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VR / AR

ISSUE May 19

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VR / AR ISSUE #185 May 2019

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TheEditor Virtual Insanity CAST YOUR MIND back to 1996. Pokémon had just been introduced to the world, search engine Ask Jeeves launched, and the UK music charts had a particularly high moment with a track that I personally still return to on many occasions (no, not the Macarena). Jamiroquai’s Virtual Insanity was a funk/pop hit with acid jazz roots and dystopian sci-fi lyrics. And it’s these lyrics that still seem to resonate with me today as I’m writing this magazine about the futuristic world of augmented and virtual reality. “Futures made of virtual insanity now, always seem to be governed by this love we have for useless, twisting, new technology.” OK, so it may not be the most eloquently written chorus of all time, but it still seems to do a pretty good job of evoking the feeling a lot of us have about “new technology” – we love seeing how far we can push the boundaries of innovation, even if what we’ve created may not be a product that we necessarily need. VR has had a bit of a bad rap over the years, seen as a gimmick that’s flogged out every few years with some new bells and whistles. However, I believe that the public is starting to wise up to what VR and AR can actually do for us all in the worlds of entertainment and work. Throughout this magazine, you’ll see how VR and AR are being used across retail, distribution and within the gaming space, as well as how the 5G network is going to help vendors and chipmakers bring even more immersive products to market. If the future gazing in this issue is on the mark, I believe it won’t be long before the virtual world becomes a lot more lucid.

“I believe that the public is starting to wise up to what VR and AR can actually do for us all in the worlds of entertainment and work.”

Laura Barnes, Editor

laura.barnes@biz-media.co.uk

THE TEAM

Editorial: 0203 143 8783 Advertising: 0203 143 8778

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Beccy Barr

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

Nikki Hargreaves

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

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QUALCOMM INTERVIEW

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Contents May 2019 Omni-channel advice The future is now

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A look at how the high street is performing

Dealer Discussion

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How can indies become more visible in the market?

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The latest developments in VR and AR

Regulars

Life in the Channel

46

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We chat to Ingram Micro's Scott Murphy

@pcr_online

10 Industry opinions from commercetools, Lenovo, oneclick and A10 Networks 15 Number Crunching 21 Appointments 29 In My Team: Customer Thermometer 31 Sector Guide: VR Hardware 36 Crowdfunding Corner 39 Sector Guide: Memory and Motherboards 45 Events 49 Logging Off

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Retail Analysis

Crossing the omni-channel As consumers continue to be cautious with their money in the current political climate, Laura Barnes speaks to retail experts about the opportunities that are opening up for indies to spruce up their omni-channel approach...

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hroughout March, UK retail sales decreased by 1.1% compared to the same period in 2018. That’s according to the BRC – KPMG Retail Sales Monitor for the month, which also showed that over the three months to March, in-store sales of non-food items declined 1.5% on a total basis and 1.7% on a like-for-like basis. Not surprisingly, uncertainty surrounding Brexit was yet again partly to blame for the sales slump, with KPMG’s UK retail director Sue Richardson saying: “March marked a truly disappointing end to the first quarter of 2019 for retailers. Not only did total sales fall compared to the same month last year, but no further clarity around Brexit came to light, and shoppers continue to waver. “Retailers will be hoping for an end to this sustained uncertainty – it’s clearly not good for business – but times have already well and truly changed, and agility remains the best form of defence.” Also speaking about the latest report, Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of BRC, comments: “Brexit continues to feed the uncertainty among consumers. For the sake of everyone, MPs must rally behind a plan of action that avoids no deal – and quickly – or it will be ordinary families who suffer as a result of higher prices and less choice on the shelves.” While this all sounds very gloom and doom, it may not mean the end is nigh for UK retail. Angel Maldonado, founder of EmpathyBroker, believes that the changing circumstances will force retailers to think outside the box to ensure their continued survival, and thus bring about a change in the way the retail channel communicates with high street shoppers. “Retailers will undoubtedly be feeling gloomy that the spending streak has come to an end. The industry had been riding a high, but the new figures are the first sign of

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consumers’ purse strings tightening in the face of uncertainty,” says Maldonado. “Under these circumstances brands have an opportunity to invent new forms of value. The idea of creating experiences needs to change, shifting from a mind-set that states ‘here is my brand, experience it’, to one that says ‘here is a brand that relates to you’.” Maldonado advises retailers to be meaningful and empathetic beyond reason and convenience. “What’s more, according to Barclaycard even the warmer weather can contribute to an overall positive feeling and drive sales. Now, more than ever, consumers want retailers to be fun,” says Maldonado. Typically, you may not think of warmer weather as a driver for tech and electrical sales, but Barclaycard’s April report – which Maldonado is referring to – shows that it is possible. The report reveals that non-essential spending saw a year-onyear growth of 3.4% in March 2019. Delve a little deeper and you see that electronic stores in particular saw year-on-year growth of 1.8%.

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Retail Analysis

“Competition for retailers is about locating where their consumers find value and experience, and growing that part of their business” Emma Taylor, Nimbus Ninety

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The report shows that despite almost half of Brits (46%) admitting to worrying about how their quality of life will decline due to Brexit, many remain committed to spending on non-essentials and one in ten even admitted they will never part with personal entertainment. The importance of a website So what can retailers do about the current high street slump? We’ve heard numerous times about how important it is for retailers to implement an omni-channel approach to their business, but what does that actually mean, and is there ever an excuse to not be online? We asked Emma Taylor, founder and managing director of business networking company Nimbus Ninety. “Websites are so easy to set up these days, with programmes making it intuitive and simple. Even if a retailer is smaller, having a website that gives basic information such as stock and location of physical store gives them a connection to the consumers they hope to

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Retail Analysis

attract,” she explains. “Even without an online store, having a presence on social media as well as on a website can increase brand awareness.” In the company’s Digital Trends Report, it found that 72% of retail respondents considered a website to be the most frequent method of customer access by 2022. “This demonstrates the importance of a website to a greater retail strategy,” says Taylor. “Recently we’ve seen developments on social media platforms which also gives the capability to retailers to sell, as well as promote their products. The main disadvantages in not engaging online for retailers are the loss of data and customer awareness. How can you guide where your brand or business needs to go without data on customer interest? It makes strategy harder.” Online growth So, what are some of the current trends around consumer shopping habits and how can retailers use them to stay competitive in the market? Taylor says that Nimbus Ninety has seen that online sales have been growing for much of the retail sector over the last few years. “E-commerce still accounts for a small proportion of overall retail spend. In 2017, just under £60 billion was spent online versus £306 billion in-store,” she says. “The experience of the physical store, and consumers’ attachment to shopping

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as a leisure activity, maintains the relevance of the in-store experience. There is also the argument that customers instore can chance upon a product that they wouldn’t have come across if searching online. Online holds utility and efficiency, while in-store holds serendipitous discovery. “Competition for retailers is about locating where their consumers find value and experience, and growing that part of their business. Personalisation is a huge part of this experience: 25% of respondents in our Digital Trends Report considered highly personalised products and services to be most important to their customers, second only to intuitive user experience.” Taylor concludes: “Seamless and frictionless experience – both in terms of personalisation and UX – has been shown to be at the core of retail strategy: they are intrinsic to remaining competitive.” What we can take away from all these reports is that there is no one rule when it comes to engaging with shoppers. Just as Brexit could mean both positive and negative things for the country, there’s a split between the benefits of physical and online retail stores. While it may not be viable for all kinds of retailers to cover all possible routes to consumers, supplementing a physical store with an up-do-date website and some form of social media presence should be seen as the default practice if businesses want to encourage today’s shoppers to take notice of their offerings.

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industryopinion

VR and AR can offer new ways of customer engagement Kelly Goetsch, chief product officer of commercetools, outlines how AR and VR can offer entirely new possibilities for brands and retailers to engage with their customers...

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Discover irtual reality and augmented reality have suffered from a Many times, customers have a shopping need like buying a present bad dose of over-hype in recent years. for a friend, but don’t know what they want. Being able to go into a The market for VR headsets has been slower to take virtual store and have a chat with a virtual associate (either backed off as expected, despite heavy investment from by human or artificial intelligence), could solve this particular technology giants like Facebook and Samsung. AR seemed to have a dilemma. Or, if you are a shopper looking for a new light fixture, a stronger mainstream launch pad when Pokemon Go burst onto the VR app could allow you to experience hundreds of options demonscene in 2016. A number of AR applications, like apps that overlay strating how a fixture casts shade and light in different ways. These furniture images onto views of a customer’s room, have appeared. experiences are more VR-focused, though many of them could And yet, AR still hasn’t proliferated. easily translate to AR. Notwithstanding how some of the allure has been lost, retail investment in AR and VR is going to pick up because the cost of its Learn hardware is coming down. The sponsors of these technologies AR’s most natural fit is for learning more about products in physialso remain committed to investing in more content, cal stores. Customers could pull out their smartphones or don better hardware and ecosystems of related software a VR headset and look at a rack of shoes to see a ranking and services. of how they would best fit their individual feet. A video What’s even more exciting is how AR and could play next to a watch showing how it was made. VR offers entirely new possibilities for brands “AR’s most natural fit Ratings and reviews of a TV could pop up in real-time. and retailers to engage with their customers. And for many customers, it’s not enough to see the is for learning more packaging of a product. Instead, they want to go a few Experience about products in levels deeper. AR is the perfect way to do that. Unless brands and retailers are competing physical stores.” purely on price or convenience, their Support customers are buying an experience just as Finally, support is a natural use case for both AR and VR. much as they’re buying physical products. Immersive videos could demonstrate how to lay brick on a Elements of an experience include a physically pathway or install a security camera. In the very distant future, a beautiful shopping space (physical or digital), an appeal digital AR avatar could come into people’s homes to show them how to customer values, entertainment, and so on. to use a product or troubleshoot a problem. All of those elements of an experience can be replicated or even Google, Microsoft, Facebook (Oculus), Amazon and the other enhanced in a VR experience. Imagine having an artist design a big consumer tech vendors will continue to make substantial investvirtual store and having millions of customers spend time in there ments in upcoming generation of AR and VR products. As a result, because it’s so beautiful. Imagine going on a virtual test drive of a now is the time for brands and retailers to make similar Tesla with a virtual avatar of Elon Musk as part of the sales journey. investments to have a first movers’ advantage when AR and VR Imagine learning about environmental activism virtually sitting next become mainstream. to the founder and CEO of Patagonia.

