Blog, News & Events

Here’s a selection of the latest news, views and insights from industry leaders and experts from across the globe.

News & Events

Christmas is a time for giving and the team at ASM are very proud to support two charities close to our hearts this year.

The Salvation Army are distributing items to children in poverty who otherwise may not get a present. This Christmas, they aim to provide children in need in the local area with a main present and a stocking.

Home Instead has been at the forefront of specialised home care for the elderly and supporting those being cared for and their families for many years. Home Instead are supporting seniors in the local area who may be lonely or not receive a present this Christmas.

The team clubbed together to donate gifts for these very worthy charities.

We were thrilled to attend the CRN Channel Awards last night with our strategic partner GoTo co-hosting a platinum table for our guests from Computacenter.

The CRN Channel Awards are the most prestigious awards in the UK Channel. With hundreds of entries and a rigorous judging process, to win a CRN Channel Award is the highest accolade in the UK channel industry. The awards themselves are a staple in the industry calendar and is the biggest celebration of the year.

Adele Hope-Urwin, Head of Vendor Alliances said

“We’re delighted to be hosting a Platinum table at the CRN Channel Awards with our partner GoTo! We really enjoy working with GoTo on a strategic basis and taking their Unified Communication solutions to our customer base. We’re also joined by some of the team from our valued customer, Computacenter. Thanks for joining us and we’re really looking forward to celebrating!”

ASM Technologies were pleased to be invited to the Computacenter GTS Conferences which took place throughout October. The conference welcomes valued partners to celebrate the non-sales function of Computacenter and celebrate successes whilst looking to the future.

Senior Business Development Manager for Computacenter, Simon Keilty attended the UK event on 14 October and said

“This year’s GTS conference was especially good as it’s the first big event since Covid that partners have been invited to. It was great seeing so many friendly faces and celebrating successes of individuals and teams across the business.”

Key Account Managers for Computacenter Germany, Daria Hein and Indre Jureviciene said

“We really enjoyed attending the GTS Germany Conference in Cologne on 28 October. It was great to see so many of our customers in person who we’ve spoken to over the phone and on email over the past two years. Thanks to the team for inviting us and we look forward to connecting again soon”.

Recently, Leanne Ogden, Head of Business Development and Ellie Swinglehurst, Business Development Manager had the pleasure of attending the Atos Leading Ladies Brunch in aid of The Princes Trust as part of their Million Makers scheme. The event focused on empowering female talent and raising funds for a great cause.

The Princes Trust is a youth charity that helps young people aged 11 to 30 get into jobs, education and training. Their mission is to transform the lives and build sustainable communities worldwide, with a particular focus on supporting young people into education, employment and enterprise.

Leanne Ogden, Head of Business Development said

“We were excited to be invited to the Atos Leading Ladies Brunch at the stunning Kew Gardens. We were joined by many accomplished women from various industries and heard talks from keynote speakers and panellists who shared their inspirational journeys of working across the business and charity sectors. Thanks to Atos for hosting such a great event”.

Recently the ASM team joined Atos for their sixth annual Atos Regatta to raise money for The Princes Trust through their Million Makers scheme.

The Princes Trust is a youth charity that helps young people aged 11 to 30 get into jobs, education and training. Their mission is to transform the lives and build sustainable communities worldwide, with a particular focus on supporting young people into education, employment and enterprise.

Ellie Swinglehurst, Business Development Manager said

“We started the day with a few practice runs, then braved it out on the English Channel. Congratulations to the team for putting together such an incredible event – this truly was the best excuse to get away from our laptops and spend some time with our Atos crew mates in a unique team building experience. Thank you to our very brave team for joining us on the day and supporting a fantastic cause to help transform the lives of young people.”

It’s a very exciting time at the ASM Group as we celebrate 30 years in business.

Over the past three decades the business has evolved significantly to predict and support what our customers need. Back in 1992 ASM found a niche in the market providing specific parts to systems integrators to now supplying innovative and disruptive technologies to some of the biggest IT providers around the world.

ASM has always been about our people and many of our fantastic team have been with the business for decades. Our people have worked hard to build relationships with our customers and continue the business growth and we would like to thank our team for their hard work over the years.

As we look ahead to the next 30 years, the future couldn’t be more exciting.

We’d like to extend a huge thanks to the hugely entertaining Magician, Andrew Dean and Spencer May for creating some fantastic caricatures of the team.

22 September 2022

On Thursday 22 September, we held our annual partner event, ASM Thrive, the first in-person partner event in 2 years.

We hosted over 20 vendors, some of whom we’ve partnered with for many years, to more recent relationships fostered over the previous couple of months, and showcased the facilities at our new Cheshire HQ.

Adele Hope-Urwin, Head of Vendor Alliances at ASM said

I’m delighted to be able to host our first in-person Thrive event at our HQ, where we bring our strategic partners together to update and review what we’ve achieved in the first half of our financial year and to plan the second half with structure and focus. This type of engagement is critical to drive business for our partners and support our customer’s needs. I’d like to extend my thanks to the vendors who attended, and I look forward to our continued partnership.

ASM Thrive brings our eco-system of disruptive vendors together to collaborate and discuss future growth plans. We were joined by partners from 7SIGNAL, Camunda, Checkmarx, GoTo, Login VSI, Matrix Booking, Nitro, RealWear, Pro2Col, Seedata, LastPass, Kollective and Rocket Software.

We recently held ASM Connect 2022 at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London and it was great to get our team, customers and vendors back together at an in-person event after such a long time.

During the event our guests heard keynote speeches from Futurists Matthew Griffin and Amelia Kallman sharing insights about how emerging technologies such as AI, the Metaverse, VR, MR and XR will impact the future of work and the customer relationship.

Our visitors also had the opportunity to take part in activities in the prestigious stadium. Many guests were given an exclusive tour of the football ground which proved a fantastic moment for football fans. Some guests even challenged themselves to The Dare Skywalk, ascending the 100 steps leading the stadium’s exposed rooftop walkway and onto the viewing deck 46.8 meters above the pitch!

With the venue being one of the world’s most technologically advanced stadiums it proved a perfect opportunity to showcase the new branding for the ASM Group.

Iain Tomkinson, ASM Sales Director said

“The feedback from the event has been excellent. The Futurists have inspired our guests to think about the future and which technologies will be set to make an impact. I would like to extend my thanks for everyone who attended including our customers and key sponsors. I’m not sure how we’ll top this next year, but we’ll certainly try!”

An event such as ASM Connect 2022 brings our eco-system of disruptive vendors straight to the customer so they can learn about innovative technology first-hand. For this event we hosted Kollective, GoTo, Nitro, 7Signal, Jamf, Checkmarx, Camunda, Primer and Bose Professional.

The event was thoroughly enjoyed by all and we are already looking at where we can host ASM Connect 2023!

ASM took home first place at the very first Northwich Krazy Races!

