Vendor Report: The shape of things to come

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1 January 2013 | 0

Now that 2012 has come to an end and we’re moving into 2013, we asked a number of vendors for their perspective on the last 12 months and to give us a view on how they thought the current year would progress.

Gary Tierney, country manager, HP Printing and Personal Systems Group
Tierney admits that 2012 was a difficult year but rewarding too. He remarks that the economic situation is affecting all sectors of the market from consumer, SMB, corporate and public sector. He says HP’s breadth of portfolio of products and services across all segments of the market "provides us with a unique platform to deliver a balanced performance, seeking out growth where it exists and doubling down where austerity is suppressing market demand."

The vendor is "comparing favourably" to the overall market and market share across all of its businesses are "in line with our original plan for the year". HP has "continued to invest with our partner community to stimulate demand, drive meaningful promotions to stimulate investment in IT and competed strongly for major projects which presented themselves".

Streamlining
The most significant development in 2012 was the merger of HP’s legacy IPG and PSG businesses into a single unit called Printing and Personal Systems. Tierney says the new structure has created a simpler, more integrated approach to products and partner relationships. "We have taken steps to remove the complexity from our operating model with our partners and are investing to ensure that we deliver the best products, services, and solutions in the marketplace," he claims. "By streamlining operations and removing complexity, we are working to make HP easier to do business with."

 

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As for areas of opportunity and growth, he singles out mobility ("in all of its guises") and the "usual suspects" of cloud, security and big data.

In terms of products, Tierney says HP has "launched an array of new and exciting products into the market for 2013" across personal computing and printing. He points to the release of Windows 8 notebooks and desktops, including the ElitePad 900 tablet for business and the Spectre One all-in-one desktop. On the printing side, HP has "delivered ink and laser products that strengthen our ability to meet customer needs at every point", as well as its "biggest refresh of multi-function printers in seven years".

He is complimentary of the channel’s resilience, describing it as "an agile and effective force in the Irish market". The channel has had to "grapple with a multitude of challenges" since the significant deterioration began in the Irish economy in mid 2007 but has "proven itself time and again to be truly adaptable, weathering all that the economy had to throw at it".

As for 2013, he does not expect any significant changes to the underlying economic position in Ireland which is believes is "currently performing about as good as can be expected in difficult conditions". Austerity and weak consumer confidence continue to be a primary concern and export growth has been constrained by slowing external demand. "All efforts to stimulate the domestic economy will be key," he comments, "whether it’s freeing up the availability of credit, revitalising the jobs market or invigorating consumer confidence."

Tierney highlights headwinds in the market place, "whether we’re talking about heightened competition, a soft economy or fundamental market shifts". But as HP enters 2013 "we’re confident we’re on the right path, with an ever greater commitment to continue to bring meaningful innovation to our partners and customers".

Martin Cullen, head of SME and partner business, Microsoft Ireland
From a calendar point of view, 2012 "was a good year for Microsoft on balance", Cullen reports. There were an awful lot of launches in the period, including Windows 8. "From our perspective it’s been a very busy and fruitful period," he says. In terms of its business model, "one of the things that really landed for us this year was the cloud services offering we have". Customers that were asking about cloud services have begun using them "and we are seeing extremely rapid growth with the adoption of services such as Office 365 and CRM online to InTune. So, it’s been quite an interesting model shift for us and a fundamental change in our business in calendar 2012".

In terms of the Irish market, Cullen believes Microsoft is gaining in share in areas where it is in a competitive situation and the adoption of its technology is increasing from the enterprise to SMB. "We are getting access to new customers in different ways," he states, with a lot of SMBs coming through the cloud for example, using CRM for the first time. Server 2012 is also doing well and Microsoft’s share has been "steadily increasing" in the virtualisation market. From a desktop point of view, it has held up well from an operating system perspective, "notwithstanding the challenges in waiting for Windows 8 to give us a true touch experience on the tablet".

The launches of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 have been the highlights this year but "the key success story" is that cloud services have now become mainstream.

He urges partners to start offering multiple services and offerings to customers. Often people went to customers with a point solution but it made it complicated for the customer to get integration and figure out how to "leverage the full capacity of the Microsoft stack to support their environment". The pressure is now on partners to look at how they can cover multiple areas of responsibility to include cloud services or hybrid cloud. He gives an example using Lync where partners can now "go into the voice domain, which is not where many of our partners have been before". It also includes deeper collaboration areas such as Sharepoint and CRM online. "Obviously, they have to start looking at customers more holistically and where they can look at their business model to evolve across multiple workloads to support their customers’ needs," Cullen argues.

Growth inhibitors
What are the main threats to inhibit growth? "I suppose, just like anything, with technology, technology in is holding up well in the recession relative to the other industries. The biggest inhibiter to growth is inertia in terms of understanding what can be done and the possibilities that can create for our customers, either to drive cost savings or to increase their potential for profitability through customer add or selling more to existing customers," he says. "We should look at it on a cost control basis or on a productivity market growth basis. If we don’t correctly position what the possibilities are for our customers how can we expect them to make the right informed decisions."

