. We now offer a full service to our publishers, having established Channel entities in 4 discrete sectors: Consumer Software, MSP/CSP, Value Add Distribution and Software Delivery. Today QBS operates Europe’s largest software delivery platform, representing 9750 enterprise software publishers sold via 6000 reseller partners into 240,000 enterprises across Europe. QBS has offices in London, Paris, Berlin, Cork and is rolling out a European expansion programme. QBS is scaling quickly and has been formally recognised by London Stock Exchange, Bloomberg, Sunday Times International Track, D&B, and several other research firms for its rapid and consistent growth. QBS has revenues in excess of £110million, 150 colleagues and 9 offices in Europe. The QBS platform offers quotation, pricing, deal reg, delivery, billing and renewals management.
How did you expand internationally?
It takes time to do international well; one must understand the culture, logistics, business models and market nuances. The software delivery platform is infinitely scalable and we had already built up a following with several international resellers – so it made natural sense to be in-country. We started by acquiring Siener Informatique in Paris, France to extend our platform into an adjacent geography. Many of our key partners (solution partners, resellers, MSPs and SIs) have pan-European footprints – so by being closer to them, speaking their language and closer collaboration was a model that worked. We then expanded into Russia through the acquisition of UAB Laknova. Since then, we have acquired Compuwave in Munich and Berlin. We believe by 2023 our export business will exceed our domestic business in value. Last month we were recognised by The Sunday Times as the 40th fastest growing privately owned exporter in the UK.
Why the focus on software?
I truly believe in specialising and doing one thing well to be relevant to the reseller. Nobody offers software in the manner in which our software delivery platform does – coupled with the level of expertise that QBS holds. Resellers start by working with our customer success team to quickly get a carefully-curated publisher set live with a reseller and enable that reseller to start winning business and solving their clients’ toughest problems with software which gives a monthly recurring revenue and has cross-sell and upsell opportunities. Resellers who offer their customers a complete one-stop-shop for www.pcr-online.biz
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their IT spend, are the ones that are growing the most. It is critical to remember that enterprise software offers a market of significant size and I believe we operate in a defined niche in that market and that provides QBS with the opportunity to obtain a relevant position alongside the broadliners of Techdata, Ingram, Westcoast and Exertis.
Your model differs from traditional distribution – what is a software delivery platform?
We deliver our entire product range electronically and in many cases with STP (Straight Through Processing). We have 9750 ‘publishers on platform’ and transact with 6000 partners. We offer a renewals management service, software asset management, dynamic quotations, billing, provisioning, SaaS and perpetual licensing through a single pane of glass. Coupled with experts in telemarketing, pre-sales engineering, implementation and positioning on hand for when partners need a hand with a relevant opportunity. QBS focuses only on software, and in particular innovative Tier 2, 3 and 4 software publishers. We offer a one-stop-shop for our reseller partners to be able to access their entire software stack from a single pane of glass. Although there are many similarities too – actually we have three parts to our business: Firstly, the traditional distribution model where we represent 40 brands such as Kaspersky, DocuSign, TeamViewer, Thycotic and SolarWinds – helping them qualify & grow their partner network, and working with partners on deal origination and enablement. The second part is the delivery of the 9750 publishers, which offer their software via the QBS delivery platform, and finally our special sourcing business unit which obtains, qualifies and supports specific software on behalf of resellers that solves a particular business problem for their clients.
What is the obsession with MRR and ARR?
The beauty is that our partners can now enjoy consistent and predictable revenues and margins. Our platform manages and automates the entire process, including quotation, billing and provisioning, enabling the partner to attach professional services to create the complete solution for their clients’ business problems all via our platform. Our focus is then on helping foster adoption and expansion of the technology through personalised marketing and technical support. The software we deliver has many licensing models – and our platform has successfully managed every permutation so far – all variations of consumption and frequency. June 2021 | 21
thebiginterview You recently added professional services to the platform– Can you explain the rationale for this?
Yes, the platform needs to be a one-stop-shop for our partners to deliver complete software offerings to their clients. Many of our System Integrators and Solution Partners have the capability to deliver professional services (consultancy, solution development, training, implementation, sizing and chargeable support) themselves, whilst others rely on our ‘white-label’ services delivery. We are hyper-careful not to cannibalise true VARs by replicating or replacing their capabilities and simply moving the profit layer away so the decision was to provide these capabilities to deliver projects for certain clients around specific publishers.
QBS has made a number of senior hires recently – can you talk us through them?
Certainly. QBS is moving from a start-up to a scale-up company. This means we need to improve our governance, and as a bigger company we need more staff to share the workload. The motto of QBS is “where great people work together” and our talent acquisition team is constantly scouring the channel for the right people to join our team. Recently we have added Caroline Easton as Group Head of Marketing – Caroline had 20 years growing Hammer to a quarter of a billion pound company, and will lead our marketing and customer experience across the group. Kumar Bhamidipati has joined QBS as Group COO – with his experience running the strategic function for several global enterprises he will lead the group sales, marketing and platform development functions. We have added our first chairman (this was a long process). With the help of London Stock Exchange, we were delighted to have Chris Putt join as our first chairman – Chris has spent 40 years as senior equity partner with one of the world’s largest international law firms and his role at QBS is to improve on our governance and aid our international expansion. Finally, we have just secured the services of James Robotham to lead our SolarWinds business. He has countless years running the SolarWinds desk at a leading broadliner.
QBS takes ESG very seriously I understand – can you explain your stance on climate change?
Rather than paying lip service to the climate emergency, QBS has been one of the pioneers in moving to externally verified net zero carbon. By the end of 2021, we will be independently verified as ‘net zero carbon’ (NZC). Climate risk is more than a regulatory issue at QBS – it is recognised at Board level and sustainability is hardwired into our business model and thus the strategy of the entire organisation. We undertake clear and concise actions, demonstrating 22
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environmental integrity with clear documentation and commitments, despite our modest size and perceived low environmental impact. We are not aware of anyone else in the channel that is taking action with the clarity of vision and speed of execution that we are. We are morally against carbon neutralisation (purchasing carbon credits) to offset failure to take the correct action. We are also cognisant that it will be impossible to eliminate all GHG producing activities – thus any offsetting we undertake will be from the most reputable and accredited certification bodies. Including the climate impact of our complete supply chain in our carbon calculations is an incredibly difficult, expensive and timeconsuming process for a company of our size and extensive supply base – yet we want to demonstrate to others that it is possible. We are taking the unique action of supporting and rewarding all of our global workforce with their journey to a personal carbon free footprint in line with their personal wishes and values. 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. Ultimately it increases transparency for our stakeholders and demonstrates our core values of responsibility and good governance.
What’s next for QBS?
It is safe to say that QBS is now the dominant software distributor benefitting from the critical mass, with no other entity having the variety, volume and velocity of transactions that flow through the QBS platform. We will continue developing our platform and yet again re-invest a significant proportion of our profits to extend and augment the features and services. This is designed to increase efficiencies through process automation for both our publishers and partners. We will extend our business model into further geographies primarily through acquisition. The latest version of the platform will go live in September with the advanced RMS engine. This system is designed to automate the renewals process and will enable the renewals team to focus on upsell, cross-sell and retention – chasing ever-increasing performances on NRR. We expect to see treble digit growth in our ITOM, automation, DevOps and data analytics SBUs. We are primarily driven by listening intently to our customers and publishers in order to make it easier to buy and sell software. www.pcr-online.biz
Here are some of the most interesting stats and facts from the tech channel…
CRUNCHING 43% of respondents in a report conducted by Databricks in collaboration with MIT Tech Review said increasing the adoption of cloud platforms that support data management, analytics, and machine learning is one of the most important enterprise-wide data strategy initiatives over the next two years. The report also found, Scaling ML is a challenge for many organisations with 39% of data leaders citing inadequate collaboration between data science and production as the reason, while 55% of respondents cited a lack of a central place to store and discover ML models.
It is estimated that 60% of the UK’s adult population now work from home. According to a report by Kaspersky, more than onethird (34%) of workers said they felt that employer monitoring has increased since the start of the pandemic. While almost a quarter (24%) didn’t report any negative upshots to this development, 32% revealed that the use of monitoring tools would make them less trusting of their manager or team leader, 30% said they would be upset at the invasion of their privacy, and 23% would be concerned about potential access to their personal information via this software.
