10 Feb 2016
Recent figures from specialist IT recruiter Randstad have revealed that the IT professionals are the most recession proof sector in the UK.
That is pretty clear from the amount of people I talk to who are desperately looking to increase their headcount, but are struggling with finding the right skills. And the continuing move towards a service-based model, means more skills than ever before are needed.
In fact many people have told me recruiting the right staff, and retaining the good ones is the number one headache they are facing this year.
I could add to that by saying the same about good journalists – the market is so competitive and companies are literally fighting over good candidates - it is intensely frustrating to be recruiting at the moment!
For those who haven't read the article, the least recession proof profession was travel agencies.
A recent article on Channelweb said that strong IT professional candidates were basically allowed to name their price and choose what benefits they want from a prospective employer and they will just get everything their heart desires. The recruitment process has basically turned on its head.
And according to some industry bodies, the situation is only going to get worse as older generations retire, and youngsters snub the industry for professions such as blogging and singing (oh dear!).
There is only so many times you can approach the staff of your rival and try to tempt them over, surely the benefits of training up a new person are attractive?
Indeed more and more VARs are launching their own apprentice training schemes as they try to attract new talent from the ground up.
And CRN is trying to recognise that vital service of bringing new talent into the industry, by launching a dedicated category at our Sales and Marketing Awards in July.
But is there more that could be done? We at CRN have batted the idea around of some sort of IT fair aimed at schools/colleges/universities to try and get young people interested and excited about the industry, and thinking about a career that offers real returns, rather than aspiring to appear on X-factor and The Voice.
I'd be interested to know from our reader(s) whether this would be something you would support?
Please get in touch and share your thoughts.
25 Jan 2016
As some of you may or may not know, I am in a band, and we are currently going through a name change scenario - artistic differences, yada, yada.
It is quite a lot more hassle than I originally thought.
The name we originally picked (entirely without any research) has already been taken, so we swapped the words around and designed a new logo. Which is pretty cool in my opinion.
However, the other band with the similar sounding (but not identical) name have a similar logo (but not nearly as good as ours!)
We are based in two different geographical locations, are very different entities, but are now wondering if we should just start all over again, or whether we would have any legal problems with using the name and logo.
I'd love to know what you think! Have you had similar problems on a business name level, and what have you done about it?
I know in the channel, there are firms with very similar names, and indeed several sets of resellers actually have the same name - but they have co-existed nicely side-by-side for many years.
Any thoughts/suggestions are very welcome!
31 Dec 2015
Well here we are at the start of another year. They certainly seem to come around quickly these days.
It has been a pretty eventful year with one of the biggest VAR acquisitions we have seen (Kelway/CDW), and another significant IPO (Softcat), plus vendors that have split in two, left, right and centre.
From what I've heard it hasn't been a terrible year for many, but everyone agrees they are having to work harder and longer just to stand still. Customers are wiser, and want more for their money.
That is something we at CRN can agree with.
In 2016 the signs are pointing to the fact that cloud computing, big data, the IOT and security are all going to be hot topics, but of course none of us know who will become the real giants in those areas in the future - we can only look at the giants of today. But things will change eventually.
Skills are also going to be a major concern this year - how do you keep hold of talent and attract new talent to your business? Particularly as those with all the years of experience are beginning to think outside the IT industry and to a quieter life.
And of course consolidation will continue. I wonder who will be the first of 2016?
We hope you have enjoyed the 2015 journey with CRN and look forward to sharing all that 2016 has in store.
Thanks for all your support over the last 12 months, and please keep in touch to let us know what is going on - we like positive news as well as the negative - so do share your news with us.
As ever, we will have our two awards evenings later on in the year and I will take this opportunity to urge you all to enter - if you don't shout about your successes, nobody else will.
So all that remains to say is Happy New Year and here's to a prosperous and fruitful 12 months ahead.
21 Dec 2015
Being a Christmas baby really does suck.
Mobile network provider Three has even launched a campaign called ‘Merry Birthday’ after questioning people born around Christmas time.
It is encouraging people to remember those who are unfortunate enough to have birthdays at this time of year. It is also encouraging people to bake their Christmas-born friends a ‘Merry Birthday Pudding’ to honour their birthdays.
According to the Three results, a whopping 76 per cent of those questioned said they wished their birthday fell during a different month.
