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Infowheels 2023 : page 26
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See the bigger picture
Safety first Cyberthreats to business are more numerous than ever before, which is why security is paramount, especially as more stealable information is stored by businesses than in previous times. But there are plenty of solutions available, and resellers need to be across these to provide the best possible service to customers.
Cybercriminals are increasing in number and sophistication. Look at any statistics on the subject and they all agree on one thing – threats to businesses from cybercriminals, be it phishing, ransomware, malware or any number of other ruses – are increasing and markedly so. With artificial intelligence becoming more accessible, these threats are evolving again and so the threats are likely to continue to increase in the future. Of course, IT security has been essential for businesses of all sizes for some time, but there is now an understanding that it is something that must always be prioritised – especially with increasing amounts of business being conducted online and in the cloud, more devices becoming networked and data being produced that needs to be stored. One increasingly popular method of ensuring that data is secure is data-protection- as-a-service (DPaaS). Data attacks can seriously impact a business, not just in terms of the cost of business lost and recovering the data, but also reputation. With attacks getting more sophisticated, it can be a lot for IT teams to keep up with – especially in SMEs – so outsourcing it to professionals makes sense. There is plenty for resellers to do to help customers to apply the right solution. See p40 for more. Similarly, resellers have an important role in advising customers when it comes to security for software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. SaaS has become increasingly popular for many businesses, especially since the pandemic and the rise of hybrid working. But while SaaS applications allow communication and collaboration and help businesses manage internal operations more efficiently, they do potentially expose the business to
more risk. But there are plenty of ways to keep SaaS solutions secure and resellers are vital for advising which are right for their customers’ business. Read more on p30. Elsewhere in the issue, News in the Channel got to go behind the scenes at Exertis’ massive National Distribution Centre in Burnley and see how the company manages to get more than 99.5% of its orders out for delivery within 24 hours. We also found out more about how Exertis is looking to do this sustainably as well as looking after its employees. See more on p37. In addition, we report on the Internet of Things (IoT), which is becoming increasingly popular as businesses realise the potential value they can bring to a business, especially for things like monitoring and tracking. This means there are plenty of opportunities for resellers to get involved in IoT solutions and add new revenue streams – but sometimes customers still need education on the benefits it can bring. Read more on p20. I hope you enjoy the issue. As ever, if there are any topics you wish to see covered by News in the Channel , or you want to get involved in editorial – I’m always on the lookout for op-eds – email@example.com – it would be great to hear from you.
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News You should know p6 Profile: Onrom How to improve your factory p12 ALSO Cloud Marketplace Making a splash p15 Internet of Things New revenue streams p20 Security Putting faith in zero-trust p22 Legacy Technology Don't defer p24 Sustainability Sören Enholm p28 SaaS Security Allowing businesses to manage p30 Exertis NDC It's huge! p37 Data-Protection- as -a-Service Data growing rapidly p40 People Moves Who's going where p46 Opinion Sustainability for
ALSO Cloud Marketplace – p15
SaaS Security – p3 0
Software-as-a-Service is becoming increasingly popular among businesses for its efficiency and cost effectiveness, but security is a concern for these environments and it is something that must be carefully planned.
The ALSO Cloud Marketplace launched in the UK in April, but it has already made a splash in this developing sector and the company has ambitious growth plans over the coming years.
Security – p22
As cybercrime continues to rise, businesses need to be alert to the threat and take measures against it. This includes looking at their print fleet and is where Canon uniFLOW Online can help.
Profile: Onrom – p12
The shortlists for the first Vendor, Distributor and Products of the Year are out for the only awards where the winners are based on empirical data, rather than judges opinions. Speciality Peripherals & Accessories Storage & Security AV Print & Scan Printer Consumables UC&C Networking & Hardware The Stockies – p52
Omron has gone on tour, with a Flexible Manufacturing Roadshow, a trip through Europe highlighting the innovation happening on the factory floor.
tech p49 The Stockies 2023 Shortlists announced p52
Exertis NDC – p37
Internet of Things – p20
Editorial Dan Parton 07941 979 845 dan@ newsinthechannel.com Elliot Mulley- Goodbarne 07910 441 024 elliot@ newsinthechannel.com Head of Sales Martin Jenner-Hall 07824 552 116 martin@ newsinthechannel.com Publishing Director Justin Penn 07816 573 186 justin@ newsinthechannel.com Written permission from the publisher is required before any part of News in the Channel can be reproduced. © 2023 In the Channel Media Ltd.
