Event review: Fighting talk at PCR Boot Camp North 2015

From a number of informative talks about how to plan your Christmas crusade and tips on beating the big businesses at cloud services, to disties battling it out in our Question Time-style panel session, this year’s PCR Boot Camp North was all about getting inspired and realising there’s still plenty of land to claim as your own in the IT and tech industry.

We round up the highlights from the morning conference and afternoon expo.

First up in our conference session, Lisa Gamble-Smith, OEM sales manager at Boot Camp North’s headline partner Microsoft, took to the stage to provide an update on Microsoft’s strategy. She touched on recent product launches such as Windows 10 and Office 2016.

After revealing that Office has 1.1 billion users worldwide, and 96 per cent of Windows PCs that have Office installed all use the latest versions of the software, Gamble-Smith discusses the ‘huge market’ for upgrades and extra upsells.

Speaking about gaming, she said: “With Windows 10 and Office 365, there is plenty of opportunities for gamers.” She revealed that one of 15 people are gamers, adding: “Good Lord did we take some feedback from Windows 8.”

Next up, Carl West, supply chain director at GfK ran through the hottest product categories and the goods that retailers and resellers should consider stocking going into the New Year.

West looked at how the UK tech market has changed this year, the state of the economy and what trends are expected to emerge in the future.

“Consumer confidence is at an all- time high,” said West. “When you look at selling to SMBs and enterprises, remember, we are all consumers.”

Speaking about Black Friday, West revealed that TVs and tablets were amongst the most popular products on sale. He also revealed that SSDs will be a big selling opportunity over Christmas.

With regards to the gaming market, he told retailers: “If you don’t have a gaming den or you’re not supporting gaming events, you need to.”

Intel’s UK tech and enterprise PR manager, Anna Cheng, also spoke at the event. Cheng explored some of the biggest trends affecting the market and spoke about diversity in tech, as well as the direction the computing industry is set to take in the future.

On the subject of IoT, Cheng explained: “There is set to be 200 billion connected objects by 2020. Globally, there will be $6.2 trillion worth of IoT by 2025 and 71 per cent believe smart home tech will be as common as smartphones by 2025.”

Cheng also described Intel’s vision for its future tech, adding: “We have a ‘no wires’ vision. Wireless charging is coming soon with our latest sixth gen products.”

Cheng also touched on the opportunities around the eSports boom and Intel’s new Peak smartwatch, as well as the firm’s diversity drive.

Our final talk of the day was from Cisco’s UKI cloud leader, Jo Laking, where she spoke about the opportunities from the ‘second wave of cloud adoption’.

Looking at this ever-growing category, Laking revealed how cloud computing is evolving and the new raft of revenue opportunities for resellers.

“70 per cent of organisations are thinking about increasing their cloud options in the future,” she said. “Lots of people are adopting cloud but they don’t have a clear strategy around it.

“That’s where there is a great opportunity for resellers to help businesses with their cloud strategy.”
Laking suggested that smaller resellers can compete with the big firms by offering different types of cloud computing solutions.

She concluded: “It’s not the big that beats the small, it’s the fast that beats the slow.”

This year we had two panel sessions. The first of which was new for PCR Boot Camp North 2015 – ‘Distributors answer YOUR questions’.

The panel, chaired by director of Channelstar Media Simon Meredith, consisted of Westcoast’s MD Alex Tatham, VIP’s director Rich Marsden, Entatech’s head of sales Darren Perks and Exertis’ sales director Jon Sutherland.

First up, Meredith asked the panel the first question from a retailer: “What’s the core role of a distie today?”

“Our core business is changing. We’ll always have a logistics business but there’s no question it’s changing,” said Tatham.

Perks added: “Cloud services are here, you can’t shift away from that.”

Sutherland agreed: “Service is key and distribution as a service is key.”

Marsden explained how he thinks the role of the distie is changing: “It’s a challenging market and margins are slim. If you’re not looking to move into different areas, you’re not going to be here in the near future. Everyone should be looking to diversify because this is a tough market.

Next up, Meredith asked: Why should retailers still buy from disties when they can sometimes get a better deal from the likes of Amazon and Ebuyer?

“Distribution is your gateway to the vendors. It gives you access to programs, marketing funds, rebates and channel programmes,” said Perks.

“Buying from Ebuyer or Amazon means you’ll miss out on support. The days of having a huge differential in price have gone,” added Marsden.

During the panel session, the distie execs were also asked about price feeds, which stirred up the biggest debate between the industry experts.

“A lot of it is down to your relationship with the account manager,” said Marsden, with regards to why price feeds are not always the same as the final cost.

“I would never go out with the cheapest price first,” agreed Sutherland.

But Tatham commented: “Log onto the Westcoast website. Feed from us then phone us, and you’ll get the same price,” he insisted. “I don’t want to take millions of phone calls from you all day.
“I thoroughly disagree with my colleagues here today.”

The second panel session of the day revolved around the PC gaming sector. Chaired by PCR editor Dominic Sacco, the panel consisted of Yoyotech MD CK, AOC/MMD UK and Ireland regional sales director Paul Butler and Overclockers UK executive director Steve Ling.

On the subject of the opportunities around VR, CK commented: “VR is the future. There’s huge growth and plenty of opportunities for gamers and retailers.”

Talking about other gaming peripherals, Butler explained: “The gaming monitor market is huge. We’ve got our best numbers ever.”

Ling agreed: “Ultra-wide and curved gaming monitors are exploding.”

When asked what system builders should be mindful of, CK suggested that 4K will be the next step and SSDs are a ‘no-brainier sale’. Butler added that high resolution screens will provide a great sales opportunity for indies.

Boot Camp North’s expo was a hit once again, with the likes of Headline Partner Microsoft, along with Synaxon, Northamber, Entatech, Agilitas, Caseking UK, TERRA, M2M Direct, LogicNow, VIP Computers, PXS Distribution, Network Group, Brigantia, Centerprise Distribution and GfK all showcasing their latest products and services.

Check out all the pics from the day at our Facebook gallery here.

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