The day was truly fantastic with over 15,000 people coming together to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support whilst having a great time. It was wonderful to see so many of the wider ASM team come along with their families to join in with the fun and support our Krazy team.

A huge thanks goes to our Krazy team; John Shorter, who also built our winning kart; our driver Ruta Porwoll and performance team; Julie Blackburn; Theresa Noden and Joanne Royle!

John Shorter, Business Systems Manager at ASM said

“We are thrilled to be winners of the very first Northwich Krazy Races event! We entered the competition to support the local community and the support we received back during the day was incredible. The kart was built from scratch by ourselves over evenings and weekends to resemble a computer mouse and to win 1st place against tough competition at our first event is truly fantastic! Thank you to all involved in the organisation of the event and to all the other teams who made us feel so welcome. A thoroughly enjoyable day was had by all!”

We are extremely proud to announce a brand-new look for the ASM Group. Our business has gone from strength to strength over the past 3 decades and our new look is set to support significant future growth plans.

As a partner of choice to Global Systems Integrators and Resellers we bring tail spend management alongside an infinite eco-system of disruptive vendors across 4 continents and 55 countries globally. Our new look and feel website allows us to showcase the unique relationships held between ASM and our Platinum Partners.

Iain Tomkinson, Sales Director, said:

“We are really excited to launch the new branding for the business. We wanted to represent our evolution and from an industry perspective. We have moved from a linear perspective and bring content to the forefront utilising colours and clean images. The team were tasked to represent the personality of the business, innovation and our ecosystem of vendors. I’m sure you will agree with me that they have captured in our new branding the essence of ASM, leading into the next part of our exciting journey as a business.”

The team are looking forward to taking our brand forward whilst continuing to represent the values developed over the past 30 years.

If you want to learn more about ASM and how we can support your business, get in touch with one of the team HERE.

Today, we are delighted to announce that for the third consecutive year the ASM Group has delivered double digit growth. Turnover has increased across all entities in which we operate.

Yet again we have experienced strong organic growth across EMEA, through the strategic expansion into more regions and acquisition of new customers. ASM’s unique business model continues to support a fulfilment infrastructure across 4 continents and 55 countries globally.

We continue to partner with disruptive vendors to bring value to Global System Integrators and Value-Added Resellers, which in turn support organisations across the globe.  We have also expanded our ecosystem of Partners and forged new relationships with vendors whose technologies are truly disrupting the market.

During the year, we opened the doors to our prestigious, state of the art office at Gadbrook Business Centre which was built with sustainability, innovation and collaboration at the forefront. Our expansion has also created new positions within the business, and we are delighted to welcome our new colleagues to the team.

As we look forward to the coming financial year, we are excited to collaborate in person with our customers, partners and vendors, developing our strong relationships to stand us in good stead for continued growth.

We’d like to extend our thanks to our team, customers, vendors and partners for their continued support.

ASM Group delivers double digit growth for another consecutive year

We were thrilled to have been announced as the 2021 UKI Distributor of the Year by our Platinum Partner, GoTo at their UKI and Nordics Partner Summit 2022.

Adele Hope-Urwin, Head of Vendor Alliances at ASM Technologies said

“We are delighted to have won Distributor of the Year with GoTo. After working closely with their excellent team, it’s great to have been recognised for such a prestigious award”.

Working in partnership with ASM, GoTo software is designed to support end-users’ unified communications & collaboration (UCC). This award is a true testament of fantastic collaboration and we look forward to a long and prosperous continued partnership with GoTo.

Recently the ASM team joined Atos for their 5th Annual IT on the High Seas, raising money for The Princes Trust through their Million Makers scheme.

Stephen Dale, ASM Account Director for Systems Integrators said

“What’s knot to like? Raising money for a great cause, whilst learning an exciting new skill, it takes remote working to a whole new level. As the conversation flowed from the weather to waves to work, we were out of our comfort zone and learning about teamwork whilst supporting The Princes Trust Charity. This is my favourite corporate event and was superbly organised. Thanks to everyone involved, especially our Atos crew members for daring to sail with us novices. Ahoy!”

We were thrilled to be announced as the Top Distributor of the Year by our strategic partner, Grafana Labs at their 2021 GrafanaCONline partner awards.

Christina Gillman, Worldwide Channel Sales Manager at Grafana Labs said

‘The flexibility and intuitiveness of the team to help facilitate and close deals has been a real pleasure to see. We know there is so much more we can do together, and I very much look forward to that growth.’

In partnership with ASM, Grafana Labs supports organisations’ monitoring, visualization and observability goals through an open and composable platform built around Grafana. Grafana dashboards are the world’s most adopted operational dashboards with millions of users and hundreds of thousands of organisations. The unique value is that data can be rendered without moving the core source and data can be combined and correlated like no other solution.

Adele Hope-Urwin, Software Channel Manager at ASM Technologies said

“It’s been a pleasure working with the team at Grafana to develop our business relationship and add their solution to our portfolio of innovative technology”. The team always go above and beyond to support projects with our customers and the level of knowledge spread across the team is exceptional. I look forward to developing our partnership with Grafana in the future”.

This award is a true testament to the fantastic teamwork at ASM Technologies and we look forward to our continued partnership with Grafana Labs.

We were thrilled to have been announced as the winner for the Most active partner in Marketing by our strategic partner JetBrains, at their 2021 partner awards!

Working with ASM, JetBrains make professional software development a more productive experience. Their products make it easy for developers to take care of quality during all the stages of development and spend much less time on maintenance tasks. By automating routine checks and corrections, their tools speed up production.

This was a great team effort by our Marketing team, and we look forward to our continued partnership with JetBrains in the future.

We are incredibly proud to have been ranked for the second year running in The Sunday Times International Track 200. This is a fantastic achievement and a true testament of the hard work from the whole team at ASM working together towards a common goal.

To qualify for The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 companies need to be registered in the UK and be independent, unquoted, and ultimate holding companies. They are ranked according to the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of their international sales over their latest two financial years.

Since inception in 1992, ASM Technologies have become leading experts in their sector and partner with the world’s largest and most successful Resellers and Systems Integrators. We are a multi-national business with offices in London, Paris, Dusseldorf, and a head office in Cheshire and our fulfilment infrastructure delivers to 4 continents and 55 countries globally. ASM Technologies improve profitability through agile technology distribution with customers gaining access to an infinite portfolio of innovative technologies and disruptive vendors.

ASM Sales Director, Iain Tomkinson said

“Thank you to our customers, vendors and the fantastic ASM team that continue to deliver robust organic growth across Europe and beyond. We are very proud to be recognised by The Sunday Times Fast Track for International growth for the second year running and I look forward to further growth in the future”.

Earlier in the year, way back before social distancing was even a thought in our minds, ASM exhibited at Computacenter’s global kick off in Manchester.

