Westcoast’s partners sell 250,000 UK CSP seats

depositphotos_4633360-stock-photo-lots-of-wooden-chairsWestcoast has announced that its UK partners have flogged more than a 250,000 CSP seats.

Mark Davies, Westcoast’s Cloud services director, said: “Business is absolutely booming for Westcoast and its CSP partners. We’ve come a long, long way in two short years. Despite the fact we started selling cloud services after most of our competitors, we were the first distributor to pass 100,000 seats and now we’ve accelerated away to reach another big milestone ahead of anybody else in the UK.

“Our strategy of pursuing deep engagement with selected partners that are focused on properly activating and supporting their end-customers is really paying dividends.”

Davies added: “At Westcoast we believe that when it comes to cloud service provision – service delivery is everything. We work closely with our partners to make sure they fully understand how to sell services and how we add additional value around what they do.”

Angela Evans, Office Business Group lead at Microsoft UK, said it was all a product of the digital transformation made possible by advances in cloud computing, the proliferation of apps and devices, and the ability to interpret more data to make better decisions.

“It’s great to see Westcoast break through another significant milestone, reaching 250,000 cloud seats, further testimony to the unprecedented growth we are witnessing.”

Westcoast’s cloud education initiatives have helped to invigorate CSP in the channel.Now the company plans to introduce a five-star enablement programme for its partners which will give resellers an opportunity to benefit from tailored and extended support and extra levels of engagement.


PC sales hit by component shortages

e21f00fd35d518495a603ad37c3dfdd4The industry’s major suppliers have been hit by component shortages which will bedevil the industry for at least another year.

Beancounters at Gartner have been adding up numbers and dividing by their shoe size and reached the conclusion that a scarcity of DRAM components, has put a hole in the PC profits of major vendors including Dell EMC.

Things got worse in the third quarter of 2017 when compared with the first half of the year.

Big G principle number cruncher Mika Kitagawa said: “The component price hike affected the consumer PC market as most vendors generally pass the price hike on to consumers, rather than absorbing the cost themselves.”

“We expect the DRAM shortage to continue to the end of 2018, but it will not be reflected in the final PC prices immediately.”

Worldwide PC shipments reached 67 million units in the third quarter of 2017, 2.6 percent down on the corresponding quarter last year, marking the twelfth consecutive quarter of declining PC shipments, Gartner said..

Windows 10 upgrades continued to feed PC demand among business, Gartner said, but refresh cycles have varied from region to region.

“Business PC demand, led by Windows 10 upgrades, continued to drive PC shipments across all regions, but its refresh schedule varies by region. The countries with stable economies, such as the US, have created a positive sentiment among businesses, especially for SMBs, which are more vulnerable to external events such as economic or political [ones]”, said Kitagawa.

The PC market stabilised in EMEA, Japan and Latin America, but the US market experienced a 10 percent year-on-year decline after a “very weak” back-to-school sales season.


Dell to build IoT division

fings-ain-t-wot-they-used-t-be-all-star-studio-cast-recordingDell Technologies is going to spend a billion dollars to create a new division focused on the Internet of Things (IoT).

As you might expect, the division will focus on developing products, research and partnerships for a field that connects everything from driverless cars, talking fridges and light bulbs to the internet.

The cash will be spread over the next three years and it will employ artificial intelligence and machine learning technology.

Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Technologies said that IoT is fundamentally changing how people live and organisations operate.

“Dell Technologies is leading the way for our customers with a new distributed computing architecture that brings IoT and artificial intelligence together in one, interdependent ecosystem from the edge to the core to the cloud. The implications for our global society will be nothing short of profound.”

The company’s new IoT division will be led by VMware CTO Ray O’Farrell. The IoT solutions division will combine its internally developed technologies with various Dell Technologies offerings.

O’Farrell said: “Dell Technologies has long seen the opportunity within the rapidly growing world of IoT, given its rich history in the edge computing market.”

“Our new IoT division will use the strength across all of Dell Technologies’ family of businesses to ensure we deliver the right solution – in combination with our vast partner ecosystem – to meet customer needs and help them deploy integrated IoT systems with greater ease.”


Daisy might be up for sale

margarite-daisies-for-sale-at-fete-norfolk-england-b0xgj3The dark satanic rumour mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn that Daisy is gearing up to auction itself  for up to £1.5 billion.

