Everyone in the market research industry knows that we’re drowning in data. But the mere fact that there is lots of it, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more useful than back in 2013 when there was only about 1/8th of today’s total available amount . The key is whether that data is A. ‘analysable’ (i.e. databased, processed, categorised and readily available), and B. analysed well. Continue reading
Category Archives: Enterprise IT
In this latest post, CEO and co-founder Jeremy Davies reflects on the IT infrastructure challenges during the first few years at CONTEXT.
One of the reasons why working at CONTEXT in the early days was exciting, was that our work combined the business side with deep interest in emerging PC technologies. Balancing budgets and wanting to keep ahead of the curve was both challenging and fun. Continue reading
This year there were 500+ participants in the flagship event, and the buzz was back. The focus was on new technology, and everyone attending the conference can feel good about where we are. No, it is no longer the A brands – that has been the case for a number of years. But we have to get over this – HP, Intel, Acer, Microsoft and others no longer support conferences as they did before – they focus more on the big international events.
But in a world where new technology is exploding with fast growth rates and boundless innovation, more than ever there is the need to bring people together so that people can sit down and meet the latest innovative brands. And that is where the DISTREE model works well, because of the scheduling of meetings which means that vendors know that, if they pay to come, they will get a minimum number of meetings. And we had many of the big players here this year – Tech Data, Ingram Micro, Also, Exertis, Cool Blue and Amazon, as well as dozens of other smaller distributors.
But it is not just about meetings, and that is where the interest of the event comes in. As Ilona Weiss, CEO of ABC Data put it in her blog after the event, it is the time to “pick up the rhythm of global markets and predict accurately the direction in which things are changing so that I can buy enough time for ABC Data to adjust its course.” This comes from the informal discussions with other tech leaders, and also the rich thought leadership on offer, with keynotes and workshops which illuminate and stretch people’s imagination.
This year CONTEXT organised an invitation only event for C Suite executives from selected distributors and other invited guests. The content was rich, and the tone was set by Patrice Arzillier, Managing Director of Exertis Continental Europe, and board member of Exertis plc. He opened up to a series of questions about Board investment decisions, their approach to acquisitions and the challenges they face.
The meeting was done under Chatham house rules in order to create the right ambiance for senior executive sharing, but with Patrice there was no need, as he launched into a frank and open dialogue with the other participants in the room. These times of exchange are vital for the health of the industry, and to give each other the chance to “adjust your course if necessary”. This discussion was enriched by the input from Peter Van den Berg, the head of the GTDC in Europe and a presentation from Michael White of Quadmark, showing the new financial drivers of distribution, emphasising the need to have different measures for different types of revenue stream, and to take into account all investments, not just working capital.
The other theme we covered was strategic collaboration, and the level of congruence between the presentations was remarkable – old style confrontational negotiations are out, and the smart money is on those who find strategic ways of collaborating. One of the speakers, Marcos Garcia Esteban, until recently Purchasing Director of Worten (the Portuguese/Spanish tech retailer), spoke of high-level contacts between retailer and brand to find innovative ways of delivering product. Distributors are the “midfield” players, he said, and can bring everyone together in the new technology ecosystem.
Adam Williams, who has spent the last 6 months bringing a smart home product to market, laid out the complexity of the new emerging technology market and echoed Marcos, saying that distributors are the best placed to act as brokers between the various parties. Lastly Alan Clayton, a mentor at the Investment fund SOSV, one of the largest providers of seed capital to technology start-ups, spoke of the role he saw distributors playing in bringing products to market. “I need someone who, as a one-stop shop, can broker space in the top retailers in Europe.” His final call to action was memorable, for distributors to become “Co-creators of global brands.” A great and positive thought to keep distributors going forward in the right direction.
To mark CONTEXT’s 35th year anniversary, co-founder and CEO Jeremy Davies reflects on the early days of the IT industry and the beginnings of CONTEXT.