Finance apps were downloaded 4.6 billion times in 2020 (up 15% year-over-year) according to App Annie, outpacing overall downloads by 2x. Downloads increased in April globally amid widespread shutdowns, with the most significant surge occurring in December. Time spent in these apps also spiked dramatically: 16.3 billion more hours were spent in finance apps in 2020, up 45% year-over-year.
Research conducted by Giacom, Digital Wholesale Solutions (DWS) and Union Street across 200 small business leaders reveals nearly 70% are feeling overwhelmingly positive about the prospects for their businesses moving forwards. Additionally, 67% are confident in their company’s growth prospects through 2021. The research also points out that UK businesses expect to increase their IT spend in 2021 as they look to improve operational efficiency and access more markets to give them a competitive advantage. But, they admit can’t do this alone and 37% say the most helpful thing a technology supplier can do for them is assist with making the right investments in technology. www.pcr-online.biz
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New research by Globalization Partners and CFO Dive, has found that the vast majority of 45% CFOs are recalibrating talent plans in order to maximise opportunities global remote teams provide from a long-term business perspective. According to the findings, 77% of CFOs feel the pandemic has created opportunities to access a skilled and cost-efficient workforce. The research also found that the majority of CFOs (93%) are optimistic that their organisation will meet or exceed goals and expectations this year. Exports of goods collapsed by £65.3bn and imports crumbled by £64.8bn according to the official UK trade figures for February. ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: “The trade figures for February, are extremely concerning. The -18.3% YOY collapse in exports highlights the impact Brexit is having on the UK economy. “It is encouraging that British exports did struggle upwards 9.9% in February compared to the previous month, January 2021. However, that is setting the bar exceedingly low, given that January’s exports were, by far, the worst ever recorded. The £3.7bn (46.6%) monthly uptick in exports to the EU in February looks a positive headline figure, but keep in mind they had fallen by an eye-watering £5.6bn in January. There’s still a lot of trade to claw back. February’s exports to non-EU countries actually fell by -10.5% compared to the previous month. How non-EU exports could fall by £1.5bn against January’s terrible results beggars belief. “These numbers are clear proof of the impact of Brexit. Even imports of goods fell by over £64bn compared to February 2020 – a decline of -13.6%. That includes sales of key consumer goods such as clothing, footwear and technology. “Brexiteers claimed that markets such as the US would compensate for the loss of trade with the European Union. This proved not to be the case in February. The latest Government data shows that, of the top four UK exports to the USA, only car sales rose. Pharmaceuticals and medicines slumped -42%, chemicals -4% and power equipment -8%.”
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Enhancing education channels
One year ago, Intel launched Pandemic Response Technology Initiative (PRTI), a $50 million commitment to use Intel resources to combat the effects of COVID-19 across three focus areas: healthcare, education, and economic recovery. Under this programme hundreds of initiatives and life-saving projects came to fruition. Here Stuart Walker, Head of Education UK & Ireland at Intel Corporation explains how this initiative has supported the education sector and the on-going need for the channel to work collaboratively with the edtech and teaching communities post pandemic.
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s part of the PRTI initiative, communities expressed a desire to bolster the strained remote-learning education system and create solutions that allowed businesses to operate safely. Stuart Walker, Head of Education UK & Ireland at Intel Corporation explains more:
Please could you explain a bit more about Pandemic Response Technology Initiative (PRTI)?
In April 2020, Intel launched the Pandemic Response Technology Initiative (PRTI), a $50 million commitment to use technology to tackle the effects of COVID-19. The Initiative sought to provide a 360-degree view of the challenges ahead, focusing on how our technologies can enhance education, healthcare and the economic recovery of businesses at different levels. Our goals were to provide immediate relief where it was needed most, develop innovative solutions to support the new normal and invest in technology that would limit the impact of future crises. Nearly every piece of Intel technology was leveraged in some way. A year later, the scope of PRTI work includes 230 projects spread across 170 organisations. Aligned with Intel’s RISE 2030 goals, we are transitioning this process and the technical expertise of our employee volunteers to the Intel RISE Technology Initiative (IRTI). The IRTI will continue to review and fund projects related to education, healthcare and the economy with new dedicated workstreams for social equity and human rights, accessibility, and climate action. IRTI will create a broader, purpose-driven platform for action with a new $20 million commitment.
How is Intel involved in supporting the education sector?
Intel works to support the education community in several ways. Our teams engage closely with our tech partners throughout the sector to support the evolving technology needs of Schools, Colleges and Universities, staff and students. This can take the form of commercial efforts to help provide technology solutions to address the changing demands, needs and expectations of the education space. However, a crucial part of this is taking into account the feedback and insight of those teachers, students and senior leaders that are often at the cutting edge of uncovering new and impactful ways to utilise tech in education.
What tech education projects is Intel involved in?
teams, knowledge consolidation, enhance creativity and broaden experiences across the curriculum. Since then this initiative evolved into the creation of a senior leaders guide, which helped to serve as a blueprint to inform teachers and leaders at other schools in their efforts to identify, develop and implement their own digital strategies. As well as provide further guidance for those educational institutions who have already developed a digital approach and are looking to harness technology in new ways. It was put together by members of the education community who have been through their own digital transformation experience so are well placed to offer their advice and guidance to others. For educators, navigating the shift to remote teaching and learning was unchartered territory and presented a whole host of new challenges. Although in development prior to the pandemic, the guide was designed to help schools direct their digital strategy by helping structure assessment, decision making, recommending technical standards and advising on partnerships. On top of this, helping schools understand how they can leverage technology in the most effective and efficient way possible to enhance the educational experience.
Where does Intel see the future of education headed in regards to tech and the uses of learning devices?
The workplace and skills landscape will continue to evolve, trends regarding the widely documented 4th industrial revolution will accelerate, and we’ll see the emergence and adoption of technology such as AI. This backdrop represents a challenging environment for Schools, Colleges and Universities as they work to provide students with the path of study and skillset to be best prepared as well as associated institutional technology strategy. The education sector is tasked with preparing young people for a job market with an almost universal demand for technology skills. Skills and workplace readiness represents a further dynamic in an evolving landscape of impactful technology use for the sector. Intel has produced a range of resources named “Skills for innovation”, this takes the form of a combination of materials to help schools form plans to help with evolving skills and associated technology provision alongside a considerable set of teaching/CPD resources. Intel has a long-standing history in this area, the “Intel Teach”
Technology, especially mobile and remote access has come into sharp focus over the last year as we’ve witnessed great collaboration across the industry to grow both technology access, online and hybrid teaching capabilities to help protect learning. Intel supported the Education Foundations Edtech50 Schools project which, back in 2019 aimed to recognise, celebrate and share inspiring examples of how tech is being used in the education space. The project highlighted how invaluable edtech has become in schools across the UK and Northern Ireland – showcasing how tech is being used to support teaching, reduce teacher workload, encourage collaboration across staff www.pcr-online.biz
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used in the UK. Particularly postpandemic when priorities have shifted and more of a focus will be placed on developing skills that support a tech first environment. Initiatives like this will provide educators with the option to introduce their students to the world of AI and help prepare them for the workplace of the future.
What is the current state of the education sector in regards to the channel? How can the channel help the education sector more? What is needed?