The rumour was started by Sky News  which claimed the IT, telecoms and cloud provider is poised to appoint investment bankers in the “next few weeks” to handle a sale process that will start in the first half of 2018.

Daisy has grown rapidly from a sub-£100 million SMB telecoms supplier into a £700 million outfit. It did this though acquisitions of  Damovo, Phoenix IT and Alternative Networks.

Daisy Group is not saying anything about the sale. The official comment is that Daisy is a privately owned business and its management team’s focus is solely on continuing to build on its position as the UK’s largest independent provider of business communications, IT and cloud services.

However ownership has been an issue for the outfit since the firm was taken private by its founder Matthew Riley at the start of 2015.

RedstoneConnect getting mixed results


BHd68l8RedstoneConnect is changing its business model and seeing mixed results in its bottom line.

According to the outfit’s results, it significant revenue growth for its smart building software which was up 194 percent to £1.7 million; and managed services businesses, up 18 percent to £9.1 million, in the first six months of FY18.

While this is not bad it did not offset a 26 percent decline in turnover from its systems integration activity, down to £9.2 million from £12.5 million in the period.

Some of RedstoneConnect’s numbers are due to the timing of income from some of its larger contracts and so there is little sign that the company is in trouble.

In fact, chief executive Mark Braund is rubbing his paws expectantly seeing  designing infrastructure for smart buildings as a core part of the business.

Overall group revenue slipped three per cent year on year to £20m, with adjusted EBITDA up 12 per cent to £1 million. The company’s net loss widened to £867,000 from £485,000, with acquisition and integration costs associated with the Anders+Kern buy for £1.4 million in cash and the ongoing expenses related to the development of the software division taking their toll.

However, contracts for the deployment of in-building cellular (IBC) and distributed antennae system (DAS) infrastructure and services at two major London banks are set to boost its 2H18 and 1H19 turnover, while management remains confident that similar deals are in the pipeline.

Mark Braund, CEO of RedstoneConnect, said the firm has performed well in the first half of the year, with trading momentum weighted towards the second half.

“We continue to see good traction for our software solutions alongside our infrastructure and managed services capabilities, which is improving both the predictability and quality of our earnings”, he said.

“The integration of A+K is now complete and is contributing positively to the business, not only through the addition of services to the group, but also the diversification of our routes to market for our existing products and IP.

“Coupled with our continued investment in product development across our software solutions division, we anticipate the next 12 months will be an exciting time for RedstoneConnect.”




AI is hype and will not take jobs

mad-scientistResearch from Ricoh Europe has poured cold water on the belief that AI and automation will take channel jobs.

A survey showed that around a third of staff were not in a position to start working with more automation and AI tools.

Ricoh Europe’s VP of corporate marketing, Javier Diez-Aguirre, said that there was a great deal of hype in Europe around digital empowerment and its impact on productivity.

“While AI and automation will transform the way that we work, a lack of training will drastically reduce ROI. Businesses need to consider the person who will be using the new technology. No amount of infrastructure spending will help a business that isn’t encouraging its staff to develop the right skills”, he said.

Despite headlines about being replaced by robots, Europe’s workers see technology to do higher value work, not something that will replace them, he said.

Improving workers’ confidence to use new technology was not a catch-all situation.

“Successfully empowering digital workplaces requires different skillsets and a variety of needs must be catered for. Engaging with workers at every step is vital”,  Diez-Aguirre added.

If this is the case, resellers trying to pitch AI and automation to corporates do not have to mention that the tech will mean job losses – because it won’t.

Gloucestershire outfit invades Denmark

vikingLearning management and mobile learning solutions outfit Agylia, is keen to turn back the historical trend of Danes invading Britain and is expanding into Denmark.

The outfit is working with Roiit, digital learning strategists based in Denmark as part of its Agylia Reseller Partner Programme.

Through the partnership, Roiit can now provide organisations with its digital learning consultancy services, combined with the range of Agylia learning management and mobile learning solutions.

Peter Christian Andersen, Founder and Director of Roiit said: “Agylia provides the innovative learning solutions that are needed by organisations throughout Scandinavia. Being part of the Agylia Reseller Partner Programme will enable us to help our clients to modernise their digital learning strategies.”

