At CONTEXT we’re constantly striving to bring insight and actionable market intelligence to the IT channel. Over the past three decades that central mission has seen us expand into 16 Western European countries, and even further afield: to Russia, Dubai, Japan and Brazil. We’re delighted to be taking the next step of our journey in South America by launching the first ever distributor panel in Argentina. It’s been a tough year for the channel there so far, but this is an opportune moment to offer CONTEXT’s unique market analysis, so that channel organisations can make crucial business decisions with greater confidence going forward. Continue reading
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The Internet of Things (IoT) does not represent the future of IT: it’s already here. From factories to hospitals, traffic systems and connected cars to the smart home, IoT devices and systems are deeply embedded into the world around us. It’s estimated there will be over 30 billion of these connected “things” in the world by 2020. But an escalation in real-world attacks against consumer-grade devices has prompted new warnings about security gaps.
Channel players should keep a close eye on developments. There are already opportunities here to add value for partners and end users by promoting IoT security. These will only increase as the risks from insecure devices go mainstream. Continue reading
Radio was cutting edge technology almost a century ago, and the Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (IFA), or Berlin International Radio Show, can truly claim to be “a partner to the future” having been a showcase for new technologies since 1924. The week-long event is still drawing in the crowds, and it’s estimated that this year’s IFA will welcome more than 1,800 exhibitors and 250,000 visitors when the doors open on 31st August— many of them industry professionals looking to build out their networks and scout for the latest technology innovations.
Relative newcomers to the technology show scene CES and MWC may have stolen some of the new products thunder earlier in the year, but this venerable exhibition still has the capacity to surprise, and provide a tantalising snapshot into the cutting edge of consumer technology. Continue reading
On 18th July a new forum for the channel in Italy called #DISTRICT was inaugurated in the trendy and recently renovated tech district of Milan – the initiator was G11 Media and Channel City, who invited CONTEXT to present our reseller and channel research and use the occasion to announce the distributor of the year awards for 2018.
Italy is the country, from our recent research, where resellers most like coming together at events. So in the Italian business culture it is clearly important for people to engage with each other, and keep up to date with the latest trends. The brains behind this new format, Marco Maria Lorusso, made it clear that the topics would be current, relevant, presented by experts, short in duration and long on exchange.
With that as the set-up, there was a clear hunger at the evening’s session to learn about what resellers are thinking through the results of the ChannelWatch survey. Italy is a model of engagement between distributors and resellers – it is the major European country where the participating distributors managed to achieve the highest number of reseller responses to the ChannelWatch survey – an impressive 1,610 responses. The distributors emphasised their interest in resellers expressing their voice. In a world as fragmented as the reseller community, it is important to have such opportunities, and in CONTEXT we are keen to develop the involvement of both distributor and reseller communities in all countries in this process of articulating what resellers are doing and thinking.
The results of the survey have been sent to the Italian distributors who participated in the survey – without their support it would not be possible to gain such powerful traction in the market, and we are grateful to them for this. The full ChannelWatch report will be published in early September and will be available for sale to all those interested in using this process to understand and engage with resellers in the technology industry.
Here is a link to the keynote given by Adam Simon, Global Managing Director of CONTEXT, at the evening on 18th July for those who want to have a sneak preview of the results!
The smart home is gaining momentum across Europe, but there’s still much to do. That’s why the work of the Smart Homes & Buildings Association (SH&BA) is so important. We provide a place for business to showcase their systems, devices, products and services, and a much-needed forum for all smart home stakeholders to share their experiences and discuss ways to overcome the hurdles facing us.
At the heart of these challenges lies interoperability, which to an extent is still proving a stubborn barrier to the kind of integrated smart home experience we all want to see.
A unified experience
At our fourth bi-annual retail and manufacturer panel meeting recently, stakeholders from across the smart home landscape converged on the offices of Avensys, where we were shown around the IoT specialist’s impressive facilities. The firm’s several showrooms, open to all members of the public, really demonstrate the potential in the smart home to change the way we live. The largest space combines kitchen, living-room, bathroom, dining-room and second living-room, each showing off different technologies but giving a sense of a unified smart home.
We agreed that a model which works together efficiently holds most potential for the mass market, rather than the kind of plug-and-play mix of individual products which meet very specific needs but can fail to resonate overall.
However, the problem still remains that many products don’t talk to each other, making the unified smart home experience a pipe dream for most consumers.
Starting from scratch
One cause for optimism for the future comes from the new build space. Mark Swift, founder of Home Hub installations, told us his firm has gone from cabling two houses per month to 200, and is about to sign a deal for 14,000 houses in the next year. Many of these are integrating the open SmartThings platform, promising a unified experience for the buildings once completed.
Partnerships are of course key to driving this vision of the integrated smart home. On a bigger scale, Amazon’s recent tie-up with Lennar Homes, the second largest housebuilder in the US, also offers grounds for optimism. We also heard how the IET is currently producing guidance for electricians on smart home installation, which will help drive progress in this space.
