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Westcon opens up about Romanian outsourcing move

Distributor Westcon has revealed a business process outsourcing (BPO) firm with operations in Romania will take charge of some of its EMEA finance and operations functions. Parent company Datatec announced yesterday that 300 of Westcon's 1,900 EMEA staff would be affected by a "BPO transformation" of its EMEA operations.

Westcon senior vice president David Grant revealed a phased migration of the functions in question will occur between now and mid-2017 and insisted service levels for resellers would not be affected. Although Grant was not in a position to divulge Westcon's BPO partner, he described it as a global outfit "in the top-right of the Gartner Magic Quadrant". "We separated our activities into those we see as transactional and those that add value to the customers and vendors," he said. "Anything that is very transactional we have decided to outsource to another organisation as it gives us scale and efficiency."

The outsourcing project will run alongside Westcon's impending European implementation of a global SAP project, Grant said, adding that affected employees may be offered other roles in the organisation. "It is not a case of everything changing on day one," he said. "Where roles are affected we will give people significant advance notice, as it's the responsible thing to do. We are growing, and while some transactional roles will be eliminated from the business, some new opportunities will be created so we will take as much time as we can to retrain and redeploy staff where it is appropriate to us."

Westcon, which operates through the Comstor and Westcon brands, has order-processing staff in 42 countries in EMEA, Grant said, adding that any staff whose roles are displaced will be offered the choice of staying on to help with the migration. Employee and other fees associated with the migration will cost parent Datatec about €11.5m in its current financial year.

Rival distributor Ingram Micro centralised more EMEA back-office functions to Sofia in Bulgaria last year.

Grant said it made more sense for Cisco, Avaya, Polycom, Juniper and Check Point partner Westcon to partner with a BPO outfit with knowledge of the region. "We have chosen an organisation where it is their core business to provide business processes and support," he said. "We are not experts in sourcing a facility or finding local language specialists and training them on what we do."

Romania, which is where the BPO firm in question will carry out Westcon's transactional work, was ranked fourth in an index of the top global BPO locations this year carried out by Cushman & Wakefield, behind Vietnam, the Philippines and Bulgaria. Grant emphasised that Westcon's "core value-add" will be retained in-house and claimed that neither customer service levels nor its ability to execute would be affected by the move. "Our top 10 vendor partners have all offered to make sure there is good knowledge transfer and are helping to train our BPO staff," he said. "If you think about it, most of our major vendors have some part of their organisation that is outsourced so are completely familiar with what support they can give us."

Graeme Watt, EMEA president at rival distributor Avnet Technology Solutions, confirmed his company has also made some steps towards centralising transactional functions, "but nothing like on the scale we are seeing with Westcon". "It is fair to say that everybody is looking to see how much of that non-technical, more run-rate, transactional operations they can centralise," he said. "We have been talking about it for a while and we will centralise functions and operations where we think it makes sense and keep things local where we think it makes sense." (source: Channelweb United Kingdom).

Another acquisition for Ingram Micro

After Canai, Clarity, Aptec, Armada, Anovo and most recently DOCdata, the American giant broadliner continues its acquisition spree with Brazilian network and security VAD AÇÃO, which ought to become its local Advanced Solutions division. In addition to a portfolio of higher value products, including those from strategic vendors such as IBM, Oracle, Red Hat, EMC and VMware, AÇÃO also provides integration services, sales support and financial services, with operations in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay. AÇÃO key leadership has agreed to join Ingram Micro upon close of the transaction to assist in the integration and help drive continued growth and expanding profitability across the combined business thereafter. The transaction, which is subject to customary regulatory and other closing conditions, is expected to close late in the 2015 fourth quarter. AÇÃO is expected to contribute in excess of €270m in annual value-add solutions revenue to Ingram Micro and be modestly accretive to 2016 full year non-GAAP earnings per share.

Ingram Micro CEO Alain Monié commented, "As evidenced by a history of strong operating margin contribution, Ingram Micro has been extremely successful in rapidly expanding our high value business in Latin America, particularly in Brazil, where we are already established as one of the leading overall technology distributors and have enjoyed strong double digit growth rates in local currency for many quarters. AÇÃO's position as a key solutions value-added distributor is a perfect complement to our rapidly growing higher margin business in the region. The company has a long history of strong business fundamentals, and brings experienced management in an emerging geography that remains attractive for Ingram Micro over the long-term. We expect to realize meaningful vendor cross-selling opportunities in the countries we share, as together we will have a significantly expanded portfolio of high value offerings to better serve our customers. We look forward to AÇÃO joining Ingram Micro and we are confident the addition will enable us to build further on the region's revenue and profitability contribution."