The channel community has been involved in many of the areas discussed and has played an important role over the last year facilitating and providing technology access and Education provision to the community but also in long standing community engagement. Our teams work closely to support programme launched in 2000 provided training support to over partners in the vitally important commercial and technical aspects 15 million teachers globally. We have also developed a skills of supporting the Education community. While also helping to programme called AI for Youth developed as part of our global bring together both the Tech and Education communities to foster goal to help empower 30 million students globally with AI skills. collaboration in identifying and growing impact. The AI For Youth initiative already provides AI curriculum With the shift to hybrid learning the channel has a unique and resources to more than 100,000 high school and vocational opportunity to seize. Understanding how the needs of teachers students in 10 countries. and pupils have changed The four-stage learning in the last twelve months, journey includes an “It’s vital that we listen and work identifying pain points introductory ‘Inspire’ stage to establish some of the key collaboratively with the edtech and teaching and in response providing solutions, which work concepts relating to AI. The ‘Acquire’ stage takes a more communities in the UK to help understand effectively regardless of environment will be vital practical look at vital skills how and where these global programmes going forward. As educators involved such as coding face challenged budgets, and data skills, while also fit to be impactfully used in the UK. investing in both hardware addressing the social side by software solutions, highlighting issues such as Particularly post-pandemic when priorities and which work for the longinclusion, bias and privacy. term will be indispensable. The ‘Experience’ stage will have shifted and more of a focus will be The channel sector also has a then enable students to placed on developing skills that support a vital role to ensure educators take a deeper dive into AI and students feel confident skills and how they can be tech first environment. Initiatives like this using any new technology applied, through hands-on by providing them with the technical workshops. The will provide educators with the option to right induction processes as final ‘Empower’ stage will see students creating introduce their students to the world of AI well as ongoing guidance and support for any challenges social impact projects to demonstrate what they’ve and help prepare them for the workplace of that arise. As the education sector continues to undergo learned. the future.” digital transformation, for It’s vital that we listen and it to be successful and for work collaboratively with the the potential of edtech to be fulfilled it will require a collaborative edtech and teaching communities in the UK to help understand effort across industries. how and where these global programmes fit to be impactfully 26
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learning curve Trevor Evans, MD at Consenna discusses the channel’s role in facilitating home learning and how partners can respond to the tech needs of the education sector Trevor Evans, MD at Consenna had this to say:
How prepared was the Channel to respond to the shift in education created by the Covid pandemic?
One of the many positive facets of working with the Channel is its impressive ability to adapt and evolve. Those players who were already strong, got stronger and those aspiring to be strong, quickly learned how to overtake. Those routine and habitual players, however, remained just that. Almost overnight, the messaging, content and value-add from some partners switched to “how do I enhance my value in teaching and learning despite not being able to meet in person?” Indeed, some Channel players did this formidably well. Although it’s an overused expression, those in the Channel who are genuinely ‘customercentric’ quickly proved this and overcame the obvious restrictions to serve their customers well. Those who merely like to think they’re customercentric without truly being so, were out-manoeuvred. This is what’s so compelling about the Channel; it’s the living embodiment of ‘customer first’ and despite the circumstances, many have thrived – those were the ones who view education as a value, not a sector. 28
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How has the education Channel connected with students during C19?
There has been, and continues to be much focus on home schooling, highlighting the critical roles of teachers and parents/careers in this new environment. In more ‘normal’ times, students collaborating directly with external EdTech providers is uncommon. To better understand this interaction and further enhance the proposition for a vendor customer, we undertook a process to access the ‘student voice’ at the exact time when it was most important. Students thrive when they are empowered to engage in learning flexibly, on their terms. This promotes independence and greater personal responsibility. Indeed, feedback directly from students revealed mixed experiences as they adapted to learning from home. Reduced teacher collaboration was evident in some cases as these quotes show: “…Practical work isn’t the same and breakout discussions are tricky, so there’s definitely less interactivity.” “…There’s less direct communication from teachers – a greater level of feedback would help address this.” But there were many positive experiences too, and some students saw unintended benefits and adapted quickly: “…It’s nice to register each morning with my form via Microsoft Teams.” “…I actually feel less time-pressured now and I really find it easier to concentrate and work at home; contrary to others.” We know young people are eager to have it confirmed that their learning is on track and how to improve it further. Teacher engagement for marking and feedback is crucial in this respect and
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it’s vital that the Channel should listen to students and respond accordingly. After all, they are the ultimate ‘end user’ for whom technology can improve learning. It must also respond to educators for whom there is huge responsibility for the delivery of this learning. Thankfully, I do believe that all parties can navigate a path through and achieve effective collaboration and share best practice.
What was the greatest challenge the Channel faced during the pandemic?
Without a doubt, it was uncertainty. Prolonged, confusing and frequently changing. In a tumultuous period when the government, local authorities, Multi-Academy Trusts, and individual schools were all attempting to piece together the critical ingredients to ensure the purpose of educating students would continue, partners were facing competing voices on a daily basis. Added to this were the combined effects of an already constrained PC supply, vendors being caught in the firestorm, furloughed staff, new, different and ever-evolving restrictions – and all whilst trying to run their own businesses from home! The lack of certainty was and remains, a daily assault course. A former boss of mine once said when asked to define leadership, that it was simply ‘the provision of certainty’. Yet how could anyone deliver certainty in times of such uncertainty? In this respect, it’s clear some in the Channel navigated these very complex and trying times to the benefit of educators. They helped to enable the continuation of education, despite certainty being a rare commodity. Fulfilling the orders, in hindsight, was the easy bit. Enabling the dramatically different world of hybrid learning, was the area that distinguished the very best. This is the certainty that educators seek.
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How about the OEMs/vendors? Their role in education had clearly grown in importance over time, but do you think that Covid proved to be a turning point for them?
Only time will tell if the pandemic was truly a turning point for OEMs and vendors. Schools and colleges reward their custom to those who deserve it, who’ve earned it and who support their objectives for teaching and learning. There have certainly been different approaches from vendors in their pursuit of these goals. When the DfE calls wanting tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of laptops, this commands attention. Vendors have been endeavouring to meet this extraordinary demand whilst maintaining supply for the growing Channel demand. It’s a tricky balance to strike when supply is fixed and so many legitimate voices are asking for it. One thing I do know is educators will continue to have needs when large central government purchases have been fulfilled - those educators will continue to reward their confidence to those who reciprocate. Vendors must see education as a value, not a segment and act accordingly.
Did the education community itself appreciate how vital technology would become and the support it would require?
Technology has facilitated learning for many years, however, the pandemic accelerated this in a way no-one could have anticipated. 30
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Adoption remains far from consistent, and educators will continue to seek support from partners who they trust and who understand their needs. In this respect, partners who understood there was a real student behind every order for a device, were rewarded during the pandemic and will enjoy long term loyalty in the years ahead. Those who simply saw rows of numbers and the short-term financial gain, lost sight of what educators value. In fact, their time may already be at an end.
What are the most notable improvements that OEMs and their Channel partners have implemented over the past 12 months and how quickly would they have made these changes otherwise?
All well run businesses aspire for constant improvements. A restless nature and never settling, distinguishes those who ultimately flourish – indeed, it is in moments of heightened pressure, that lasting change happens. Quite soon, the volume spikes seen in the early stages of the pandemic will reach their first anniversary. It’s unlikely anyone will want to see a YoY decline in any metric, nor will any OEM or Channel partner receive dispensation for any erosion. When I look across the OEM and Channel landscape and how it has responded over the past year, it’s rewarding to see many notable improvements - desire for greater competitive edge and professional www.pcr-online.biz
disruption amongst them. A greater focus on the ‘impact’ of technology in learning has been evident in the response by some OEMs and partners, but by no means all. Having an ‘education discount’ or other short-term promotion, is not a substitute for a well-defined, long term and articulated strategy. The pandemic has provoked legitimate questions for OEMs regarding their strategy and priorities in education. History and educators will judge their contribution as being far more than the provision of technology, or not. Education is not a numbers game, never will be.
What role do promotions and incentives play in driving stronger relationships between vendors, the Channel and the education community?
“When I look across the OEM and Channel landscape and how it has responded over the past year, it’s rewarding to see many notable improvements - desire for greater competitive edge and professional disruption amongst them.”
If done properly, well considered and thoughtful promotions have a role. However, many schools remain suspicious of shortterm promotions and the very notion of incentives can be provocative. Strong relationships are rarely sustained on short-term initiatives. Schools seek trusted partnerships and empathetic relationships - those based on consistency and mutual respect. This does not prohibit the use of promotions, but does mean caution and wellintentioned value, are pivotal. For example, in our work with OEMs, Channel partners and the education community, we broker focus groups with a wide range of stakeholders and use this feedback to steer future direction. It doesn’t guarantee success, but it certainly helps validate a proposed strategy. One such approach springs to mind. A group of 10 school and college leaders and IT directors was posed the simple question ‘What makes a reseller, the best reseller?’ The consensus was emphatic: The best resellers bring value, not technology; they make communications relevant; they help build the community; they both earn and offer loyalty; and, importantly, they care! Indeed, this last point was particularly well made. As the meeting was wrapping up, one IT Director stressed the point. He said the ‘best’ resellers uphold three golden rules when working with educators: ‘It’s personal; it’s personal, it’s personal’ That’s what drives stronger and lasting relationships. Full stop.