While interoperability is a big success factor for the smart home, there are others. Consumers also need to trust in the retailers and brands they’re investing in, and be assured that the tech they buy will last long into the future. As an industry, we also need to ensure that consumers are informed about the potential cyber-related risks associated with the smart home and how to manage them. SH&BA produced guidance around this in November 2015 and we’re looking to the industry to get proactive in this area.
Helping us to shape the future of the smart home going forward will be a new SH&BA initiative: the Smart Home Young Leaders’ Forum. This cross-industry group will seek to better understand the different ways that young professionals under 35 years of age who work in the smart home industry are engaging with technology in order to help companies transition from old to new smart home technologies. We’re looking forward to seeing what it can achieve, because the smart home will only succeed if we continue to build out these networks, partnerships and interconnections. The first meeting of the Young Leaders’ Forum will take place at IFA in Berlin on 3rd September at 4pm. All details can be found in the link to the event – To find out more click SH&BA YOUNG LEADERS’ FORUM @ IFA – REGISTRATION LINK
Earlier this year the United Nations predicted that by 2050, 68% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas. That’s up from a figure of 55% today and means an additional 2.5 billion people will migrate towards cities. To cope with the strain of this additional load and improve sustainability, economic development and quality of life, local governments are increasingly turning to technology.
These smart city initiatives are springing up all over the globe, but perhaps nowhere catches the eye more than Dubai, which appears to have the cash and the vision to transform itself via a series of standout projects.
A global race
All over the world, the race is on to use cloud, IoT, AI, big data analytics and other technologies to make public services smarter, more efficient and cheaper to run. From Amsterdam, London and Barcelona in Western Europe to the multitude of Asian cities in China, India, Japan and beyond receiving investment, there’s a true sense of international competition in this area. The Middle East is an increasingly important geography too, with Dubai leading the way.
The battle for investment revolves around two major factors: availability of funds to build infrastructure and the type of use cases proposed. Dubai has an advantage on both fronts. The Emirate government has been a generous supporter of its smart city initiatives since 2000, when the Dubai eGovernment agency was launched. Since then it’s changed its name twice, and is now known as Smart Dubai Gov (SDG). It’s also been able to build a roll-call of interesting projects.
Some of the most noteworthy initiatives include:
HR and recruitment apps: these include the Fajwa project which is looking at how AI can help government departments enhance their HR functions. A smart employee application, meanwhile, allows government staff to carry a range of HR tasks such as holiday requests via their smartphone. The Dubai Careers Platform looks to digitise recruitment for the government and job seekers across the city.
Digital backbone, digital wealth, Dubai IoT: begun in 2014, the digital backbone project now offers 300 open data sets which can be used to develop innovative smart city applications. The Digital Wealth Initiative and the Dubai Internet of Things Strategy were launched together last October. The former aims to manage over 120 smart city projects launched over the year and award Dubai Digital Certificates for outstanding achievements. The latter has the ambitious aim of creating the world’s most advanced IoT ecosystem.
Dubai paperless: aims to completely eliminate paper from government by 2021.
Dubai is far from the only global city looking to transform itself through technology. But the pace and ambition of its projects stand out. SDG director general, Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, claimed recently that the Emirate won 17 international and regional awards last year alone. At this rate, the next few years could be even bigger for the city-state.
Ask me why I am holding back from upgrading my 2012 15” MacBook Pro.
I need the power.
I need the capacity.
I want to lose the weight.
I really fancy the brighter, clearer screen.
I’m philosophical about losing my array of ports for a barrage of USB-C peepholes, but I can learn to live with that.
No, it’s because of MagSafe.
Yes I know this is a bit old hat, but watch Steve Jobs’ introduction of the new MacBook Pro at MacWorld in 2006. He strode across the stage, a smile all over his face, pausing dramatically and relishing each word as he spoke:
“Another cool, feature,” said Jobs. “We call it MagSafe. Now, how many of you have had your notebook go flying off its work surface when somebody caught your power adapter cable in their foot? Whether it’s your kid, your pet or your roommate, this is going to end that…. when the cord gets yanked, it pulls right off, it works beautifully.”
With MagSafe, Jobs summed up the Apple credo. Everything works. The user experience was king. So dropping MagSafe and reverting to allowing your notebook to “fly off its work surface” if your dog got tangled in the power cable is, frankly, confusing.
“For a company that preaches its focus on user-centred design, the removal of MagSafe was a curiously… courageous decision” wrote Ewan Spence in a June 2018 Forbes article describing how apparently Apple filed a 2016 patent that would have allowed MagSafe to be used with USB-C.
In the end I expect I will upgrade, but have to buy a wallet-full of adapters to remain compatible with my accessories investments. But it won’t be cool.
Steve, we miss you.