Category Archives: Market Analysis

Securing digital transformation a key opportunity for channel growth in 2019

Digital transformation offers huge growth opportunities for the channel in 2019. But recent events have also highlighted the importance of secure digital solutions, with over 59,000 breach reports already submitted to GDPR regulators since May 2018. This bears out some of the key predictions for the industry made in a new report from CONTEXT. With the right market intelligence to hand, channel bosses should be well positioned to navigate the challenges that come their way this year.

Securing digital growth
In our Technology and Channel Predictions 2019 report we point to the secure management of data as a key driver of channel growth in the digital transformation push. New stats from DLA Piper released last week confirm exactly this: that organisations are now much more aware of data security. The law firm claimed there has been an average of over 7300 breach reports each month since the legislation was introduced.

Another new report, from Thales eSecurity, reveals not only that organisations are motoring ahead with their digital transformation plans, but that they are struggling to contain the increased cyber risk that these projects are exposing them to. Complexity — for example in managing multiple cloud environments — was highlighted as the top barrier to data security. This is where channel partners can offer a real value-add, in helping their customers embrace innovation-fuelled growth but in a secure and compliant manner.

Some industry watchers, like Accenture, even believe that we’re now entering a “post-digital” world, where success will increasingly be defined by how innovatively organisations can apply technologies like AI, distributed ledgers and even quantum computing. The consultancy’s new report also highlights the importance of cyber security to the success of projects.

Brexit and beyond
As we mention in our predictions report, Brexit is the great imponderable for 2019. As I write this, the British government still seems a long way off providing the kind of orderly departure from the EU which businesses crave. As we warn in the report, a no-deal exit would cause a serious impact on trade between the UK and EU, forcing the former onto WTO tariffs and no doubt resulting in a major drop in the value of the pound. That’s why distributors on both sides of the channel who rely on cross-border supplies should have a contingency plan in place including enough stock to cover any initial period of disruption.

One distributor heeding this advice appears to be Westcoast, which recently told CRN that it had bought 3,000 extra pallet locations in two storage warehouses to stockpile a “large amount” of product. However, MD Alex Tatham appeared less than convinced about the preparedness levels in other parts of the channel. “It is amazing how many vendors have not got their own Brexit strategy organised — they haven’t woken up yet,” he’s reported as saying.

It goes without saying that Brexit isn’t the only challenge facing channel players in 2019. But although year-on-year growth in distribution won’t match last year’s 6.7%, we’ll still see positive growth for the year ahead. By tapping secure digital transformation and Industry 4.0 trends effectively, firms stand a great chance of weathering the Brexit storm and other factors like slowing demand in EU economies.

by Adam Simon

 

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

CONTEXT predicts another year of growth for IT Distribution

After a strong 12 months, the team at CONTEXT is predicting continued channel growth for 2019, with digital transformation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution driving new opportunities, although macroeconomic headwinds including Brexit will inevitably have an impact.

These are the key findings from a new report we issued this week. Technology and Channel Predictions 2019 brings together insight from channel business leaders and CONTEXT experts to reveal the biggest issues and trends facing EMEA technology companies over the coming year, and country views from some of the major economies in the region.

The past 12 months saw year-on-year growth of 6.7% in distribution, accelerating quarter-on-quarter to reach 9.1% in Q4 2018. However, growth will start to slow in Q2 2019 and will achieve 3-6% YOY growth thanks to OECD forecasts of reduced demand in EU economies and the impact of Brexit.

We are urging channel players to ensure they have contingency plans and adequate stock in place in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and that they budget to cover any temporary downturns in revenues caused by social upheaval like the French gilets jaunes protests.

Although many distributors have been able to focus on organic growth during 2018, market consolidation is happening and could increase in 2019, driven in part by price pressure from etailers.

However, digital transformation offers a great opportunity for the channel to drive growth and differentiation this year. Those that succeed will meet growing demand for secure solutions, hybrid cloud, and hyper-converged infrastructure whilst evolving their own value propositions to align with new consumption models.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will also bring continued growth opportunities in areas such as AI, IoT, 3D printing and autonomous vehicles (e-mobility).

by AS

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New partnership launched to improve IT analytics

Imperial begins Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with CONTEXT and Innovate UK to develop predictive analytics capabilities for the IT industry.