The Internet of Things is becoming increasingly popular as businesses realise the potential value they can bring to a business, which means there are opportunities for resellers to get involved and add new revenue streams.
Exertis’ National Distribution Centre in Burnley is a triumph of technology that ensures that orders are processed and sent out as quickly and efficiently as possible to satisfy customer demand. Sustainability is becoming a priority for many businesses, but in the drive to have the latest technology, many perfectly usable electrical items are cast aside – says Sören Enholm, CEO of TCO Development.
Sustainability – p28
The amount of data produced by businesses continues to grow rapidly – as do the threats from cybercriminals – so the need to protect that data also grows, and increasingly businesses are turning to data-protection-as-a-service. Data-Protection-as-a-Service – p40
Published by: In the Channel Media Ltd Company registration number: 14363401 Registered office address 14-18 Heddon Street,
Opinion – p49
Sustainability is a challenge for tech businesses of all sizes – how to bring down your environmental impact without adversely affecting the bottom line?
Mayfair, London, United Kingdom, W1B 4DA In conjunction with:
Most organisations report DevOps delays due to critical security issues
More than 80% of IT professionals indicated that a critical security issue in deployed software impacted their DevOps delivery schedule in the last year, new research has found. The research was published in Synopsys Inc’s Global State of DevSecOps 2023 report, from the Synopsys Cybersecurity Research Center, which examines the strategies, tools and practices impacting software security. The report is based on a survey conducted by Censuswide polling more than 1,000 IT professionals across the world – including developers, application security professionals, DevOps engineers and CISOs, as well as experts in technology, cybersecurity and software development. Implementing DevSecOps, a framework focused on embedding security testing throughout each phase of the software development life cycle, is an established way to reduce the volume of critical vulnerabilities and exploitable security issues in production applications. “While [91%] of organisations have adopted some level of DevSecOps practices, they continue to face barriers effectively implementing its methods, especially at enterprise scale,” said Jason Schmitt, general manager of the Synopsys Software Integrity Group. “Specifically, we’re noticing that organisations across the globe are struggling with integrating and prioritising the results from the multiple application security testing tools used by their teams. They also struggle to enforce security and compliance policies automatically through infrastructure-as- code, a practice that was cited most often by respondents as a key factor of their security
program’s overall success.” Key findings from the report include: l 52% of survey respondents noted that they are using AI to enhance their organisation’s software security measures. However, 76% are ‘very or somewhat concerned’ about potential errors or issues with AI-based cybersecurity solutions l 28% of respondents said their organisations take as long as three weeks to patch critical security risks/ vulnerabilities in deployed applications. Another 20% said it can take up to a month, even as most exploits appear within days l When asked to gauge the usefulness of security tools and practices – including dynamic application security testing (DAST), interactive application security testing (IAST), static application security testing, and software composition analysis (SCA) – each tool included in the survey was regarded as useful by at least two-thirds of respondents. The report identifies SAST as the highest-regarded AST tool, with 72% indicating that they find it useful, followed by IAST (69%), SCA (68%) and DAST (67%)
Jason Schmitt general manager
l Software developers and engineers (45%) are just as likely to be tasked
with performing security tests on their organisation’s business-critical applications and continuous improvement pipelines as internal security team members (46%). Meanwhile 33% of organisations are also enlisting external consultants to supplement the efforts of internal teams.