Over the years the event has become a real focus for Computacenter as it allows one point a year where every salesperson at the company can get together. The reasons for this are clear. Firstly to celebrate the success of the previous year, whilst also to discuss and plan for the year ahead. It gives a unique opportunity to gain a deep understanding of the strategy of the business and ensure the support is there to achieve those goals.

Just as importantly, the event is also a great time to meet up with vendor partners and account managers to build on relationships. That’s where ASM comes in. As the appointed Preferred Partner for Non-Focus products for Computacenter Group we work hard to support software, services and hardware requirements that are not available through broadline distribution.

The global kick off is an invitation only event for Computacenter’s partners who add the most value and have become an integral part of their business so here at ASM we were extremely proud to receive our invitation.

Over the course of the two-day event we had an extremely busy, central stand with over 700 visitors from the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and the USA. This kind of event offers our account management team invaluable time with contacts from these countries while continuing to build upon our relationships within Benelux and the US.

Simon Keilty, Business Development Manager for Computacenter, said

“the event is best opportunity to meet different people from around the business and understand their challenges for the coming year and seeing how we can best support them”.

For this event we shared the experience with some of our key strategic partners and were able to showcase disruptive and innovative technology direct to the wider sales team.

We really appreciate the chance to be involved in an event such as the Group Kick Off and we’re looking forward to next year’s event already.

30 January 2020

Connecting our customers to innovative and disruptive technologies

Held at the Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, ASM Connect 2020 was a one-day exhibition, to showcase just a few of our strategic partners and the innovative and disruptive technologies we can provide.

Our visitors were given an exclusive tour of the football ground which was a key moment for many of the football fans in attendance. For us, the event provided a fantastic opportunity to communicate our key brand messages and display ASM Technologies’ and strategic partners throughout the ground and the event.

At ASM we deliver an infinite number of suppliers, many of whom would be seen as weirdware or niche. An event such as ASM Connect 2020 brings these suppliers straight to the customer so they can learn about innovative technology first-hand. For this event we hosted Opswat, LogMeIn, Jamf, Nitro, Subsidium, Forum Systems, Endace and Blancco. We had some great feedback from the event with one supplier telling us it was the most useful networking event they had ever been to.

The event was thoroughly enjoyed by all and we are already looking at where we can host ASM Connect 2021.

Technology has typically been a male dominated sector but at ASM we’re very proud to say 66% of our workforce is female.

Today we’ve been celebrating all of our fantastic team with some sweets treats while raising awareness about discrimination.

The aim of the IWD 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign theme is to get the world talking about Why equal opportunities aren’t enough. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action. Read more about this here.

We talk about Emerging Technology a lot, whether that be on our podcast, ASM Connected or in our day to day work with our customers. During a keynote speech at ASM Connect, Futurist Matt Griffin argued that those who think we’re not living in sci-fi times are wrong, so we decided to explore some of the key emerging tech trends we’ve seen throughout 2022.

Conversations around the newest generation of wireless technology, 5G are happening more frequently as more industries adopt and see benefits. In ASM Connected episode 9, Inma Martinez, Digital Pioneer and AI Scientist shares that anyone offering digital products and services are going to be part of the new telecom industry with technologies such as 5G, Edge and Cloud Computing making up the technology of the new century. 5G differs from 4G and 3G because the benefits go far beyond connecting to a smartphone, and play a vital part in the digital ecosystem of the future.

Want to work from anywhere? With the rise of Virtual Reality (VR), more and more people are successfully thriving in this new digital world. At ASM Connect, Futurist Matt Griffin spoke about the notion of ‘Working from Anywhere’ and how this also extends to working within VR, and not just working away from the traditional office. It seems that everyone is talking about the metaverse and how the internet as we know it will look completely different in the future. Futurist Amelia Kallman in episode 5 of ASM Connected gave us some great insights on what we can expect, such as how it will be a decentralised network of immersive spaces that connect to create one universe. Amelia shared that one of the practical challenges will involve uniting the many spaces which currently exist as a multiverse, such as Fortnite, Roblox and Minecraft, and making them interoperable so users can move from one space to another, like we do with the Internet. There is lots to look forward to with this technology, and who knows, perhaps one day, you’ll be listening to ASM Connected in the metaverse!

Moving onto Synthetic Data, which tends to be most commonly used in the financial services and healthcare industries, is information that’s artificially and algorithmically manufactured and stands in for real life data where there are constraints around using sensitive or regulated information. In series 3, episode 4 of ASM Connected, Simon Godfrey shares insights about the opportunities for public sector organisations to leverage Synthetic Data and Digital Twins to drive better outcomes.

Augmented Reality (AR) is an emerging tech trend that gained popularity during the pandemic when businesses were forced to work remotely. Richard Price spoke about a study conducted in the healthcare sector about patients attitudes to clinicians wearing AR goggles such as Google Glass and Microsoft HoloLens. They found that when clinicians were wearing headsets such as Google Glass, patients weren’t as opposed to them because they were smaller and more discreet, whereas when clinicians wore headsets such as the Microsoft HoloLens patients felt it created a barrier between them and the doctor.

Deepfake technology is frightfully gaining significant traction around the world. This technology leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence to manipulate audio and visual content to replicate someone else’s appearance. Deepfakes can be unbelievably realistic so exercising caution and discretion is paramount. In episode 5 of ASM Connected, series 3, we spoke to Öykü Işık, Professor of Digital Strategy and Cybersecurity at IMD Business School, who shared insights about FakeCatcher, the world’s first real-time deepfake detector, launched by Intel, which detects fake videos with 96% accuracy by looking for clues of what makes someone human, which is subtle blood flow captured in the pixels of a video.

Assisted Reality (aR) is often confused with Augmented Reality (AR) however aR is a reality first, digital second experience. Our partner, RealWear is the world’s leading provider of Assisted Reality wearable devices which connect the modern frontline worker to all the information they need, when they need it. Workers are able to utilise the aR technology to leverage the hands-free verification and visual documentation they need to fulfil their role and don’t risk the same safety concerns linked to bulky hand held equipment.

Finally, Natural Language Processing (NLP). When choosing technology, you should always consider how it helps people to work more efficiently. Our partner, Primer AI are an industry leader in NLP technologies and work with government agencies, financial institutions and more to automate text-based workflows at scale with human level quality. In episode 15 of ASM Connected, Primer AI’s Geoffrey Nicholls MBE and Nick Melgaard spoke about the practical benefits NLP technology can deliver to the defence sector and beyond. Primer AI are experts in addressing some of the National Security use cases such as identifying disinformation campaigns, monitoring global events in real time and responding to cybersecurity attacks.

We’ve really enjoyed working with so many emerging technologies throughout 2022 as well as discovering from our podcast guests about what else we can expect to see in the future. The emerging tech landscape is continuing to grow, but the question is, are you prepared?

The ASM team celebrated Christmas Jumper Day on Thursday 8 December to raise money for Save The Children.

