Tag Archives: Market intelligence

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.

DISTREE

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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Filed under Enterprise IT, IT Distribution, Market Analysis, PCs, Retail, Supply Chain

Channel Predictions for 2018: Cloud, virtualisation and security

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

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Sam Routledge, Softcat


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.

AbdelBennour

Abdel Bennour, Ingram Micro

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.

 

 

 

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Filed under Enterprise IT, Market Analysis, Retail

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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Filed under IT Distribution, Market Analysis

Channel Predictions for 2018: A global PC Manufacturer speaks about digital transformation

In order to start the year, CONTEXT has asked senior executives from across the Channel globally to state their predictions for 2018. Today’s post is by Ralf Jordan, Head of Distribution in EMEA for Dell

RalfJordanIn 2018 the world will take another step forward in its Digital Transformation. The IT industry will continue to play a pivotal role helping organisations reinvent themselves to realise their digital future. We see three transformations underpinning this – IT; Workforce; and Security. IT centres on helping customers modernise their infrastructure; Workforce focuses on connecting people anytime, anywhere; and Security aims to protect organisations from the one million cyber attacks every day. 2018 can be the year of change and with change comes rich opportunities as industries are transformed, human progress is accelerated and lives are changed.

To see all of Dell EMC predictions for 2018, take a look to the following article: Dell Technologies 2018 Predictions – Entering the Next Era of Human Machine Partnerships

My personal ‘New Year resolution’ is to ‘Learn something new every single day of the Year’. I subscribed to a couple of industry and non-industry newsletters and Vlogs and will dedicate at least five minutes a day on something new. The willingness and ability to learn is in my mind the most critical success factor to succeed not only in our IT industry but in life in general.

 

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Filed under IT Distribution, Market Analysis, Security

Will the rapidly falling price of VR lead to mass adoption?

One of the biggest stories for VR in 2017 has been the significant reduction in price for VR headsets. Possibly spurred on by Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality headsets attempt to undercut the Rift, Oculus dropped the price of its headset with touch controllers from $600 to $400 for its “Summer of Rift” campaign. This is much closer to the initial price point that Oculus’s founder Palmer Luckey suggested the commercial headset would retail for and results so far indicate that units have been flying as a result. With CONTEXT’s 2017 VR Research Group survey indicating that the cost of the headset is still a major deterrent for 45.4% of respondents, 38.1% of gamers would spend $400 or more on a VR headset, compared to only 11% willing to spend over $600.

The other major barriers with regards to cost are those associated with buying a PC powerful enough to run VR games to an acceptable level. Road To VR reports that Wallmart will be selling a comfortably “VR Ready” HP Pavilion Power Desktop with GTX 1060 graphics card for $500 as a part of their Black Friday promotions. For the first time it will be possible to buy a fully VR capable solution with PC and headset for under $1,000 which is considered a sweet spot for gamers and a long way below the $2,500 figure widely acknowledges to be the minimum investment for VR only a couple of short years ago.

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On the console front as well, a PS4 and PSVR was available for $200 from selected retailers on Black Friday, down from $399 normally. Combined with a strong line up of PSVR exclusives, this may enable Sony to maintain or even grow their already substantial lead in the high-end tethered VR headset market.

The question remains as to whether these price drops will be enough to drive mass adoption in Q4. While it is likely that the install base will benefit dramatically from falling prices, which will be encouraging to developers and others with a stake in the industry, there are still a few barriers to VR hitting its inflection point.

Interest in VR among non gamers is growing, but not nearly as quickly as some had hoped. While there are undoubtedly many uses for VR both seriously and as a general entertainment medium, it is clearly gamers who show the strongest interest in the technology for now. Only 4.8% of UK gamers think VR is a gimmick compared to 30.2% of non-gamers (down from 48.3% last year) suggesting that this demographic will be the easiest to target in the short term.

Still, while the potential for gaming in VR is widely acknowledged, many gamers are still waiting for the technology to improve. 61.9% would like to see higher resolution headsets, 74.5% would like to see “better quality content overall” and 51.3% said “one really exciting big budget game” would increase their interest in buying a VR headset.

Will Q4 see the stars align for VR to start seeing significant market penetration and finally create the virtuous cycle required to fuel this exciting new industry? Only time will tell, but here at CONTEXT, we’ll be watching the data come through with bated breath for the first signs of that mythical inflection point.

by BB

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Filed under Retail, virtual reality

Sleeping with the enemy … or strategic collaboration?

By Chris Petersen and Adam Simon

One of the epic battles in the history of retail is the escalating war between the behemoths Walmart and Amazon. While Amazon’s total sales still lag behind those of Walmart’s, the annual double-digit growth of Amazon puts it on a trajectory to surpass the world’s largest retailer. However, the sleeping giant has awoken! Walmart is now creating new levels of innovation online, with click and collect and automated customer convenience at check out.   The rapid innovation and growth of these giants is certainly not great news for the rest of retail. Have we reached the age of “if you can’t beat them, join them”? Many retailers and brands are seeing opportunities in choosing a side. Are there any other alternatives left?

