News in the Channel - issue #13


That was the year that was The past 12 months have been relatively stable economically, which means that resellers in the channel have been able to focus on business and the innovations bringing new opportunities in the sector, such as artificial intelligence.

And so 2023 draws to a close. For the first time in several years, it was one without a global economic shock such as pandemic or major invasion of a country, which is a relief for everyone – be they involved in the channel or not. What it has meant is relative economic stability – there have been no dramatic spikes in prices, or major shortages of products or materials, for instance, even though economic growth in the UK has been poor, just avoiding recession. This has meant that resellers have

been able to concentrate on what they are good at – selling products. There have been numerous trends over the year, from the continuing development of videoconferencing equipment and facilities, to the advancement of artificial intelligence and its increasing number of applications for businesses and the growing threat from cybercriminals. Over the following pages, various leaders in the sector give their opinions on the past 12 months and the major trends they have seen. at the start of the year to fully available now. Excess stock of devices at the start of the year has also diminished to sensible levels. One of the biggest service demands is the ‘downgrade’ from Windows 11 to 10 to ensure devices mirror with the existing end user OS. But here’s where the optimism comes in. Much of the above will lead to an increasingly strong 2024: l Windows 11 will be adopted and as such will drive refresh and service requirements l AI – more powerful devices will start shipping in the second half of 2024 and increased amounts of data storage will be required for the enormous data requirements l Comparatives will look better l More vendors will adopt a two-tier distribution model require an increasingly large/diverse ecosystem of channel partners – and we will have more things to sell l Return to the office and refurbishment of offices will drive print l Connectivity will continue to be huge driver with increased demands on the network and easier solutions (e.g. 5G) l Further consolidation among channel partners and distributors will create opportunities for Westcoast here in the UK and in EMEA. Plenty to be optimistic about in 2024!

Alex Tatham , executive director, Westcoast 2023 has been tough and I would

contend that it has not been a stable year economically with more than six interest rate rises, two wars, inflation, a cost of living crisis, a 6% rise in corporation tax – the only thing that it hasn’t had is a COVID lockdown. And, what is more, the latter gave the IT channel its biggest boost for 20 years – so it was inevitably going to be tough with comparatives in 2022 being so strong. I would also contend that AI has nowhere near come of age. I am afraid we are at the top of the hype curve and still at the ‘spotty teenager phase’ well before we come of age. Business has been considerably harder in many device-related categories but excellent in some others such as software, networking and connectivity and services. Customer demand has slowed this year – retail has been affected by the cost of living and commercial more by the scale down in headcount, tightening of budgets for new device rollouts and no big drivers of refresh. Cloud has performed well but many have made the transition already and are looking at managing their cloud costs more effectively. Customers too are changing from being VARs to MSPs and require different things from their distributors. On the other hand, availability of networking devices has gone from 26-week lead times

Alex Tatham


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