Imperial’s Mathematics Department is proud to announce their latest partnership with CONTEXT, a leading global IT market research and business intelligence provider, which will produce an industry leading predictive analytics platform.

The project is co-funded by Innovate UK and CONTEXT, through a KTP framework that is proven to produce benefits for the UK economy and to both partners.

The IT market research industry has limited capacity to produce accurate sales demand forecasts and future market performance indicators due to the volatility and complexity of the industry, as well as a lack of data.

As a result, currently available performance forecasts are heavily influenced by individual analysts’ inputs and educated estimations, leading to high levels of inaccuracy when comparing initial forecasts to actual sales performances historically.

The new partnership will work to create a more formal forecasting methodology.

Bringing CONTEXT to Imperial

CONTEXT, which manages the largest database of IT hardware transactional sales and pricing information in the world, hosts one of the few viable datasets that can provide the building blocks for a formal forecasting methodology. They are now investing heavily in new analytics and BI capabilities, which brought them to Imperial with this specific challenge to solve.

Beginning on 1 December 2018, the two-year project to build a flexible forecasting platform will be led by Dr Yang Zhang, an experienced associate researcher who has held hybrid industry-academic posts at Nottingham University. Dr Zhang’s experience and drive to apply novel research to real-world applications is set to drive the project to become an academic and commercial success.

Throughout the project she will also host regular ‘Forecasting Research Group’ meetings, which will bring together some of the brightest analysts in the industry who tackle the issue of accurate forecasting availability on a monthly basis. Together, they will steer the development of the platform, to ensure commercial feasibility and application.

Benefitting research and the economy

The academic supervision and leadership for the project will be provided by Professor Niall Adams and Dr Din-Houn Lau of Imperial’s Mathematics Department.

Dr Lau was previously funded as a postdoctoral researcher by Innovate UK, so is perfectly placed to undertake the role of Knowledge Base Supervisor for the project. He is now a Group Leader in the Data-Centric Engineering programme led by the Alan Turing Institute. Professor Adams is Head of the Statistics section at Imperial and has extensive industrial collaborations across a variety of sectors/sizes, including cyber-security, banking, startups and UK government.

The Mathematics Department expects that this project will result in a valuable impact case study for a future Research Excellence Framework exercise. Further collaborative work with CONTEXT and the Forecasting Research Group may also develop, along with new Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.

This is a fantastic opportunity to advance this field of research further, whilst simultaneously benefitting the UK economy.

Guest blog by Mr Thom Brain, Department of Mathematics, Imperial College

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Artificial Intelligence 2019 – The year of data

The era of big data with a simultaneous increase in computing power in recent years has propelled us to faster and greater analysis through Artificial Intelligence (AI). The year 2019 will see this trend continue especially given the expansion of data collection through streams such as IoT.

There are four trends which shed a light on the current BBC forecast of “the year of data”, namely, data storytelling, AI development, cloud computing and hardware trends. We also saw the start in 2018 of a potential change in the use of mobile computing for AI. Continue reading

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CES is Back and Stirring Up More Excitement in the Smart Home Space

It’s CES time again. The world’s biggest consumer electronics show will this week welcome an estimated 180,000 visitors, with over 4,400 exhibitors filling nearly three million square feet around Las Vegas with the latest innovations. Turning 52 this year, the event is showing no signs of slowing down in its middle age. Rather, it continues to be one of the biggest events in the tech calendar and a useful place for crystal ball-gazers to gauge where the industry is headed.

This year smart devices once again dominated, especially home systems integrating AI-power voice assistants and apps. From the quirky to the more traditional and everything in between, here’s a round-up of some of the highlights.

Smart home

A sign of the smart home’s growing position at the mainstream of the consumer technology space is the sheer range of gadgets on offer at CES. Many of these, like the Currant smart wall outlet, the C by GE smart lighting range and Onelink Bell smart doorbell integrate voice assistant tech from the key players like Google and Amazon. Some include robotic technology, such as the Temi personal butler which now has Alexa support, and the FoldiMate laundry folding machine.

