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By 5 November 2020 | Categories: feature articles

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By Spencer Chen, Managing Director of Rectron 

Digital transformation acceleration

As we look ahead to 2021, the lessons learned from the country’s national lockdown in a bid to flatten the curve of Covid-19, will undoubtedly shape the trends of the coming year. What many businesses have learned the hard way is that ensuring infrastructure has been upgraded and optimised to accommodate for new ways of working is no longer a nice to have.  

While the last 6 months have forced companies around the world to find an interim solution for the moment, businesses now need to consider more long-term and cost-effective solutions. As an industry we can definitely expect to see continued momentum and focus on public cloud solutions. For the channel, this means the need to upskill around cloud to stay relevant. 

The workplace goes hybrid

From being an incremental business trend less than a year ago, working from home was thrust upon all organisations without warning. For some companies this may remain the case. But as countries globally ease lockdown restrictions, businesses are evaluating the balance between work from home and the traditional workplace. For some businesses, Covid-19 has illuminated operating costs that could be cut with many looking to downsize office space and adopt a more hybrid working approach. Others are eager to fire up operations to full capacity. Either way, we cannot expect a one size fits all model which means the channel needs to adapt accordingly.  

In terms of hardware, we have seen some interesting trends. Working from home has certainly brought about a change in what people are buying. The most obvious being a surge in demand on audio and videoconferencing solutions. With a full household now sharing a network device, entry level home networking products are no longer sufficient. Given this, we are seeing a surge in mesh networking devices that offer faster speeds and stronger signal around the home. 

In addition to this, we’re seeing that people are looking to buy displays that double up for personal and business use, which has led to larger monitors sizes being sold in the market, moving up to even 49”.  

Print solutions have also taken a giant leap in demand and this trend does not seem to be slowing at all worldwide. Consumable sales go hand in hand on the supplies needed to run these devices. This is still a mixed space with ink tank technology being the leader in the units being sold with laser becoming a strong contender. 

Supply Chain pressure 

COVID-19 has had a severe impact on availability of goods. We are seeing worldwide shortages across various tech hardware, ranging from devices to headsets and webcams. What has been interesting is to see as the market moves to alternate options, which will have a longer lasting impact, for example, the recent uptake on AMD. 

Impact of recession

It’s no secret that the South African economy is under pressure. We’ve seen retrenchments around the market, in a bid for businesses to stay afloat. The impact of this is that consumer tech will come under pressure, as people have less disposable income. The result being one of two things – people opting for cheap and cheerful alternatives, and buy entry level gadgets, or they will stop spending altogether. While people and businesses are sweating their assets, the market is also starting to see a shift towards components upgrades on existing assets, such as upgrading to solid state drives, which will help to get the performance required in the short term.  

However, there is an opportunity for the channel to provide smart hardware as a service or financed solutions. 

The impact of decreased credit limits being provided by credit insurers will also impact the eco-system. Less credit will mean that that the channel will need to tightly manage their cash flow in a difficult economy. 

Cyber security

We are seeing cyber security attacks grow each year with an exponential increase in breaches as cyber criminals take advantage of the past few months. However, small businesses are the most vulnerable, since many have not implemented adequate measures to prevent and respond to attacks. It’s important that the channel creates awareness of this and looks for opportunities to build solutions for their customers. 

Power solutions 

The threat of load shedding, or Eskom’s new “load reduction” means that organisations and consumers will continue to experience hours without power. Until the situation improves, people will continue to need alternative power solutions leading to a high demand in the UPS space. Inverter solutions and the various applications for power security is still growing and we are seeing more and more solutions entering the market. 

Datacentre solutions will continue to grow in the country along with power solutions to ensure that power continuity is in place. We have seen a high demand for these solutions, more so in the 10 000va level and upwards. This has been a very promising area.  

Home entertainment

With people around the world being stuck at home, or being discouraged from going out, there’s been an increased demand for entertainment at home. Countries around the world have seen an uptake on entertainment subscription services. In line with this trend, demand on gaming devices will continue to grow as people look for alternate ways to stay entertained at home. 

While we have woken up in a world vastly different to just a few months ago, the channel has a key role to play in ensuring business continuity and we are ready for the challenge. 

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