Save the Children is a UK charity for children that works in over 100 countries to make sure children are fed, learning and treated fairly.

We hosted a Christmas Jumper competition where the team came to work wearing their best Christmas Jumper, which was judged by some of the children and teachers from Rudheath Primary Academy. ASM also donated selection boxes to the school as a thank you.

The winners of the wackiest Christmas Jumper competition were Chloe Bentley from the Customer Services team in first place, Ruta Porwoll from the European Sales team was the runner up, and Mark Buckley from the Sales team took home third place.

16 November 2022

We were thrilled to co host ASM Boost with GoTo on Wednesday 16 November at the Sea Containers on London’s iconic Southbank.

Adele Hope-Urwin, Head of Vendor Alliances said

“This event is a great opportunity to showcase GoTo’s innovative unified communications solutions in a relaxed networking environment”

GoTo’s flexible-work software, including GoTo Connect, GoTo Resolve, Rescue, Central and more is built for small and medium sized business IT departments, but powerful enough for the enterprise. GoTo software is designed to support end-users’ unified communications and collaboration (UCC) and IT management.

We were thrilled to host our partner, RealWear for our November Sales Enablement session at our HQ. Thanks to Derrick Sawyer, Regional Director for Northern Europe and Ben Wright, Customer Success Manager for EMEA at RealWear for the engaging and enjoyable update and demo of the RealWear product suite.

Adele Hope-Urwin, Head of Vendor Alliances said

“I am thrilled to have secured our partnership with RealWear and to add their market leading assisted reality products to our vendor portfolio. As our newest vendor partnership, I’m excited to host RealWear at our Cheshire HQ for an engaging training session with our sales team”.

RealWear is the world’s leading provider of assisted reality wearable solutions that engage, empower and elevate the modern front line industrial worker to perform work tasks more safely, and with increased efficiency and precision.

Derrick Sawyer, Regional Director for Northern Europe at RealWear said

“RealWear is excited to join our distribution partner ASM to collaborate on all things RealWear! We look forward to sharing with the ASM team the skills and knowledge to continue to innovate and empower today’s frontline worker and offer an exceptional customer experience to our mutual customers”.

The team had a great time celebrating Halloween at our Cheshire HQ today.

We put our pumpkin carving skills to the test with a ‘Best Pumpkin’ competition. The calibre was high and really put our judges to the test. Customer Service Advisor Rosey Stapleton took the crown of first place with her glitzy pumpkin!

We’d like to thank our partner, Checkmarx for visiting our HQ on Tuesday 4 October and delivering Sales Enablement training to our sales team and providing a buffet lunch. It was great to meet Naseer from the partner success team and discover the latest updates and developments in the Checkmarx One product suite.

Checkmarx is constantly pushing the boundaries of Application Security Testing to make security seamless and simple for the worlds developers and security teams.

Adele Hope-Urwin, Head of Vendor Alliances said

“I’m really excited to host Checkmarx at our head office for our Sales Enablement session. Checkmarx solutions help our customers build tomorrows software securely at speed. It’s really important for the team to engage with our partners through these sessions and educate ourselves on this advanced technology. I can’t wait for the team to learn more about how this great technology can help our customers”.

Naseer Ahmed, Channel Sales Manager at Checkmarx said

“ASM is one of our most valued and trusted partners. Sessions like today allow us to build on our existing partnership in a mutually beneficial way and grow together. I’m a people person and getting in front of the ASM team helps to strengthen personal relationships and work better together. Although our partnership with ASM is in its early stages, I think the future is bright and I’m looking forward to our shared success.”

Today we hosted our coffee morning to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Support.

Macmillan Cancer Support is there to do whatever it takes to support people living with cancer. They raise money to provide vital cancer services, research and campaign to achieve better cancer care, and support the cancer workforce.

We invited individuals from across the business to bring in homemade or shop-bought cakes and sweet treats for the team to enjoy.

The turnout was great and it was great to get the team together and enjoy the tasty treats whilst raising money for an incredibly worthy cause.

Thanks to everyone who brought or baked a cake and donated!

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to the team at GoTo who visited our office to deliver Sales Enablement sessions. We enjoyed meeting the partner team at Goto and learning more about the capabilities of the products and building on our existing strong partnership.

The team enjoyed a lunch provided by Goto through the Wildfire Pizza Company.

Adele Hope-Urwin, Head of Vendor Alliances said

It’s great to host GoTo for our Sales Enablement session at our Cheshire HQ. It’s brilliant to see so many of the team opting to join the meeting.

Goto software is designed to support end-users’ unified communications & collaboration and IT management & support needs.

Liselott Maidment, Senior Partner Manager at Goto said

It’s really important to us to develop our strong partnership with ASM and to understand how we can continue building on our shared successes. Running these Sales Enablement sessions ensures that we continue raising awareness for GoTo across ASM and foster great working relationships.

We’d like to thank Russell Harpham, Enterprise Development Manager from Bose Professional who visited our office to deliver the first in-person Sales Enablement session. The team enjoyed meeting Russell and understanding the Bose Work initiative and developing our partnership further.

Adele Hope-Urwin, Head of Vendor Alliances said

”It was my pleasure to host Bose for the first in-person sales enablement session at our new head office. Bose offer a fantastic product range of high performance audio systems for all environments, to suit all businesses. It was great to learn more about the solutions with such a valuable session for our team”.

We wanted to share some exciting news with you.

We are delighted to announce that for the third consecutive year the ASM Group has delivered double digit growth. Turnover has increased across all three of our businesses (UK, Germany and France) driven both organically, and through the strategic expansion into more regions and acquisition of new customers.

Our growth demonstrates the resilience of our footprint across EMEA and continued commitment to our customers. We continue to be the partner of choice to Global System Integrators and Value-Added Resellers. ASM’s unique business model continues to support a fulfilment infrastructure across 4 continents and 55 countries globally.

Through our team’s work on a variety of exciting projects, we have expanded our ecosystem of Partners and forged new relationships with vendors whose technologies are truly disrupting the market. To recognise the dedication of our excellent collaboration with our vendors, we’ve received numerous awards.

During the year, we opened the doors to our prestigious, state of the art office at Gadbrook Business Centre which was built with sustainability, innovation and collaboration at the forefront. Our expansion has also created new positions within the business, and we are delighted to welcome our new colleagues to the team.

2021 also saw the launch of series 2 of the ASM Connected podcast, in which hosts, Iain Tomkinson and Stephen Dale, collaborated with key speakers, futurists, and business leaders from across the globe to explore emerging technology trends, innovation and more.

I’m incredibly proud to work with such a dynamic, resilient, and dedicated team” said Iain Tomkinson, Sales Director.

“In September, ASM will be 30 years old and I believe that our ability to adapt to everchanging landscapes and customer demands has been key to our success. As we look ahead, this coming financial year is really about developing robust, long term relationships with our customers and partners to equip us for strong growth in the future. After two years of remote working, video conferencing and virtual events, we’re really looking forward to coming together with our customers, partners, and team to celebrate our joint success over the last two years”.