The Agylia Learning Management System (LMS) is a mobile, flexible and global solution that provides organisations with a modern platform to manage and deliver their digital learning and performance support programmes. With the range of Agylia mobile learning Apps – for iOS and Android devices – learners can download the digital learning and support materials they need, ready for access at the point of need on their own mobile devices – even while offline.

Available in any language, including Danish, the Agylia LMS and mobile learning Apps deliver learning experiences in a learner’s local language – increasing adoption of learning programmes.

Tim Buff, CEO and Chief Learning Strategist at Agylia said the partnership offers a great blend of Agylia’s next generation digital learning solutions and Roiit’s digital learning consultancy services and extensive knowledge of the learning environment and market in Scandinavia.

“We’ve already worked with Roiit to implement the Agylia LMS at a specialist care organisation in Denmark and we look forward to working together to make a real difference to clients in the region”, Buff said.


GNR looks at home security market with HikVision

securityGNR has signed an exclusive partnership with HiWatch’s video surveillance supplier HikVision.

HiWatch products are designed specifically for semi-professional or amateur installers and home users and are not available for the professional CCTV distributors or installers. Its products, it claims,  meet the growing demand for quality home security solutions without an expensive installation and setup cost.

Over the past several years HikVision been targeting various vertical markets, including public security, transportation, education, healthcare, financial institutions, and energy, as well as intelligent buildings. Now it things the world is ready for quality home security products.

As the exclusive distributor of HiWatch in the UK, GNR Tech will manage the launch of the brand into the channel and build a qualified database of accredited resellers to ensure disciplined pricing in order to achieve attractive margins for its resellers.

Dave Stevinson, managing director of GNR Tech said he was impressed with the HikVision product range, business model and market strategy.

“The accredited reseller initiative will offer fantastic value add to our resellers enabling attractive margin opportunities,” stated. “The exclusive partnership with HikVision cements our foothold within the video surveillance market, and are very optimistic of the growth of the brand.”

Jenkin Dai of HiWatch added: “The partnership with GNR is great news for HiWatch by HikVision. The distinctive feature of HiWatch is the combination of competitive price and high quality components. This offers resellers a unique opportunity to buy specifically designed products that are a cost effective and quality alternative to existing video surveillance brands.”

VIP spruces up MSI partnership

13-130-918-09 VIP has announced additions to its ongoing partnership with leading gaming brand MSI, adding motherboards and graphics cards to its existing portfolio.

VIP has been partnered with MSI Notebooks for several years, and views the addition of Motherboards and VGA as a natural progression of that relationship. MSI’s aim is to become “the most trusted name in gaming and eSports” and with dedication to innovation as well as amateur and professional gaming.

Darren Jackson, Components Business Manager at VIP UK said: “We are very impressed with MSI’s product range and their exceptionally driven market strategy and growth plans. MSI enhances our Motherboard and VGA ranges and enables us to deliver the UK’s broadest portfolio for PC enthusiasts and gamers.”

MSI UK commented: “We are pleased and proud to announce VIP UK as an Authorised MSI Distributor. We are convinced that VIP UK’s professionalism and business expertise will be fruitful for both businesses as we work hand in hand to reach new heights.”

MSI’s motherboards and graphics cards are available from VIP UK now.

UK good and battling zombies

i-walked-with-a-zombie-from-left-everettThe UK is rather good at dealing with zombie firms, according to a recent report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

For those who came in late, zombie companies are defined as struggling companies aged over 10 years which cannot cover debt interest payments with their profits for three straight years. They redirect investment away from innovative rivals, push up wages, and undermine productivity, according to the report, which added that an economy’s insolvency framework is a key factor in reducing zombie numbers and investment.

According to the report, which was flagged up by UK insolvency trade body R3, the share of zombies as a percentage of the wider business population in eight OECD countries (Belgium, Finland, France, Italy, Korea, Spain, Sweden and the UK) rose from about three to about five percent between 2003 and 2013.

The UK’s insolvency and restructuring framework is more effective than those in all other OECD members at preventing a build-up of zombie companies, the report found.

The UK “personal costs associated with entrepreneurial failure and barriers to restructuring are low, while there is also a number of provisions to aid prevention and streamlining”, notes the report.