Enio Issa, Grupo AÇÃO president, added, "Ingram Micro is the perfect partner for AÇÃO to help us continue to drive our established and fast growing high value business in Latin America and I am confident that together we can further accelerate the strong performance our individual companies have provided for our customers. Ingram Micro understands how to successfully conduct business in the region and we are excited to join such a globally recognized world class organization.".

Arrow Electronics to host major European IoT seminar series

Arrow Electronics has announced plans for a wide-ranging and all-embracing set of seminars on the Internet of Things (IoT) across Europe. The IoT in Focus tour will encompass locations in Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom and cover connectivity and embedded applications, system integration, big data and the cloud. Arrow has a broad range of expertise and an extensive network of suppliers with IoT capabilities, enabling it to advise and assist organisations that want to capture value from the explosion of the IoT.

The IoT in Focus seminars will cover where the IoT is now and where it is going. With a predicted future of billions of connected things, the correct selection of platform, technology, communication and data management architectures are essential for a scalable and secure IoT implementation. As with any new innovative emerging market, new standards, evolving designs and applications present challenges of implementation, but also offer significant opportunities for growth, increased operating efficiencies and the delivery of more value to end users.

Arrow and its suppliers are well positioned to advise and deliver end-to-end solutions for IoT that are secure, scalable and future proof. Arrow's engineering teams are trained to provide guidance on all aspects of IoT systems including sensors, low power microcontrollers, wireless connectivity, networking protocols gateways, operating systems, security, big data platform management, and Cloud solutions including device management, data analytics and visualisation. The IoT in Focus tour is provided in collaboration with companies including Atmel, Cypress, Dell, Eurotech, Freescale, IBM, Intel, Linear Technology, Microchip, Microsoft, NXP, Qualcomm, Silicon Labs, STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments. More than 20 leading suppliers are involved in the tour.

DISTREE EMEA 2016 to provide access to complete go-to-market ecosystem for consumer technology products

DISTREE EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) 2016 will be held from February 24-27th at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco. Taking place for the 14th consecutive year in 2016, DISTREE EMEA will gather more than 1000 senior executives including vendors, plus distributors, retailers and e-tailers from across the entire EMEA theatre. The annual event provides a powerful business development platform for consumer technology brands at all stages of maturity to manage, build or launch channels across the expansive EMEA region. Alexandra Sinson, Event Director for DISTREE EMEA, said: "Next year's event will reflect the fundamental changes taking place within the go-to-market ecosystem for consumer technology products in EMEA. Brand identity, channel models and time-to-market are now critical factors determining the success of a product within the multiple markets that make up the EMEA region." While the traditional vendor-distributor-retailer sales model continues to form the foundation of the consumer technology channel in EMEA, it is now part of a more varied and complex go-to-market ecosystem, which brands need to fully embrace to build sales across the region. "The wider go-to-market ecosystem will be fully represented at DISTREE EMEA," explained Sinson. "This now includes online marketplaces, logistics and fulfilment specialists, group buying sites and a range of marketing services providers. DISTREE EMEA 2016 will give participating brands a unique opportunity to meet a wide range of companies capable of improving their consumer reach and sales volumes."

Approximately 200 product brands will be represented at DISTREE EMEA 2016. Utilising DISTREE Events' extensive EMEA channel database, senior executives from the most influential volume distributors in 60-plus countries will be invited to attend. They will be joined by senior executives and product buyers from e-tailers and retailers spanning 40 European markets. Sinson continued: "Each delegate will have the opportunity to view and research all attendees prior to the event and request one-on-one meetings with those most closely aligned to their business needs. This allows vendors to build a tailored agenda focused on markets that are most strategic to their aims in EMEA. It also allows channel delegates to concentrate on specific product categories."

The participating brands at DISTREE EMEA 2016 will represent a wide variety of product categories spanning technology and consumer electronics. Fast-growing product categories including wearables, drones, audio and smart home products will be allocated more space within the exhibition area in 2016. Core products such as PCs, tablets, smartphones and related accessories will also feature extensively at next year's event. "We're seeing a proliferation of brands in the market," explained Sinson. "The commoditisation of the manufacturing process in some categories means that brand perception and channel enablement are now major differentiators in the market. DISTREE EMEA 2016 is a focused, trade-only event that enables brands to position themselves for success in multiple markets."