Something exciting is coming, watch this space for more updates…

Financial year end 2021-22

2021 Emerging Tech in Review. It’s not really a panda burger!

We talked about emerging tech a lot throughout 2021. Series 2 of the ASM Connected podcast has been a great success and our esteemed guests have told us how far we have come and where we are going next. Futurist Matthew Griffin of the 311 Institute, who started out in distribution, even talked about as far forward as 30+ years from now. But in order to predict the future, we must look at the past, said Brett King in episode 3, so we have looked back at 2021 to see how our business has aligned with what the futurists have been talking about.

Starting off with Enterprise Content Delivery Network (ECDN). This has moved rapidly from emerging to essential and we’ve enjoyed this journey with our partner, Kollective Technology. It’s no surprise that big companies are using more video for internal communications and the need for scale has challenged many. In episode 2 of ASM Connected, Richard Potter from Microsoft discusses their focus and commitment to the hybrid and remote working future which Kollective are supporting. Together we’ve helped deliver a greater ROI for users of Teams throughout 2021.

Biometric Authentication reminds us of this year’s challenges, when making payments using facial recognition on our phones was thwarted by our face masks. It was back to entering a passcode which is so last decade. Thanks to our partner, Idenprotect, we’ve seen some great steps forward this year towards eliminating all passwords. In episode 3 of ASM Connected, Futurist, Brett King explains a whole new future of payments technology which will change our in-store experience entirely. Goodbye passwords, hello responsible proactive finance.

Virtual Reality has been building for a few years now. You may have seen a virtual reality tour of Tottenham Hotspurs new stadium before it opened in 2019 or enjoyed the TV show “Your Garden Made Perfect” which introduced many of us to the practical uses of VR during lockdown 1.0, when we all got into gardening. Oculus seem to be leading the charge, but if you listen to ASM Connected episode 5 with Futurist, Amelia Kallman, you’ll hear how Ray Bans, Microsoft and obviously Apple will all be in the race for our brand loyalty in the future. VR has been the most popular answer this year when we’ve been asking our podcast guests about their favourite tech gadgets.

Internet of Things is another buzzword we have all heard a lot about this year. Other than our connected home devices, the enterprise use cases have been slow to emerge outside of the manufacturing sector. However, it’s picking up pace and we may even see a leap directly to the Internet of Everything next year. We’ve seen significant development with our customers in IoT in the utilities and in the facilities management sector this year, but don’t rule out the progress that has been made in the retail and supply chain sectors. In podcast episode 7, Cate Trotter gave us some great insights into the massive transformation in retail. Subscribe to ASM Connected to be the first to hear the episodes with Brett Phaneuf and Inma Martinez; due out early next year, as they discuss IoT projects ranging from autonomous boats to smart cities and cars that are superior to humans.

Robotic Process Automation is the trend that has probably been talked about more than any other.  We all can’t decide whether to fear it or embrace it. I think on every podcast this series we have talked about how AI, machine learning and RPA are supposed to be bringing about the leisure society, but I haven’t seen many people work less hours in 2021, so I think there is some distance to go yet. Even automating simple tasks has been a challenge for many of our customers, but we have been really impressed with our partners at Keysight Technologies, Eggplant who are leading the way in automated software testing. It’s our favourite application of automation as it’s adding value in every sector our customers work in.

3D Printing is an interesting one. The tech is not so new, but it’s the use case and application that have advanced this year. We’ve come a long way from printing that missing Lego brick to solar roof tiles, replacement human body parts, and DNA matched meat free food. In Episode 4 of ASM Connected, Futurist, Matthew Griffin shares his thoughts on 3D printing and is a huge fan. You’ll soon hear our podcast with Dr Ruchi Pathak Kaul who is changing people’s lives with the use of 3D printing as a pioneer of maxillofacial surgery.

API Security is nothing new to us at ASM Technologies. We’ve been working with the industry leaders and pioneers at Forum Systems who have worked in this emerging space for the past 18 years. Everyone is integrating via API’s now. They are like digital glue, but any interface is a threat in a zero-trust world, so the more interactions we create, the more API Security becomes significant.

Device Management sounds a little less sci-fi than some emerging trends, but don’t underestimate the important role it has played in empowering and connecting people during the Covid pandemic. Our partners at Jamf have gone from strength to strength this year with use cases across health, education, business, and public sector bringing the familiar Apple user experience to enterprise and so much more. In the first series of the ASM Connected podcast, episode 2 with Elizabeth Lucas from Jamf covers the important role this technology has played in patient visitor communication in hospitals.

Big Data Security and Analytics has been one our most active trends this year. Our partners at Grafana have been super busy as their open-source platform delivers impressively on the observability imperative. In ASM Connected episode 6 of series 1, podcast legend Dave Russell explains the complexity of the layers of big data, in a way that even we understand.

Finally, Human Insight AI is an exciting trend, even if it sounds a little more niche than the others we’ve reviewed. In fact, the human and societal impact of new tech and our curiosity about AI have been consistent threads during Series 2 of ASM Connected. Keep a look out for our soon to be released podcast with Inma Martinez where we learn how emerging technology in the transport sector is already superior to humans and is improving further to keep us safe. Subscribe here to ensure you don’t miss an episode. Our partners at SmartEye are ones to watch in this emerging trend.

We’ve really enjoyed our contribution to emerging tech trends throughout 2021 and would like to thank all our excellent customers, vendor partners and podcast guests for joining us on this journey.

You’ll have to listen to episode 4 of ASM Connected with Matthew Griffin to hear the story about the panda burgers!

We wanted to share some exciting news with you. After an uncertain year that will go down in history for many reasons, we are extremely proud to announce that ASM Technologies has again seen double-digit, organic growth across our UK, German, and French businesses.

Like most businesses around the world, we entered the financial year with an uncertain view of what the pandemic would bring for the business, coupled with the economic concerns of entering a national lockdown and having to enable our employees to work from home securely, all within a matter of days.

Through the technologies of the strategic vendors that we partner with, the robust systems we have in place and the hard work and dedication of our Business Systems team, we were able to mobilise quickly and secure our remote workforce, and continue to provide an excellent, valued service to our customers who were also facing the same uncertainty.

We feel incredibly fortunate to have been in a position this past year where we have been expanding the business and have successfully recruited and filled many new positions. We’ve continued to be the partner of choice for Europe’s largest System Integrators and Value-Added Resellers and have not only retained existing customers and expanded into new regions, but also acquired new international customers too.

“I’ve always been extremely proud of the team’s ability to adapt and work in a way that best suits the needs of our customers and the projects at hand, but even more so this past year”

said Iain Tomkinson, Sales Director.