On a personal note my birthday is on 27 December, and I wholeheartedly agree with that result – I would much rather have a summer birthday if given the choice. That way, at least the fun is spread throughout the year, rather than concentrated into one week.
My biggest bugbear as a small child was people wrapping birthday presents in Christmas wrapping paper.
When I mentioned that once, I was told not to be ungrateful – but I wanted birthday presents wrapped in birthday paper! I didn’t care what they were, I just wanted different paper!
However I’ve been extremely lucky with my friends and family who have definitely kept the two events completely separate, it is just me who goes into Christmas/birthday Grinch mode!
And as I got older and got some perspective, wrapping paper doesn’t matter in the slightest - now I’d rather have no presents at all, just people’s company!
There is an upside to having a birthday so close to the day itself, everyone is in party mode already, it is often a bank holiday, and if they don’t already have plans (there’s the rub), they are quite happy to come and celebrate.
To see the Three video, click here – it is very amusing, and anyone born around this time of year will know exactly how it feels.
In all seriousness, I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and a very happy New Year, and for my fellow Capricorns, have a great birthday as well with lots of birthday wrapping paper!
See you in 2016.
20 Nov 2015
It is always with a sense of relief that I make it into the office the day after the channel awards.
And that special 'channel awards feeling' is definitely present today. It is taking me about ten times longer to complete something than normal!
I have to first of all say I was bowled over by the ACM Gospel Choir and Rob Brydon - they both made the evening that extra bit special, and the fact that Rob Brydon sang his own walk on song will stick in my mind for a long time to come. Wow!
It was reassuring to know that Mr and Mrs Brydon lose sleep at night wondering who will win the SMB Reseller of the Year award.
Now I know the usual comments will start about the winners and there really is nothing else I can do to convince people that the awards are given out on merit by the judging panel, but I do urge you to speak to the judges, don't just take my word for it.
Many of the judges were once very cynical about the whole process, but having been involved, are very happy to talk about it to whoever is interested. And I will continue to recruit doubters to prove to them that it is a genuinely independent process.
I should also say I cannot give individual feedback on every single entry, and I really don't have the time to do that, but please do re-read your entry and see if it could be made more UK centric (if you are a vendor), can you include other facts and figures, are your testimonials good enough, does your entry entertain and fully inform the judges, or is it just a block of rehashed corporate statements? Every detail counts, particularly as those near the top have really upped their game.
Congratulations to all our winners and Judges' Commended winners, you really did achieve something last night.
And as ever I would say to those who made the shortlist, but who didn't scoop the prize; please don't give up, keep trying because the slate has been wiped clean, and next year's awards are there for the taking.
However before we do launch the next awards, we will be further tweaking the categories, so be prepared for some changes as we continally strive to keep it fresh.
Thanks to everyone who came along last night for their contiuing support of CRN.
11 Nov 2015
I had to laugh to myself when I heard that Asda is not participating in Black Friday this year.
Yep, the very same Asda, owned by US giant Walmart, who is, in the main, responsible for bringing this bizarre event to the UK in the first place.
That should be a line in an Alanis Morissette song if ever I heard one.
I couldn't believe my eyes last year when I saw the scrums up and down the aisles in supermarkets and major retailers. People grabbing stuff their neither want, nor need, just because it is cut price.
Of course, a lot of people calmly sit at home and snap up bargains that they neither want, nor need, because it is cut price. Or claim they are buying said cheap items as Christmas presents for friends and family, who also neither want, nor need them.
Cue a few days after Christmas, a returns frenzy, both online and in-store, as the scale of the amount of stuff bought that is neither wanted, nor needed, becomes apparent.
So boringly predictable! And it is coming to a website/shop near you very soon. Just not Asda.
And while I'm on the subject of the dreaded C-word, why is Christmas music playing in the shops already? It is NOVEMBER. I don't want to hear snow falling all around me, or to rock around a christmas tree.
Christmas is in DECEMBER.
It must be my age, but I often find myself thinking back to the Christmases of my youth, when there was a real build up to the big day, and adverts didn't start creeping in before the clocks even changed.
Christmas music and ads only started airing a week or two (at most) before, and then you couldn't get enough of it!
The excitement was at its peak on 25 December, but now it always feels a little flat because we have been hearing about it for so long already, that we are over it before it begins.