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industryopinion

The importance of Gi-LAN in the 5G world Adrian Taylor, Regional Vice President of Sales at A10 Networks, looks at the challenges service providers are facing as more and more devices are connected to the internet...

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he number of connected devices is on the rise, growing 15% or more year-over-year and projected to be 28.5 billion devices by 2022 according to a Cisco VNI forecast. Mobile service providers have been challenged to support such a high growth of connected devices and their corresponding increases in network traffic. Adding networking nodes to scale-out capacity is a relatively easy change. Meanwhile, it’s essential to keep offering innovative value-added services, including parental control, URL filtering, content protection and endpoint device protection from malware and ID theft. Service providers, however, are now facing new challenges of operational complexity and extra network latency coming from those services. Such challenges will become even more significant when it comes to 5G. It will be critical to minimise latency to ensure there are no interruptions to emerging mission-critical services that are expected to dramatically increase with 5G networks. In a mobile network, there are two segments between the radio network and the internet: the evolved packet core (EPC) and the Gi/ SGi-LAN. The EPC is a packet-based mobile core running both voice and data on 4G/ LTE networks. The Gi-LAN is the network where service providers typically provide various homegrown and valueadded services. Service providers need to steer the traffic and direct it to specific service functions, which may be chained, only when necessary, in order to meet specific policy enforcement and agreements for each subscriber. The Gi-LAN network is an essential segment that enables enhanced security and value-added service offerings to differentiate and monetise services. Therefore, it’s crucial to have an efficient Gi-LAN architecture to deliver a high-quality service experience. Challenges in the Gi-LAN segment In today’s 4G/ LTE world, a typical mobile service provider has an ADC, a DPI, a CGNAT and a firewall device as part of Gi-LAN service components. They are mainly deployed as independent network functions on dedicated physical devices from a wide range of vendors. This makes Gi-LAN complex and inflexible from operational and management perspective. Thus, this type of architecture is reaching its limits and does not scale to meet the needs of the rising data

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traffic in 4G and 4G+ architectures. This will continue to be an issue in 5G infrastructure deployments. Two serious issues are increased latency and significantly higher total cost of ownership. Latency is becoming a significant concern since lower latency is required by online gaming and video streaming services even today. With the transition to 5G, ultra-reliable low-latency connectivity targets latencies of less than 1ms for use cases, such as real-time interactive AR/ VR, tactile internet, industrial automation, mission/ life-critical service like remote surgery and self-driving cars. The architecture with individual service functions on different hardware has a major impact on this promise of lower latency. Multiple service functions are usually chained and every hop the data packet traversing between service functions adds additional latency, causing overall service degradation. Consolidating service functions in Gi-LAN In order to overcome these issues, there are a few approaches you can take. From an architecture perspective, service-based architecture (SBA) or microservices architecture will address operational concerns since leveraging such architecture leads to higher flexibility and automation and significant cost reduction. However, it less likely addresses the network latency concern because each service function, regardless of VNF or microservice, still contributes in the overall latency as far as they are deployed as individual VM or microservice. So, what if multiple service functions are consolidated into one instance? For example, CGNAT and Gi firewall are fundamental components in the mobile network, and some subscribers may choose to use additional services such as DPI, URL filtering. Such consolidation is feasible only if the product/solution supports flexible traffic steering and service chaining capabilities along with those service functions. By consolidating Gi-LAN service functions into one instance/appliance, it helps drastically reduce the extra latency and simplify network design and operation. Therefore, when building an efficient Gi-LAN network, service providers need to consider a solution that can offer multiple network and service functions on a single instance/appliance, flexible service chaining support, a variety of form-factor options, high performance and capacity with scale-out capability, and easy integration and transition to SDN/NFV deployment.

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industryopinion

Remote working: Rethinking the 9-to-5 Preben Fjeld, General Manager of Lenovo UK and Ireland, looks at how the benefits of flexible working can be felt throughout the whole company...

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here is a major shift happening in the traditional workplace, driven by both technology and humans. We’re working more creatively, from new places, and collaborating with people across the world. Remote working sits at the heart of this revolution, giving workers the freedom to work wherever they are. Lenovo recently undertook a report with the Centre of Economics and Business Research on this topic, which showed that time spent commuting is worth £20bn in wasted productivity and economic value. While we’re not suggesting extending the working day to realise this, it does demonstrate a level of waste, which leads us to re-evaluating the working day. Changing generations Work is no longer where we go, it’s what we do. One of the biggest drivers behind this is simply the passing of years, which is leading to a workforce with a different demographic make-up. By 2025, millennials and Generation Z will comprise 75% of the world’s workforce. This new group has wide ranging expectations of their roles and how they should be supported, but many of these will be coming into companies that will still often be led by older generations. The differences are already there for us to see with the report showing people under 35 work better with a later start, and the over 35s prefer an earlier start. In the workplace, it is all about the employee experience and culture – and how these things work together. In order to attract and retain the best talent as well as drive innovative and profitable organisations, employers must recognise and accommodate the changes in how millennials and post-millennials work and what they expect in the workplace. These new generations have grown up with modern technology, using and consuming it every day, wherever they are. But this isn’t an ‘us vs. them’ scenario, with 41% of all respondents stating that tech will help them advance their careers. Meeting the needs of the workforce The rising popularity of remote working adds pressure to existing collaboration tools and devices. Implementing workplace

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transformation initiatives means that organisations can be more dynamic as they are no longer bound by geography and can tap into diverse talent pools. Teams are becoming fluid and more energetic, which fuels creativity. They are also less hierarchical, instead organised around specific projects. To meet this and take advantage of this agility, forward-thinking organisations must be able to deploy pre-configured, or cloud-ready devices to their workforce. Smart vending allows employees to procure various IT products for themselves, from lightweight, fully configured laptops all the way down to a mouse, keyboard or headset. The smart part of these vending solutions takes the tedious paperwork out of the procurement process and empowers employees to focus on productivity, at the same time as having their own say in how they manage their workflow. Best of all, this doesn’t need to mean massive costs to businesses. Everyone is focused on the bottom line, whether it’s a start-up obsessing on breaking even on an investment or a multi-national worried about delivering a dividend to shareholders. That commercial focus means investment in tech is often seen as an afterthought. Smart devices of all types can now be procured thorough flexible “as-a-service” models. With the right hardware, communication tech, and security and support services, this will result in less time waiting for IT support to fix things and lead to a happier and more engaged workforce. Freedom en masse In the very near future, thanks to 5G, we will experience the dawn of limitless connectivity. AI and IoT will fuel automation and immersion in AR will edge closer than ever before. Technology will expand horizons and shape the way in which humans work. We believe the companies that can balance inclusive cultural policies and personal touches, which connect employees to new ways of working, will be the winners of intelligent transformation. These advances will contribute to a greater sense of good, but crucially, will improve the quality of life of workers globally. Change is being driven by younger generations who are more technically advanced, but if deployed properly, the benefits of flexible working can be felt by everybody.

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industryopinion

Increasing productivity amongst a digital, mobile workforce Dominik Birgelen, CEO at oneclick, looks at why workforces cannot afford to stick with out-dated methods of communication...

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n evolving and thriving digital business landscape has meant that every SME has at least experienced or witnessed some sort of change in terms of their day-today operations due to digital transformation. Whether it’s the upheaval of the paper calendar on the office wall or keeping track of your travel expenses that transitioned to a digital file accessible to you from anywhere at anytime. Previously, a workforce would typically operate from one or a handful of locations. However, now, with an ever increasing diversity in how and where people work, solutions are needed that cater for the growing digital and mobile workforce, while supporting the level of productivity needed for businesses to thrive. The first step towards enhanced staff productivity was achieved with digitalisation, enabling employees to focus on their actual tasks, without hesitation or distraction from lost physical files and documents. Even so, staff productivity is affected when communication in the team goes beyond the office walls and work processes or projects are approached in an interconnected way. In an environment where connectivity and productivity is vital, workforces cannot afford to stick with out-dated, restrictive methods of connection to remain competitive as a profitable business. For example, software is no longer uploaded within the office on a desktop computer, CD-ROMs have become redundant with software installations and licenses managed through the cloud. Stay connected The need to remain connected is at the heart of most business operations yet proves a significant challenge for organisations to achieve this. For example, sending a document back and forth via a long, confusing email chain, is a primary pain point for achieving ultimate connection. Instead, virtual workspaces in the cloud can be used. Here every smartphone, tablet PC and laptop has access – from everywhere and at any time – to any document with sharing rights. Importantly, the respective apps are allocated with password protection and authentication to those people who require them.

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Businesses need to arm employees with these types of tools that enable them to remain connected and respond faster. Due to the fast paced nature of today’s business ecosystem, responding to a client email or providing feedback could be the difference between generating profits and outpacing competition. Whether employees are working in Mexico or Moscow, migrating business files to the cloud allows employees from all over the world to work together as if they were right next to each other. With any desktop app enabled in a unified workspace solution, workers are contactable and productive regardless of their location, ensuring the business still runs efficiently. Supporting a global workforce ecosystem Whilst remote working has contributed significantly to fostering a global workforce, a particular challenge caused by remote workers who are geographically dispersed is the performance of remote access where data and applications could be residing in different server locations. This means accessing data from various servers can be difficult, time-consuming and frustrating. Furthermore, not only is the workforce dispersed, it is made up of an entire ecosystem of contributors that come together to create and innovate. With a unified virtual workspace and a central orchestration platform solution for the provisioning of applications, all parties involved in a project become part of the ecosystem made up of businesses, cloud providers, independent software vendors and managed service providers. Through a central point of play, everyone can access the same data to deliver a joint value proposition for combined sourcing models no matter their location. With an ever diverse digital landscape molding our workforces, we can only prepare for more change. Innovation, transformation and mobility are all positive outcomes of this, but always maintaining staff productivity can be difficult. By implementing a solution that caters for all parties in a business, that also allows room for future digital developments, your business has the upper hand by keeping all parties connected, productive and agile.

