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View from the channel: Barry Matthew, CEO, Ethos

Q: How’s business; better or worse than 12 months ago? And how confident are you about the future?
A: There is no doubt that the pandemic has affected everyone, meaning business is certainly worse for a lot of organisations than 12 months ago. Overall, I am happy with what we have achieved in the last 12 months as it has demonstrated the resilience of the organisation.

The pandemic has acted as a catalyst and has given us the opportunity to become more agile not only in our business operations but also ensuring we can help our customers to adapt to new ways of working. In that regard we are very confident about the future and what it holds and have started to see success in these areas.

Q: In what areas are you experiencing strongest demand?
A: We have had continued strong demand in our telecommunications and our integrated solutions businesses. Under the circumstances the strongest demands have been on saving money and improving efficiencies. I think there is a new appreciation from clients on the extent of the indirect cost savings they can make through improving efficiencies throughout their business.

Q: How have you changed/are you changing business operations to exploit new opportunities?
A: The pandemic saw a national cultural shift in terms of home working. As a business, this shone a light on what we should be doing to facilitate this for our clients in a way that suits their business going forward.

Through our telecommunications, integrated solutions and managed document solutions, we have helped and will continue to make our clients as efficient and agile in the new workplace by ensuring our solutions meet the demands of a hybrid workforce.

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing channel businesses today?
A: For us, it is the uncertainty, however every business is different and will approach this challenge in different ways.

Q: Could vendors and distributors do more to help you overcome them? And if so, what?
A: Absolutely. To start with they need to make sure they can meet the demands of the channel as it bounces back. We have already seen some short-term problems with the supply chain which is a hangover from Brexit and we do not want that to continue. Manufacturers need to be a lot more commercial with their channel business partners, we work in a fast paced sector and they need to match our expectations by making quicker decisions. In fairness some are better than others in that regard, but still warrants mentioning. We can only be as agile as our partners.

Q: If you could change one aspect of your job what would it be and why?
A: For me, it would be getting back into the office and seeing staff return to an office environment. Businesses such as ours have been impacted with people not being in offices and I would go as far to say that this has been the biggest impact on us.

Now that we are in a position with exiting lockdown and we have a clear road map on how this will be executed, we are confident about the future and seeing people return to offices in the next two to three months.

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