23 Mar 2015
Considering you spend the majority of your adult life working with people with whom you have been thrown together by circumstance, many underestimate how important it is to actually get on with those people and trust each other.
Of course given the choice, most people would love to win the lottery and spend the rest of their lives sunning it up in first-class luxury on an island somewhere - but considering that is an absolute pipe dream - it is important to make the best of what you do have.
Now I am set to celebrate 15 years - Yep - 15 YEARS with CRN in August - and the one thing that has been pretty consistent over the years is a top set of people who will help each other out at the drop of a hat.
Quite often companies will pay lip service to the oft-used adage that 'People are a company's best investment' - but those that don't really believe it, actually don't deserve good people working there in the first place.
We are facing a challenging couple of weeks with very short deadlines, loads going on and a lot of pressure; and I don't often use this blog to mention my workmates; but they never cease to impress me with their willingness to take on more work, hit difficult deadlines, and quite often, achieve the impossible.
Team CRN/Channelnomics, I am very proud to work with you all and thank you all for being just brilliant!
10 Mar 2015
There are less than two weeks to go to the deadline for our 2015 Sales and Marketing Awards or SMAs as we affectionately call them.
Entries are coming in thick and fast as these are the only awards that celebrate the people and teams behind a company's success.
In a bid to stay fresh, we have tweaked a couple of categories, and the judging panel is looking forward to reading through all the entries.
I would like to stress again that we are ACTIVELY encouraging multi-media entries this year - if you want it to look appealing to the judges, this is definitely an option to consider - a well laid-out PDF looks far better than a block of text.
See below for my personal reasons why you should enter.
Why should you enter?
The simple reason to enter these awards is because you are proud of your company and the people who work there, and you think they should be rewarded and recognised for their efforts. Open to vendors, resellers and distributors, the SMAs are the perfect opportunity to showcase all the reasons why you stand out as an exceptional company in your field. If a sales team, or marketing team, or individual in your company has achieved some amazing results throughout the past year, why shouldn't their success be singled out?
These awards really are aimed at the people behind the companies, those unsung heroes who work quietly behind the scenes making your firm the success it is today. Often we hear smaller companies say it is only the bigger players that get all the recognition, but with the SMAs, size does not matter, quality of entry is everything. Don't keep your achievements quiet, shout them from the rooftops.
Vendors: Why should we enter?
If you have a great website, or partner programme, or partner event, don't keep it to yourself, share it with the rest of the industry to show best practice. If your partner support team is the best in the business, then we need to know about it. Strong partner support is the glue that binds the best vendors together with their partner community, and without the right people and infrastructure in place, the channel simply wouldn’t function. Do your partners praise you for your margin opportunities? Does your channel event get oversubscribed every time? Use the SMAs as your chance to share your successes with your peers. Don’t keep the good news to yourself.
Distributors: Why should we enter?
Distributors are often the unsung heroes of the channel, offering that extra and much-needed layer of support, both financial and logistical, to channel partners to ensure the IT supply chain runs smoothly. If you have a website that simplifies complex technology buying processes, or makes life generally easier for resellers, then you need to share it with your peers and submitting an entry into the SMAs is the perfect way of doing that. If your sales support team always goes the extra mile, or you have a marketing person that has made a huge difference to your business, then they deserve recognition for their achievements. What better way to celebrate than winning an SMA?
Resellers: why should we enter?
There is no doubt that resellers are waking up to the importance of marketing themselves correctly and making the right first impression on their customers. Many have invested in their websites to ensure they present the right shop window when attracting new customers and the SMAs are the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how that investment is paying off. And when it comes to sales, there is some phenomenal talent in the VAR community whose amazing achievements need to be celebrated. Without VARs, many vendors would just not be able to get the breadth of customers they have, and as services increase, good partners are worth their weight in gold. Don’t hide away your successes, share it with the industry and celebrate in style.
To enter and read the criteria and top tips for entering - (I would strongly recommend you do so) please click here.
25 Feb 2015
OK. I admit it. I am a control freak.
Those that know me might be a little bit surprised at that admission. NOT.
I hate flying, would rather drive than be a passenger, and tend to rebel at any sort of authority.
Now I have those confessions out the way, I find myself thinking back to the good old days before technology took over our lives.
Hacking was something those in the horsey world did out on their ponies, and security was limited to just making sure your house/car was kept locked. There were no mobiles, people had to interact face-to-face to do their banking, pay bills etc etc.
Post was delivered physically on a daily basis, and all your news was broken in a daily newspaper or on the three terrestrial TV stations we had.
Of course, there were rogue postmen who for some reason hoarded mail, or opened birthday cards, but the majority were trustworthy, honest people who delivered everything you needed on time.
Fast-forward to now.