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Number

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

CRUNCHING 60%

2022

60% of Brits believe they’re more likely to experience cyber crime than to get the flu, according to a report from Symantec.

According to a recent retailer survey from Nimbus Ninety, by 2022, most respondents believe a consumer will be more likely to access their services through a website or app than a physical location.

32% 8 in 10 Nearly eight in 10 tech pros say their day-to-day IT tasks extend into time earmarked for career development, according to SolarWinds. www.pcr-online.biz 

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DCMS’s 2019 Cyber Security Breaches survey shows that 32% of businesses identified a cyber security attack in the last 12 months – down from 43% the previous year.

€2 billion

Research from Context shows that PC revenues were up by 6% year-on-year during the first two months of 2019 – to €2 billion – on the back of 5% growth last year.

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“XR is going to be an important technology that plays a role in the evolution of 5G networks�

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thebiginterview

Making the virtual a reality As augmented and virtual reality becomes more prevalent in both enterprise and entertainment spaces, Laura Barnes chats to Brian Vogelsang, Qualcomm’s Senior Director of XR Strategy, to find out more about the technology behind the headsets...

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hether it’s the Oculus VR headset range or Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed reality devices, most people are aware of AR and VR technology being used in both consumer products and within the logistics and manufacturing sectors. Known for its pioneering work in mobile technologies, Qualcomm has been at the heart of bringing these devices to market with its innovative chipsets. And as the technology rapidly advances, the company is finding more ways than ever to usher AR and VR into the mainstream. PCR caught up with Brian Vogelsang, Qualcomm’s senior director of XR strategy, to find out more about the various use cases for VR and AR headsets, and how 5G, AI and smartphones are going to play vital roles in ensuring this sector continues to grow and meet the demands of consumers and enterprise users alike.

Tell us a bit about your work background and current role at Qualcomm. I’ve been at the company for 25 years in a number of different roles. Most recently I was doing industrial IoT. About a year and a half ago I moved into Qualcomm’s business group. XR is extended reality – which is an overarching term for augmented, virtual and mixed reality. Our primary business in this group is selling chipsets, so the processors that go inside XR devices – primarily virtual and augmented reality headsets. I work on strategy and partnerships for the XR business. I do a lot of work in enterprise, but I also work a lot with network operators, which are becoming more and more interested in XR as a technology with the emergence of 5G networks. With the capabilities that 5G networks bring, XR is going to be an important technology that plays a role in the evolution of 5G.

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Would you say the technology has been waiting for 5G before it could really achieve its full potential? The technology has been around for some time. We saw devices like HoloLens and Google Glass come into the market quite early. We also saw Oculus bring virtual reality into the market. 5G will definitely be a catalyst. There’s an intersection between what’s happened with 5G, AI and with XR that is accelerating the pace of innovation in XR in particular. 5G is very important in XR’s future. XR has been growing over the past five to seven years independent of that, but this will be an accelerant. What are the benefits of XR in manufacturing and in the warehouse? There are two areas of XR that are applicable to this. The augmented reality side and virtual reality side. If we take a look at AR, one of the use cases is guided work instructions. In the manufacturing environment you want to be hands free. You want to use your hands for moving goods or working with machines. Wearable technology allows you to wear a computer that can feed you information about the work you need to be doing. It can keep track of the quality levels of the work you’re doing and it can improve your safety. So we’re seeing the ability to use the augmented reality glasses as a way to augment the worker and improve the outcomes of the business and the safety of employees. There are two different kinds of these augmented glasses. There is a smart glass and then there are full augmented reality glasses. The smart glass is a monocular display, so it typically puts a screen in front of your face, almost like a 7-inch tablet floating in front of you. You can have guided work instructions – a video showing you step by step instructions. You can use your voice to tell the device to play instructions, or the glasses could be used as a checklist

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thebiginterview

Qualcomm’s wearable use case in the manufacturing sector.

giving you steps to complete. That allows users to monitor data coming from those wearables so you can see where workers are in the process, or if safety checklists are being followed correctly. Another area for augmented reality is if you have instrumented machines. You will be able to see the data coming off those machines in your field of view. You can simply look at a machine and get the information syndicated to the glasses in real time about the operation of it, or you can monitor systems and real time. How can this tech can be used in retail? There’s the consumer and the B2B side. A good example of the B2B side is the work we did with Accenture and Kelloggs, where we looked at the placement and assortment of products in a retail environment. We built a virtual store which we put people into, letting them walk through that store and look at the products on the shelves, as if they were in a real store. The thing that we looked to do, which was unique to VR, was that we put them in a store where we could change the product placements in real time. The other thing we could do was track the gaze of the eyes using Qualcomm’s eye-tracking technology. So we could see exactly where a person’s gaze is and use that information to better understand their intent. With this information, you can understand what

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packaging is working better and what’s going to drive the best outcome. Another good use case of XR is inventory in a retail environment. There’s things like stocking the shelves in stores, which you can use augmented reality to assist with. There’s also order picking. A lot of retail environments these days are doing home delivery, so that requires someone to go through the store and put the order together. So if you have the checklist and something to tell you exactly where to go, you can pick that order much more efficiently. AR can show you where to grab a product so there’s less room for error, this is used in logistics and manufacturing settings as well. Smart glasses can give you a display, whereas AR glasses can overlay on physical things.

“In the next five years we are going to see the smartphone become a key part in using AR and VR headsets.” www.pcr-online.biz

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thebiginterview games that will be available with that headset when it launches, so we’re really excited about that. So we’ve got the HoloLens on the augmented reality side and the Oculus Quest of the VR side, both using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipsets. While VR is doing well in gaming, AR is also making its way to that sector with products like the Magic Leap. There’s also a device from a company called Nreal, which I think will be really important for gaming and entertainment. It’s really lightweight, about 85 grams. It has a wide field of view – 52 degrees, which makes it feel more immersive, and it plugs directly into the smartphone. The reason it’s so light weight is because it has no battery. It connects to a Snapdragon smartphone, which can power the AR experience. I think we will see more games and entertainment come from this kind of architecture. This is also a tie in to 5G. We announced a compatibility programme between viewers and smartphones, so we’ll start to see more of those kinds of tethered devices come out in the near future. That will allow mobile operators to bring AR and VR into their portfolio. So now you can have a 5G experience because your headset connects to a 5G smartphone.

Basically, AR is just a more sophisticated level of the smart glasses. Qualcomm builds the chips that go into these devices and one recent product that has launched with our chipset is the HoloLens 2 from Microsoft. It is one of the most sophisticated wearable technologies in the enterprise market today. It’s being used in a number of different verticals. That one is really exciting. What are some of the latest advancements in VR gaming? Virtual reality has been really popular in the gaming space. We have headsets that tether to the PC as well as ones like the new Oculus Go, which is a standalone headset. It’s based upon our Snapdragon 821 processor. It’s an all-inone, so you can immerse yourself in a game or app straight from the headset. Oculus has also announced a new product called the Quest. It’s coming out in the Spring and it will have more sophisticated graphics capabilities. It’s using a higher-end Snapdragon processor so it’s got more compute. It also has what’s called six degrees of freedom headtracking, so it uses cameras to understand the position and orientation of your head. This makes it more immersive, letting you move around more inside the game. It also has controllers with six degrees of freedom movement, so now you can bring your hands into virtual reality. Oculus has announced 50

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How is XR being used in mobile devices and how advanced can we expect smartphones to become in the next five years? One way to use AR with a smartphone is looking through the screen and augmenting with the camera. That tech has been used for the past five years or so. It’s been used in enterprises as well as consumers. There have been many games and apps that have launched that use AR looking through the smartphone screen. It’s somewhat limited in terms of the immersion. By taking all that and putting it into a device like Nreal’s glasses, the augmentation starts to feel more real. In the next five years, we’re going to see the smartphone become a key part in using AR and VR headsets, especially those that tether to devices and use 5G connectivity. One of the challenges with this is that you try to make the headsets as light as possible so you can’t put a lot of battery or technology inside the glasses that might enable a really rich gaming experience, so the graphics performance is good, but if you have a PC or server in the cloud, you could then offload some of that process. We call that split rendering. So some of the processing happens within the phone and some happens on the operator’s network, meaning you’re left with richer graphics. That’s an important element that 5G will bring to those kinds of glasses. What other use cases are there for XR technology? One application is field service. There are currently a few issues in field service, one is that the worker may not have the expertise to complete the task, so they either have to go to a manual or some instructions, or they have to make a

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thebiginterview

The Oculus Quest VR headset.

video call to a remote expert. Now, this remote expert can use the camera in the worker’s smart glasses to see what they are seeing and guide them through a process. They could even annotate over the glass. Let’s say I’m 30 metres up on a wind turbine and I need some help. I can call a remote expert and have them see exactly what I’m looking at, and on the visual display they can draw on it and say “this is what you need to look at”. So now you can have a less skilled worker in the field, with experts working remotely when needed. As we get to devices like the HoloLens, we will be able to implement more sophisticated applications. A remote expert could actually draw a circle around a physical object in front of someone they are helping. This offers a really easy way to guide someone through a process. That’s a really important use case. We’re really excited to be at the centre of all of this. We provide the chipsets but also software that enables more sophisticated immersion. So what is Qualcomm’s role in the XR ecosystem? Our role is to supply the technology to the manufacturers but we’re also working with others in the ecosystem to enable these kinds of capabilities. We are a technology leader and we’re doing a lot of research and development in this space. We’re bringing new technologies to market, such as the split rendering I mentioned. We also work with other software and service partners.

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There’s a Finnish company called Uros, a systems integrator, and they are working with a customer of ours called RealWear, which has a ruggedised computer that you wear on your head. It’s called the HMT-1 and it uses the Snapdragon XR1 processor. It has a camera and a display. Uros works a lot in the oil and gas industries, so workers need a product that is very ruggedised. The HMT-1 is intrinsically safe, so it can be used in volatile environments. RealWare worked with Uros on a digitisation project in Kazakhstan, where they will deploy 10,000 of these headworn products. It’s voice controlled and typically mounted to a hardhat. It’s basically a tablet computer that can float in your field of view. In an industry like oil and gas, safety is really important, so these glasses will help them accomplish their job safely. What does the company have planned for the rest of the year and beyond? We will see 5G becoming more involved in the XR experience, so we’ll be driving more 5G integration. We’re also doing a lot to enable AI in our chipsets. We have dedicated elements in the chips to allow you to run AI workloads much more efficiently. AI is really important for augmented reality. If you want to track your hands so you can physically grab a virtual object, the hand tracking technology requires heavy AI, so Qualcomm will continue to advance these capabilities in our chipsets.

