The past 12 months have seen an unprecedented disruption to the IT distribution market. But from the chaos of the early weeks of COVID-19 lockdown there also emerged another picture: one of a resilient, adaptive IT channel. In countless segments we actually saw sales pick up to support a major shift to home working and study across Europe. In this first of a three-part series looking at 2020 and the year ahead, we asked industry experts and CONTEXT clients to share their insights.
Here’s their take on the story so far in 2020.
Ali Baghdadi - Ingram Micro
Some technologies saw strong growth due to changes in the way we had to work. These included: cybersecurity for endpoints and infrastructure; personal computing devices such as laptops; unified communications devices; wireless networks; SaaS and IaaS; CCTV cameras with temperature detection; and new AI applications. Large projects and infrastructure deployments have mostly been postponed or cut down. Looking at tech companies in general, most have seen still been able to drive growth this year.
Alessandro Cattani - Esprinet
Without any doubt COVID-19 was the strongest accelerator of tech adoption by families, companies and governments ever seen in my career. We witnessed a first wave of purchases mainly aimed at providing basic computing and connection capabilities to cope with stay-at-home policies. Digital marketing instead of in-person meetings and events, and extreme fluctuations in forecasts were the other two key trends of the year.
Kavita May – GTDC
Delivering new value and enabling transformation. That’s the theme we underscored at the GTDC’s annual summit this year. Distributors deliver new value year-after-year by continuously meeting the evolving needs of both vendor partners and solution providers across the world. That was put to the test in 2020 unlike any other time in history.
Distributors stepped up to meet unprecedented challenges and ensured the global IT supply chain not only kept functioning but also focused on what was especially critical. Their efforts were essential in addressing what amounted to and remains the most rapid acceleration of digital transformation ever seen. The response went well beyond procuring, shipping and supporting product requirements, to encompass also deployment and integration of collaboration tools, and security and cloud solutions. Distributor services have become more valuable than ever in this time of profound change.
Patrick Zammit, Tech Data
The pandemic put a new and unexpected focus on our role in supporting the whole IT value chain to deliver much-needed technology solutions to end users, especially in a time of crisis. It has also meant that we have had to make significant adjustments to our ways of working — transferring our office-based workforce to 100% remote working in a matter of days, adopting heightened safety measures in our logistics facilities, and ensuring that our customers received a consistent and high level of service throughout.
The crisis also forced many IT channel players to refocus and accelerate their digitisation efforts. Many had already started on their journeys, but the prospect of prolonged remote working has led them to double down on digital in relation to collaboration, marketing, ecommerce, XaaS models and, of course, data analytics, which is at the core of any digital-led programme.
Sayantan Dev - Redington Gulf
We have seen both ups and downs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. At one end, the work-from-home strategy deployed by organisations led to an increase in cloud adoption and software deployments to monitor productivity. At the other end it led to a decrease in purchases of physical infrastructure and datacentre technologies deployed by organisations.
The main theme around which technology consumption has revolved this year has been how to ensure businesses run uninterrupted without physical proximity to employees. Supporting the remote worker has been the key objective; security and “time to value” have been the main drivers.
Stay tuned for part two of the series, where we take a look at the impact of the pandemic on specific markets and technology segments.
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