AI training and policies amiss at UK and Irish businesses
While the use of AI tools in the workplace is rapidly increasing, many organisations are lagging in providing guidance and training in the use of these technologies, according to new research by Ricoh Europe. This governance gap comes amid growing interest within companies to implement automation solutions. The poll of 1,000 workers across the UK and Ireland, conducted by Opinium, revealed
a gap between workers' use of emerging technologies and organisations' efforts to support and manage that usage. The research found that 33% of employees use AI tools such as Chat GPT, with 10% of these using it once or more a day. However, the adoption of AI is outpacing employers’ implementation of formal policies and procedures. Only 12% have offered training on how to utilise AI tools. Without proper
guidance on how to harness the technology, businesses could miss out on the purported productivity and business benefits and issues are more likely to arise related to the incorrect or unintended use of Gen-AI, such as the spread of misinformation. Similarly, only 14% of businesses have implemented risk management measures to ensure the safe and transparent use of AI – despite associated copyright and privacy risks. Clear company guidelines, along with dedicated training, is needed to help employees use tools safely, in a way that delivers tangible business value. While AI has the promise to revolutionise the way we work, it must work in collaboration with other automation tools. Once basic process automation is applied, for example to streamline repetitive workflows and tasks, companies can build on this foundation by incorporating more advanced AI capabilities. “The rapid pace at which AI technologies are emerging means organisations must bridge the governance gap to unleash the full potential
of automation,” said Glenn Griggs, CEO, Ricoh UK. “To produce the most value for employees and organisations, the adoption of targeted training and guidance can make the most of productivity gains and avoid potential pitfalls. As the benefits of automation tools evolve, collaboration, clear guidelines and robust employee training are the keys to a smarter future of work. Getting it right stands to benefit the individual and the business as a whole – with AI and automation, people can free up time for more creative and strategic work.” With the right automation tools and technology in place, 65% of employees believe they would deliver more value to their organisation. However, determining the right approach takes careful evaluation, as 68% agree they need to learn more about the benefits of these automation tools and technologies before using them at work. Investing in training and guidance will provide the clarity needed to engage employees in the benefits and opportunities that these new technologies create.
Glenn Griggs chief executive officer
Highlight launches new interactive Reporting Insights pages for its Service Assurance Platform
Highlight has introduced its new Reporting Insights pages, a customisable tile-based reporting hub that is now available as standard to all of Highlight’s 10,000+ users around the world. This major upgrade delivers the advantages of Highlight with a new and engaging way to discover and share vital month-to-month service trends between service managers and their customers. Highlight provides a powerful, shared, business-level insight into the status, health and utilisation of complex networks such as broadband, SD-WAN, cellular and LANs on a single screen. With the new Reporting Insight pages, managed service providers, their customers and network managers can analyse and share network service performance metrics. “This latest update delivers an immediate visual report of performance trends to ensure attention is directed where needed,” said Martin Saunders, product and marketing director at Highlight. “Presentation is everything when it comes to service assurance engagement. A picture showing Highlight Reporting Insights empowers
service managers with a way to give customers a transparent and visually pleasing look into how their services are performing without having to spend hours compiling and styling report data from multiple different sources. Reporting Insights can enhance the partnership and mutual accountability between all parties, ultimately resulting in more productive conversations, more loyal customers and reduced churn rates.” Available immediately to all Highlight users, the Reporting Insights page summarises all the relevant service information from a chosen customer location or folder using a series of optional tiles and tables. The tiles show how services in a chosen location or folder are performing in relation to a specific metric for the chosen month, such as how many links within the folder are complying with SLA limits, including the option to dive deeper with togglable tables. The tile also displays a relevant chart showing how a metric has changed over the previous three months. Additionally, there are colour-coded trend indicators showing if the specific tile metric is either improving or degrading in comparison to the previous month.
Martin Saunders product and marketing director
Vertiv launches energy-efficient, scalable UPS for edge and mid-sized applications
of global AC power at Vertiv. “The UPS is Vertiv's cutting-edge solution for handling increasing power infrastructure needs without the need for a complete system overhaul.” The Liebert APM2 operates with high energy efficiency in all modes, up to 97.5% in double-conversion mode; up to 98.8% efficiency when operating in Dynamic online mode, which draws power through the bypass line and uses the inverter for balanced output and as an active filter; and up to 99% when operating in ECO mode, which takes advantage of stable grid input conditions to leverage the bypass line. All modes are automated based on user preferences. The intelligent paralleling feature of the Liebert APM2 facilitates load sharing among multiple power modules, even across multiple units. This enables balanced unit runtime and offers automatic failover for enhanced system availability. Intelligent paralleling has also been shown to contribute to energy efficiency. The modular architecture of the Liebert APM2 allows for easy front-side access to replaceable components and features hot-swappable building blocks that optimise the mean time to repair to less than 30 minutes. The Vertiv™ Life™ Services program is an option to remotely monitor and diagnose equipment health, with reporting to track UPS performance.