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APPOINTMENTS Verbatim

Verbatim has appointed Clive Alberts as president of its EUMEA operation. The position was previously held by Hidetaka Yabe who returns to Tokyo, Japan to undertake a general manager’s role at Mitsubishi Chemical Corp (the parent company of Verbatim). “I am excited and honoured to be taking on this pivotal role at Verbatim, a company with a rich and globally renowned 50 year heritage in data storage,” said Alberts. “We will aim to continue to build on our leadership in storage where we are the number one in optical media, but also offer a wide range of other products including hard drives, SSDs, memory cards and USB drives. In addition, we will strengthen particular focus areas for the company such as secure encrypted data storage products, high quality computer accessories and Freecom, our highend hard drive and SSD brand.”

Kaspersky Lab

Chris Connell has joined Kaspersky Lab as UK & Ireland general manager, overseeing the firm’s efforts to “increase its transparency and trust in an increasingly fragmented society”. Connell joins Kaspersky after 15 years at Ingram Micro, where he was vendor director, overseeing peripherals, components, volume networking and displays. He has over 20 years of experience within the industry, with stints at VIP Computers and Azlan. Connell’s broad sector experience has also seen him work with several blue-chip tech firms, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Apple. In his new post at Kaspersky Lab, he will continue to grow the cybersecurity firm’s UK arm and oversee its global transparency work – as well as focusing on a number of key strategic priorities. “I am excited to join a fast-paced company that’s playing a crucial role at the front line of cyber-war defence. As cyber threats continue to develop in range and severity, Kaspersky Lab is continuing to set new cybersecurity standards of trust, transparency and cooperation in the fight against cyber-criminals,” said Connell.

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

QBS Technology

QBS Technology Group has appointed Michael Breeze as group head of marketing. With nearly 20 years of experience in technology channel marketing for companies such as Interactive Ideas, CMS, Datto and XMA, he joins to lead the expanded QBS marketing team. “I’m thrilled to welcome Michael alongside our other new members of the marketing team. I’m really excited by his plans to build our marketing function and the benefits this will bring to both our vendors and resellers,” said Dave Stevinson, MD for QBS Technology Group. “We are experiencing strong growth with ambitious plans in the UK and internationally. Michael’s experience in successfully scaling a specialist software distributor and establishing Datto as a market leading vendor within EMEA will provide invaluable expertise in developing market-leading opportunities for our resellers and vendors to grow new business.” Breeze added: “I’m delighted to join QBS in this period of rapid growth. With the acquisitions of Siener Informatique in France and Zedsphere in the MSP community, the company’s future aspirations really impressed me. There is a wealth of opportunity in the marketing services we can provide and I look forward to bringing some new, innovative ideas to the table.”

Google

Jade Raymond has joined Google as a vice president, announcing her appointment via a tweet, reading: “I’m excited to finally be able to share that I have joined Google as VP!” Raymond started out as a programmer for Sony, moving on to Electronic Arts, then as a correspondent for The Electric Playground, after which Raymond headed over to Ubisoft Montreal to produce Assassin’s Creed and serving as the executive producer of Assassin’s Creed 2, Watch Dogs and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Having helped to open and expand the Ubisoft Toronto Studio, in 2015, Raymond moved back to EA and founded the Montreal-based Motive Studios, which she then left at the end of 2018.

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VR and AR

The future is now From training retail workers and increasing warehouse safety to making gaming more immersive, the advancements in augmented and virtual reality are seeping into many corners of our lives. Whether it’s for work or pleasure, there’s no doubt that at some point you’ll be interacting with augmented software or even donning a headset. Here, Laura Barnes delves deeper into the various ways this growing sector of technology is improving our lives...

TRAINING IN VR

D

espite gaming and entertainment being some of the first things people think of when you present them with a VR headset, the immersion that this type of device can offer is ideal for staff training in a variety of sectors. Multinational retailer Walmart is a great example of how VR has been used to upskill workers. In 2017, the company introduced VR to the retail space by using the tech to upgrade manager training at its 200 Walmart Academies nationwide. The 2017 training programs were so successful that Walmart is now expanding VR training to nearly 5,000 stores across the US. This means that more than 1 million Walmart associates, across every store in the US, will have access to the same cutting-edge training that Academies have been using over the last year.

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“The great thing about VR is its ability to make learning experiential,” said Andy Trainor, Walmart’s senior director of Walmart US Academies. “When you watch a module through the headset, your brain feels like you actually experienced a situation. We’ve also seen that VR training boosts confidence and retention while improving test scores 10 to 15% – even those associates who simply watched others experience the training saw the same retention boosts.” With more than 17,000 Oculus Go headsets in stores by the end of the year, every associate – including those on the floor who interact with customers the most – will have access to the same training that their managers and department managers do at the Academies.

www.pcr-online.biz

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VR and AR

REALITY AT RETAIL Within the retail space, we are seeing a number of use cases for augmented and virtual reality, both in the stock room and on the shop floor. Within our interview with Qualcomm’s Brian Vogelsang (p16), you’ll read about its work with Accenture to create virtual stores so that the placement of products, and shoppers’ reactions to them, can be analysed in real time. Qualcomm’s senior director of XR strategy also touched on how smart glasses can help shop assistants stock shelves and pick orders for home deliveries – a service that more and more retailers are trying to offer. But what about on the shop floor? A good example of how this technology is being used to enhance the experiences consumers have when visiting a physical store is a new collaboration between Play Retail, Pioneer Group and COTY. Beauty company COTY is rolling out over 400 free-standing virtual reality interactive display units to let shoppers try out different nail lacquer colours from brand OPI. Play conceptualised a free standing display unit (FSDU), which would employ VR software, allowing shoppers to try out shades of OPI’s nail lacquer on a digital representation of their own hand in real time. Combining the use of 3D generated content with motion-tracking software and a digital signage display, shoppers can walk up to the device and instantly start interacting. While picking out nail varnish colours may not sound like it is of complete relevance to tech retail, it does offer up an example of

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how the shop floor could be shaped by AR and VR tech. Mark Childerhouse of Pioneer Group explains: “AV technology is now a widespread feature of retail environments and with recent developments in VR, it’s an exciting time for retail spaces. This project with OPI is a prime example of how AV and VR continue to shape the shopping experience and we look forward to seeing what’s in store for these technologies in future.“ As well as providing an experience for shoppers, the FSDU also reports invaluable information to OPI. This transforms the unit into a research tool which can help OPI develop strategies and campaigns, and optimise the merchandising of further units with a view to increase sales across specific regions. Given the average shopper spends just three minutes browsing in duty-free, data insight is crucial for monitoring usage so that OPI’s marketing teams can convert interest into sales. Aside from providing a more interactive shopping experience and offering up stats on customers’ habits, this kind of installation can also help retailers and brands reduce waste. Due to such a positive response to the first FSDUs, the rollout of the project now extends to over 400 locations worldwide, reaching over one billion potential shoppers since it began. From August 2017 to August 2018 COTY saw a 24% uplift in OPI sales. Through reducing the need for physical samples, COTY also reduced costs of wasted products, simultaneously removing hygiene risks and improving the customer experience.

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VR and AR

THE LOGICAL CHOICE FOR LOGISTICS Advanced technology in the warehouse is nothing new, but as smart glasses get lighter and are able to offer up more functionality, we are really starting to see the real impact AR and VR can have on not only the quality of work that can be achieved, but how safety measurements can be properly implemented. One company making waves in this sector is Picavi (pictured). The brand’s smart glasses can let warehouse workers keep their hands free and have the pick list constantly in view. “This creates the best conditions for continuous material flow and uninterrupted shift operation in the warehouse,” says Picavi. The company has developed software to “best exploit the resources of wearable technology”, with ideal operating temperature and increased performance duration. Alongside the Picavi Power Control – an external power supply for continuous operation – lean processes help ensure a long running time. Picavi also only uses the camera, scan engine and microphone if required. The most important data is saved temporarily and constantly updated via WLAN. “Wear comfort is key to gaining acceptance among staff,” says the company. “Warehouse work involves a lot of movement, and the smart glasses must not slip, tip to one side or sit heavily on the nose. This is why wear comfort is one of Picavi´s top priorities.” Wear comfort is a combination of weight and balance. Picavi checks all smart glasses on the market for these factors, and only

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includes them in their product range once they have passed this test. Operating the system is also intuitive, clear and simple. At present, these requirements are only fulfilled by monocular, so-called see-through head-mounted displays (HMD). These project a virtual, see-through display in front of the user’s eye, with the warehouse environment and projection perceived together as ‘assisted reality’. This allows the user to concentrate on their task, while the comfortable smart glasses provide all the important data, such as storage location, item number and number of picks in real time via the display at the edge of their field of vision. Picavi isn’t the only brand making its mark in this space. Another stand-out product is Microsoft’s HoloLens. The tech giant has recently released the 2nd generation of this smart glass, which features Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 850, a new Holographic Processing Unit and an artificial intelligence co-processor. “The Snapdragon 850 allows our team to leverage leading hardware and software technologies to build HoloLens 2 and transform the way people communicate, create and collaborate,” said Scott Evans, general manager, mixed reality devices, Microsoft Corp. “Power and thermal management are key Snapdragon benefits that helped enable the advances in immersion, comfort and business value we’re delivering to customers with HoloLens 2.”