Everything you do relies on technology in some way or another. You cannot imagine work without email and the internet. You are lost if your server goes down, even for a few minutes. Your smartphone is your lifeline not only to friends and family, but it is where you do your banking, pay bills and apply for all manner of things.
You think you are in control of all your devices. But in reality you are not at all. The government (and whoever else wants to) knows everything about you, from your shopping habits, to your phone calls and your personal life thanks to Facebook. There really is no such thing as privacy. Unless you are a hermit.
When it was revealed that Lenovo, which has been enjoying a run of success recently, for some reason decided to include 'Superfish' adware on its consumer laptops, I couldn't believe its naivety for one.
Who in their right mind, would be happy with some pre-loaded random programme on their new laptop - pre-empting their shopping activities, trawling through their personal information or just being downright unhelpful by making suggestions at every turn? What were they thinking? Where was that information actually going?
Of course it just gave ammunition to those harbouring concerns over the prospect of a Chinese vendor selling to western consumers.
The reasons for doing so may well have been innocent, but seriously Lenovo, why?
And this brings me to the other major security story doing the rounds at the moment - the whole NSA (National Security Agency) spyware saga - which alleges that the US government is implanting spyware on hard drives for 'surveillance' purposes.
The scale of this activity is not yet known, and of course the NSA claims it is well within the law - but I for one, find it scary that there is not much you can do these days without someone being able to listen in, spy on, or find out what you have been up to.
We have all (me included) willingly signed up to everything, bought the latest gadgets and marvelled at what it lets us all do, but it is only when you stop and think how much you have let strangers into your life, it is pretty worrying. It is too late to turn back - now you just have to go with the flow and accept what is to come.
Technology of course has enriched our lives beyond measure and I will be always grateful for the advancements in medical science it has brought, but on the otherhand I truly believe it has ruined them too.
And this is only the beginning.
10 Feb 2015
Now I've always thought I don't have any type of accent, and in fact I have a clear and fairly understandable voice.
Despite certain people I work with (who will remain nameless) saying I sound like a Brummie.
But when I'm in America – and it is somewhere I'll be going more often now, thanks to our venture with Channelnomics.com – communication becomes quite a challenge.
I found myself having to repeat questions twice at the hotel reception, and when answering a question I received some very blank looks.
It just goes to show that just because we appear to speak the same language, American English really is a whole new language and one that I'm learning slowly but surely.
My worst experience last week was the simple experience of ordering a pizza! I first asked for a margherita pizza and was greeted with blank stares.
I then realised I needed to ask for a cheese pizza, but to me that meant a pizza with no tomato sauce.
I then asked if they could put tomato sauce on it and swiftly realised from the looks they gave me that they thought I meant tomato ketchup.
I nearly gave up there and then. But the pizza came and was perfect. And luckily there was no ketchup poured all over it.
So I've learned that regardless of which English-speaking country you are going to, do some research and learn the lingo, and you might get lucky like me and avoid the ketchup!
13 Jan 2015
I, like everyone else I know have been horrified to watch the events of Paris unfold over the past few days.
As a journalist, the freedom of speech is paramount, and for journalists to be targeted specifically is a worrying turn of events.
But as the threat of Islamic State continues, and with the most recent alleged hacking of the US military's Twitter and YouTube accounts by ISIS, more and more attention is drawn to the crucial role IT security plays in everyday life.
Indeed on the news last night, cyber-terrorism was described as the new frontline - several times by journalists.
Not just by ISIS, but the Sony/North Korea episode was also a sign of things to come. It is everywhere.
Of course, our friends at the nationals tend to exaggerate their reports for dramatic effect and to incite a sense of panic into people tuning into their reports, but they do have a very valid point.
In these times, the network is indeed the first point of defence against those that wish to steal data from companies or inflict some kind of damage on the business. And if that defence is weak or non-existent, then they have already won the battle.
While a dry-cleaning firm in Derby might not hold any national secrets on its database, the data is does hold is still vitally important to the management of that firm, and every md in the land is going to be increasingly aware of the threats to their business if they have an online presence.
I really don't think the 'It won't happen to me' mentality works anymore. Everyone has to assume they are a legitimate target.
Of course, the big retailers, supermarkets and IT firms have all hit the headlines over recent years with various data breaches, but this is serious business, and hackers are getting ever more complex, and most certainly more malicious.
Demand for security experts, indeed any IT experts that provide honest, value-for-money and straightforward advice on how firms of all sizes can protect their valued customer data, is going to go through the roof.
There is never a more important time to be a trusted IT advisor.
06 Jan 2015
First of all a Happy New Year to everyone.
It is going to take me a while to automatically write 2015 rather than 2014, particularly as I have now entered a new decade since I last blogged! Well, they say life begins........
