Career so far I founded Stone Computers in 1991, commencing sales of configured desktop PCs to further education colleges. Prior to Stone, I had a career in sales after leaving college, including sale of air freight (TNT) and as a car hire branch manager (start-up branch). I moved into the IT industry with a public sector sales role at Calabco, a reseller of Packard Bell, where I identified shortcomings in their customer service and satisfaction levels and left to start Stone Computers after 12 months.
If you could be anyone else for a week, who would you be and what would you do? I would be Jenson Button, simply because I think it’s about the best lifestyle you can have in terms of living it up – surrounded by girls and fast cars.
Cloud – friend or foe? Friend. If you don’t explain to people what the cloud is, they may see it as a foe, though the reality is that we have been using it for years and it is here to stay. And to the education market, cloud certainly should be seen as a friend because of its positive effect on reducing operational costs. For instance, storage costs, which are notoriously expensive, will be reduced, and servers previously held on site will be moved offsite and data stored in the cloud instead. Challenges do however exist around system architecture, integration, security of data and connectivity. The future will be about developing innovative business models that use the technological advantages that cloud computing enables to the best of their advantage.
Has 2011 been as bad as everyone said it would be? It hasn’t been far off as bad as everyone predicted. In fact, it’s been fraught with financial uncertainty and a great deal of nervousness around timing of budgets. It’s been a fairly problematic year and revolving around this uncertainty of unchartered territory is that people have not really known, certainly in our sector, what to expect in how budgets are going to end up.
What would you have as your last meal? As a Birmingham lad, it would have to be a chicken tikka jalfrezi, with a nice cold pint of Cobra to cool it down.
Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with? Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas – completely self explanatory.
Have any of your predictions come true this year? Unfortunately, my prediction that 2011 would be very difficult for our industry certainly does appear to have come true. There have been positives in the expectant Apple growth coming to fruition, and the gap between notebook and desktop shipments closing. We have been surprised but encouraged, however, at the transition from entry-level platforms to core technologies.
What do you see as the channel’s biggest challenge in 2012? The channel’s biggest challenge still appears to be the lack of appetite for PC sales from certain organisations within the public sector, and this is down to the continuing financial crisis. The channel itself faces the same challenge – simply put, where is the money coming from? As the competition continues to heat up, the smaller companies will get squeezed time and time again, so I think it’s going to be an aggressive year with margin pressure prevailing in every area as far as I can see.
What is the best part of your day? Disappearing into the local park with my dog for an hour – but only because I’m getting old and boring these days.
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