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VR and AR

GAMING AND ENTERTAINMENT We couldn’t discuss VR and AR without taking a look at the gaming sector – an area which these headsets are perhaps most associated with. As Facebook’s VR division, Oculus, gears up to release its new Rift S headset (pictured), it seems there is still plenty of demand for these products in the entertainment arena. The new headset was designed in partnership with Lenovo and features a similar ‘inside-out’ tracking system to the Quest – Oculus’s recently-launched all-in-one, mobile-chipset driven VR headset. Speaking to PCR sister brand MCV, Jason Rubin, VP of AR/VR partnerships and content at Facebook says he believes a lot of experimentation will happen on the headset. “We’ll take the best of the experimentation and bring it to Quest because we believe the Quest user wants to go to the store and say ‘everything here is good’. “Whereas on Rift the users are just in love with VR and they want to try everything. We find that people are more than willing to go into half-finished software and stuff like that. Early Access is not really a console mentality. It’s a PC mentality: ‘I know this thing’s busted but I’m buying it anyway’,” explains Rubin. A sticking point with some VR headsets in the past has been their price tags. The new Rift S and the Quest both sit at $399. Ruben explains how they got to that figure: “$399 is a price point

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that gamers accept – that’s often what consoles come out at, whereas the $699 price point we came out with, when we didn’t know how to optimise for price point, was not an acceptable price point. “Consumers are used to paying a certain amount for hardware and then they expect a certain amount of software value to offset that price they paid to get the opportunity to play in the ecosystem. $399 is that point at which they say ‘oh yeah okay’ it’s like an Xbox or PlayStation. I think over time we will constantly be trying to bring prices down. But right now this is the right price point for the two headsets.” Another headset for gamers that’s the talk of the town at the moment is the HTC Vive Pro. For a much bigger price tag of £1,299 you get the VIVE Pro headset, link box, DisplayPort cable, USB 3.0 cable, power adaptors, two controllers and two base stations 2.0. The headset features precision tracking, promising 360-degree coverage of your movements to the millimetre, along with even distribution of the headset to achieve an “optimal centre of gravity”. Other headsets for gamers include the PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR, MagicLeap and Google Daydream View – showing there’s plenty of options out there for being entertained in VR.

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Retail Talk

DEALER DISCUSSION: HOW CAN INDIES MAXIMISE THEIR EXPOSURE? What’s the best way for independent retailers and service providers to get their name out there? Industry community Tech For Techs asks its members what works for them...

PETER WHITEHOUSE, SCANSTATION COMPUTERS https://scanstation.co.uk “For our consumer customers we still do print advertising in the small directory magazines. We had great success with our Windows XP “tombstone” campaign and may run with that for Windows 7. For SMB clients you can’t beat getting out there and talking to them in their own environment. Discuss the business risks involved with running

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non-supported software and options for migrating to cloud solutions.” ◆◆◆

MACAULEY STEPHENSON, STEPHENSONS IT SUPPORT SOLUTIONS stephensons-consultants.co.uk “I have had great success with focused pages on my website with highly optimised content of that subject for my local area, for instance, for IT

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Retail Talk

Support Barnsley we now rank on the first page of Google. I am also working on creating content each month for our blog which will tie in with those pages, giving my initial page more relevance.” ◆◆◆

STE HAMES, SJH COMPUTING www.sjhcomputing.co.uk “Most of my work comes from word of mouth or my website. For anyone starting in this business, I would put a lot of effort into your website. I’ve also started to attend business networking events and it’s paying off big time.”

CORMIE CORMISON, CROSSHAVEN COMPUTERS https://www.crosshavencomputers.ie “Crosshaven Computers built a big customers base when starting out by going a different route with Facebook advertising. Instead of focusing on our products in our Facebook and Instagram ads ,we decided to do engaging video ads, which did not have to be about tech. It was all about building brand recognition. This different approach lead to social media awards and our ads got our business very well know. It’s all about thinking outside the box of ‘follow us on Facebook and Instagram’.” ◆◆◆

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IAN HARDEN, IPC SOLUTIONS http://ipcsolutions.org.uk “I have had great success with word of mouth advertising and always struggled with my website and getting recognised locally in searches, but all of a sudden I kept getting new business. I then asked and everyone said they Googled “local computer repair in Maldon” and we came up on page one, third from the top. I gained advice early on from Tech For Techs and they all said to work on content and keep it relevant. I did this and got to page one in the top two searches without spending a penny on SEO. I feel it’s more beneficial than local advertising in business guides.” ◆◆◆

SUNDERLAND COMPUTER REPAIRS www.sunderlandcomputerrepairs.com “More than 70% of my new customers come from Google Adwords. Around half of all customers are repeat. So 70% of 50% are as a result of Adwordswhich cost me £350 a month. I switched them off as an experiment for a month last year and my takings plummeted. The rest of customers are repeat, Facebook and word of mouth with a few ‘passing in the car’.For all of them reviews are king- mostly Google but also Facebook. Google are absolute swines to deal with and impervious to the needs of small businesses so a friend helps with Adwords finetuning. My website is purely a ‘shop front’ with no sales but puts over our approach and attitude which customers seem to like.” ◆◆◆

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DANIEL REEVES, THE COMPUTER CLINIC BICESTER www.thecomputerclinicbicester.co.uk “We have been members of BNI Spires for five years and find that it is one of the best ways to help market our business, as we are in a world that is expanding its tech capabilities very fast. We find having the support of local business helping us to find new leads and grow makes joining our BNI chapter one of the best marketing decisions we ever made.” ◆◆◆

ILIAS SAKR, PCLAB.TECH https://www.pclab.tech “Since 2017, PCLAB.TECH has been active in the broader IT sector by expanding its range of services and products in the light of technological developments and market needs. We provide our services with responsibility and guaranteed efficiency. The accumulated years of experience in the field of information technology, combined with the high scientific level of our associates, are the key elements of our dynamic presence. Our mission is the integrated solutions, in the field of high technology, for businesses, institutions, and individuals through trust relationships and aiming at a high result. We contribute to growth with creative cooperation, responsibly based on established values of professional ethics. Our object is the modern thinking and strategy for the integrated approach to the needs of a dynamic and flexible business. We feel creatively mood for results in favour of our customers. Their own development is

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Retail Talk

our own success. Our goal is to contribute dynamically to the growth, recognition, and profitability of our customers, through trust relationships and aiming at a high result.” ◆◆◆

PHILIP AND JENNI GRIFFITHS, TECH FOR TECHS / CHIPS COMPUTERS https://www.techfortechs.co.uk “It can be tough for small independents, especially ones just starting out. This can partly be due to not budgeting for marketing or even not having the funds to budget with. When you start a new business, it is not uncommon for money to be tight. Banks don’t always loan to new businesses, so you can’t count on that. One thing most independent stores (including non-tech) don’t do is put themselves in place of the customers. For example, it’s nice to have a website that tells you about the history of the universe, but most people just want to know simple things about you and your business. They want to know your location, how to contact you (phone number), and your hours of operation. Most stores who rely on getting trade through the door don’t have this basic information easily available and if a potential customer goes on their website and does not find this information in a few seconds, they hit the back button and click on the next store on the list on Google. Believe it or not, if people visit your website for only a few seconds and leave, it affects your search engine results negatively. A lot of people think sticking adverts everywhere is a good thing. But in most cases people ignore it of it is not well thought out. Your website is the biggest advert you can get! You can control what and how much content is put into it. Even though it is a business page with things like contact details, you also want to make it a bit personal. You can do this by adding pictures of yourself and staff on it. People interact more with pictures and video where you can clearly see the person who they may be visiting. Focusing the pages of your website is a great way of expanding your visibility with little cost involved. Make sure you have a page for each of the services you offer, as well as the types of products you sell (i.e. a webpage aimed at virus removal and another at gaming keyboards). When people search for these things in Google, you have a lot higher of a chance to be found. Some people,

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like Tech For Techs member Macauley Stephenson (stephensons-consultants.co.uk), have great success with focusing webpages at different areas which helps widen their customer base. There are literally hundreds of ways of marketing a company or brand without spending a lot of money and in some cases, you can market your company without a budget at all. If you are a local independent business, you may want to get involved with the local community. While throwing money at local events won’t hurt, you will get more response if you are seen helping. It shows you are willing to spend your valuable time helping others. Help local schools with events, your local religious organisations, and local farmer markets. This all helps make sure you have some form of company logo so people will know who you are, or even more so what company that is helping. But, no matter how many of these things you do to market your business, you need to be able to sell to these customers once they come into your business. Selling is not a bad word, and once you understand its true meaning it will help you increase your sales. Selling is about helping the customer reach the point that they are happy to buy. It’s about talking to them and advising them, and in the end the customer will leave you knowing they bought the right thing.” For more business advice, check out Tech For Techs business help, advice articles, and videos at https://www.techfortechs.co.uk/businiesshelp-advice

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

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IN MY TEAM

Customer Thermometer Every day, thousands of people rely on Customer Thermometer to give and receive valuable email feedback. We find out why the company’s customer service team has been given the nickname the ‘Ministry of Magic’... Who makes up Customer Thermometer’s customer service team? Our 5+ customer service team is based in our Brighton office and overseen by our managing director Jim Turner. The team provides support for over 1,500 clients and partners across 60+ countries to help them configure and get the very best from our 1-click email surveys. The team is doing a great job and ensure all customer communications are personalised and sent within a day. We also create helpful materials to assist partners with their own customer services strategies. We just scooped the Gold Award in the 2019 Stevie Awards for Customer Service Department of the Year (Computer Software – Up to 100 Employees). How did you get the nickname the ‘Ministry of Magic’? Given what we do as a business, we knew that to stand out we needed to demonstrate effortless and excellent service. We wanted to create an experience that customers would remember. Then out of the blue, an email came through from a customer suggesting our customer service agents named themselves ‘magicians’, because they had given her such great service. It was a seedling of something great and before long the idea had exploded. By 2016 we’d created the Ministry of Magic (our customer service department) with everyone working within it being a Magician since its formation, the Ministry of Magic has done fantastic work in transforming the customer service experience and journey. As a result of the great work of the Ministry of Magic and its Magicians, we’ve achieved fantastic customer satisfaction. Practising

what we preach, we survey our customers on an ongoing basis, using our own software, so our score updates itself in real time. The average satisfaction score across the past year has been 98%. Tell us about your new channel partner programme… Our new programme will help partners sell our cloud-based email feedback solution to drive easy subscription-based revenues. We already work with IT services, support and MSPs via embedding our feedback buttons into emails and tickets. Our industry-leading 70+% response rates give organisations access to instant insight into customer sentiment across every interaction, which enables engagement and sentiment to be effectively measured and enhanced. What type of companies are you looking to work with more in 2019 and beyond? We already have partnerships with over 50 helpdesks, CRM and professional services automation providers, including Salesforce, Zendesk, ServiceNow and ConnectWise. Our new channel programme is perfectly suited for managed service providers, value added resellers and Microsoft Cloud service providers to sell and distribute, enabling them to quickly benefit from easy and additional SaaS revenue from every customer email signature or PSA/CRM system integration. And finally, who makes the best cuppa? Lola, our client development executive, makes a truly fantastic cuppa – everyone looks forward to it being her turn!