Vertiv has introduced the Vertiv™ Liebert® APM2, a new energy-efficient and scalable power solution to its uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems portfolio. The Liebert APM2 is compatible with lithium-ion and VRLA batteries and features a compact design that can scale from 30kW to 600kW in a single unit. It offers significant energy savings as compared to less efficient alternatives and can also parallel with up to four matching units for additional capacity or redundancy. The Liebert APM2 is a CE certified UPS system available in 400V in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Latin America, and Asia, including India and China. To satisfy the increasing power needs of edge computing applications, as well as the constrained space typical of these sites, Liebert APM2 delivers a greater power output in a smaller footprint than similar capacity solutions, with Liebert APM2 models requiring up to 45% less space than the predecessor UPS, Liebert APM. It can be installed in-row, in-room, against-the-wall, or back-to-back for further application flexibility. "Vertiv created the Liebert APM2 in response to the need for a compact and efficient product that delivers dependable power quality and availability to the network edge,” said Kyle Keeper, senior vice president
Vertiv Liebert APM2
ManageEngine aims to double UK partner channel revenue
ManageEngine, the enterprise IT management division of Zoho Corporation, has set a target of doubling revenue from its UK partner network by 2024. "To support customers and partners as it scales the channel programme, ManageEngine plans to make strategic hires in channel development, technical account management and enterprise account management," said Arun Kumar, regional director in the UK at ManageEngine. With organisations increasingly adopting the latest cloud technologies to automate business processes and respond to the shift in hybrid work, ManageEngine will closely collaborate with existing distributors, resellers, partners and affiliates to uncover additional upsell and cross-sell opportunities for its suite of over 60 products. The channel will
support ManageEngine in capturing leads and identifying opportunities in new market segments. "One of our key go-to-market strategies in the UK is the channel partner ecosystem, which contributes 40% of our overall revenue in the UK,” said Arun. “By focusing more on expanding the partner ecosystem, our plan is to double its revenue contribution in the next year. As part of these expansion plans, we are looking to add more resources to our partner team focusing on enabling the channel network. Partners, distributors, resellers and affiliates have played a valuable role in expanding our reach. We will recruit dedicated employees to support and enable the partner ecosystem.” explained Kumar. ManageEngine plans to incentivise existing partners and affiliates to promote
Arun Kumar regional director
the company in new avenues. It will offer assistance and training for channel partners through its dedicated partner zone and affiliate portal, both of which empower the channel to engage with the company and support the new business life cycle. The company also aims to form partnerships with new channel partners and recruit additional affiliates to bolster customer acquisition. “The Affiliate Programme provides an opportunity for affiliated businesses to generate revenue, allowing them to earn commission for every customer referral
brought in through their unique affiliate link,” said Mouttou Sidambaram Muthaian, director of digital marketing at ManageEngine. “Since the programme's inception
in 2021, we have been able to tap into a completely new audience segment in a niche market. We intend to expand the programme by bringing in new affiliates and push the existing affiliates to promote ManageEngine through further avenues.”
Quadient and Coface join forces to offer an advanced customer risk management
the most up to date insights and precise financial risk assessments. For Quadient, this partnership enhances the accuracy of credit analysis and the performance of businesses of all sizes already familiar with Quadient’s AI-powered AR solution. With Coface insights, the scoring function already present in Quadient AR will also facilitate the creation of more effective scenarios and workflows. For Coface, this strategic partnership allows to reach a larger number of businesses so they can benefit from the full breadth of its business information services. “With our combined expertise, we are confident that we can assist companies in enhancing their decision-making process and sustainably strengthening their financial stability,” added Nesrin Gonin, Coface’s general manager of business information for Western Europe.
