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View from the channel – Martin Roberts, Managing Director, Neuways

Q: How’s business; better or worse than 12 months ago? And how confident are you about the future?

A: Neuways has seen growth in both turnover and profit, which is a great achievement given the circumstances. We’re fortunate enough to be operating in sectors not affected in the same way as businesses who were serving customers in hospitality or retail.

We are confident about the future, although there’s still a degree of uncertainty about Brexit. While it will impact our customers who trade in the EU and worldwide, we don’t expect it to alter our operations at all. We feel as though the last 12 months have given us extra confidence in the way we feel about our future – if we can cope with what’s just happened, we can deal with anything.

Our flexibility, combined with our ability to embracing technology to help us react and capitalise on changes outside of our control, mean we can emerge from 2020 in a strong, confident position.

Q: In what areas are you experiencing strongest demand?

A: We have seen huge growth in Office 365 and the use of Microsoft Teams, primarily driven by the pandemic and the new ways of working. This has seen us change the way our customers are supported, as many of them move from on-premise systems to the cloud.

The pandemic has accelerated many businesses technology plans. Digital transformations which may have been considered as medium- to long-term goals have now become immediate needs. There has been a huge demand for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, too, as businesses realise that having the right systems in place to make them agile and help them operate better is critical.

Q: How have you changed/are you changing business operations to exploit new opportunities?

A: As businesses become cloud orientated and move their systems online, we’re incredibly proud of the service levels we have continued to provide to our customers and continuous improvement of these is at the heart of everything we do at Neuways, even as we service our customers from home.

We have grown our ERP and Business Central team to make it an increasingly large part of our business going forward. We have also looked to capitalise on the information, advice and guidance we are able to provide to customers and businesses across the board. This may seem unusual, but we believe in businesses having as much information as possible, up front, when it comes to getting their infrastructure and systems right for growth.

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing channel businesses today?

A: It’s about dealing with the demand for change and dealing with it in a coherent and efficient way. It’s important that we don’t get distracted by lots of new features, but that we continue to develop the core specialities we are experts in, which are delivering business productivity and improvement through productivity tools and ERP, with security at the heart of it all.

We are keen to ensure that we’re giving clear, structured roadmaps to our customers that make sense in an ever-changing landscape, and are designed to enable growth, and accommodate for a lot of outside pressures.

Q: Could vendors and distributors do more to help you overcome them? And if so, what?

A:We have some great vendors, one of whom are Datto. They are fantastic in that they help, support and encourage us by not going into the channel. Our relationship with vendors helps us to feel confident that when we go to the market we won’t be diluted in any way.

This gives us the most useful support in our market approach. Respecting the channel is always the way to help resellers like us.

Q: If you could change one aspect of your job what would it be and why?

A:I’d like to be on a yacht in the Mediterranean, off the coast of Monaco! In all seriousness, I hope there’s a transitory desire to get back in the office on a regular basis – of course when it is safe to do so.

While I think the future will see more of a hybrid approach, and technology has allowed working from home to succeed for so many businesses over the last 12 months, there is a benefit to being together. When an issue emerges, there is nothing like going into a meeting room and saying, “Let’s solve this together”. It’s all about being part of a team and pulling together – you get that palpable sense of being a team when people are together, and at times, virtually that could be lost.