What core components are needed to deliver a successful sales promotion within the ed-tech sector? Ask yourself, what is the promotion solving for educators, students or parents? All too often, what is being solved is related www.pcr-online.biz
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to the OEM or partner with value to educators being limited. For example, where an OEM or partner is looking at stock clearance via an offer, the educator may benefit from lower prices, but do they really benefit beyond that? A lower price is not a solution, it’s a tactic. Is your only perceived value, the provision of ever lower pricing? A Head of IT whom I’m acquainted with at a local Academy, tells me she routinely receives dozens of emails a day, all claiming ‘unmissable’ offers. Most are deleted without even viewing. Rarely, one will catch her eye, distinguished by its thought and care. The level of thought and care that is devoted to planning a sales promotion, in the eyes of the recipient, is directly proportional to its impact. When the OEM and partner address at least three of the criteria previously mentioned, whilst making a promotion personal, it is far more likely to succeed. If that includes a lower price as an outcome, all the better, however it’s the end, not the starting point.
What does the future hold for the ed-tech space and the relationships that bind it together from OEM to Channel partners and on to the end users?
What binds the future is no different from what drove success in the past. If an educator can envision how a particular solution will help improve classroom outcomes, digital inclusion and enable better teaching, then a discussion will take place. This discussion with a selected partner who inspires confidence, trust and loyalty, will further cement the proposition. This will lead to a lasting relationship. Partners having discussions directly solving a challenge for educators, are seen as part of the team. Those partners become trusted and included in strategic planning and for anyone attempting to penetrate this relationship, they will need something even more compelling. I was reminded very early in my EdTech career to “never forget there is someone with a thirst for knowledge using your solution. That is a great responsibility, to be discharged with care”. That early leader was right then and remains right now. What we do in education matters and we should treat it as such. So, what’s next? Will the pre-pandemic style of teaching and learning make a comeback? Will hybrid learning disappear? Will new honed skills be lost? No, no and no. The role of OEMs and Channel partners is not to revert, but innovate; not to be nostalgic, but agitate; to drive classroom change to push outcomes up and eradicate digital inequality. Only then, will all parties be bound, realising the potential of every young person. June 2021 | 31
Delivering quality audio in the shift towards hybrid learning Theis Mørk, Vice President, Global Product Management at EPOS looks at how audio technology has become vital to the education sector and remote learning.
recent report conducted by EPOS: Reimagining education with high-quality audio, highlights the need for educators and institutions to recognise the role audio plays in the remote learning experience and why utilising highquality audio tools can help to alleviate learning fatigue and optimise concentration and comprehension for teachers and students alike. Here Theis Mørk, Vice President, Global Product Management at EPOS explains more about the key findings and what is needed.
Can you tell us some of the key findings and takeaways from the report?
In the last year, billions of students suddenly found themselves learning in a remote setting dependent on technology solutions. For millions of students and educators, the sudden transition to online learning has been far from ideal. What’s also become clear is that good quality audio is indispensable for the learning experience. Just as in the world of work, bad audio experiences are impacting the education sector. This includes interruptive sounds, poor audio quality and interference. All of which can drastically affect students’ ability to learn. Effective learning depends on student engagement, regardless of where learning takes place. While video and content sharing are foundational parts of 32
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the education experience, audio quality is often overlooked. Good audio technology plays a crucial role in keeping students focused and engaged, while poor audio can in turn have negative consequences – including exacerbating learning fatigue.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the education sector?
At the apex of the pandemic, 1.6 billion students around the world were taught outside of the classroom – the shift represented an unforeseen pairing for many parents who suddenly found themselves balancing remote working with managing home-schooling. Providing an education for young people during the pandemic has been a massive undertaking for teachers and education institutions – particularly from a technology perspective. While prior to the onset of the pandemic the sector had been making progress in its digitalisation journey, the pandemic has acted as an accelerator – as we’ve seen in other industries. However, as educators continue to invest in tech solutions online learning is becoming enhanced and some long-term benefits are emerging. Online education and collaboration can help prepare students for the kind of organisational acumen, emotional intelligence, and self-discipline required for modern professions. www.pcr-online.biz
How important is good audio to remote learning?
Audio is often overlooked when it comes to collaboration tools. When people think of platforms like Teams and Zoom, they think of video quality and cameras first but it’s important to remember that underpinning all of these is audio. Students in a remote learning environment can still engage and understand what’s being discussed if they can hear – even if there are video issues. Students can’t be expected to focus on learning while operating remotely without clear audio. Similarly, teachers and educators require quality audio solutions to allow them to hear and engage with multiple students at once. Without good audio, both teachers and students risk missing out on crucial information and the effectiveness of the learning experience suffers.
What is the impact of bad audio on the remote learning experience?
Bad audio causes a myriad of problems, from a technical perspective it can interfere with the experience through miscommunication or cause students and teachers to miss vital information. Meaning that time is wasted as teachers have to revisit topics for clarification – ultimately disrupting the flow of the virtual lesson. Aside from technical issues, bad audio experiences can have an impact on emotional wellbeing. EPOS found that 35% of end-users often feel a sense of frustration, irritation, and annoyance due to bad audio, while 25% experience moments of stress and 15% feel embarrassment or a lack of confidence.
What are the current issues or needs in regard to tech and education?
As in professional settings, there is a clear need for solutions with clear voice pick up, background noise mitigation and solutions that are high quality and simple to use. Overreliance on consumer-grade products has also had an impact. Consumer-grade solutions often deliver sub-par audio experiences and are inappropriate for use over an extended period of time, like a full day of learning. With students using their devices for longer than ever before, they require audio solutions that are ergonomic, comfortable, and portable enough to wear for hours at a time. Students and teachers are grappling with multiple devices and technologies, whether its smartphones, tablets, laptops, or tricky headsets. So there’s also a clear need for simple and easy to use equipment that can pair with multiple devices. This way, virtual learning environments can edge closer to the physical in-class experience.
How can the channel help the education sector more? What is needed?
The channel sector has an important role to play with helping to plug an emerging awareness gap. When it comes to the technology solutions currently available on the market many educators over the past year have struggled to identify which solutions are best suited for their student and teacher needs. The channel sector can help address this gap by demonstrating which products work best for different learning environments, styles, and demographics. Increasingly, the channel will have a greater role to play with IT departments in the education sector. www.pcr-online.biz
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Is the hybridlearning model here to stay?
The benefits of hybrid learning are abundantly clear; students and teachers have greater control over their schedules, time spent travelling has been reduced, and learning materials can be updated digitally as and when needed. While the move to distanced learning was initially disruptive, many teachers and students Theis Mørk, Vice President, are welcoming a more Global Product Management at EPOS hybrid approach in the post-pandemic future. Research from Chegg found that in the US alone, 61% of students feel that when properly organised and designed, online courses are just as legitimate as face-to-face ones. Furthermore, two-thirds of students said they would welcome more online education post-pandemic. It’s clear that the future of education will be hybrid.
How have educational institutions prepared themselves so far for this shift, what do they need to do next?
At the onset of the pandemic, educators were struggling to secure the equipment and infrastructure needed to support the shift to remote learning. Some mistakes were made as a res ult, in terms of suitable devices and solutions. But the pandemic has also presented a learning curve for education institutions; today many are looking for the right solutions that meet the needs of their students and teachers. Education institutions today need to take a no-compromise approach and invest in the right solutions that optimise hybrid learning.
What new technologies can we expect to start seeing in the hybrid learning space?
Newer solutions designed for hybrid environments have already been developed, for instance, our ADAPT 100 series, which comes in 22 different variants. This means, whatever your need, there is a solution that can help. We will also see greater integration with tools like Microsoft teams to ensure a coherent and seamless experience for students and educators alike. Similarly, emerging technologies like AI are becoming prevalent in audio. These solutions are being developed to ‘learn’ how to separate human voices from other extraneous sounds – a valuable feature outside the classroom. The hybrid-learning trend is set to persist into the long-term and likely will only continue to improve as further innovations and technologies become available en masse. June 2021 | 33
Top 5 Tech
oneclick AG’s Dominik Birgelen PCR’s ‘Top 5 Tech’ with Dominik Birgelen, CEO of oneclick AG
SAGE COFFEE MACHINE
Like so many of us, I start my day with a great cup of coffee! Not only does the caffeine improve my mood, but it also enhances my brain functionality and performance. That’s why my Sage coffee machine is very important to me. Not to mention it’s a forward thinking brand, with next generation automatic machines in conjunction with smooth, slick design has not gone amiss!