I hope you all had a great festive break and are not too daunted at the prospect of yet another working year kicking off.
This week I am already working on our two main CRN awards events for 2015 and thinking extremely far ahead for the brand, and discussing how we are going to grow our newest brands - Channelnomics.eu and Channelnomics.com - all exciting stuff.
We are hoping that you will continue to keep in touch and keep us informed of industry goings on, and look forward to catching up with everyone at various events, both CRN organised ones, and vendor/industry ones.
However for me personally it hasn't been the greatest start, as I am currently stuck at home, having to keep my left leg elevated after a suspected torn ligament injury over Christmas. I have been forbidden from travelling to London by the doctors, but am hoping I will be able to sneak back sooner rather than later.
So anyone trying to arrange meetings with me at the moment, please do contact me via email as I am working as normal, but just not able to get into London at present!
I hope 2015 brings you all that you desire and more! Here's to a great year in the channel!
29 Dec 2014
Christmas Day is not exactly the best time to find out that you are likely to lose your job.
But unfortunately, that is exactly what happened to nearly 3,000 City Link staff, when the courier firm's owner Better Capital placed the company into adminstration on Christmas Eve. This comes just over a year after it injected £40m into the company to turn it around.
The news was leaked to the media ahead of a planned announcement after the festive season.
According to a statement given to City AM, talks between adminstrator Ernst & Young, and union officials were held at the weekend, where it said it is likely to make 'substantial redundancies'. However a smattering of employees will be kept on for 'up to three months' it said, adding that it was 'cautious' of finding a buyer for the company.
City Link had warned in its last financial report that it was experiencing a 'continued lack of profitability'.
The firm has suffered setbacks in the past, with severe weather affecting deliveries in 2010 and the increase in online shopping making Christmas a particularly challenging time.
However it is not just Christmas deliveries that will suffer as a result of the firm's collapse.
As CRN discussed in a City Link commissioned Special Report back in May 2011, many IT distribution firms use third party companies to fulfil orders, and at the time, City Link was frantically trying to recruit more channel partners, to ensure he had as many as possible on their books.
In this era of increased competition and the privatisation of the Post Office, along with the meteoric rise of online shopping - the number of delivery firms vying for the same business is growing and other reports suggest a poor IT system played a large part in City Link's failure.
Other reports suggest there are over one million parcels that have been undelivered, and the firm is urging people to track their parcels locally if they can, and collect them, themselves. I hope nothing perishable is in them. The same must also apply to commercial customers, and the implicatios for them if a major order gets 'lost' is extremely serious.
It is not a pleasant situation to be in at this time of year, and the proliferation of courier firms similar to City Link, probably will mean finding a buyer will be difficult.
So with City Link's demise, it means either there is more room in the marketplace for the existing players, or a space in the market for a new player to come along and clean up.
10 Dec 2014
Just as I was beginning to feel fairly festive I receive my annual missive from the British Dietetic Association warning me not to overindulge this Christmas.
Cheers guys - you know how to bring someone down!
It reminded me that women can have 2,000 calories a day and men 2,500, but on average people consume around 6,000 calories on Christmas Day alone, and on average will pile on five pounds by New Year's Day.
Handy tips in the press release included: don't hover by the buffet table (you fat, greedy git), only have one box of chocolates open at a time and hide unopened boxes away to avoid temptation, don't share festive treats with your workmates (you great big pig), and avoid the January chocolate amnesty.
Instead start a 'fruit club' at work in the New Year, and see how quickly you become the office pariah!
Also when shopping for Christmas, don't give in and treat yourself to anything tasty - stick to your list - or preferably just eat the cardboard packaging.
For the 'big day' itself, don't eat the skin of the turkey (ugh!!), make sure a third of your plate is veggies, and ensure potatoes are 'dry roasted'. Use vegetable water for gravy rather than meat juice. Mmmmmm, tasty!
Also don't forget the calories in alcohol, you might be better off just drinking water all day to be honest. Bang goes the Christmas Baileys then.
And my favourite tip of all - take the lid off a mince pie before scoffing it to save a few calories.
If you listened to all this, you will be guaranteed the most miserable time, and could also succeed in bringing down everybody around you by reminding them of all the things they shouldn't be eating and drinking.
Alternatively you could act like the adult you actually are, and, like most people, if you have over-indulged one day, you won't do the same the next and it will balance itself out.
However if you do overindulge for more than one day and are not arrested by the glutton police on the spot, you could always cut back the day after.
I nearly replied and told them where to stick their advice, but I felt the strange need to go out, buy a mince pie and stuff it in whole.
Views - both channel related and everyday life observations - from CRN Editor Sara Yirrell. If you have any gossip that you would like to share with me please do get in touch and also we would love to see your comments at the end of the blog.