Quadient and Coface, a trade credit insurer, have formed a strategic partnership to offer an advanced risk management solution. This new partnership will kick-off in France before expanding to the UK and American markets. Offered as an additional module for accounts receivable (AR) management automation within Quadient's cloud platform, the enriched data and insights provided by Coface will enable companies to establish a much more precise financial analysis of their customers, prospects and suppliers. The extremely granular data provided considers changing market conditions, company financial information, sector risk analysis and Coface’s exclusive data insights. These insights provide real-time credit risk assessment, complementary to the information of each direct relationship between a company and its customers. “This partnership with Coface aligns perfectly with our strategy to provide cutting- edge solutions in customer experience management and financial process automation,” said Stéphanie Auchabie, chief operating officer Quadient France-Benelux. “By partnering with a renowned expert like Coface, we are offering our clients more resources to make more informed decisions and manage their risk exposure more effectively.” Coface’s business information leverages some 75 years of expertise accumulated in credit risk assessment and as a trade insurer. Through an extensive network of partners and more than 700 in-house experts, the company continuously enriches its database to provide
Stéphanie Auchabie chief operating officer Quadient France-Benelux
Nesrin Gonin general manager of business information, Western Europe Coface
As Google continues to release exceptional smartphones every year, we cannot help but get excited about the launch of their latest offering, the Google Pixel 7a. This device boasts impressive features and a pocket-friendly price tag making it a popular choice among customers worldwide. Equipped with the state-of-the-art camera, it takes exceptional photos and videos even in low-light conditions. The device is smaller and more compact than previous Pixel models, making it easier to hold and use with one hand. With a long-lasting battery, users can enjoy a full day of usage without the need for recharging. The Google Pixel 7a is an exceptional smartphone that offers users an impressive set of features, a compact design, and a competitive price. Contact your dedicated Exertis Account Manager today to learn more about how we can assist you with your purchase. Built to perform. Priced just right. Super fast, secure and full of essentials. Dell Technologies – harnessing the power In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, one organisation has consistently stood out as a trailblazer in harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to revolutionize industries and shape the future of innovation. That company is Dell Technologies. With a history rooted in computing excellence and a forward-looking vision, Dell Technologies is not just adapting to the AI revolution; it's driving it forward. processors/ DDR5 memory technology unlocking the full potential of Windows 11 and AI integration. Dell Technologies understands that AI cannot thrive in isolation. Collaboration is key, and the company has forged strategic partnerships with leading AI players. These partnerships have resulted in the development of AI-optimized hardware and software solutions.
AI at the Heart of Transformation In recent years, AI has emerged as a transformative force across various industries, from healthcare and finance to manufacturing and logistics. Dell Technologies recognized the potential of AI early on and has since made it a centerpiece of its strategy. The company's commitment to AI is evident in its partnerships, investments, and solutions aimed at democratizing AI and making it accessible to organizations of all sizes. The Power of Partnerships Exertis’ partnership with Dell demonstrates commitment to delivering excellence and innovation, with the aim of exceeding expectations and meeting current business needs. Exertis alongside Dell continue to drive innovation, with Dell embracing the latest 13th gen Intel
One notable collaboration is the Dell EMC PowerEdge servers, designed to accelerate AI and machine learning workloads. These servers, equipped with NVIDIA GPUs and Dell's PowerEdge AI platform, provide a robust foundation for AI initiatives, enabling organizations to process and analyse data faster than ever before.
of Artificial Intelligence
AI for All Dell Technologies is dedicated to ensuring that AI is not just a privilege of tech giants but is accessible to all businesses, regardless of size or industry. Their AI solutions, including Dell EMC Ready Solutions for AI and Dell Precision workstations, are tailored to meet the specific needs of various sectors. From healthcare providers using AI to diagnose diseases more accurately to manufacturers optimising production processes with predictive maintenance, Dell Technologies is empowering organisations to harness AI's potential for real-world impact. Looking Ahead As we move further into the 21st century, AI will continue to reshape industries and drive unprecedented advancements. Dell Technologies' dedication to harnessing the power of AI for the benefit of society underscores its position as a leader in the tech world. In conclusion, Dell Technologies' journey into the world of Artificial Intelligence is not just about embracing change; it's about spearheading it. By making AI accessible, fostering partnerships, and prioritizing ethical AI development, Dell Technologies is at the forefront of shaping a future where AI enhances our lives
in ways we have yet to imagine. As we look to the future, one thing is clear: Dell Technologies will continue to be a driving force in the AI-driven transformation of our world. By becoming a Dell Gold Partner, you can have access to an extensive range of exclusive benefits and resources that will directly benefit you, our valued customer. These include priority access to the latest Dell Technologies, advanced training, and certifications, including enhanced technical support. With these advantages, and by partnership with Dell and Exertis we can offer the entire Ecosystem; from server room to the edge.