Smart toilets come this year in a surprisingly large number of varieties, including Kohler’s Numi 2.0 Intelligent Toilet featuring Alexa integration. Their pet equivalents were also in attendance, courtesy of Inubox (dogs) and LavvieBot (cats). In fact, the pet theme continued to CES innovation award winner Mookkie, a device which uses AI to identify individual animals in order to dispense food intelligently.

IoT everywhere

The Internet of Things (IoT) is all pervasive at this year’s CES. If not manifest in smart home devices, it can be found in wearables like smart nappy monitors which detect when the wearer needs changing, and smart belts which track the user’s waistline, gait and walking speed. An AI-powered wearable camera captures contact details and promises the wearer will “never forget a face again”, while the Urgonight headband claims to help train the brain to sleep better.

Connected cars have also made major impact again this year, notably the electric M-Byte from Chinese startup Byton. Not to be outdone, Mercedes showed off its 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, Nissan debuted its Leaf e+ vehicle, Honda showcased its DreamDrive infotainment system and Qualcomm its AI-powered car “cockpit” platform.

A new spin

Although the smart home and IoT gadgets have garnered a great deal of attention on day one of the show, there were other notable appearances highlighting continued innovation in the consumer tech space. These included bendable smartphone the Royale FlexPai, which seems to have beaten Samsung to the punch in launching first.

Other new takes on established technology included a solar-powered smart watch. In the smart TV space, LG’s 8K OLED model has a screen which doubles as a giant speaker, while the same firm’s 65-inch Signature OLED TV R is a slick, rollable model which it is claimed will “liberate users from the limitations of the wall.”

By AS

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Filed under Market Analysis, Smart Home, Smart Technology

Displays: a glimpse into 2019

Desktop monitor sales are expected to continue growing in 2019, although not as strongly as over this year.

Business-targeted monitors may still benefit from the PC refreshes that are accompanying the ongoing transition to Windows 10. Moreover, as many companies move towards creating more productive and flexible workspaces, they are looking for ergonomic devices and this should spur sales of monitors with adjustable stands, high resolution and ultra-wide screens, but also thin bezel monitors allowing dual screen setups.

Many vendors still have consumer monitors on their radar, especially high-end and gaming monitors. Esports are projected to rise to double digits in 2019 and, with variety of revenue streams in this still-nascent market, there is significant room to grow. Indeed, announcements from some vendors this year suggest we will see more ultra-large monitors designed specifically for gamers and an increasing number of 27-inch-plus and ultra-wide screens. Even if this focus on premium monitors results in an overall decline in volume sales, revenues should remain relatively stable.

Large-format Displays (LFDs)
In 2019, digital signage and collaboration will continue to drive sales of commercial large format displays (LFDs). This product category is still growing because it remains innovative: every year vendors and customers find new ways of utilising digital signage to improve customer experience, speed up service, track and target demand or simply improve productivity. In the coming year, we should see a shift in focus from hardware and display features towards personalisation and new applications. Vendors will offer customers fewer off-the-shelf products and more full solutions that include LFDs with additional business-ready functionalities and models with embedded operating systems and Wi-Fi which offer more operational flexibility. However, such technologies and capabilities will elevate some risks, especially where displays collect customer data, so vendors will also focus on enhancing data security in 2019.

The increasingly mobile workforce, which is driving trends in the desktop-monitors market, is also likely to lead to increased demand for interactive LFDs designed for collaboration hubs in corporate environments. Fully integrated solutions will help to transform the workplace and engage employees by enabling seamless connected collaboration.

Finally, another set of products which vendors will continue to promote are the direct-view LEDs used in outdoor and large venues. These panels allow customers to build videowalls for spaces of almost any dimension, shape or curve and have no signage-installation limits. Costs are high but the many advantages direct-view LEDs bring mean we should see slow but definite growth in this category.

by DK

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New for the IT channel in 2019: a look ahead with CONTEXT industry predictions

It’s been another fascinating year in the IT channel, and one characterised to a large extent by stability and reseller optimism. Distribution revenue was up 5.7% year-on-year in the nine months to 30th September, 2018, and the number of resellers partnered with distributors on the CONTEXT panel changed little from last year, with an increase in average spend per reseller. What’s more, in our ChannelWatch survey we recorded only four countries less positive about the next 12 months than when the survey was performed a year ago.

So, what can we expect of the year ahead? We asked our expert market watchers in three key categories. Continue reading

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