Micro-P: A winning formula - PC Retail

Micro-P: A winning formula

We talk to Paul Bryan about the firm's 'Connected Home' strategy
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Micro-P’s new managing director Paul Bryan talks to PCR about his rise in the company and his plans for the future.

What’s your background in the IT industry?
I started Micro-P in sales back in the ‘90s and worked my way up through to sales manager. After a stint in London as a product manager with a different firm, I returned to set up Micro-P’s PC Division, which is now the company’s largest business unit, and then some years later I was promoted to sales director.

This evolved into a sales and commercial role as I wanted to pull the product planning and sales channels together so we were more joined up with the market. We now have three very clear channels – B2B (including public sector), Retail and Telco and each of these is continually segmented so that we are well targeted and act as specialists.

These channels are served by 11 product divisions – Computing, Mobile, Attach, Printers, Visual Solutions, Networks, Components, Unified Communications, Server & Storage, Security and Consumer Electronics. This ensures it never gets boring!

You’ve spent two decades with Micro-P. What’s kept you there for so long?
I’m asked this a lot – but it is an easy answer: people, creativity, dynamics and growth.

Micro-P’s culture fosters and develops fantastic people, which makes turning up to work something to look forward to, and I don’t think this should ever be taken for granted. We have a long history of bringing creative ideas to the market; this has stood us in good stead and been a significant factor in our organic growth. As for distribution, the dynamics have always fascinated me – operating in-between vendor and reseller means you are constantly exposed to different ideas, strategies and technologies across multiple markets.

In a nutshell, why would I leave a company that’s one of the fastest growing in the industry, which has fantastic people and ideas, within a market that is effervescent and compelling?

You were responsible for founding Micro-P’s PC business, which has gone on to great things. What was the potential that you saw back when you started it?
It was an interesting time when I kicked off this division as we had seen our brands Apricot, Opus, Amstrad and Olivetti (remember them?) slowly disappear as the IBM clone had by now started to dominate the market with Dell and Compaq leading the way. Apple was in trouble and we were just seeing the return of Steve Jobs. Laptops were becoming more prominent but were still boring grey bricks.

“We have a long history of bringing creative ideas to the market; this has stood us in good stead and has been a significant factor in our organic growth.”

Paul Bryan, Micro-P

It was clear to me, and anyone else in the industry at that time, that personal computing was going to rocket and change the world in a very big way. So it was of paramount importance that we needed to re-launch this area, and so I signed Fujitsu as our first new-breed brand and got our plans underway.

Then came the coup, as we signed Sony VAIO; it was the first company to make mobile computing look sexy and sales soared, which made Micro P relevant again in the PC market. I then signed up Toshiba, Samsung, Acer, Asus, Lenovo and Dell, so these days we have everything bar HP and Apple. Now we see the smart phone and tablet looking to drive this market to the next level and this is why Micro-P has also positioned itself as a leader in this area as we look forward to a connected world with endless possibilities.

I look at my kids these days and see just how intuitive this space has now become – downloadable apps and games, connected worlds such as Minecraft, learning and communication connected with school, work and home and augmented reality and big data about to revolutionise our lives – anyone need a tea break?

How do strategies like the Connected Home and your new Attach division reflect changes in the wider market?
I doubt my household is different to many others. I have a computer in the kitchen which acts as a workstation, does quick internet searches (especially for those Delia recipes!) and acts as a server as it holds the family content – household budgeting, work files, photos, music, videos and games. My children and I each have a tablet (my wife is contemplating an e-reader but loves books too much); we all have an iPod and there’s an Xbox, Nintendo and Playstation in the living area.

There are two media streamers to drag content on to smart TVs and wireless speakers... and what is most amusing is that I’m not a techno geek, I’m not even a great fan of Facebook – it just kind of happened.

Technology creeps into the household without any of us really realising and it is now so easy to use that user barriers have almost disappeared. Most people’s home networks are better than they experience at work and it is interesting to see how this is now driving the IT director’s agenda in terms of expectations both of device and connected experience.

So you can see, a ‘Connected’ strategy is very important and it needs to encompass not just the home but how it transcends the work place. Our ‘Conect’ platform aims to address these areas through franchisee-orientated programmes such as Airtime and Data packages for mobile; Hosted PBX; Salary Sacrifice BYOD and Tablets in Education. Our customers will already be able to see the Airtime solution and will see the others rolled out shortly.

“Every distributor needs the holy trinity of stock, price and service, but what makes us stand out is the ability to reach the market quickly, enthusiastically and with creativity.”

Paul Bryan, Micro-P

Naturally our Attach division is of huge importance as we sell more mobile devices. We aim to be best in class for cases of all shapes, colours and sizes, power related options, dockers, memory and cabling. We already have a huge offering which spans the mobile manufacturers and third-party solutions.

Your sales teams have been praised as being ‘proactive and innovative’...
This has been a cornerstone to Micro P’s approach to the market. Every distributor needs the holy trinity of stock, price and service, but what makes us stand out is the ability to reach the market quickly, enthusiastically and with creativity.

We spend a lot of time coaching and auditing these aspects within our sales and commercial departments and link pay accordingly. Culture is an important part of any business and the fact that we have a lot of long-serving directors and staff allows us to maintain this value to our suppliers and customers.

I’m frequently asked why we still wear ties in the business when the world has moved on to a more relaxed and chilled approach; I’m sure this suits some businesses, but I love the ‘old school’ approach – in at the right time to prepare for the day, smart in our approach and seeing things through. Why change a winning formula?

What do you want to achieve this year?
I want to make sure that we continue to make ourselves easy to do business with by asking our customers how they would like to ‘Plug-in to Micro-P,’ and I want to educate our vendors and customers around our product proposition to enable this.

Home, work, education and mobility is what it is all about moving forwards. We have a fantastic story to tell in these areas and I welcome a conversation with all who are interested.

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