More information at https://www.customerthermometer.com/ www.pcr-online.biz 

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AVAILABLE IN TWO DESIGNS

HDMI 2.0

NVME

DUAL GIGABIT

SERIAL PORT

COFFEE LAKE

REMOTE ON

XH310R / XH310RV  FLEXIBLE 3-LITRE PCS £146* FOR (ALMOST) ANY APPLICATIONS The spec sheets of these two models actually make you think of larger PCs. But if you look at the bare size, you will quickly be astonished. Despite their height of just 7.2 cm and width of 20 cm, these models support Intel Core processors (LGA1151v2), boast up to 32 GB of DDR4 memory, 2x Gigabit LAN, HDMI 2.0a, DisplayPort, VGA, 2x RS-232, space for two hard drives and one NVMe SSD as well as expansion possibilities for WLAN, among other options. What’s more, the XH310 can even be outkitted with up to five serial interfaces. A new feature of this chassis type is the external remote power-on connection, which allows the device to be started when installed in hard-to-reach environments. Simply put, an impressively flexible Mini-PC solution for (almost) all kinds of applications.

X SUPPORTS INTEL PROCESSORS IN THE LGA1151V2 SOCKET X THREE MONITOR PORTS FOR MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITY X 2× GIGABIT ETHERNET, WLAN OPTIONAL X 8× USB, 2X RS-232 X XH310V WITH BAYS FOR ODD AND FRONT PORTS X VESA MOUNT, STAND AND BRACKET FOR 3.5" HDDS (AVAILABLE SEPARATELY)

* Recommended reseller purchase price (RPP) in Pounds from official Shuttle distributors. ** Vertical operation with the PS02 stand which is available separately. Subject to errors and alterations. The accessories shown are not included with the product.

www.cidistribution.com

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www.gnr.co.uk

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Sector Guide

VR hardware We take a look at the latest machines, components and headsets to create the ultimate VR gaming setup..

Stormforce Crystal RTX 2070 VR Gaming PC Specs: Cooler Master H500 RGB chassis, Intel i7-9700K overclocked to 5.0GHz, Intel Z370 Chipset, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Graphics, 16GB DDR4 2666MHz RAM, 250GB NVMe SSD, 2TB HDD, Wi-Fi, Windows 10 Home. “This Stormforce Crystal VR gaming PC is designed to work perfectly in tandem with Oculus Rift and HTC VIVE headsets. Armed with an impressive Intel Core i7-9700K processor (overclocked to 5.0 GHz) and powerful NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 graphics, the Crystal will immerse you in incredible realism for the ultimate VR experience.” Contact: CMS Computers

Oculus Rift S Headset Specs: Next-gen optics, improved fresnel lense, Oculus Insight tracking, ergonomic halo headband, adjustable fit wheel. “Take on pulse-pounding VR games with our most advanced PC-powered headset. Our next-generation optics have a sharper display that delivers bright, vivid colours and a reduced “screen-door” effect. Oculus Insight tracking translates your movements into VR no matter which way you’re facing without external sensors. Redesigned with speed and comfort in mind, your headset stays securely in place with a quick twist of the fit wheel. With Oculus Touch controllers, you can slash, throw and grab with realistic precision in the top games VR has to offer.” Contact: Oculus

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Sector Guide

Shuttle XPC SH370R8 Specs: 332 x 216 x 198 mm, supports 8th/9th-gen Intel Coffee Lake processors up to 95W, 64 GB DDR4 RAM, space for 4x 3.5’’ drives or 8x 2.5’’ drives (Shuttle PHD3 accessory and third-party RAID controller required), 2x M.2, supports dual-slot graphics cards of the Turing generation, triple 4K display (2x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI 2.0), 4x USB 3.1 Gen 2, 1x Gigabit-LAN, WLAN module optional, 500W 80+ Silver PSU. “With approx. 14.2 litres in volume, the SH370R8 ships with the case, Shuttle mainboard, CPU heatpipe cooling and power supply as standard. This means it is fully customisable in terms of processor, memory, drives and graphics card. The SH370R8 sports 4x USB 3.1 Gen 2 connectors for your VR gear and other peripherals. For your VR experience on a mini PC platform to commence, you will need third-party hardware from the likes of Oculus or HTC for example, bundled VR software and of course a game that supports VR. An Intel Core i5, an AMD Radeon Vega 56 or an Nvidia GTX 1070, plus 16GB of memory may be considered as minimum specs with reference to VR hardware maker’s recommendations.” Contact: Ci Distribution, GNR: Tech, Terra Computer

ASUS ROG Strix RTX 2070 Graphics Card Specs: Quantum Cloud compatible, NVIDIA TURING, DirectX 12, NVIDIA Shadowplay, patented wing-blade fans, MaxContact technology, auto-extreme technology, Super Alloy Power II, ASUS FanConnect II, GPU Tweak II. “Taking advantage of the power that the new Turing GPU architecture provides, the ROG Strix RTX 2070 O8G Gaming graphics card is a great choice for VR gaming. Triple fan cooling will keep your temperatures down and your framerates high, while the power will keep your VR experience consistent and realistic. The including of the new USB Type-C connection, designed to be futureproofed for VR use, makes this the perfect card for VR gaming.” Contact: ASUS UK

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Sector Guide

HTC Vive Pro VR Headset Specs: Dual AMOLED 3.5 inches diagonal screen, 1440 x 1600 pixels per eye (2880 x 1600 pixels combined) resolution, 90 Hz refresh rate, 110 degrees field of view, “Precision tracking provides 360-degree coverage of your movements to the millimetre – floor to ceiling. Use VIVE seated, standing, or in a space up to 20’ x 20’, with supporting base stations. Even distribution of the headset achieves an optimal centre of gravity – creating comfort in VR. High impedance headphones driven by a powerful amplifier and integrated 3D spatial sound delivers true-to-life immersive audio with dual microphones for active noise cancellation.” Contact: HTC

AMD Ryzen 5 2600 Processor Specs: 6 CPU Cores, 3.9GHz max boost clock, 12 threads, PCIe 3.0 x16, Wraith Stealth, 3.4GHz base clock. “Built for gamers, creators and PC enthusiasts, the Ryzen 5 2600 features True Machine Intelligence to optimise responsiveness every millisecond. Perfect for eSports and AAA title gamers, play all your favourite games and explore new worlds in VR. Create, edit and stream content with lighting fast responsiveness. Power through heavy workloads like photo and video editing with ultimate performance. Compatible with all AM4 motherboards (with firmware BIOS update). AMD bundles the Wraith Stealth cooler with the 2nd gen Ryzen 5 2600 processor, featuring a low profile and excellent thermal performance.” Contact: AMD

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Sector Guide

Stormforce Crystal GTX 1660Ti VR Gaming PC Specs: Cooler Master 5.0 Lite RGB chassis, Intel i59400F boosting to 4.10GHz, Intel Z370 chipset, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660Ti graphics, 16GB DDR4 2666MHz RAM, 250GB SSD, 1TB HDD, Wi-Fi, Windows 10 Home. “This Stormforce Crystal VR gaming PC is designed to work perfectly in tandem with Oculus Rift and HTC VIVE headsets. The machine comes armed with an impressive Intel Core i5-9400F processor (boosting to 4.10 GHz) and awesome NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660Ti graphics.” Contact: CMS Computers

Intel Core i9-9900K Specs: 8 cores, 16 threads, 3.60GHz processor base frequency, 5.00GHz max turbo frequency, compatible only with motherboards based on Intel 300 Series chipsets, Intel Optane Memory supported, Intel UHD graphics 630. “Game with confidence with the performance of the unlocked 9th Gen Intel Core i9-9900K desktop processor. Built with Solder Thermal Interface Material to help maximise efficient heat transfer from the processor to the cooler, allowing overclockers to push their systems further and gamers to experience lower temperatures under load. Plus, with the free Intel Extreme tuning utility you can get the most from your unlocked processor by fine tuning your overclock.” Contact: Intel

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PCR-MAY19 AOC_Layout 1 15/04/2019 09:26 Page 1

C32G1

32” Widescreen VA LED Curved Monitor AMD FreeSync 144Hz refresh rate & 1ms response time Minimal bezel distraction for the ultimate battle station HDMI & DisplayPort connectivity

VIP SKU: 116478

AG273QCX 27” Widescreen VA WLED Multimedia Curved Monitor AMD FreeSync 144Hz refresh rate & 1ms response time

VIP SKU: 116479

Minimal bezel distraction for the ultimate battle station HDMI & DisplayPort connectivity

AG273QCG 27” Widescreen TN WLED Multimedia Curved Monitor NVIDIA G-SYNC

Curved QHD display

165Hz refresh rate & 1ms response time

HDMI & DisplayPort connectivity

VIP SKU: 116480

Sales Hotline 01925 286 900 Delivering Value in Distribution Ads.indd 2

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WiPhone VoIP mobile phone for hackers WiPhone is a unique, minimal phone designed to make it easy to extend and modify the device’s electronics and software. WiPhone is also a VoIP mobile phone. It uses Wi-Fi to make HD voice calls, for free. This means that there is no required service contract. The phone gives hackers, makers and engineers the tool “we all wish our phones could be”, as maker HackEDA puts it. “Nice package, direct access to I/O, an easy to program ESP32 processor. All the basics are already set up: user interface, power management and on/off circuit, and working code.” The device works on most broadband Wi-Fi networks (including most home Wi-Fi connections). No service contract is required, and you can even upgrade the firmware or expand the hardware to do things it wasn’t originally intended for. For more information visit http://kck.st/2FoBL9i