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Top 5 Tech
Next on the morning checklist: breakfast! I find it’s a great time to catch up on the latest headlines of the day, brought to me by my Alexa. Developed by Amazon, Alexa is a virtual assistant AI technology that allows users to instantly play music, control smart home gadgets, get information, news, weather reports and more. With such a busy schedule, Alexa really helps to streamline my daily routine.
I then start my working day by logging into our oneclick platform, a unified workspace in the browser that provides secure access to all my needed applications via streaming. Particularly useful in times of mass remote working, it is built entirely on web technology to enable deviceindependent and straightforward access for everyone in your team. Also, it features an extra security layer between users and the deployed applications, as well as features, such as a second factor and SingleSign-On (SSo).
Taking it back to when I was younger and got my first mobile phone - the Motorola Razr really played a pivotal role in my interest in technology. I mean, who could get over the unfolding mechanism which was the closest thing to Star Trek technology?! Technology really has come on leaps and bounds since this device and I am continuously inspired by the cutting edge innovations we’re seeing every day. As a technology enthusiast, I’m proud to be working within such an exciting industry.
Last but not least, to stay organised I use the Todoist app! Running, growing and nurturing a business does not come without a busy schedule and therefore using my Todist app really helps me see projects through without letting anything slip through the cracks. What’s more, Todoist is an independent company, founded in 2007, with a clear vision to help people get the most out of their busy days, as possible. I love to support tech companies that are dedicated to their goals, making the world a better (and more organised) place.
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BUY YOUR TICKETS TO PCR AWARDS The entries are in; the judging is happening now; the shortlist will be announced in a month or so, and we're gearing up for a well deserved celebration of excellence within the PC and Tech sector. We really can’t wait to welcome industry professionals from across the market back to the PCR Awards ceremony, taking place in the heart of London on Wednesday 29 September. After a turbulent year of virtual meetings, lockdowns and social distancing, we are truly looking forward to providing a physical platform for the industry to reconnect and revel. Sales manager Sarah Goldhawk says: “This will certainly be a night to remember – the PCR Awards 2020 was one of the last events before the pandemic hit and now, we aim to be one of the first to gather the industry together again. So, dust off your suits and frocks – you’ll see me on the dance floor!”
Event partner 36
Distribution category partner
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Whether you’re looking for a unique way to reconnect with your key clients, want to network with a room packed with the industry’s finest or simply want to let your hair down and reward your employees for all of their hard work over the past twelve months – you should make sure you’re on the list for the PCR Awards 2021. Subject to restrictions, attendance numbers may be limited and we're selling fast, so if you're keen to get involved in this hotly anticipated event here is how! We have several table options available to suit all requirements, as well as individual tickets, all of which include some exciting features such as entry to the pre-ceremony drinks and afterparty - so what are you waiting for?! Visit www.pcr-awards.com for more information.
Marketing and PR category partner
After Party Partner
Reseller Category Partner www.pcr-online.biz
TICKET OPTIONS: PLATINUM TABLE EXTREMELY LIMITED QUANTITY £3,399 +VAT – Access to the pre-ceremony drinks reception – A table for up to 10 guests – Priority seating at the front of the room – 8 bottles of wine per table – 2 buckets of beers (12 total) – Exclusive afterparty access GOLD TABLE LIMITED QUANTITY £2,999 +VAT – Access to the pre-ceremony drinks reception – A table for up to 10 guests – Priority seating at the front of the room – 8 bottles of wine per table – 2 buckets of beers (12 total) – Exclusive afterparty access SILVER TABLE £2,799 +VAT – Access to the pre-ceremony drinks reception – A table for up to 10 guests – 1/2 bottle of wine per person – Exclusive afterparty access • Software and services distributor of the year TICKET of the year • ConsumerINDIVIDUAL electronics distributor £280 +VAT – Access to the pre-ceremony drinks reception – Individual seat on a mixed table – 1/2 bottle of wine per person – Exclusive afterparty access
For Sponsorship opportunities please contact: Sarah Goldhawk Sales Manager - magazine/website advertising, event partnership PCR firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t miss this legendary event that continues as the pinnacle of the tech channel’s social calendar www.pcr-online.biz
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Dr. Andrea Cullen from CAPSLOCK discusses why CAPSLOCK was established in an effort to broaden skills and understanding for a career in digital security.
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Re-training reimagined C
APSLOCK is a new, government-backed educational organisation which re-trains people in cyber security. A new model of online education is being piloted with a revolutionary method of student finance in 2021, funded by government and backed by some of the UK’s most influential employers. Here is what Andrea Cullen from CAPSLOCK told us:
Please can you tell me a bit more about the background, ethos and history of CAPSLOCK?
CAPSLOCK was founded by myself, Lorna Armitage, and Jonathan Slater. Lorna and I have worked in the cyber industry for many years as consultants and academics, and we designed the cyber security master’s degree for the University of Bradford. Jonathan is a former cyber security recruiter, so between us we can provide world-class education and help our graduates seek gainful employment after the course. Our key goal is to help fill the UK’s cyber skills gap. That’s why our courses are designed to re-skill adult learners and kickstart their cyber security careers in as little as four months. Our curriculum was developed in collaboration with a wide range of cyber employers (such as BT, Dell, Lloyd’s Banking Group) and is built around in-demand job roles and employer needs. Our learners graduate with technical and impact cyber skills, and have the option to gain five cyber certifications, allowing them to enter the cyber job market with confidence. Another key goal is to make cyber more accessible. Our model utilises Income Share Agreements, meaning there are no upfront costs for learners. Instead, they simply pay back a percentage of their future salary, so they don’t pay for the course until they land a high-paying job. www.pcr-online.biz
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What products or services does the company offer?
Currently, we offer two variations of our cyber security re-training course: one is part-time and last for 26 weeks, the other is full-time and lasts for 16 weeks. The curriculum is the same for both schedules and covers a diverse range of topics, including business understanding, cyber ethics and culture, governance, risk and compliance, offensive and defensive security, and cloud security. The classes revolve around team-based learning and problem-based learning, meaning our learners work towards solving real-world cyber security problems as part of a team. This simulates a realistic working environment, and creates an immersive learning experience, which encourages engagement, exploration, innovation, and confidence. We also offer five key cyber certifications which students can gain alongside the course, as well as career support, interview preparation, and mentoring with industry experts.
How is tech integrating with the education sector?
In the wake of the Covid19 pandemic, people have become far more familiar and comfortable with remote learning and working. They have also become more reliant on the tech, which facilitates and enhances learning. Rather than just replicating online what you do in a physical classroom, tech advancements are opening the door for more creative, interactive, and dynamic modes of education. For CAPSLOCK, we have taken some leading edge learning methodologies such as team-based learning, and developed a cutting-edge tech stack to deliver it online via our virtual campus. This allows us to remove some of the traditional barriers to education because our classes can be accessed remotely. The tech we’re using to enhance our education delivery includes Zoom live classes, Canvas LMS, workplace simulation labs, Slack communication tools, and an online Team Based Learning facilitation platform.
What trends are you seeing in tech education?
I’m seeing a definite move away from in-person, location-based education. This still has a place and serves a purpose, of course, but 40
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there is certainly a diversification occurring. It’s allowing for more flexibility in the way people access education. The two main modes of tech education currently vary from the very long (degree) to the very short (training course), and both can be very expensive. We’ve designed CAPSLOCK to be a third option, which combines the rigour of a master’s degree with the practicality of a bootcamp, and all with no upfront costs. I think this is a trend that will spread throughout the tech education sector and beyond, as people look for more flexible learning. I’m also seeing a move away from a purely technical focus in education. Businesses are realising that, whilst a deep knowledge of the required technology is important, a solid set of impact skills is vitally important too, yet often lacking. I think it’s much harder to teach someone how to be a good communicator or a good team player than it is to teach them about cloud security, for example!
How has the education space evolved to meet the needs of the tech sector and vice versa?