It’s now 35 years since CONTEXT began tracking the IT business. That’s quite a thought in itself. The fact that we have been able to create a business from scratch and – despite all odds – still be here, thriving, 35 years later.
But what’s even more stunning is to have been a witness to the changes that have taken place since those pioneer PC days. And what has kept us in business has been that change: not only have we watched it but we lived it, taking an active part as a small and growing business, embracing the latest technology as it unfurled and integrating the new as we built the platforms and processes needed to track the burgeoning IT industry.
So, a few facts to illustrate. In the 1980’s, magazines were king. Vendors advertised in magazines, prices, specifications and even dealer lists. To track prices, one had to track magazines. This intensely manual job resulted in output that every month saw huge physical printed files sent out to subscribing customers. If you wanted to know specs and pricing, you opened a folder and leafed through pages of printed text. A huge step forward was achieved when data files began to accompany the printed “books”.
Surveying dealers was another challenge. To create our master dealer list in the UK, we got hold of the Yellow Pages directory, and telephoned every entry that had the word “computer” in it. We asked three simple questions: Do you sell microcomputers? Which ones do you sell? Which ones are you authorised to sell?The calls were done by a dedicated in-house team who, after building the list, started contacting resellers every two months, asking for sales figures. These were manually entered into paper spreadsheets, and the calculations done – you got it, manually. Printed reports then appeared every two months detailing these aggregated and projected sales of PCs, Printers and Software.
This is not to say there were no computers involved from the beginning. There was one. It was an Osborne 1 portable computer, running CP/M on a 4.0 MHz Zilog Z80 processor and 64 KB of RAM. Twin 5.25” floppies and a 5” screen completed the picture. As work volumes grew, we invested in our first IBM twin floppy PC. And then came hard disk drives… but that’s another story!
As part of a series of Prediction blogs for 2018, we interviewed Tim Curran, CEO of the Global Technology Distribution Council (GTDC) on his views of what this year might bring for the channel.
The pace of technology industry change continues to accelerate – and with it comes unprecedented opportunity as well as significant potential for disconnects and dislocation. Continue reading
CONTEXT recently interviewed Sam Routledge, CTO of Softcat plc and Abdel Bennour, Sales Director of Ingram Micro in France on their Channel Predictions for 2018
Hybrid Cloud becomes Reality
I’d say that the year ahead is the time that hybrid cloud becomes a reality. Most cloud deployments have been new applications and services, or backup/ DR for on premise workloads. With Microsoft releasing Azure Stack and VMware partnering with AWS, customers will have serious options for genuine, interchangeable, hybrid cloud.
If you would like more detail, I wrote a post on this just before the turn of the year.
A French distributor speaks about cloud, virtualization and security
In a rapidly IT environment, it is critical to remain focussed on basics – partners first. On premise business still has great days ahead. Cloud, virtualisation or cyber security are overperforming and should be considered as key areas of development in 2018.
I would recommend that we all keep an eye on the human aspects of digital transformation which we have started.
From a personal point of view, life balance has always been a key success factor to manage the pressure of work. So more than just a resolution it’s a daily action which is part of my DNA. So I launch a New Year resolution of S.I.S : Smile, Interests (of others before yours) and Sincerity which is one of the best ways to care about yourself and others.
I wish all of you an amazing, healthy prosperous and joyful year 2018.
Guest blog by Jessica Hadleigh, Marketing Manager at Thames Distribution Ltd
Last Tuesday, I was lucky enough to be invited to be part of a panel at the new format Channel Live conference, discussing a topic that I am very passionate about; attracting and retaining new talent into the tech channel.
Hosted by Adam Simon, the Global Managing Director of CONTEXT, the panel was truly a wealth of experience that included David Jones, Chief People Officer of Daisy Group, Leon Conway, Co-founder of Channel People, David Pitts, Partner and Founder of Trust Business Partners, and myself.
Our industry is constantly evolving and with every new advancement – technological or otherwise – comes the need for a new skillset to keep our businesses current. Continue reading