“The dedication and resilience that has been shown whilst working from home in delivering some really important projects has made me incredibly proud to work for ASM. I wanted to pay a special thank you to the team at our warehouse facility, who have quickly adjusted to social distancing whilst consistently making sure our customers are receiving their orders. I look forward to continuing to work with our customers on some great projects this coming year and welcoming the challenges that are thrown at us and am reassured in knowing that we have the best possible team to navigate what comes our way”.

We have lots to look forward to in this coming financial year, including moving into our brand new, state-of-the-art Cheshire HQ office. Watch this space for more info on this soon.

Digital Marketing Executive, Molly Oakley started with ASM in July and is working from home for the first time. In this blog, she shares her experience of remote working for the first time, her thoughts of starting a new job during lockdown and the advice she would give to others looking to start a new role remotely.

How did you feel about starting a new role from home during lockdown?

I was quite apprehensive about starting a new role from home during lockdown because I had never worked from home before so didn’t know what to expect. I was however very excited and very lucky to be starting my new role during this uncertain time and was looking forward to getting back to doing what I love and learning even more about the IT industry.

How did ASM support you starting your new role working remotely?

Any worry I was experiencing ahead of starting my role quickly disappeared when I spoke with my manager as she assured me that I would have my induction completed in person (socially distanced of course) and I would learn about the policies and procedures at ASM and receive all my equipment that I needed to fulfil my role. On my first day, I was introduced to both founding directors of ASM and was greeted with a warm welcome which was lovely. My manager got me set up with equipment and arranged for skype calls with each member of the management team and various other colleagues. It was lovely to meet the different people I would be working with and gain an understanding of their role. I also attended virtual coffee mornings with colleagues from different teams who I wouldn’t be working as closely with which helped me gain a better understanding of the wider business but also broke the ice and allowed me to have more informal conversations and get to know them much better.

Were there any challenges you faced starting a new role remotely and how were these overcome?

I was quite worried initially about how the communication with colleagues would be, specifically if I was unsure about a task I had been set or something was not working. In previous roles, I had never worked at home so I’d never needed to use video conferencing systems and although I vaguely knew how to use them, I didn’t realise how sophisticated they were and how many features they had. Upon discovering these features and receiving training on how best to use them, my mind was instantly put to rest as I had the confidence that I could communicate easily with my colleagues and raise any issues I had with ease and efficiency.

How did you find the process of building relationships with your new colleagues remotely?

I really enjoyed getting to know my colleagues and building relationships with each of them. I was assigned a buddy when I started who was someone I could go to (aside from my manager) who could answer any questions and be a friendly face/voice. My buddy was Sam Scott who you’ll hear from in another new starter blog and he started at ASM just as we went in to lockdown so aside from the two people he met at his interview, he met all colleagues virtually too. My manager thought that he would be a good fit as a buddy for me as he had been through the same recruitment process as me and could answer any questions from first-hand experience. Technology has played a vital part in making it possible for me to build strong personal and professional relationships with colleagues and partners. There is something much more powerful about a video call compared to a voice call in being able to build relationships with people. I’ve found it easier getting to know people in their natural home environments. Without technology, I think my remote working experience would have been very different and felt a lot more isolating.

What advice would you give to someone starting a new role remotely?

I would say keeping an open mind is important because my experience has been amazing and although I had my worries at the start, the support from all my colleagues at ASM has been amazing and any worries I had very quickly dissipated.

Sam Scott, Business Development Manager, started with ASM during the first UK lockdown. In this blog, he shares his experience of remote working right from the start, building relationships with colleagues and customers and any challenges he faced along the way.

How did you feel about starting a new role from home during lockdown?

I’d worked remotely and, on the road, previously, so the idea of home working wasn’t alien to me. I think what I really felt was excitement for the new challenge and a responsibility to become a tangible part of the business. Metaphorically becoming another oarsman, rowing our way through the unprecedented and complex seas of Covid-19.

How did ASM support you starting your new role working remotely?

If ASM was an act on Britain’s got talent, I’d of swiftly slammed my hand down on the golden buzzer!

I had the warmest of welcomes, warmest as a word doesn’t really do it justice. The support I’d received prior to my start, on my first day and throughout my time here has been incomparable to what I’ve experienced before. I guess, also, that we all have a sense of wanting to be a part of something. I can safely say that thanks to the family feel and outstanding support I’ve had, ASM have really made me feel part of something! More so than I would have expected.

Being forced to work remotely due to Covid can put you in that fight or flight mode. Adapting to a landscape that changed seemingly every week can be challenging and mentally draining. I remember having probably similar thoughts to many other people that; come the end of June, well be back to normal, then thinking the same about the end of July and so on. Thanks to the planning and support from my team I’ve been able to negate those challenges and focus on how we can help each other adapt whilst we meander our way through the new normal.

Were there any challenges you faced starting a new role remotely and how were these overcome?

No specific challenges work wise. Although, my work laptop and mobile phone were delayed by a day which was only natural whilst the country dealt with the surge of demand and difficulties of adapting to lockdown. Easiest first day of my life! I would like to point out that I am part of the single screen brigade and anytime I’m asked what my ‘set up’ is, I’m greeted with revolt and disbelief that I can work with less than three!

I enjoy working remotely as there are so many clear benefits of doing so. Less hours in the car, flexibility, saving time and money, more quality time with the Guinea pig! But of course, there’s a glaring obstacle we all face in the form of a pandemic.

Yes, there are days where the amalgamation of work and home becomes mundane and things we all enjoy don’t quite feel the same. However, remote working is what you want it to be and I’m thankful I’ve been able to lean on a team for inspiration and guidance.

With that said, I’d simply add that yes there are challenges BUT there always will be wherever you work.

How did you find the process of building relationships with your new colleagues remotely?

Some that know me will say I’m an interesting character baring any other descriptions that may not be suitable for this blog! I learnt a very important lesson at a very young age that I should know my audience which I’ve taken onboard but would still stand by the fact that we are all human and our faces were born to smile. If I can do nothing else apart from blessing you with crow’s feet in later life, that’s a job well done in my rather worn and unkept book! I’ve enjoyed the whole process of virtually meeting my team but I’m bleeding to meet my team in the flesh as soon as possible!

What advice would you give to someone starting a new role remotely?

Genuinely be interested in what you are doing! Being interested and intrigued by your work makes the days more enjoyable whilst working remotely. Also sip from as many fountains of knowledge as you can; grab a pint glass and fill it up!

At ASM, we are extremely proud of our workforce and are committed to developing skills and experiences across the team. Investing in our people is a vital part of the culture at ASM and lends itself to our core values as our people are our greatest asset and make all the difference. Our team is made up of driven individuals who are constantly contributing and adding to the wider team. Our dedication and determination mean that we can best serve our clients and generate real long-term value and benefits.

We are exceptionally proud of Leanne Ogden, Head of Business Development for being shortlisted as a finalist for CRN’s Women in Channel awards Outstanding Returner category. For this category, the judges were looking for someone who has been inspirational in returning successfully to a career. In this blog, we allow our readers to get to know the woman behind the nomination and gain an understanding of Leanne’s personal and professional journey so far.