Speak to the team today to find out more.
Speak to an expert Burnley 01282 776 776 store.exertis.co.uk
How to improve your factory Much like a lot of the world, data is the key to success.
Coming into land at Amsterdam Airport you get a great view of the city that holds so much culture, depravity and weed. Sat among stags excited for the weekend, was me, looking out the window, and trying to remember the last time I visited such a beautiful city. Obviously, I was making the trip for a different reason. I was on my way to pay Omron a visit. While enterprises have been getting to grips with AI, factories around the world have started to lag behind, as machinery designed with one purpose, making stuff, is being asked to produce data as well as products. Omron Industrial Automation appears to believe they have revolutionised the modern factory, enabling owners to maintain a tighter grip on quality. As a result, the business has gone on tour, with a Flexible Manufacturing Roadshow, a trip through Europe highlighting the innovation happening on the factory floor, as the name suggests. During the roadshow, News in the Channel sat down with Tim Foreman, OMRON Europe's R&D manager and AI expert, who says that these ageing factories hold technologies that did not have data processing and artificial intelligence in mind. “Many of the existing factories were not designed with data and artificial intelligence in mind, they were designed to manufacture
things as quickly as possible,” says Tim. "Gathering digital information for additional insight was never considered. “That means that many machines either don't have the information or they don’t have complete information. Especially with factories or machines that were never designed with this purpose in mind, they can act as a bottleneck for projects which are stopped because they cannot get through this cleaning data phase and it is too much effort to clean the data or it's unclear where the data is coming from.” Copy and pasting Tim illustrated the point by describing a scenario where circuit boards were failing quality checks within their own factory. “We manufacture electronics, which typically starts with an empty green card with gold packs on it where the components will be soldered on,” he says. “The first step is to put solder paste to solder components on top of it. “In many factories, including our own, there is a visual machine that checks if the paste has been applied properly before it goes to the next phase where components are put on the base. If there are one or two pads that are not okay, it will still continue. But if there are three boards in a row that have a red mark, the machine stops and engineers are called
Tim Foreman R&D manager, Europe
Many of the existing factories were “
not designed with data and artificial intelligence in mind, they were designed to manufacture things as quickly as possible.
in because there's a problem and the line is stopping. “Ten years ago this optical machine was considered very intelligent because it could check a whole board with thousands of pads in a few seconds, but the user interface is poor because it only shows the result of the last board, it doesn't show any history, so when the process engineer comes around again, the only thing he can see is the result of the last board.” Starting the journey Given a scenario of a machine that can’t show engineers patterns, an easier option on paper would have been to invest in a new device that could highlight where consistent faults were occurring. Instead, Omron added a second screen that could show a list of quality checks, colour- coded to red yellow and green to show how the machine is performing, along with a heat map of the boards to demonstrate where products are failing. This end game is naturally what a lot of factory owners will be after, but while finding these problems can be a saving grace, starting the journey is often the biggest hurdle. “Of course, every factory wants to optimise the uptime of the factory, the quality of the products, maximise the resources, and avoid waste but the primary target is always to first be predictable,” Tim says. “In the process of becoming more predictable, it means you also need to improve things. A part of that solution can be to digitise the information that is generated
on the factory floor and to have digital information available. With that information, businesses can get insight. “That is the first step: what do you want to achieve? And how can you get insight into what's going on? Only after that, you might be able to share recommendations, from human to human or in the next step, maybe even automated recommendations.” The right focus Underlying the tour was a focus on data. Without the necessary information, the right decision won’t be made, be it by a human or machine. Tim says this is a key to any journey towards automation. “What I say to customers is we can help you but we cannot start with something like predictive maintenance. We have to go two steps back and start looking at the data that's coming out of the machine together. “From there we can see if there is enough data to start a journey together, and whether there are motivated people available within the organisation who understand what a successful project looks like. This is because adding data science or AI to a factory doesn't work without involving the people who understand the factory. “From there we will move to the next phase, recording data and observing what the machine is doing before diving into predictive maintenance. So as you can see, once businesses start to pull out meaningful data and present it in the correct way, the floor workers can use it to make the factory run more efficiently.”