Education is evolving to be more employmentled. Where attendance to university was once purely for the pursuit of knowledge (and for a very privileged few), it is now more closely tied to gearing students up for employment. I think the education space is also evolving to accept that not everyone wants to go to university, or can spend the required time and money to go. So, in that regard, the tech sector is evolving to allow people to access education in more diverse ways. For example, our learners must complete some mandatory pre-course work before we make them an unconditional offer. This involves some virtual labs and learning material, which is all completed online. Therefore, technology is allowing us to assess someone’s potential and suitability for the course by completing the required tasks, rather than by judging them on their past academic achievements. Another undeniable aspect of education is how you pay for it, and advancements in tech are allowing us to streamline and democratise this element. We need our learners to be able to defer their fees with an Income Share Agreement, the entire application for which is conducted online. Our ISA partner uses a learner’s www.pcr-online.biz
online pre-course work and potential to assess their suitably for this scheme, so technology is allowing us to bring more people into education who might not have previously had the means.
Where do you see the future of education and online learning going?
I think the future of online learning will see education becoming more agile, more aligned with job opportunities, and more accessible. Online education can be speedy and pro-active when it comes to the creation of new course material, which could take universities years to approve. I think the increasing accessibility of online learning will enable a more consumer-driven educational environment as it will be easier for institutions to facilitate learning online to smaller, more niche groups. It will also become a more responsive environment where, for example, industry shortages can be responded to much quicker.
Do employers recognise online learning courses as successfully as onsite training courses?
We believe so. When constructing our course, we consulted with a wide range of UK cyber employers to ensure our learner’s outcomes would match the skills they’re looking for. It’s not surprising, then, that many of these businesses are keen to interview CAPSLOCK graduates once they complete the course. Our employer network includes the likes of Deloitte, Lloyds Banking Group, BT, and Dell, all of whom are excited by the knowledge, skills and certifications that we will be delivering to our learners. It’s also worth noting that our course was especially designed to be remote and offer live instructor-led tuition, which allows it to be as immersive and interactive as in-person training.
What’s the success rate for students going straight into employment after training? The two course we are currently running are our inaugural cohorts, which we are incredibly excited about! Therefore, we don’t have any employment success rates yet, but the learners on both courses are such remarkable, talented people that we are entirely confident that they will successfully gain employment in the cyber industry. The UK produces around 6,000 cyber graduates from universities each year, and 90% of these find employment in the first 6 months after graduation. Seeing as our curriculum is more hands-on and employment-focused than a typical degree, and taking into consideration that our adult learners already have work experience and transferrable skills, we have no doubts that our employment success rates will be even higher. www.pcr-online.biz
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“When constructing our course, we consulted with a wide range of UK cyber employers to ensure our learner’s outcomes would match the skills they’re looking for” Is this supplementary learning in addition to on site learning if so does it offer work experience opportunities?
Our learning is conducted 100% online, but there is still scope for work experience opportunities. Various members of our employer network have already been in touch to organise internships for some of our students. This would enable a learner to have a cyber internship placement during the day and study with us in the evenings, for example. The ideal outcome would then be for that learner to begin a full-time role with the employer following graduation.
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Tech for education PCR rounds up some of the latest tech designed specifically with the education sector in mind, from networking & storage to laptops and tablets.
Zeus HANNspree PAD (SN14TP4B2AT)
“From home learning and entertainment to multimedia and gaming, when it comes to handheld computing, bigger is better. The new HANNspree ZEUS Tablet PC offers a larger than average 13” display to extend the view of emails, documents, and games, or to enable interaction with multiple applications simultaneously with ease. What’s more, it is highly responsive with advanced 10-point Capacitive Touch technology supporting multi-gesture touch and swipe control. An Octa Core processor with powerful on-board graphics and 3GB RAM, ensure seamless super performance, while Dual-Band Wi-Fi ensures speedy internet connectivity.” Specs: 13.3” IPS LED, 1920x1080, 10 Point Capacitive Multi-Touch, 170° / 170° viewing angles, ARM Cortex A73 Octa Core, Android 10 , 3GB DDR3 RAM, 32GB NAND Flash, WiFi IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/ n+ac 2.4GHz/5GHz, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, 5Mp Webcams, I/O Ports: 1 x Micro SD/Micro SDHC Card Reader, Micro USB 2.0, Mini HDMI, USB Type-C (OTG), Protective Case. Contact: Ingram Micro and Westcoast
Apollo 2 HANNspree PAD (SN1ATP5B)
“Affordable, high performance handheld computing, keeping users mobile for longer. The Apollo 2 has plenty of bells and whistles without the premium price tag. Thanks to a long battery life, this Tablet is ideal for taking out and about. Whether for school, work or on the go entertainment, users needn’t worry about charging often, and it comes with a handy protective case. Powerful processing, advanced graphic capabilities and advanced 10-point touch control ensure high-quality computing for everyday applications, while IPS technology providing ultra-wide viewing angles enhances the visual experience even when the display is shared.” Specs: 10.1” IPS LED, 1280x800, 10 Point Capacitive Multi-Touch, 170° / 170° viewing angles, ARM Cortex A53 Quad Core, Android 10 , 3GB DDR4 RAM, 32GB eMMC Memory, WiFi IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n+ac 2.4GHz/5GHz, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, 2Mp/5Mp Webcams, I/O Ports: 1 x Micro SD/Micro SDHC Card Reader, Mini HDMI, USB Type-C (OTG), Protective Case. Contact: Ingram Micro and Westcoast
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Dynabook’s Satellite Pro E10-S
“The Satellite Pro E10-S is a new 11.6” device designed for learning, built for mobility, with enhanced durability, affordability, usability and manageability. Weighing 1.15kg and measuring 19.9mm, the E10-S is easily carried from class-toclass or class-to-home. With up to 10-hour battery life that will last the entire school day and beyond, students can learn for longer without the need to plug in. To protect the privacy of school data, the E10-S combines firmware-based Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 encryption, Dynabook’s BIOS, as well as supervisor password capabilities and an optional fingerprint reader. The E10-S provides excellent value for money, helping to stretch education budgets further. The device meets the requirements of Microsoft’s Shape the Future Program, which enables schools to get preferential pricing for qualifying Windows 10 devices.” Specs: Operating System: Windows 10 Pro (National Academic only) Processor: Intel Celeron N4020 Processor, Display: 29.5cm (11.6”), HD non-reflective eDP display with 200 nit, 1,366 x 768, Battery life: Up to 10h00min (MobileMark 2014 running Windows 10), Storage: 128GB, Weight: starting from 1.15kg Contact: Dynabook Europe GmbH
TP-Link OC300 Omada Hardware Controller
“This hardware controller for the Omada Software Defined Networking (SDN) platform provides 100% centralised management of access points, switches, and gateways for education institutions - all controlled from a single interface. Featuring hybrid cloud technology, the OC300 allows education IT managers to remotely manage the whole network across multiple campuses with cloud access. An easyto-use dashboard makes it easy to see real-time network status, check network usage and traffic distribution, receive network condition logs, abnormal event warnings, and notifications and data tracking to enhance learning experiences.” Specs: Cloud access to manage school networks from anywhere and at any time with the Omada app, Locally monitor and manage learning devices with the ultimate security and stability for teachers and students, Durable metal casing, and USB 3.0 port for auto backup, Centralised management for up to 500 Omada access points, JetStream switches, and SafeStream routers, Batch management, multi-site management, and remote firmware updates benefit network maintenance across multiple school sites. Contact: TP-link
TP-Link TL-SG1428PE 28-Port Gigabit Easy Smart PoE Switch
“The TL-SG1428PE is fully compatible with PoE devices, such as IP cameras, access points, and IP phones. It also works with non-PoE wired devices to provide Gigabit connections, such as PCs, printers, and IPTV across school campuses. Compliance with the 802.3af/at PoE+ standard supports up to 30W on each PoE port. The total 250W PoE power budget for the 24× Gigabit PoE+ ports has a wide range of applications, such as surveillance, classrooms, dormitories, and offices. Through its web-based user interface and management utility, TL-SG1428PE offers various features, including network monitoring, traffic prioritisation and enhanced QoS.” Specs: 24 10/100/1000Mbps RJ45 PoE+ Ports Switch with 2 SFP Slots, PoE power budget is up to 250W, Priority Mode helps to guarantee the quality of sensitive application like video monitoring, PoE Auto Recovery enables system self-healing to guarantee the stable operation of PoE-connected devices, QoS is for smooth internet-surfing experience and IGMP Snooping is capable of optimising traffic for IPTV. Contact: TP-link www.pcr-online.biz
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TP-Link EAP225-Outdoor AC1200 Wireless MU-MIMO
“EAP225-Outdoor supports simultaneous dual-band speed of up to 1200Mbps. Outfitted with the latest 802.11ac Wave 2 MU-MIMO technology, it communicates with multiple clients concurrently, making it ideal for high-density environments like classrooms and dormitories. With special design of its antenna, appearance, power options and installation methods, EAP225-Outdoor perfectly fits both indoor and outdoor scenarios. It is designed with 2x omni-directional detachable antennas and other antennas can be attached for specific demands. With high transmission power and high gain omnidirectional antennas, EAP225-Outdoor provides stable wireless coverage up to 200m+ at 2.4GHz and 300m+ at 5GHz in outdoor settings to meet all education needs.” Specs: Durable, weatherproof enclosure, Up to 1200Mbps with 2×2 MIMO technology, Omada Mesh Technology, Supports seamless roaming, High transmission power and high gain antennas provide a long-range coverage area, Cloud centralised management and Omada app, Secure guest network Multiple authentication options. Contact: TP-link
TP-Link EAP660 HD AX3600 Multi-Gigabit Ceiling Mount Access Point “Armed with a 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet Port, the EAP660 HD delivers exceptional multigigabit performance to support the need for better and faster Wi-Fi in schools. Compatibility with standard 802.3at PoE+ is ideal for flexible deployment. 802.11k/v roaming switches clients automatically to the AP with the optimal signal. Omada Software Defined Networking (SDN) platform integrates network devices including access points, switches and gateways, guaranteeing powerful networks with higher efficiency, higher security and reliability for teachers, students and visitors.”
