Former Entatech director/VP Jon Atherton looks back on the 22 years he spent at the distributor (and five at reseller Jentech beforehand), reflects on how the market has evolved during that time – and what lies ahead in the future…
Over the past 27 years I’ve worked in this industry, there’s been a lot of good faces that have left for one reason or another, and a lot of brands, distributors and manufacturers have come and gone.
So it’s a market that’s both retracted and grown, but it’s great to see a lot of old faces – vibrant and energetic people – who are still around today trying to drive their businesses through the channel.
There’s a lot more of a service element that’s come into play and convergence is getting stronger and quicker as the years go on. And obviously IT now is touching all different types of businesses, through the internet and connectivity and the cloud.
Look at all the different markets that are opening up. Established companies are now getting involved in IT and connectivity. You’ve got your historical photocopying companies getting involved in managed services and IT, cloud and connectivity. Software is developing and changing to go online, or become license-based. Supermarkets are now selling IT. With wearables, you’ve got High Street stores and traditional watch companies that are selling wearable digital technology. Who would have thought that five or ten years ago?
We’re very fortunate that our industry today is starting to get broader and the opportunity for everybody is getting bigger. But it’s also a challenge, because you need focus. Do you go big? Do you go niche? Those are the questions people need to ask themselves on what they want to do.
Etail is growing and certain retailers like John Lewis are growing rapidly, while other retailers are going backwards. So what is John Lewis doing differently and better than other people? It’s a fantastic minefield now. 20 years ago you sold your kit to independent IT resellers – that was it. There were no retail stores, you didn’t have etail, you didn’t have wearables, you didn’t have the cloud or internet technology. It’s just changed out of all proportion.
Looking ahead, there are boundless opportunities. It’s about the younger people now, looking at what they do and what their interests are. And a lot of it is based around IT. Look at kids today – they don’t do as much sport, but they’re doing more eSports.
IT dealers should all be focused around connectivity, device, cloud, services and recovery. They have got to offer a service and be able to present the whole package now, whether it be AV, firewall solutions and so on... The hardware solution should be just one part of what they’re offering to their customers.