U-Bolt Pro smart deadbolt U-Bolt Pro claims to be the most secure, and the most versatile deadbolt ever created. With Dual 128-bit AES Dynamic Key Encryption and premium alloy construction, it boasts to be unbreakable – both physically and digitally. It offers up six different ways to unlock your door including: smartphone app, fingerprint, passcode, proximity unlock, magic shake or mechanical key. U-Bolt Pro gives you complete control over access and users. Share temporary fingerprint, code, or eKey with a set schedule for the cleaning crew or grant one-time access to a friend. All communications are encrypted using secure 128-bit AES via an embedded hardware coprocessor. The second layer of protection is the Dynamic Key. This key code is randomised for every single data transfer. Even if somebody were able to capture the AES encrypted data, the Dynamic Key protection would make it impossible to for them to unlock your door. For more information visit https://igg.me/at/u-bolt/x

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E-Pad E-Ink Android tablet The E-Pad is an Android tablet that offers digital convenience with a “truly paper-like experience”. E-Pad mimics the experience of reading and writing on paper. Jotting down notes, signing papers or making notations on documents is smooth and natural using the included stylus or simply a finger. But E-Pad says it is more than just a powerful notepad and digital reader. It supports Wi-Fi and is also 4G compatible to let you stay connected virtually anywhere. It is equipped with an advanced Android system, allowing you to download all your favorite apps. And with a 10-core processor, it has low latency and the power to run the latest apps and quickly browse image-heavy websites. E-Pad comes with a 10.3” Carta screen, which reflects light like real paper, letting you read for hours without eye fatigue. E-Pad is designed as the perfect document viewer with full compatibility with all common file formats including: pdf, djvu, epub, mobi, doc, docm, docx and more. For more information visit http://kck.st/2V0VtyQ

With so much talent in the channel, it can be difficult to sift out the freshest gear and potential tech giants of tomorrow. Stay ahead of the curve with PCR’s Crowdfunding Corner…

Switch 3 in 1 wireless headphones The Switch headphones have three modes: headphones, portable speaker and wearable speaker. “Our passion for music has led us to create Switch as the ultimate device for listening in any setting. As a team of travellers, we know what it’s like to be on the go, and the importance of always having your music while you move,” says the device maker. “Switch gives you the capability to listen and share seamlessly without ever disconnecting. This gives you freedom to focus on the important aspect of your listening experience.” It features an adjustable headband, an ergonomically designed headband cushion, ear cups with NIF and NFC technology, and built-in volume and music controls. Other specs include Bluetooth wireless 5.0, integrated call and music controls, a waterproof carry pouch and a 15 metre wireless range. For more information visit https://igg.me/at/switchheadphones-speakers/x

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Sector Guide

Memory and Motherboards If you’re looking to expand your components range, check out our roundup of the latest memory and motherboards on the market...

ADATA XPG SPECTRIX D41 DDR4 Gaming Memory Specs: RGB lighting, programmable lighting effects, speeds with wide operating frequencies ranging from 2666MHz to 5000MHz, easy overclocking with Intel XMP 2.0. “The XPG SPECTRIX D41 16GB DDR4 RGB memory brings together outstanding performance and mesmerising RGB lighting to give you a worthy upgrade for your system. Featuring stunning speeds up to 5000MHz the SPECTRIX D41 delivers smooth, fast gaming and overclocking, all the while supporting Intel X299 and AMD AM4/Ryzen platforms. What’s more, with vivid RGB lighting that is compatible with a range of lighting control software, your gaming setup will outshine the competition.” Contact: VIP UK

Gigabyte X399 Designare Threadripper Motherboard Specs: Supports AMD Ryzen Threadripper processors, quad channel ECC/Non-ECC unbuffered DDR4, 8 DIMMs, 3600MHz+(OC), fast front and rear USB 3.1 Type-C Interface, 4-way graphics support with dual armor and ultra durable design, server-class digital power design, gold plated solid power connectors, dual Intel GbE LAN. “The GIGABYTE X399 is an enthusiast motherboard with AMD Ryzen Threadripper processor. Do everything, do it all at the same time, and do it without sacrificing responsiveness. Render. Stream. Compile. Encode. Work or play. Real-world productivity or virtual reality entertainment. The GIGABYTE X399 enthusiast motherboard has the power to overwhelm your most daunting workloads.” Contact: Target Components

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Sector Guide

Ballistix Sport LT Specs: Speeds start at 2400 MT/s, Intel XMP 2.0 profiles for easy configuration, optimised for the latest Intel 300 series platforms, AMD Ryzen ready, limited lifetime warranty, multi-channel memory architecture maximises data rates, digital camo heat spreader available in white, gray, and red. “Compared to standard DDR4 memory, that’s exactly what Ballistix Sport is engineered to do. Get faster speeds and run demanding applications with ease. Multitask at will with increased bandwidth, and strike first with better latencies and reduced load times.” Contact: CMS Distribution

MSI MEG Z390 ACE Motherboard Specs: Supports 9th/8th Gen Intel Core/Pentium Gold/ Celeron processors for LGA 1151 socket, supports DDR4 memory up to 4500(OC) MHz, Mystic Light Infinity: 16.8 million colours/29 effects controlled in one click, pre-installed I/O Shielding, 3x Turbo M.2 with Shield Frozr, dual front USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C. “With a unique and infinity design, the MSI MEG Z390 ACE combines 13 phases of VRM and is optimised for the rich specification of the Intel Core. Features include Mystic Light Infinity, Triple Turbo M.2 with Shield Frozr, Audio Boost HD, Game Boost and dual front USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C connectors. MSI enthusiast gaming motherboards are packed with all the features required for a refined gaming experience.” Contact: VIP UK

Transcend JetRAM DDR4 Memory Specs: 2400MHz-2666MHz, 4GB – 8GB capacities, for laptop, miniPC and SFF. “Transcend’s JetRam memory modules are manufactured with true ETT grade, brand-name DRAM chips that have passed Transcend’s strict screening process and rigorous environmental testing. The modules provide excellent compatibility and fully-tested reliability – ideal for laptop, mini-PC and SFF upgrades at an attractive price. Each memory module is rated to greatly increase data transmission efficiency up to 21GB/s.” Contact: Target Components

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Sector Guide AORUS Z390 AORUS MASTER Motherboard Specs: Supports 9th and 8th Gen Intel Core Processors, dual channel Non-ECC unbuffered DDR4, 4 DIMMs, Intel Optane Memory ready, advanced thermal design with Fins-Array Heatsink and Direct Touch Heatpipe, onboard Intel CNVi 802.11ac 2x2 Wave 2 Wi-Fi. “Optimised for users to skyrocket the new 8-core Intel Core i9-9900K processors to 5GHz+ across all cores via overclocking and with a 12 phase digital VRM design and robust heat dissipation. Offering exceptional power and temperature management for maximising the performance and overclocking potential of these new processors, the flagship Z390 AORUS Master brings highly sought-after features such as Triple M.2 Thermal Guard for its PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe M.2 slots, superb audio configuration, and feature-rich I/O interface, rounding out a versatile package of excellent system performance, power management, heat dissipation, and audio quality for the ultimate user experience.” Contact: VIP UK

Ortial Server Memory Specs: Memory types: DDR2, DDR3, DDR4, capacities: 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, ranks: Single, dual, triple, quad, speed: 800 – 3000 MHz. “Ortial’s server memory range allows you to experience fewer delays during routine operations with the capability of running multiple programmes at one time, with a faster toggler between them. Our server memory modules are fully compatible with the world’s leading server manufacturers and come with a global lifetime warranty.” Contact: CMS Distribution

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Sector Guide

Patriot Viper 4 Series DDR4 DIMM System Memory Specs: 8GB to 32GB, up to 3200MHz, heat shield. “The Viper 4 series uses a custom-designed, high-performance heat shield for superior heat dissipation, ensuring rock solid performance even using the most taxing applications. Built from the highest quality materials, Patriot Memory’s Viper 4 Series memory modules are hand tested and validated for system compatibility.” Contact: Target Components

ASUS ROG Strix Z390-F Gaming Motherboard Specs: Designed for 9th and 8th generation Intel Core processors, revamped 5-way optimisation, pre-mounted I/O shield, Aura Sync RGB lighting, 8-channel HD audio with ROG exclusive SupremeFX S1220A codec. “Fully command your gaming experience on 9th generation Intel Core processors with the ROG Strix Z390-F Gaming featuring AURA Sync, 5-Way Optimisation for dynamic system control with AI overclocking. Dual M.2, Gigabit LAN and USB 3.1 Gen2 deliver maximum connectivity speeds while ASUS OptiMem II ensures better DRAM overclocking stability. With comprehensive cooling options and upgraded power delivery to fuel CPUs with more cores, plus support for faster memory and storage, ROG Strix Z390-F Gaming provides all the essentials you need to harness the full potential of components in your build for top-tier gaming performance.” Contact: VIP UK

Ortial Notebook SODIMM Memory Specs: Memory types: DDR2 DDR3, DDR4, capacities: 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, ranks: single, dual, triple, quad, speed: 800 – 2666 MHz. “Ortial’s reliable SODIMM notebook memory modules are designed with users requirements in mind to allow a faster response rate, for maximum output and improved reliability and efficiency. Ortial SODIMM memory is competitively priced, comes with a global lifetime warranty, meets industry specifications and is fully compatible with all branded notebooks.” Contact: CMS Distribution

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Sector Guide

ASRock Z390 Extreme4 ATX Motherboard Specs: ARGB, VGA, HDMI, DisplayPort, USB Type-C, Dual M.2, 8 x SATA, 6 x USB ports. “With built-in RGB illumination, ASDRock’s new Z390 Extreme4 features onboard RGB headers and an addressable RGB header which can be synchronized with other Polychrome RGB LED devices to create unique lighting effects. It supports DDR4 4300+, features 8 x SATA and 6 x USB ports, Nvidia Quad SLI/ AMD 3-Way CrossfireX support and ASRock’s A-Tuning overclocking software.” Contact: Target Components

Crucial DDR4 Laptop Memory Specs: Available in modules up to 16GB and kits up to 32GB, speeds start at 2133 MT/s. “In the ever-changing world of technology, any component more than five years old is usually in need of an update. At seven years old and counting, that’s where DDR3 memory is at: laptops can only do so much with it. Since the introduction of DDR3 memory technology in 2007, processors have doubled in capability, SSDs have revolutionised throughput, and graphics cards have drastically increased frame rates, leaving memory as a limiting factor. With Crucial DDR4 SODIMMs, crush the DDR3 memory bottleneck and unlock a new standard of performance.” Contact: CMS Distribution

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Is back to showcase the most talented rising stars in the UK tech and IT industry.