Tell us about your role at ASM?

As Head of Business Development, I am responsible for managing the growth and development of our reseller account base and the external team. We pride ourselves on building and maintaining strong relationships with our key clients, helping our customers to explore the latest emerging technologies within the market to save our customers money and disrupt the status quo. As a team we look at innovative ways to add value to our existing clients using our extensive partner network to offer new opportunities. A typical week (pre Covid) for myself and the team involved four days a week on client sites. I think I speak for all the team when I say that we each thrive off the variety the role brings and the need to be ready, think on your feet and to expect the unexpected.

What led you to this career?

My mum. She is truly the inspiration for pretty much everything that I have achieved. Without her I am not sure what I would have chosen as a career. It’s true to say that I never really had any burning desire to work in the channel, in the beginning I just needed a job, and to quote my mum at the time “a proper job”. When I was offered my first job in IT, initially I declined it as I was scared. Scared that I couldn’t do it, scared of the unknown, scared that as a 21-year-old girl, I wouldn’t succeed. It was at this point that my mum stepped in with her words of wisdom and gave me the encouragement I needed and assured me that I could do it and would be successful. Fast forward 16 years and I absolutely love working in the channel – no two days are ever the same and I thrive in a fast-paced environment and working with ever evolving technologies. I only hope that one day I can be just as good an inspiration to my daughter.

Tell us about an accomplishment that you are proud of?

I have worked on several of ASMs key accounts, but my biggest achievement to date must be taking one of those accounts from a relatively small spend with ASM to now being our largest customer, transacting across multiple countries. Whilst this took around 12 – 18 months to achieve I loved every minute of it. There were lots of early mornings, late nights and overnight stays but there is no better feeling than living and breathing the success as it happens over time.

What personality trait do you most credit your success to and why?

I am a very organised person and believe that my approach to life and work have helped me to build a successful career. Whilst trying to juggle a busy work and home life, organisation is critical. In my role, I often have multiple deadlines to meet whilst supervising the team and managing my own account base so being organised enables me to work through my never ending to do list.

Good luck to Leanne as a finalist for the Outstanding Returner award at the CRN Women in Channel awards – we have full faith in you and look forward to watching you continue to grow in what will be an exciting future at ASM.

I wrote my intentions for 2020 down on the first day back at work. Be efficient, learn and communicate – it was all a bit fluffy, even by my own admittance.

Two days in and I was packing a bag for a working week in Orlando, Florida. “When are you going on your holiday” everyone would ask, and I would bite. Inside I’m thinking… work hard at school kids, get a good job, be good at it and you too could be packing your sun cream with your laptop. After a few weeks’ family time over Christmas, new year is the perfect time to go on a business trip, soak up some Vitamin D between meetings, and escape the cold, dark mornings. Yet I felt the need to play it down. If anything, family and colleagues should feel sorry for me – I had to put my Dry-Veganuary on hold.

One of ASM’s strategic vendors LogMeIn (now rebranded to ‘GoTo’) had invited us to their 3-day global Sales Kick Off event at Universal Studios. The theme was Be the Catalyst”. They were embracing Channel Partners in a big way, letting us into their world and treating us like their own.

It’s not easy for a vendor to navigate a multifaceted $Billion business towards the channel. Not least because THE CHANNEL, is not one thing, it is many channels. Traditional channels and shadow channels want differing things from a vendor partner. The old Telecoms channel that is morphing into the UCC (Unified Communications and Collaboration) channel, behaves differently from the CySec (Cyber Security) specialist channel, which differs again from the new emerging/disruptive tech channels pushing the likes of A.I (Artificial Intelligence) and RPA (Robotic Process Automation). It’s horses for courses as the old British proverb goes.

LogMeIn have solutions that fit into each of these channels and more besides. Could “Be the Catalyst” as a theme, be relevant to their direct sales teams AND their channel partners, or is it as fluffy as my own new year’s resolutions? I was just glad not to hear anything like the launch of a Platinum-Gold-Silver Partner Program. Even A.I can surely come up with something more 2020 than that.

Whilst meeting and socialising with the LogMeIners, there was a great sense of team, yet the talks and awards seemed more focused on individual performance. CEO Bill Wagner summed this up quoting the weekends NFL play-off debutant Deshaun Watson saying, “Somebody had to be great – why not me?” Right on theme with being a catalyst. I love a sporting analogy and with that quote, I was ready to be motivated.

COO Marc Van Zadelhoffs catalyst story kept the motivation high with the type of energy and enthusiasm you get at a Microsoft or Apple product launch, living up to his very credible pedigree.

The US high fiving and whooping culture was perfectly counter balanced by the quintessential charm of SVP Worldwide Sales Chris Manton-Jones. LogMeIn’s very own Mr Darcy.

Enter another outsider, Lisa Bodell. She reset my new year’s resolutions within 10 minutes, and those of probably all 1200 people in the room. 1. Ask Killer Questions. 2. Kill a Stupid Rule. 3. Be Chief Simplifier. Then she told us just to try just 1 of these things. She is my kind of influencer.

Evidence of success and future growth was aplenty. The Channel message was effectively ratified with proof of higher AOV’s (Average Order Values) and greater chance of upsell/cross sell when partnering with the channel. They didn’t use the word “stickiness”, but I think it fits well here.

Next up, the channel partners from across the globe were given a glimpse of things to come. It was a soft launch gently easing us into their more cohesive new focus, rather than a grand “ta-da” moment. An immaculate big bang theory of channels colliding to form a new world would’ve been a tough sell. The refreshing theme of the success stories were people and relationship centric rather than too product or channel program heavy. Some role playing was threatened by thankfully avoided.

And so, to beer and cocktails by the pool. Not on the formal agenda, but a welcome choice of location for a breakout meeting with EMEA Channel Sales Director Gerald Byrne and some of his team.  I say meeting, but when I was proper belly laughing to the point of tears, it was easy to forget to take minutes!

Universal Studios City Boardwalk and Harry Potter World were exclusively ours for that evening. I say “ours” because I was feeling very much a part of the LogMeIn family by that time.

The second full day of proceedings dived deeper into the varying parts of their business, yet the focus remained deliberately, and refreshingly, on case studies and success stories. Prestigious customers were there to champion the products and the process of engagement. The channel message remained strong.

The final evening was an awards ceremony. After celebrating with the winners and some great conversation, I did the classic escape trip on route to the bar. This time I was not the last man standing – how very sensible of me.

In summary this was an excellently organised event. LogMeIn are an established successful company, who are evolving and innovating. The overriding take-away was that this is a “people” driven business where relationships with customers and partners, and colleagues are key to its success. They communicated their message well and are keen to learn about how the channel can make them more efficient. Perfectly on theme with my own and ASM’s intentions for this year. Well done and thanks to the LogMeIn team.