So how does Cullen propose this inertia can be fixed? He argues that keeping visible as to what the possibilities are. "Making sure that investment in training and certification around the different technologies, certainly from a Microsoft standpoint, but always help the organisations selling the technology to sell it better and gain a deeper understanding of what the platform looks like and the components of the platform showing how they can have an impact on that."

To this end, the channel is going through a phase of re-invention. Some people have progressed on that journey and some are still in denial that the market is changing. In the main, "most people have accepted and agreed that the evolution is there and is happening". Microsoft’s partners "always need to think about ‘what’s next’ so their business model doesn’t become stale" and the same is true for Microsoft and other vendors. Everyone has to continue to adapt to figure out what’s going to work for the customer in the future. "If we don’t and we stagnate, our relevance to these customers decreases and our ability to continue down a growth path will be fairly limited," he warns.

Looking forward, Microsoft hopes that 2013 is the advent of strong adoption of Windows 8 and it will be seen as a significant player in the touch space, "something we haven’t had to date. That should drive growth for us". There will be continued migration towards a level of cloud equalisation and a lot of discussion around big data in terms of what does it mean for organisations.

The level of technology adoption in Ireland is still relatively low compared to some of the Nordic countries. "The opportunity to drive investment into this space is very, very high so that the propensity for technology and opportunity is good," he adds. "If we can drive up that curve, it gives us a great opportunity to get more competitive and deliver the maximum to our customers so we can help them grow their businesses, which is still the key issue going to drive economic recovery at an SMB level and a corporate level in Ireland today."

Dave Kelly, vice president of international sales, Meru Networks
Meru has "had a fantastic year", Kelly reveals. It has been "a record year for us" and the vendor has laid down foundations in Ireland and started building relationships with key partners, such as Memory Bank. The next stage is to build upon those foundations.

Meru is in one of the hottest growth markets in Wi-Fi, Kelly claims, adding it is "an exciting time for us to be in this market, especially with the growing momentum of BYOD". The vendor is doing well in core markets of education, hospitality and healthcare.

Meru’s "biggest success story" in Ireland to date is the Education Network Northern Ireland (EN(ni)) contract where it has partnered with Northgate Managed Services to provide state of the art Wi-Fi connectivity to over 350,000 teachers and pupils in 1,200 Northern Ireland schools.

He stresses that Meru is "a 100% channel-focused company". The channel is playing a significant role in helping to grow the market for the vendor. He describes it as "a vital organ to our growth and we continue to attract new partners to work with and grow our customer base".

The biggest challenges are probably "outside factors", particularly the fragile economic environment and the austerity measures in place. "There is a lot of optimism and opportunity but we do need to be mindful of the economic climate," Kelly warns.

Looking into 2013, he reveals that the first quarter "is normally a challenge for us as it is not a traditional buying cycle for our core markets, especially in the education sector. But we are optimistic that we will grow and outperform the market rate".

Richard Daly, EMEA channel manager, Webroot
Webroot has enjoyed a very successful year, Daly says. It has achieved its revenue goals globally and in Europe. It has also released several new products for consumers and businesses that have been well received by the market and accumulated several industry awards.

Webroot’s security-as-a-service solutions have had a very strong year in the consumer space, growing market share by more than 100%. In the US retail market it has moved from the number five vendor to number two. The company is also seeing good performance in its other two target markets: businesses and alliance partners.

In terms of achievements, the company has been awarded with the prestigious PC Magazine Editors’ Choice Awards in Antivirus and Suites categories.

The company recently launched what it claims is the "only endpoint security solution to use a single, Web-based administration console to secure mobile devices and PCs within a corporate environment, known as Webroot SecureAnywhere Business – Mobile Protection. The latest addition, the Webroot SecureAnywhere Business platform of endpoint security solutions, was developed specifically for small to medium businesses (SMB) looking for an easily deployable and manageable mobile security solution.

Staying up to date is one of the challenges all businesses share, Daly acknowledges that "in the computer security industry, just staying up to date isn’t nearly good enough". To this end, Webroot decided to rethink its corporate strategy a few years ago, "scrap our best-selling products, focus on new markets and radically change the way Internet security works – all while fighting cyber-criminals and the biggest names in the security business". The company’s success will depend on the SecureAnywhere suite of security tools launched in 2011 that powers its endpoint, Web and network security solutions. "We have great aspirations for the platform," Daly says, describing it as "a completely new way of protecting computers and devices such as tablets and smartphones".

Webroot’s global channel programme is very important for the company as it continues to grow. It relies on channel and direct sales, and the vendor "intends to maintain a balance even as we expand our channel presence through deeper relationships with current partners". It is also exploring new market segments and open to acquiring channel partners committed to delivering excellent solutions and support service to customers.

Looking to 2013, Daly says Webroot is "very optimistic about the coming year and our ability to grow".

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