And on the subject of adverts - I really feel for Currys PC World. Not only did they splash out a considerable amount of money on hiring Jeff Goldblum (£10m actually), and release a set of adverts with a serious message about appearing grateful for some really naff presents, but two other retailers had exactly the same idea about their ad campaign message.
It is like going to a large black tie event and spotting two other women wearing the same dress as you.
I wonder if a few 'advertising experts' are having their heads banged together as a result.
07 Oct 2015
The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) World Economic Outlook (WEO) has predicted lower global growth compared to last year and has already caused some national news outlets to start warning of another global recession.
According to the IMF’s latest figures, world economic growth will drop from 3.3 per cent to 3.1 per cent this year.
That is the lowest annual growth rate since 2009 and just a smidge over the three per cent level where economy watchers believe signals a global recession.
The fall was spurred on by weaker growth in emerging economies including China, and the impending rise in interest rates in the US.
Maurice Obstfeld, the IMF economic counsellor and director of the research department, said: “Six years after the world economy emerged from its broadest and deepest post war recession, the holy grail of robust and synchronised global expansion remains elusive.
“Despite considerable differences in country-specific outlooks, the new forecasts mark down expected near-term growth marginally but nearly across the board. Moreover, downside risks to the world economy appear more pronounced than they did just a few months ago,”Obstfeld added.
But is it time to start worrying about another recession?
The last thing we need is for those people controlling the purse strings to start getting all cautious again, especially when it appears budgets are being released for much needed IT investment across the board.
The IMF itself admits growth will go up to 3.6 per cent next year, so that is slightly further away from the dangerzone.
I must admit, the industry people I speak to seem to be pretty positive so far this year, but this could be because I’m a journalist and they don’t want me sniffing around for a story!
Would be keen to hear any thoughts on this and whether anyone is concerned about a looming recession.
21 Sep 2015
Living in landlocked Leicestershire – the chances of me getting out in a boat are pretty slim, so I always jump at the chance to get on the water – bizarrely never suffering from seasickness, and preferring the water as choppy as possible.
On arrival at the Isle of Wight, the EMC branding was very visible on the quayside, and after registering and signing some scary looking waiver forms for my forthcoming boat trip, I was able to watch the various crews board their vessels and sail out to sea to begin their races.
Sponsored by EMC and organised by Britannia Corporate Events, this year’s event saw 20 boats, crewed by people from the IT industry (some never having sailed before), take part in a number of races over two days, with the winners being crowned on day two, after amalgamated scores and handicaps were taken into account.
Companies including EMC, Microsoft, Computacenter, VCE, Fortinet, Exclusive Networks, TM Group, Avnet, Skyscape, Juniper and Commtech all had boats and were determined to lift the trophy. Considering the event has been going for nearly two decades, competition is extremely tough.
Once the teams had all left the marina, I was escorted onto a RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) and introduced to my skipper Graham, where we spent nearly four hours racing around between the yachts with the official photographer, catching some great pictures and footage of the action.
It certainly was quite rough and ready, and I got thoroughly soaked, but the weather stayed fine and it was an absolutely amazing experience (even though we did get in trouble with some of the boat crews for causing too many waves by cutting in front of their boats – oops!)
Once the races were over and the various crews had returned and had a chance to shower and change into black tie, it was time for the evening event to raise money for three charities – NSPCC, Dreams Come True and the Jubilee Sailing Trust.
There was a silent auction, and a normal auction, plus a crazy game of Heads and Tails – which I didn’t win, natch.
After one of the most moving speeches I have ever seen, both in this industry and outside of work, from Microsoft director Jay Epton, the money came flooding in, and the CEO of British Home Stores (BHS), Dominic Chappell, made a huge donation of £25,000, with a pledge to donate the same every single year the event runs. Wow!
Races continued the following day, until the event came to a close with an afternoon tea and a prize-giving ceremony before everyone headed back to the mainland for a well-earned rest over the weekend.
So far the event has netted over £70,000 (and still counting) which is a fantastic result – well done all.
The winners of the event were: First place: EMC, second place, Catalyst IT and third place, Net Evidence.
The Microsoft boat, skippered by Shaun Frohlich – one of the founders of the Silicon Cup – came in fourth. Better luck next year Shaun!!
From what everyone was saying to me over the two days, the aching muscles and bruises were worth it, and it was one of the best team-building events they had done.
I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am so glad I finally got to see what it was all about!
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