Stephen Dale

Account Director – Systems Integrators – [email protected]

There I was, packing my bags for my forthcoming business trip, singing an abundance of songs about San Franciscodreaming of taking in the fantastic Californian views. 

How wrong could I be. Let’s get this bit over and done with, the travel was hard work, but I mustnt complain – I was in San Francisco!  I was keen to take it all in but arriving at night left nothing but an air of of trepidation  mainlaround my alarm going off the next morning. 

As someone who has been working in IT for… well let’s say lots of years, it was wonderful to be in the heart of innovation and see some incredible businesses. Even the adverts in the airport were of tech companies; it was like being in a microcosm of IT and I loved it.  

As I had never visited the city before it seemed only logical to see some of the sights while I had this great opportunity. So I spent the early morning walking around finding the offices of everyone we needed to visit. I’d walked so far and wide learning the streets and buildings my boss renamed me sat nav for the remainder of the trip. 

I’d arranged a busy week visiting our key business partners alongside the Opswat Partner Summit.  

Our partners, Elastic, were so welcoming and I really felt that our business partners appreciated the time we took to visit and utilise the time we had. We often meet the UK and European teams to learn about their software and how it makes data useable for our customers in real time, so it was fantastic to learn more about the US markets and meet their teams. 

PDF specialists Nitro had the most amazing offices I have ever seen, with a beautiful view over the bay and bridge. We were totally blown away to be welcomed by the CEO/Founder and the Head of Global Channel. It’s great to use the opportunities with our partners to throw around ideas, talk about our successes and see what more we can do to support our customers.  

At the Opswat Partner Summit the CEO and Senior Vice President welcomed partners from all over the globe. As the UK approved partner for Opswat it’s great to spend a few days gaining a deeper insight into the product, the values and the company’s future. Hearing successes from partners in other countries enables us to expand our knowledge which we can then pass on to our customers. Othe Saturday we had the most wonderful boat trip into the bay to watch a display by the Blue Arrows while sharing the day with the wider Opswat team and their families. I really did feel part of the team and it goes a long way to continuing our strong business relationship. 

Overall it was very exciting to experience part of a technology driven state with so many business leaders and innovation that it just screams from the buildings and billboards. It was a pleasure to visit San Francisco and be welcomed by our business partners and I look forward to visiting again. 

Adele Hope-Urwin

Software Channel Manager – [email protected]

2 October 2019

Who lets a salesman into a procurement conference? Imposter I hear them cry!

Risk taking conference founder Matthias Gutzmann opened Digital Procurement World 2019 with the inspiring story of how he gave up his job to pursue his idea of starting a new type of conference, and thanked his Mum and Dad for letting him move back into their house. Any adult willing to move back in with parents to follow their dreams deserves success in my eyes.

When I was hustled into a side room after the opening talks, it wasn’t to be asked if I was at the wrong conference, it was because I had applied for and been selected to take part in the IBM sponsored Hackathon event. Another risky idea from Matthias, this time encouraged by IBMs Bob Booth So not only am I a salesman at procurement event, I am a salesman at a hackathon at a procurement event, in Amsterdam, without a bike. At this point I said goodbye to my comfort zone.

Group Dynamics v Great Ideas

What do you get if you cross a salesman, a procurement analyst, and a data scientist, with a company founder, 2 IBM mentors and a PhD student of AI and Cognitive Science? started no joke ever.

Over the years I’ve clocked up plenty of hours working with great procurement people in the technology sector, so I rocked up armed with a few reasonably bright ideas. Other than a few experienced “hackathoners”, most of us didn’t know what to expect. Students and professionals alike had heard about the abundance of free food and felt that was a reasonable pay off for helping IBM invent some new patents to file.

The room was buzzing with dreams of the €3000 prize pot which was surely to be issued on a big pretend cheque, causing the winner many issues with carry-on baggage restrictions.

Proceedings kicked off with the inevitable introductions process, and I was soon clammy palmed when I realised we were doing the whole personality trait self-analysis thing. I thought so hard about what personality characteristics I would like to have that I forgot all my bright ideas. I thought I had played it safe and stuck my post it note near Bobs on the quadrant, but it turns out he (and now I) were both rather extreme.

Despite my scepticism (very possibly fear) of the personality trait exercise, it sent me off on a path of self-discovery which framed my 2-day experience. The bright ideas about digital procurement innovation ebbed and flowed, but the group dynamic remained constantly delightful. Early on, I gingerly proposed we adopt a leaderless approach, not wanting to appear too assertive. Nobody objected, so clearly they enjoyed this. Although I have to wonder, if by suggesting this method, I had therefore become the leader.

To Sleep or Not to Sleep

Our Team were challenged to create new value and measurements in procurement. We all know that procurement only care about savings, right? I think this was why they let a few outsiders in, to think differently. The challenge called for bold and brave, but it had to be feasible and ready to demo by the next morning. I believe our team’s solution was the only one of all the entries that was truly new and innovative. The atmosphere was positive as we set to work and ploughed on past dusk, powered by pizza with some sleeping in situ and some coding through the night. Another team were having a tough time and abandoned their idea near the end of the first day only to start again from scratch. After the morning rehearsals, we felt our team were sitting pretty.

Our Solution

Our team decided to measure the positive and negative experiences internal stakeholders and suppliers have when dealing with procurement. The industry currently relies on measurements from the structured data in ERP, SRM and CRM systems. SLA attainment, adherence to process, and savings amount for example dehumanise the people behind it all.

A lot of the real value, and human endeavour, in the procurement process is not captured because it resides in emails, phone calls, meetings and video conferences (unstructured data).

The traditional measurements don’t capture the behaviour of the people involved that lead to the outcomes. By using Sentiment Analytics and Natural Language Programming we can capture this data, and correlate it with the structured data, to discover which behaviours, sentiments and language relate to the positive outcomes.

We can then use all the clever AI, Machine Learning, Cognitive stuff to identify the good the people do and try and get them to do more of it, whilst also gaining insights that could teach the future robots what to do. I’m probably not making it sound very simple, because it’s not. Keep going, the judges said.

How did it all end?

The final vote was taken by the conference audience via the event app. Maybe championing “the value of people” at a digital conference, offended the bots that counted the votes so unfortunately our team didn’t win.

The team that was having trouble the day before, who ended up designing another solution in half the time, ended up coming second. An excellent advert for agile working and the principles of failing fast but coming back stronger.

The whole experience has been great for me – pushing myself well out of my comfort zone into a world I didn’t think a salesman was even allowed into. I’ve always held a long-term goal of starting or being part of an actual think-tank and this positive experience has re-energised me. Well done to the winners who were cool throughout, coded through the night and communicated their concept with excellence. Although when I stepped on the plane for home, I did have a little laugh thinking of them trying to get that cheque home.

Stephen Dale

Account Director – Systems Integrators – [email protected]