A part of that solution can be to digitise the information that is generated on the factory floor and to have digital information available. “
ALEX TATHAM INTERVIEW
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ALSO CLOUD MARKETPLACE
Not only… but ALSO The ALSO Cloud Marketplace launched in the UK in April, but it has already made a splash in this developing sector and the company has ambitious growth plans over the coming years.
The UK is the biggest cloud market in Europe, worth billions and growing every year. Alongside this, demand for cloud marketplaces is continuing to grow. With such opportunities, it was little surprise when one of the leading European cloud marketplaces, the ALSO Cloud Marketplace
needed basis. It is also constantly updated. “The UK market is quite over distributed in terms of indirect Microsoft providers, but not all are using their own platform,” says Mark Appleton, chief customer officer at ALSO Cloud UK. “Our platform is used in 114 countries, and it’s our own internal platform and it’s dynamic. We’re new normally first to market when there’s changes from the vendors. “We have biweekly sprints to ensure that we are constantly adapting, changing and updating anything that comes from the vendors that needs to be done. When some of our competition in certain countries are also using our platform but white labelling it, then we know we have a very strong package towards the market.” ALSO’s UK platform replicates that seen – and used in increasing numbers – around the world. As such, starting up in the UK wasn’t difficult – the announcement was made in February, and it went live in April with many leading vendors on board, although most were on pan-European contracts already. The biggest challenge was recruiting the right people to join ALSO’s UK operation, Mark says. “When you have no customers and no net sales, then you need that mentality of wanting to be there and onboard resellers as quickly as possible and start provisioning and growing the business,” he says. “So we
(ACMP) launched in the UK in April. For resellers and managed service
providers (MSPs) in Europe, the ACMP has been providing services and solutions for about a decade. The marketplace for cloud solutions and services helps resellers and to implement an as-a-service by providing access to all the tools that a digital workplace requires, including cloud licences, storage, back-up, cybersecurity and more. In the UK, ACMP has more than 1,600 services available from some 100 vendors including leaders such as Microsoft and Adobe, covering software and artificial intelligence. For users of the ACMP, there are many benefits, such as smart API integration to save time when invoicing, intelligent user analytics, a digital quotation tool, marketing services and a partner upskilling programme. Users can also white label ACMP and use their branding to create a cloud platform that has 24/7 self-service for customers, as well as giving role-based access to customers to purchase licences and services on a when-
Mark Appleton chief customer officer ALSO Cloud UK
ALSO CLOUD MARKETPLACE
Getting involved For MSPs that want to become a partner in the ACMP, the process is straightforward, according to Mark. “They just need to go to ALSO.co.uk, hit the new partner or registration button, they fill in 12-14 pieces of information and then within a few moments that’s transferred into our systems, where we pick it up,” he says. “Then within 45 minutes their credentials are sent from the platform to the new onboarded MSP and they can log in and start using the platform. “We will follow that up with a demonstration if it’s required. But a lot of our registrations come from existing leads that will have had demonstrations previously, so they’ve already seen the platform and the benefits of the ACMP value proposition.” The ACMP is designed to be accessible to businesses of all sizes, from one-man- bands to huge corporates, Mark adds. “ALSO across Europe is always looking at customer breadth,” he says. “The SMB market is critical for us across Europe as it is such a mixed sector and where the big opportunities are.” For instance, the ACMP can help with the drive towards digitalisation, which is a journey that many businesses are on currently. “That’s the way the market is trending, but at the same time, we want to work with partners that simply want to grow their business as well. “For example, we have value-added propositions around marketing as a service, which is marketing in a box that’s white labelled that they can use to go out to market and drive the growth of their customers, have lead generation, et cetera.” Using the ACMP can also help resellers, MSPs and customers with the cost of doing business through increasing efficiency and automating certain processes. “This is always crucial, but especially so in the current economic times,” says Mark. New energy Mark has spearheaded the move into the UK, but this is just the latest stop in his ALSO career, which now stretches back 24 years. Over that time, he has managed printing supplies in the UK, before moving onto a European-wide supplies role, then becoming group lead for the Centre of Competence Printing and Supplies in February last year “I’ve been with ALSO a long time now, although 23 1/2 of those years were in the supply part of ALSO’s business,” he says. “At ALSO we have ‘three S’s’ – supply, solutions