DISTREE EMEA 2016 will also include a series of awards programmes designed to identify rising stars, hot new products, best-in-class brands as well as distributors and retailers that have excelled in the EMEA region during the previous year. Sinson explained: "The DISTREE Diamond Awards will allow delegates to select the outstanding brands by product category based on their presence and interaction at the event. The Fresh new technology showcase, hosted by Sightline Group, will introduce delegates to some hot new brands and products. The '60 Seconds to Convince' awards will give a number of exhibitors the chance to deliver a one-minute elevator pitch to the entire DISTREE EMEA delegate base, with the winners determined by a live electronic vote."

In addition, DISTREE EMEA 2016 will also host the ‘EMEA Channel Academy: 2016 Awards' as part of its overall programme. These awards recognise distributors, retailers and e-tailers for channel excellence and will take place for the 8th consecutive year in 2016. DISTREE EMEA 2016 will also include a packed conference programme including keynotes, workshops and summits focused on a wide range of topical issues. As an independent event, DISTREE EMEA will invite a wide range of channel experts from multiple research houses and consultancies, giving delegates access to cutting-edge content and deep insights into the latest market trends and data. Event Partner GfK will deliver a keynote speech, a series of workshops and a lunchtime briefing session for senior executives at DISTREE EMEA 2016. Content Partner CONTEXT will host the Smart Channels Summit – a half-day session focused on how the retail channel will evolve and develop to deliver smart products, connected devices and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions and services to consumers in Europe.

The conference programme at DISTREE EMEA 2016 will also include a keynote from Nick Sohnemann, Founder & Managing Director at Futurecandy, focused on how new ways of doing business and engaging with consumers are changing the traditional roles of manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Sohnemann is one of Europe's leading experts in trend and innovation research. Sinson continued: "There are multiple challenges for the EMEA consumer technology channel and also many new business opportunities. By bringing the entire go-to-market ecosystem together in one place at one time for a focused trade event, DISTREE EMEA offers a wide range of business benefits and a clear return on the time invested in attending. Whether it is developing effective multichannel strategies, implementing clear pricing policies, building brand awareness or working with retailers to improve consumer engagement, DISTREE EMEA gives brands the opportunity to have purposeful discussions with senior decision makers capable of delivering tangible business results across EMEA." DISTREE EMEA increased its available exhibition area by relocating to the Grimaldi Forum in 2015. This move has created the capacity to host a greater number of exhibitors, delegates and trade press at the event.

International telecom veteran Benoit Scheen joins Brightstar

Mobile phone specialist Brightstar has announced that Benoit Scheen has joined the company as President of Brightstar's Europe, Middle East, Turkey and Africa region. Based in London, Scheen will report to Jaymin B. Patel, Brightstar President and CEO, and will assume responsibility for all Brightstar business in EMEA and the growth and integration of wireless distribution and services. Brightstar currently serves device and accessory manufacturers, mobile network operators, retailers and enterprise customers across nearly 50 countries in the region, with offices in Denmark, Finland, Germany, Lithuania, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

"Benoit will lead our EMEA region through the next phase of growth as the world's leading mobile products, services and technology organization," Patel said. "Benoit brings a wealth of experience in technology and telecommunications, ranging from leading mature, international companies to launching start-ups in the mobile market. His entrepreneurial spirit is well-aligned with our way of doing things and his know-how is a great match for our business partners."

Scheen served as Executive Vice President of Europe for Orange where he held P&L management of €12 billion revenues generated by 38,000 employees, serving 65 million customers across the European footprint. Scheen was also a member of the executive committee of the Orange Group, responsible for all the Orange subsidiaries across Europe, excluding France. From 2007-2011, Scheen was the CEO of Mobistar, the 2nd largest player on the Belgian telecommunication market. Additionally, Scheen also serves as Board Director for TDC, a leading telecommunication and home entertainment company in Scandinavia, and Evonet, a Belgium-based Internet Service Provider operating in the B2B market.

"I am eager to contribute to the innovation Brightstar brings to the mobile marketplace," Scheen said. "Together with SoftBank Group Corp., it's a powerful combination of entrepreneurial spirit and new services and technologies that grow our customers' businesses and differentiate from competitors."

Scheen replaces Bela Lainck, who was promoted to lead Brightstar's Global Services organization responsible for aligning all Brightstar solutions across the entire mobile device lifecycle. Lainck will lead the global effort to unify the company's go-to-market teams and deliver complete solution delivery for Brightstar's OEM, operators, retailers, and enterprise customers in 100 countries across six continents.


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