The retail goliath’s all-out war for customers via “marketplace partners”
In the battle of Amazon versus Walmart, it is no longer a war of ecommerce versus stores. Competing in today’s marketplace for omnichannel consumers requires massive infrastructure, systems, and logistics for the last mile all the way to the customer’s door. It also requires a vast assortment of products, including the most popular brands.

Increasingly, both Amazon and Walmart are searching for unique brands and products that differentiate, and attract customers to their ecosystem. For many brands, and even retailers, the choice seems to be that it is easier to partner with a giant rather than try to beat them.

Will those jumping in bed with Amazon see a “Prime” Future?
Amazon is so much more than a “retailer” – it is become an ecosystem of ecommerce, distribution and even building devices. A huge part of that ecosystem is the “Prime”, which fuels repeat visits and growth from Amazon’s most profitable customers. To attract Prime members, Amazon needs prime brands and offerings.

Best Buy electronics has recently “teamed up” with Amazon for voice shopping via Alexa in order to tap into Amazon prime customers and traffic. Kohl’s department stores has gone even further by opening Amazon product sections in their stores, and new processing for Amazon returns to Kohl’s stores.

From Nike collaborating on curated Amazon assortments, to Calvin Klein collaborating on pop-up stores with Amazon, both brands and retailers are strategically collaborating in new ways to tap into Amazon’s ecosystem and traffic. Amazon wins with prime products and new offerings.

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Walmart is rapidly recruiting its own coalition of brands and retailers
Walmart is no longer just playing catchup. They have leapfrogged Amazon in a number of areas, especially in click and collect. They also recognize the importance of assortment breadth and premier brands. In addition to purchasing millennial appealing brands like Bonobos and Moosejaw, Walmart is also focusing on curating premium brands and products. Who would have imagined that Walmart would now be collaborating with Lord & Taylor! As department stores struggle, Walmart offers a potential for Lord & Taylor to reach the masses, and at the same time, Walmart brings cache products to Walmart.com.

While Amazon may have Alexa, Walmart has aggressively collaborated with Google in voice shopping. Each giant is now literally matching each other blow by blow. Where does that leave the rest of retailers and consumer brands?

The upside of strategic collaboration with one of the giants
Simply put, omnichannel is not rapidly scaling throughout the rest of retail for many reasons.   The retailer conundrum is that if they make the extensive investments to expand online and home delivery, they starve their stores of much needed investment required to differentiate customer experience. Strategic collaboration with Amazon or Walmart offers many benefits: immediate turnkey access to ecosystems with massive traffic, no major capital investments for distribution and home delivery, reduced risk and costs. There are many upsides in reaching the masses to grow revenue by collaborating Amazon or Walmart, at least short term.

What is the downside of sleeping with an elephant?
There is a huge danger of “selling your soul” in order to survive in the short term, especially if you are a retailer. Whether it is collaborating with Amazon or Walmart, both brands and retailers must constantly evaluate:

  • Can we curate a “marketplace assortment” that sells online, without giving away our core value propositions that bring customers to our brand and stores?
  • If Amazon and Walmart own the interface of the sale, how do we engage customers?
  • How can we remain relevant to customers by offering better solutions and services?
  • What can we do better that the giants do not already do for customers?

With their vast infrastructure, systems, data and analytics Amazon and Walmart have the “big data” to leverage the most profitable products and customer segments for their gain. Are there any alternatives for the rest of retail?

Collaborating on data as the new currency for Customer Experience (CX)
The bottom line: retail is not dead. It is mediocre retailing focused on product and price that is dying! If it is only about products at a price, that is the forte of Walmart and Amazon and they are winning hands down.

The future for the rest of retail lies in creating relevance beyond products, price and promotions. Data is the new currency for strategic collaboration to differentiate value. Not just any data. The new strategic currency is “rich data” about how to establish the power of CX – Customer experience.

The most powerful untapped “gold” is the behavior of customers: before, during and after the sale. Beyond the giants, the innovative retailers, brands and distributors are strategically collaborating to create alternatives focused on how to engage customers throughout their journey, and how to deliver “knock your socks off” services that bring them back for more.

The alterative to “sleeping with the “enemy” requires both consumer brands and retailers to change the past paradigms of negotiating solely on products and price. The future of retail success lies in collaborating to create customer relationships, not the products sold.

Chris Petersen and Adam Simon are collaborating on a series of blogs that explore the rise of strategic collaboration and new customer centric ecosystems. This blog series will culminate with a worldwide panel discussion at the ContextWorld CES CEO Breakfast, where a global Brand, Distributor and Retailer will share their perspectives on strategic collaboration.

If you are interested in more information on this CES event, contact tgibbons@contextworld.com.

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Filed under Market Analysis, omnichannel, Retail