R3 deputy vice-president Duncan Swift said: “Zombie companies are a big part of the productivity puzzle plaguing Western economies, so it’s encouraging the UK’s insolvency and restructuring framework is recognised as the best positioned to tackle problems caused by these unproductive companies.

“The insolvency and restructuring framework is a fundamental pillar of any economy. It makes sure resources – whether investment, people, or ideas – are being used productively and aren’t stuck in stagnating companies. The profession’s work keeps an economy competitive, helps new businesses thrive, and helps older companies adapt.”

Canalys thinks that things are getting very indirect

directListening to Canalys CEO Steve Brazier bang on in Venice you can’t help but think that the direct model is going to die a death.

Talking to the annual conference over cheese on a stick and drinkies Brazier said that channel partners are doing well and the European economy is looking better that it has done for the last ten years.

He said that there were more opportunities for the channel now than there have ever been.

This year, over the first half, distributors grew 4 to 5 percent and channel partners improved by seven percent on average.

Brazier, at the Channels Forum event, spoke of the way vertical markets, from retail, transport, health and public sector, were all “embracing” digital technology and using the channel to roll out those services.

The move towards edge computing is also driving a lot of growth and Brazier expected a growth in ‘micro clouds’ as resellers provided services closer to user data and applications.

There was also a mention of security, with that segment enjoying the strongest growth as a result of the increasing threats and factors like GDPR driving spending across Europe.

However the wholesale move towards becoming a predominately software and services business is probably going to be as grim as the life expectancy of a wedding guest in the Game of Thrones.

“This has been the year where the vendors have been preaching digital transformation to you. They are not only trying to talk to you about selling more stuff, they are trying to battle for your thought leadership in where you will take your thoughts forwards,” Brazier said.

“I’m sure you have been told you need to change the way you engage with customers and invest more in digital marketing and retrain your sales force,” he added.

Brazier warned that listening to the vendors, which had their own agendas, could undermine the future strategy.

“Should a partner that’s reselling infrastructure, PCs and software should they change? Probably yes,” he said.

Canalys is predicting that hardware will still contribute over 50 percent of revenues for 90 percent of partners in 2020.

“Whoever told you selling hardware was dead is completely wrong. The PC is suddenly the most profitable part of your business again”, said Brazier.

Knowcross gets HostPMS

ghjug5k4pobbkfuojffkHospitality operations industry software outfit Knowcross has announced  its integration with HostPMS, a property management software (PMS) provider. It’s nothing to do with hot cross buns.

The partnership will mean that there will be a seamless integration between the Knowcross platform and HostPMS.

Nikhil Nath, Founder and CEO of Knowcross, said that Knowcross increases  staff productivity and therefore profitability. By integrating with a “leading system” such as HostPMS will only help the outfit offer its solutions to many more customers.

This integration allows for a seamless flow of guest information from the HostPMS system to Knowcross applications. The processed information is then used by hotel staff to improve their guest service and hence achieve higher standards of guest satisfaction.

Pierre Santos, CEO Host Hotel Systems said he was looking forward to having partners that aim to improve hoteliers’ life .

“Knowcross is one of them, with our HostPMS and Knowcross solutions, hoteliers will have their life simplified and now hotels can focus on improving their service and performance”, he said.

The Knowcross-HostPMS interface enables Knowcross applications and HostPMS to be fully synchronized allowing for room updates from KNOW Housekeeping to reflect directly in the HostPMS. This also helps reduce minibar losses as the hotel staff can post minibar consumption directly from the Knowcross App to the guest folio in HostPMS.

Channel consolidation causes headaches for resellers

Woodridge, IL, USA --- Great White Shark Opening Mouth --- Image by © Denis Scott/Corbis

Woodridge, IL, USA — Great White Shark Opening Mouth — Image by © Denis Scott/Corbis

Channel consolidation has stepped up and leading resellers are worried about pricing and procurement costs.

The latest CONTEXT ChannelWatch Survey, which profiles the views, activities and intentions of 7,500 global resellers, revealed that over 30 major distributor M&A deals have taken place in Western Europe in the past 18 months.

Across 20 EMEA countries there was a three percent year-on-year reduction of active resellers in the 90 day period in March to May 2017, according to CONTEXT’s Reseller Count Metrics tracking.