looked for a mixture of sales hunters but also those with market experience.” Two external agencies were used in the recruitment process, and Mark is happy with the team he now has under him. He started with five employees in April, and that has already grown to 10, with plans to add to that number in the coming months as the number of users of the ACMP continues to grow. While ALSO may only be six months into its UK operation, it has already made its mark in the sector. “The response from the market so far has been very positive,” says Mark. “Our full package is very strong for MSPs especially those that are looking to develop and grow their customer base and they are taking advantage of our offering to grow their services.” Cybersecurity strength One of the strengths of the ACMP that MSPs are taking advantage of is its cybersecurity provision. “With cybersecurity, the risks and threats are increasing all the time,” says Mark. “But our platform has MFA installed, which means everyone must use it. There’s a user log, there’s an audit log, so we know exactly who’s pressed what buttons at any one time. “Also, for Azure users we have Azure threat and fraud protection. Here, we measure any dramatic spikes in Azure usage 24/7 and can instantly shut that down until we can get in touch with the customer to understand whether it is a genuine change in their usage or whether a cyberattack has happened to them. It gives protection for our MSPs and the end users. “Cyberattacks are a huge threat and attacks are becoming more frequent and MSPs and end users are really starting to change their mindset on how they’re protecting their data and systems from these attacks.”
The SMB market is critical for us across Europe as it is such a mixed sector and “ where the big opportunities are.
ALSO CLOUD MARKETPLACE
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and services. In the supply side I mostly worked in the printing side before I took on this new role. “I found the opportunity to bring ACMP into the UK extremely exciting. The transactional business is a tough market now, but this is the future and, while not a fresh start, to come and do this role it gave me extra energy. “But I had to go through that transformation myself from a sales cycle of ‘how many do you want and when do you want that delivered?’ to the journey of getting the customer onboarded and having a clear faith in ALSO and the platform before they commit and migrate all their licences across to us. The sales journey is completely different to the transactional journey. But that’s something I’ve transformed to, and it’s given me new energy to take this business forward in the UK.” Culture of development Mark has had a diverse career at ALSO, which is indicative of the breadth of the business, but also its culture of developing its employees and giving them chances to progress through the company. “ALSO’s culture of developing its employees is very strong,” says Mark. “That’s one of the reasons why we don’t have a huge turnover of staff within the organisation, because they see that as a real value add for them, improving whether that’s in a local organisation or a region or for the whole group. “That’s why a lot of people join this greenfield operation, knowing that ALSO will expand in the UK over the next few years, but also there’s opportunities working in other countries or within the whole group if they want that in the future.”
Future The future is something that Mark is focusing on with ALSO in the UK, especially as it is a rapidly changing market. “The ecosystems are changing all the time, there’s more vendors coming out with new solutions and then the bigger vendors are buying those smaller vendors, so the market is changing all the time, which is what makes it an exciting market to be in,” he says. “The landscape will continue to change over the next two to three years, whether that’s at a vendor level, distribution indirect level, or as we’ve seen already, a lot of MSPs are being taken over or bought out. I think it’s an exciting time for the market.” Mark has big ambitions for ALSO in the UK. “We will never onboard a new country and not aim to be number one or two in the market,” he says. “That’s the long-term plan and that will take some time, of course, but that remains the biggest goal. But now it’s really around brand awareness, attending events, getting our name more and more out there, having face to face meetings with the MSP communities and really engaging with them to offer our platform, our services and all the value add for the future.”
That's why a lot of people join this greenfield operation, knowing that ALSO will expand in the UK over the next few years. “ ”
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