Specs: Ultra-Fast Wi-Fi 6 Speeds: Simultaneous 1148 Mbps on 2.4 GHz and 2402 Mbps on 5 GHz totals 3550 Mbps Wi-Fi speeds, High-Density Connectivity: 4× increased capacity to connect more devices simultaneously, 8 Spatial Streams: Multiuser throughput is incredibly increased to drive more applications, Integrated into Omada SDN: Zero-Touch Provisioning (ZTP), Centralised Cloud Management, and Intelligent Monitoring. Contact: TP-link
ADAPT 100 Series
“The EPOS ADAPT 100 Series features smart audio technology to ensure uncompromised performance both on-the-go or in the office. Using EPOS Voice technology with a noise-cancelling microphone the ADAPT 100 Series optimises user’s voice and enhance their calls, and integrated EPOS ActiveGard technology protects users from acoustic shock. The series is also equipped with cross-functional capabilities to simultaneously enable a superior listening experience, free from disruption – allowing it to meet increasingly overlapping personal and business needs.”
Specs: smart audio technology, EPOS Voice technology with a noise-cancelling microphone, integrated EPOS ActiveGard technology Contact: ADAPT 44
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BullGuard Premium Protection
“BullGuard Premium Protection protects up to 10 devices (Windows, Android and macOS) with one license. Featuring unique Dynamic Machine Learning, it continually monitors everything that happens on a device, enabling real-time detection and protection even when a device is not connected to the Internet. Further layers of protection include light and fast signature-based detection, a Sentry behavioural engine that detects zero day and other complex threats, and new cloud detection technology which detects real-time threats as they emerge. Identity Protection safeguards personal information ranging from payment card numbers to email addresses, passwords and more. Safe Browsing flags up websites harbouring malicious content, while tough but discreet Parental Controls help parents to monitor their children’s online activities. BullGuard Premium Protection also features a patented, award-winning Game Booster to protect online gamers from malware.” Specs: Operating System Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7 SP1+, macOS X 10.11 or later, Android Tablets and Phones, Android 5.0 and higher Contact: Spire, Target, VIP and Centerprise
BullGuard Internet Security
“BullGuard Internet Security provides unique Dynamic Machine Learning which continually monitors everything that happens on a device. This enables real-time detection and blocking of malicious behaviour, even if a device is not connected to the Internet. Light and fast signaturebased detection protects against the most common threats, while the Sentry behavioural engine protects against zero day and other complex threats. An On-Access engine protects even if you never run a scan and new cloud detection technology detects threats as they emerge in realtime. A custom-built Secure Browser delivers top security and tough protection when shopping and making payments online. A patented award-winning Game Booster protects gamers when they are gaming online, Safe Browsing flags up websites harbouring malicious content, and tough but discreet Parental Controls keep children safe.” Specs: Operating System Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7 SP1+, macOS X 10.11 or later, Android Tablets and Phones, Android 5.0 and higher Contact: Spire, Target, VIP and Centerprise
“BullGuard VPN uses military grade encryption to encrypt and secure a user’s data, ensuring that the websites a user visits, the content they upload or download, or what applications and services they use are all kept completely private. BullGuard VPN automatically launches when a device starts up and includes an auto-connect for open Wi-Fi networks. Users receive secure connections into unprotected Wi-Fi hotspots, which are common in airports, hotels and cafes, protecting them against data theft, malware, privacy breaches and cyberattacks via Wi-Fi. BullGuard VPN customers can also enjoy BullGuard’s renowned 24/7 customer support, regular software updates and a no-logs policy. A single license secures up to six devices.” Specs: Operating System Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, macOS X 10.11 or later, iOS 10 or later, Android Tablets and Phones, Android 5.0 and higher Contact: Spire, Target, VIP and Centerprise www.pcr-online.biz
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‘Kingston Is With You’ Ann Keefe, Regional Director UK & Ireland at Kingston Technology Europe explains more about Kingston Is With You - a branding initiative to raise awareness of its product quality.
ingston Technology was founded in 1987 by John Tu and David Sun, initially with a sole focus on the design and production of computer system memory (DRAM). In the years that have followed, the company has enjoyed tremendous success, expanded into numerous technology markets and grown to become a multinational organisation, employing over 3,000 individuals around the world. Now, the line-up has expanded to include a much wider range of technologies, applicable to multiple industries serving customers at both ends of the B2C and B2B spectrum. This list still very much includes DRAM - for PCs, servers, and mobile devices, but Kingston has also become a leading player in storage technology, from personal SD cards used by professional and casual photographers alike, to USB external flash memory devices and SSD storage for consumer, business and gaming PCs. Datacenters are another major business category, in need of both storage and system memory, with an entirely different set of requirements and specifications to a typical client PC configuration. They are also heavily invested in technologies that underpin these products, particularly in the area of security. For example, AES 256-bit hardware encryption is offered as standard on many of the company’s SSDs, and similar technology is a headline
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feature of encrypted USB products. Being part of a growing number of markets with a more diverse customer base creates a challenge of maintaining a single, clear philosophy and messaging about product quality, support and services, that equally applies to products intended for use in business environments as well as for consumers. To address this issue, they have recently launched ‘Kingston Is With You’, a business philosophy that applies to the company’s full portfolio, intended to communicate the advice, support and high quality they offer, highlight the all-important pre-sales advice service and the after-sales support customers can expect. With the storage market in particular, choosing the right solution for a given problem may not be straightforward, considering varying technical requirements and the differences between user environments. This can be especially important in datacenters, where combinations of server chipset, DRAM and storage are a delicate balance that can be carefully optimised to present the best possible environment for a given application. For example, upgrading a laptop with the right SSD depends on the laptop model and what expansion options it has. Technical users may well understand the differences between SATA and NVMe SSD’s, but the underlying technology and standards may not be obvious to www.pcr-online.biz
at a glance, that our company believes in strong service and support, adheres to high standards in manufacturing, and values employees and vendors, as it does its customers. Equally, we wanted to communicate that these values apply to our whole product lineup, despite its diverse nature. We wanted a single way to inform all our customers about this philosophy. That includes informing datacenter customers who might be performing a large business-critical upgrade, that we can offer them whatever support they need, but it no less applies to a consumer buying a single SD card to upgrade their camera’s storage. With Kingston Is With You, we’re trying to demonstrate our brand philosophy, commitment to excellence and our culture of passion for people and products within a single logo that is as easy to see as specifications on the side of a box. We believe that’s something that customers will value and we want to show that our brand can help and benefit many aspects of business and life.
