What has been your personal highlight of 2020?
Seeing Purechannels grow. With so much uncertainty around and so many friends, family, colleagues and industry contacts being adversely effected by COVID, I am super proud to say, albeit it with sympathy for others, that we have not furloughed and we have not made any redundancies. Not only that but we have employed new people, revenue is up, and we have welcomed a number of new clients too.
Which three celebrities would you invite to a Zoom party?
Freddie Flintoff, Will Smith, Dolly Parton.
What has been your guiltiest lockdown pleasure?
Wearing shorts or tracksuit bottoms, T-shirts and hoodies every day!
Which tech figurehead has inspired you most this year, and why?
Not one in particular, to be honest. I have found inspiration in more places than tech this year. Yes the tech leaders have done great… but has it all been their doing, entirely? Really? Yuan, Bezos, Gates, Dell, Musk, Roslansky have benefited and provided many great coping mechanisms for so many people. But these are somewhat expected.
My inspiration has come from things closer to home. My nine-year-old autistic daughter and what she has taught me about communication. Seeing both my daughters every day, for breakfast, lunch and dinner during lockdown. Being able to sustain and grow the business, which has had the effect of securing our employees' jobs, so they don't have to worry, stay in work and look after their families. The key workers, NHS and otherwise, and what they have gone through. The many acts of kindness that have restored and/or revitalised our faith in humanity. My wife and her nailing home schooling! And the fact that so many things we consume and that consume us these days are essentially unnecessary luxuries.
I have loved a bit of simple living, appreciating time, getting back to basics. That's been inspiring.
What piece of technology, or app, have you not been able to do without during the pandemic?
Microsoft, particularly Teams and OneNote. I could make a good case for Ocado and Amazon too. Oh, and a wonderful new channel news aggregator called Nuzoo that has served me with channel news articles from all over the world as soon as they are published.
If you could be anyone else for a week, who would you be and what would you do?
Peter Schmeichel in the week of the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final.
Do you miss face-to-face events?
Yes and no. I have built much of my career through networking and face-to-face interaction, but actually video, and the possibilities that it provides has - I believe - allowed us to be more productive this year. I think the emphasis on video and the lack of face-to-face interaction has enabled us to become more connected and return to being more human again.
However, the cancellation of big, annual events has had a big impact on the channel and its people, and at the same time, it has meant that we have had to move on, adapt, respond. There have been some great examples of diversification (I won't use ‘pivot' as the best use of that word has already been made by Ross Geller in Friends!)
One thing the UK channel has been amazing at is demonstrating the ability to carry on and discover more, new, brilliant ways of continuing to do business, without the need to spend endless days in a conference centre. The new dawn of digital is here. We thought it came a few years ago, but it didn't. 2020 has been the year of understanding, adopting and learning how to really benefit from digital.
How will COVID leave its mark on the way the channel operates long term?
With lasting memories, that future generations will be taught about. A genuine mix of sadness, devastation, opportunity and success punching imminent, sometimes expected failure in the face, then picking it up, dusting it down and welcoming it to share the experience!
This year will be remembered as the year the UK IT channel switched on a digital mindset. We will emerge with a greater understanding and new adoption of all things digital. Events, I believe, have now changed forever and will not be so prevalent going forward. Vendors will wake up to the needs of partners and how to engage, educate and enable them on the benefits and tactics of digital for marketing and business development activity and how important it is for everyone to adopt a digital mindset, not just one or two designated people or departments.
This will fuel the change in buyer behaviour with more going online, especially as a first action, and therefore marketplaces, communities and ecosystems will continue to thrive, evolve and succeed, as will many new types of partner. Transition to and acceptance of the need to maximise partner experience will climb up the list of priorities as this year has reinforced and accelerated the need to work with partners on their terms and based on their needs.
Collaboration will increase between vendors and partners alike, and distribution will continue to increase and expand their value-add, cementing their position while changing outdated perceptions.
A much more service, experience, satisfaction-led sale will be the focus where expertise, credibility and confidence will be the priority as the buyer landscape continues to evolve across lines of business and the early stages of sales cycles will continue to evolve into more demand-led interactions.