The report warns that if this carries on the reseller landscape will soon be unrecognisable.

The average number of distributors which resellers are buying from has also dropped from the five to 10 range in the last report period to just two to three this year, partly driven by the rise in purchases from retailers, according to CONTEXT.

Many more distributors have ceased trading altogether across the globe, while those that survive are being forced to move away from box-shifting towards holistic strategies focused on services and solutions.

Where margins used to reach double figures, half a percentage point now matters and this increases the importance of controlling costs, having well-oiled logistics, and looking for new, higher-margin opportunities, the report claims.

CONTEXT global managing director Adam Simon said that most consolidation has occurred in the long tail of smaller players and those in consumer channels, but larger resellers and retailers are merging too.

“This activity can also be viewed in the context of increasing reseller churn, especially associated with transitioning business models linked to cloud adoption.

“The main concerns of resellers are focused around rising pricing and procurement costs, which many believe will be the natural outcome of a consolidating market”, Simon added.

Redcentric gets new CEO

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAlZAAAAJDcxNTljYjRmLTE0N2EtNDhiMi04YWMwLTBlMTY0MTE4NDk3OQTroubled reseller Redcentric has hired a troubleshooter to help pull its nadgers out of the fire.

Chris Jagusz has been appointed chief executive of Redcentric and given the task of turning around the reseller’s fortunes.

For those who came in late, in 2016, the discovery of “misstated accounting balances” in Redcentric’s balance sheet prompted the firm to begin a forensic review and spanked the firm’s bottom line.

Jagusz, who has senior experience at Azzurri Communications, SSE Telecoms, Daisy and BT going back to 1988, will look to get the firm back to its previous industry form.

The job is a bit of a poisoned chalice. Redcentric’s will have to return to profit while minimising any reputational damage from ongoing Financial Conduct Authority and Financial Reporting Council investigations.

Chris Cole, Redcentric’s chairman, said: “We are delighted to be able to announce the appointment of Chris as chief executive. He has an outstanding record of accomplishment in telecoms and as a business leader.  The board is confident he is the right person to take Redcentric forward.”

Redcentric also stated that its performance for the six months to 30 September has been “in line with management expectations”. It said substantial progress has been made with reducing the net debt position to £33.3million, which is ahead of management’s expectations. This due to “strong operating cashflows reflecting improved trade debtor collections and working capital management.”


Online retailers embrace AI

mad-scientistMany online retailers plan to embrace AI to enhance customer experience according to a new report published by SLI Systems.

The report said that many have concrete AI plans for the next 12 months, even if  VR/AR, Voice-Activated Apps and Virtual Buying Assistants remain elusive.

In its third quarterly 2017 E-commerce Performance Indicators and Confidence Report, which reflects survey findings from hundreds of mid-size retailers worldwide, SLI Systems found UK-based respondents lead the pack when it comes to plans for Technology Implementation, Artificial Intelligence use and 2017 Holiday revenue forecasts.

However, 26 percent see their fulfilment Costs Per Order increasing this quarter compared to the same quarter in 2016, potentially hindering profits.

Worldwide, 54 percent of e-commerce professionals reported their company uses or plans to add AI in the future, with the largest group (20 percent) expecting to add AI within 12 months.

Among regions, e-commerce merchants in the UK report the most aggressive plans for implementing AI with 33 percent expecting to use AI within the next year, compared to the 17 percent in the U.S. and 15 percent in Australia and New Zealand .

In addition, 14 percent of UK retailers are already using AI in some fashion, making AI a reality for nearly half of UK retailers within a year.

More than 84 percent of UK retailers expect Site Conversion to increase in Q3, compared to Q3 2016.

More than 86 percent of UK-based respondents expect an increase in Mobile / Tablet Transactions in Q3 2017, compared to the global average of 71 percent.

More than 22 percent of UK-based respondents view Personalisation as their number one Q3 priority, with Replatforming a distant second (12 percent). In comparison, retailers in the US and AU-NZ regions rank Replatforming as their top initiative for the quarter.

67 percent of UK merchants surveyed plan to purchase or implement new technologies in Q3 compared to 48 percent in Q2 – a near twenty-point increase.