Category Archives: IT Distribution

Why using the right type of Analytics is the most important factor in gaining true insight

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 [1]. The key is whether that data is A. ‘analysable’ (i.e. databased, processed, categorised and readily available), and B. analysed well. Continue reading

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35 Years and counting… stories from the IT frontline

To mark CONTEXT’s 35th year anniversary, co-founder and CEO Jeremy Davies reflects on the state of computing during the early days at CONTEXT.

Starting a small business means adapting your needs to serious budgetary constraints. You need that 20MB hard drive, but can you afford it?

Towards the end of the 1980’s, the PC revolution was in full swing, but computers were not cheap. IBM’s PC came in at around £3,000 in those days, equivalent to £6,300 in today’s value. Margins were high double digits compared to today’s meagre low single points. At one point it is said that UK Apple dealers were making so much money, the Cupertino company asked them to stop the ostentatious displays of wealth and invest in their businesses. Continue reading

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Thoughts from DISTREE EMEA

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.

by AS

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35 Years and counting… stories from the IT frontline

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 Magazinemagazines, 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!


CONTEXT’s first office was at 9-11 Kensington High Street, which is now a hotel



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Channel Predictions for 2018: The drivers of change

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

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Filed under Enterprise IT, IoT, IT Distribution, Market Analysis, Retail, Uncategorized

Channel Predictions for 2018: A French association speaks about GDPR, IOT and “as a service”

As part of our 2018 predictions pieces, we interviewed Stella Morabito and Laurent Mitais, Secretary-General and President of the SGI distributor association on their views around key market trends they expect to see over the coming months.

GDPR General Data Protection Regulation, with its related products: Data processing & Data security
The impact of the conformity to this pan-European regulation entering into force on May 25, 2018 will be huge on CRM/HR software providers both in terms of the architecture of Stella.jpegtheir products and on the contractualization with their clients. The market of security will also be positively impacted by the growing importance of data protection and security.

IoT, with its related products: Data transmission and communications, Cloud, Data storage, Data security

The exponential development of the IoT will engender the explosion of cloud storage capabilities and hence of data centers (+21% built in 2018 following industry forecasts). A bright future for server manufacturers and providers but also an important R&D challenge, given the necessity to reduce (or reuse) power consumption (which represents in average 40% of the operating costs of a data center).

‘As a service’
2018 will mark the beginning of radical changes in consumers’ buying behaviors and in the population working habits. Consumers will become more environmentally and socially responsible, increasingly promote an economy of sharing  and be more attracted to as-a-service solutions, be it for software, hardware or transportation solutions.Laurent.jpeg

Companies will increasingly rely on telework, thus boosting the need for connected devices, cloud software and security.

SGI new year’s resolution
In this year of renewed challenges and unprecedented business opportunities, SGI will continue to support its members with expert counsel, dedicated training sessions and the organisation of industry events analysing the most impactful changes.

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Channel Predictions 2018: The effect of price transparency & other trends

As part of our Channel Predictions, we interviewed senior executives across the Channel globally, to give their predictions for this year. Today’s is by Alessandro Cattani, CEO of Esprinet and by Mariano Gordinho, Head of the Abradisti distributor association.

The effect of price transparency
by Alessandro Cattani, CEO of Esprinet
Hypertransparency” in pricing and product specifications brought by the widespread availability of internet and of e-commerce sites will push vendors, distributors, resellers and retailers to consolidate in search of economies of scale and to innovate in search of new sources of value by means of differentiation. But both consolidation and innovation will end up in fewer and fewer “hyperwinners” and more and more barely surviving (or not surviving at all) companies. Alessandro

2018 and beyond will be a stepping stone in the process of converting physical mobility (cars, motorbikes, bikes etc.) into a new IT platform as we witnessed in the past with our office desks, with our sitting rooms at home and lately with our pockets now full of smartphones.

In a world in which change and adaptation are key for survival and physical mobility is a new frontier for the IT industry, after one year and a half of problems with a tendinitis I will get back to running: you gotta be fit.

Defining trends of the IT industry
by Mariano Gordinho, head of the Abradisti distributor association
2018 will continue to consolidate the trends that have been redefining the shape of the IT industry. Cloud Computing, Internet of Things, Software Defined Networks, cyber security, the increasingly intensive use of smartphones as “the device” for mobile computing, will be mandatory items on the agenda of the IT Teams and corporate decision makers.

I believe that due to the technological complexity that all these trends are putting together, cyber security should become the most relevant issue among all.Mariano

My resolution for the New Year is based on an interesting story with a friend. We were having lunch and there was a very expensive wine on the wine list. When the waiter asked my friend if we wanted the wine he said “put the corkscrew in!”. After we had a good laugh, he told me about another friend who had a beautiful cellar, but who died before drinking the wines. It was clear that this story seemed to be a good decision for life. Do not leave anything for tomorrow. There may not be a tomorrow. So my resolution for 2018 is “pop the cork” not only in our IT industry but in life in general.

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