How are you using the Kingston Is With You branding?
everyone. Similarly, high-speed storage intended for fast PCs that may be manipulating large 4K videos may not be the best choice for a datacenter. Photography or video professionals will get more from their camera by knowing the right kind of SD card they need, whether they intend to use it for drones or to shoot 4K videos instead. A video streaming software platform normally benefits from high consistent read performance of the storage, therefore certain storage devices work better for this scenario than others. Through Ask An Expert customers are offered advice that can guide them towards the solution that meets their needs, without obligation to make a purchase. Kingston hopes customers will see these small differences as strengths of their brand and return to their products when it’s time for the next upgrade.
What motivated you to create KIWY?
Perceived reliability is a factor that influences all customer purchase decisions, very much including both consumer and business technology products, but really for just about anything. Children’s toys, a new car, kitchen appliances, we all want things that will continue to work well, and we all prefer a straightforward way to communicate with a manufacturer if any issues arise. That’s always been part of our ethos, and we like to think we go the extra mile to offer exceptional service to meet customers’ needs, but it’s not as easy to effectively demonstrate this commitment to new customers, particularly those who may not be familiar with our brand. We wanted people to be able to see, www.pcr-online.biz
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We’ve carefully created a new icon, using our standard red, black and white colour scheme and design elements of our traditional Kingston logo, including the famous red Rex character that many people recognise about our brand, but also introducing new elements to reflect this initiative. We’ve added three stars to represent the values of honour, reliability and trust that underpin our philosophy, brought together with internal circles to represent the Kingston family, and external circles to represent our partners and customers. This new logo is to be used on Kingston product packaging, merchandise and communications materials.
How does it benefit customers?
For most technology products it’s easy to see specifications related to typical product features like performance and capacity. But other crucial aspects of a product such as support, reliability, and brand ethos can be more difficult to communicate and judge, even though they matter to customers as much as raw technical details. With this new initiative, we want people to know their backs are covered with a strong warranty policy, that advice is never far away, and there are always teams who can try to answer their questions. By informing customers about this we hope they will find it easier to select the right product and get the best possible performance and benefits for their personal needs.
What challenges do you see moving forward?
We’re proud of this new branding and initiative, but we also know that actions speak louder than words. Maintaining a great customer experience that reflects the philosophy behind the initiative is critical to us, so we will continue to work hard to ensure all aspects of the Kingston Is With You philosophy are reflected in the day-to-day interactions with our customers, employees and partners. June 2021 | 47
Life in the channel
Mimecast’s Hannah Mayersbeth Hannah Mayersbeth, MSP Sales Manager at Mimecast on cybersecurity, inequality and why more women should get involved in this sector. 48
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n cybersecurity women only represent 20% of the workforce. Here Hannah Mayersbeth, MSP channel manager at Mimecast, has become one of the rare female leaders in this industry. PCR caught up with Hannah to talk about how she has cut a path amidst this predominantly male dominated work place and encourages more women to do the same. Please can you tell me a bit more about Mimecast and your role within the company? Mimecast is a cybersecurity provider founded in 2003 with roots in South Africa, specialising in email and web security. My role at Mimecast is MSP Channel Manager. I’ve been in the role itself for about two years, although I started in the marketing team – a completely different department to where I am now! Within my role I lead a team of Partner Account Managers and our primary focus is supporting Mimecast’s Managed Services Provider partners. We help them to offer a personalised service to our mutual customers identifying any that may be experiencing challenges or worries when it comes to their organisation’s communication and web security. At the heart of my team’s role is relationship building – we communicate regularly with the company’s existing partner base, seeking opportunities to educate and support them whilst expanding our relationships.
at Mimecast for 8 years now and am still as excited about my future prospects as the day I started, and as the company continues to innovate and grow! What is your view on inequality in the channel? I am definitely an advocate of gender equality, especially within any workforce. I think it’s a shame that many women are disadvantaged based on their sex. More needs to be done to make sure women have access to opportunities within male dominated industries, like cybersecurity and the channel specifically. In my experience I am fortunate because I can honestly say that I don’t feel my treatment has differed from my male peers. I believe that overall success in the channel is heavily dependent on strength in relationships and delivering a world-class service to your customers, so gender or any other personal factors really shouldn’t matter.
“More needs to be done to make sure women have access to opportunities within male dominated industries, like cybersecurity and the channel specifically.”
What is your background within the tech channel? My first role in the cyber security industry was at Mimecast and I kind of fell into it by chance! I wanted to join an exciting company that had real growth potential, that would enable me to build a long-term career and which provided an interesting product that was innovative. I also wanted it to be one that I believed could make a difference to people and organisations. I had no prior IT, security, or channel background before joining Mimecast, but quickly developed the knowledge and essential skills as a Business Development Representative. From there, I progressed through to Channel Sales, and eventually on to lead Channel Account Management Teams across both Reseller and MSP businesses. I have been www.pcr-online.biz
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How can companies look to create diversity and inclusion in the workplace? There are several things that companies can be doing to help create a more diverse and inclusive workplace – particularly when it comes to gender diversity. Having inclusion networks such as groups for women and non-binary people within a workspace can really help to create a sense of belonging, particularly in larger, male-dominated tech companies. It also allows employers to create safe spaces where women can share experiences with and learn from one another, which is important. Similarly, having access to something like career coaching can help provide the clarity employees need when it comes to their career path and where they want to go within a company. Such coaching should be goal orientated, which will give female employees the tools they feel they need to carve their space within the industry. What’s your view on showing authority in a ‘boys’ club’? Although I’ve not experienced many in my role – having a zero-tolerance approach to any gendered double standards or microaggressions is important - whether they’re being directed at myself or other women around me. I think this draws boundaries, letting those around you know that you won’t tolerate sexism, and that assertiveness not only shows authority but, helps to gain respect. June 2021 | 49
Interview How do you go about managing an all-male team? My first tip in this regard is don’t let your gender be a barrier to your success. Be confident that you have been chosen for your role because you have the relevant expertise. I’ve had to remember this when stepping into this managerial role, otherwise it’s very easy to become doubtful of yourself! I think regardless of gender, one thing can always help when managing a group of people – being eager to learn and always striving to be a better leader. I always need to ask ‘what can I be doing to better help my team reach their full potential?’ Particularly as we’re working remotely now and my team is spread out across different locations, I’ve had to be insistent on investing time in each employee so I can check in on their wellbeing and development. How can women look to gain credibility in the cyber channel? Aside from my personal experience, I do know that there is still a perception that females may not be as credible as their male peers in the technology sector. In 2021, the number of female employees in this sector is on the rise and I know plenty of incredibly talented women working across both cybersecurity and channel industries, so this is clearly only a perception and not a reality. In other words, I don’t think women in the channel should be the ones working hard to gain credibility. It’s rather the perception of females in the industry and any incorrect misconceptions about us, or our work that we need to work on erasing. Did you have any role model to help you become the leader you are today (both female and male allies)? I have been extremely fortunate to have strong leaders, both male and female, during my time at Mimecast. Having a very powerful and inspirational female leader and coach in my time has indeed given me the confidence to follow in her footsteps,
challenge myself, and aspire to go further in my career. I think every women needs such figures in her life, not only are they there along your journey pushing you to do your best, they can open many doors for you and potentially change the trajectory of your career in any sector. Has the attitude towards gender equality improved or is there still a long way to go in your view? We still have a long way to go – recent figures show that the cybersecurity industry is currently only 31% female. However, I think we’re taking steps in the right direction – there has, for example, been a growing focus from the UK government and several organisations to get more women into STEM occupations and studying related subjects at university. We just need to make sure nothing hinders that progress. What are the three tips you would give to aspiring women in the cybersecurity channel today? 1. Go for it! If you’re not already in cybersecurity and it is something that interests you, you should go for it! It’s a fun, fast-paced, exciting and high-growth industry that is constantly evolving and filled with opportunity. 2. Mentors are important. Find a mentor or coach, male or female (or both!), and leverage their experience and networks to help with your personal and professional development. LinkedIn is a great place to start for this. 3. Always challenge yourself – in this fast-paced industry, it’s very easy to get caught up in the day job and forget to invest in yourself. Set yourself at least one goal each year to achieve something new towards your career progression, whether it’s presenting at an event, attending a course, learning about a new technology, or expanding your peer-to-peer network outside of your organisation.
“We still have a long way to go – recent figures show that the cybersecurity industry is currently only 31% female. However, I think we’re taking steps in the right direction – there has, for example, been a growing focus from the UK government and several organisations to get more women into STEM occupations and studying related subjects at university.” 50
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