Nominate yourself, or a colleague, now by emailing Laura Barnes at laura.barnes@biz-media.co.uk before Monday 13th May. 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)

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EVENTS PLUG IN TO EXERTIS 2019

16th May, Silverstone Circuit, Northamptonshire

Plug In To Exertis offers up the opportunity for resellers and retailers to spend a day immersed in technology with four dedicated exhibition areas focused on business, AV, enterprise and consumer solutions. Plug In To Exertis will also offer a seminar programme, guest speakers and a host of show-floor features designed to inform, educate and provide opportunities for customers to increase their sales into existing clients or start conversations with prospective ones. Last year, Plug In To Exertis welcomed a record number of 1,100 attendees with almost 700 resellers and retailers in attendance and 116 vendors exhibiting.

INFOSECURITY EUROPE 2019 4th-6th June, Olympia, London

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

COMPTIA EMEA MEMBER AND PARTNER CONFERENCE 2019

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

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

Over three days the infosec industry comes together as more than 400 international exhibitors of security solutions meet with over 19,500 industry professionals looking to learn about and buy state-of-the-art products. This event offers visitors a unique opportunity to test brand new products and attend an extensive range of free educational sessions. Infosecurity Europe offers the most cost-effective business and networking opportunities for the world’s information security community.

IP EXPO EUROPE 2019

SYNAXON UK MEMBER CONFERENCE

PCR AWARDS 2020

All Synaxon member companies are invited to the annual two-day Member Conference. This takes place every summer at a prestigious venue, providing members with an exclusive opportunity to meet and network with leading suppliers and Synaxon UK personnel, and to hear from leading industry figures and motivational speakers.

Save the date for the 2020 PCR Awards! We’ll be back at The Brewery in Central London on 4th March to once again celebrate the very best of the UK tech and IT industry. On the night, we will recognise those that have made the biggest impact in the channel. Vendors, distributors, channel services, resellers and retailers will all be celebrated in front of a room of 500+ industry members. Guests will enjoy an unmissable night of networking and hospitality as we reflect on the achievements of the channel over the past year.

20th and 21st June, Jury’s Inn hotel, Hinckley

CHANNEL LIVE 2019

11th-12th September, NEC, Birmingham

Channel Live one of the UK’s leading ICT trade specific conference, exhibition, thought leadership and networking events rolled into one. At Channel Live, resellers, VARS and other channel partners openly discuss margin opportunities with vendors and solution providers.

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9th-10th October, ExCeL, London

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

4th March, The Brewery, London

If you would like to find out more information about being a PCR Awards 2020 Partner, get in touch with Beccy Barr on 0203 143 8778 or at Beccy.Barr@biz-media.co.uk.

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Interview

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Interview

LIFE IN THE CHANNEL

Ingram Micro’s Scott Murphy The distributor’s Director of Cloud and Advanced Solutions talks about its new ISV FastTrack program and discusses how Ingram Micro plans to dominate the IaaS, UCC and cyber security sectors...

Tell us a bit about your work history and your current role at Ingram Micro. After being in the IT business for over 20 years, I joined Ingram Micro in May 2017 as the director of advanced solutions where I focused on driving mutually profitable growth with both existing and new partnerships across partners and vendors. My role grew in September 2018 when I was asked to lead the newly combined cloud and advanced solutions business units. In this role I have the opportunity to lead the transformation in the channel and enable partners to adopt a cloud-first motion. What is your team working on at the moment? Right now, our focus is on building out three key areas for Ingram Micro: IaaS, unified communication and collaboration (UCC), and cyber security. We have recently invested heavily in IaaS solution architects who can support our partners in the strategising, design and deployment of complex and large scale solutions. For UCC we have made further

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investments in this area to pull together a market leading portfolio of vendors, leveraging our professional services capabilities to support partners in positioning, selling and managing UCC solutions for clients. In cyber security we are building a dedicated business unit to drive this key area for us. Ingram Micro has recently been announced as the sole distributor for McAfee in the UK and we also recently

“Ingram Micro has recently invested heavily in IaaS solution architects who can support our partners.”

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Interview

announced the huge investments we’re making in centre of excellences. We want to maximise the growing cyber security opportunity for our partners. Ingram recently released research showing SMEs are moving towards next-gen technology. How is the company helping businesses to digitally transform? To help our partners digitally transform we need to understand the direction the market and technology is heading. With the surge of AI, IoT, big data and other emerging technologies, we are ensuring that we not only have the people with the right expertise, but also the capability to deploy these solutions through our platforms. Ingram Micro Professional Services are then there to support partners in their conversations with end-users and to enable them to deliver these solutions from start to finish.

catapulted into the market in the last decade or so – companies like Dropbox Business, Slack and SkyKick, who are transforming the way we work. I want Ingram Micro to become early partners with these firms. Add to this our intention to further expand our partnerships across cloud, cyber security, UCC and areas such as AI, IoT and big data, and it is easy to see that it’s an exciting time for our partners to be working with us. What will Ingram be focused on for the rest of the year and beyond? A big focus right now is our UK Cloud Summit, which is our flagship event where we will showcase the very best that cloud and driving solutions around cloud has to offer, and introduce new and exciting solutions to our partner base. We are expecting 300 senior executives from the channel at the event and we have

“A big focus for us right now is our UK Cloud Summit. This is our flagship event where we will showcase the best that cloud and driving solutions around cloud has to offer. We’re expecting 300 senior execs from the channel.” What companies are you looking to work more with in the near future? Our new partnership with McAfee is obviously a key relationship that we want to build on, but there are many smaller vendors that will become the next big thing. We are currently rolling out our ISV FastTrack Program, which will allow vendors to quickly and easily onboard onto our Cloud Marketplace and launch their solution into the channel. The ISVs who onboard via our FastTrack program probably aren’t household names yet, but you only have to look at the innovative companies that have

some very exciting names, such as Microsoft, Dropbox Business and Acronis as headline sponsors. We’ll be making some great announcements at UK Cloud Summit too. After that, we continue to invest in more resources for our partners to leverage across the areas mentioned but also our core vendors such as Cisco, HPE and Microsoft. Finally, we’ll put more focus on sharing the Ingram Micro Services capabilities with the channel across IM Professional Services, IM Financial Services and IM Marketing Services – all of this intended to support our clients’ acceleration of growth.

More information at https://uk-new.ingrammicro.com/

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

<The Mother(boards) of Dragons>

@CtTweets08’s Targaryen-inspired gaming machine

Unless you’ve been recovering from greyscale over the past two months, you will no doubt be caught up in some form of Game of Thrones madness. Depending on when you read this, you’ll either be desperately trying to avoid spoilers about the next episode, or still recovering from what would have no doubt been an epic finale to the biggest TV show of our generation. To celebrate the monstrous event, the PCR team has scoured Twitter to find some of the best custom PC builds paying homage to all things North and South of The Wall. Whether you’re House Targaryen, Stark or Lannister, hold on to your dragons and take a look at these impressive Game of Thrones custom PC builds and give these expert builders a follow: @Asmodath’s White Walker-inspired build

@Upgrayedmusik’s “Fire and Blood” PC

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

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PCRmag

CONTENT

<Biggest tech news from… May 2011> Now you’re up-to-date with the latest issues in tech retail, let’s take a trip down memory lane to some interesting stories from yesteryear… Microsoft hits customer satisfaction high In May 2011, Microsoft hit a new high of 78% on the American Customer Satisfaction Index, following the third year of growth in this category. According to GeekWire, the growth in customer satisfaction had been attributed to the increasing market penetration of Windows 7. However, although people were happier with its products, this did not translate to sales growth for Microsoft, which saw its Windows division decline by 4% in the previous quarter, seeing slower Windows PC sales in the face of growing competition from the tablet space.

Dell says tablets will fade just like netbooks Despite Microsoft coming up against such strong competition against tablets, back in 2011, Dell was pretty confident that it was all just a phase. “We’re seeing the tablet as a fad right now, like netbooks were three years ago,” Jones said before admitting that the tablet would likely “find its space” but that they were not “sounding the death knell” of laptops and workstations.

Amazon’s Kindle books outselling print 2011 certainly was a year for mobilisation in the tech space, as Amazon announced that it was now selling

more Kindle electronic books than printed books, surpassing hardcover and paperback books combined. “We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly,” said Amazon boss Jeff Bezos. The company revealed that since the 1st of April 2011, Kindle books had sold 105 to every 100 print books. The figure included books sold that are unavailable in Kindle versions.

Brains process Apple products in the same way as religion Pretty much since the start of the company, Apple fans have often been dubbed a ‘cult’ by more hysterical critics and advocates of rival platforms. In 2011, a BBC documentary unveiled that there may be some solid(ish) science facts to back up such accusations. The documentary entitled ‘Secrets of the Superbrands’ showed evidence suggesting that in Apple fans, iPods and iPhones stimulate the same areas of the brain as religious imagery does in believers. A team of neuroscience boffins showed detailed MRI scans of an Apple fan boy’s brain, cross-referencing with that of people of faith. The assertion is that the subject processed his gizmos in the same way as a Bishop would a divine moment.

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

NEXT MONTH

30 Under 30

For the June issue of PCR, we will be unveiling this year’s 30 Under 30 list, which will showcase the industry’s rising stars. If you would like to nominate yourself or a colleague, get in touch via the email above. In this issue we will also be looking at the latest developments in the wearable technology sector with an in-depth feature as well as a sector guide. In addition, we’ll also be rounding up the latest mics and webcams for PC, Mac and mobile. 50

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