Talk back: Industry leaders review 2006 activities

Each November, IT Reseller invites comments from industry figures about their activity within the year and the importance of their channels within those activities. This year we invited company representatives to answer the following questions:

1. What was/were the most significant developments in 2006 for your company?

2. How did this affect your channel-partner relationships? What did you do to ensure that your relationships remained strong? How many new channel partners did you sign up this year?

3. What has been the most important technological development for your company this year?

4. What does your company aim to do in 2007 that will bring more successes for your channel partners?

These are open questions to which we generally expect candid answers. How do they stack up against your 2006 experiences as a reseller or distributor. Are they true, politically correct or just whitewashyou have the right to reply.

Jupp Stopetie, CEO, ABBYY Europe

1. The most significant development for ABBYY in 2006 was adoption by many companies of invoice reading and mailroom reading systems. Other important developments included the increasing processing power of mobile phones equipped with cameras, allowing ABBYYs OCR technology to be further implemented onto handsets, and the increased importance of SOA (service orientated architecture).

2. The demand for our free forms processing technology and products increased. We signed up Headway as distributor in the UK, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany in order to be able to better serve our resellers.

3. We launched our mobile OCR SDK to serve the needs of software developers who develop applications for mobile phones equipped with cameras. Due to the increased processing power of these devices it is now possible to run OCR on these devices. For example a business card reading application where you make a picture with the integrated camera, run the OCR and export the result directly into the device's native PIM.

The other important technology development for ABBYY is the adoption of SOA. In order to serve our partners we launched Recognition Server. RS offers conversion of PDF files and scanned images to searchable text formats retaining the original format as a Windows service. The product is easy to setup and integrates easily with existing EMC-type of systems.

Due to the fact that many organizations are automating their invoice processing and their mailrooms, the demand for technology that enables these type of applications to extract data from documents is increasing. Our FlexiCapture is one tool that helps our partners to create such solutions for their customers.

4. We are increasing our pre-sales engineering capacity in order to support our partners in the early stages of their sales cycles. This will make it easier for our partners to design efficient capture solutions based on our technology and products. This will increase our partners' competitive edge. During 2007 we will launch many new versions of our products which all aim to improve the ability of our partners to better compete with their competitors. Most of the new features will aim at making better datacap solutions faster.

Bernard Thomas, European product marketing director, Avnet Applied Computing Solutions, Wireless & Mobility

1. 2006 has been a year of major change for Avnet and our approach to the Wireless Mobility market place. With the acquisition of Printex, a major European distributor of Auto ID products, giving the ability to offer our partners a broad range of mobility products. This coincided with the development of a dedicated team of sales and technical support staff to provide excellence to our partner base on choosing the correct mobility solutions. This team in conjunction with our experience of provision of server based solutions has allowed us to provide a more complete solutions offering to the market than available before.

2. Avnet has seen the importance of bringing expertise in both supply of solutions and general market awareness and the increased demand by its partners for support in these areas. We have implemented programs to assist with marketing and development of ISVs to enable a network of partners to join where appropriate to ensure value add can be provided to the end user.

A key focus for Avnet has been developing relationships between its traditional IT resellers and its Auto ID partners. This has enabled organizations to grow their customer portfolio and technical expertise in symbioses, securing new customers and enabling more depth to be attained in their current client base.

3. Whilst Avnet does not develop new products, as a distributor, a Key technological development has been the implementation of server based solutions in conjunction with supply of mobility devices, allowing provision of reduced risk solutions to the end user.

4. Avnet will continue to grow it product portfolio as required ensuring the correct solutions offerings are available to its partners. To assist them Avnet will continue to grow its range of support services such as marketing support, providing services for email campaigns, targeted solutions offerings as well as bringing more software solutions to its partners to ensure total solutions can be provided.

Avnet is currently developing programs based on the success of this year to develop relationships between its traditional Auto ID partner base and its traditional OEM and larger IT solutions providers. This it is believed is vital to maintaining the growth of the wireless mobility market place in the future.

Stephen Evans, MD, Brainboxes (Eamonn Walsh, chairman, [left] and Stephen Evans, managing director, [right] Brainboxes)

At Brainboxes we have found that changes within the industry itself have had the biggest impact during 2006. The legislation introduced for RoHS (Reduction of Hazardous Substances) and the deadlines around that issue have meant massive changes to production processes during the year. It has also had implications for the basic costs of the products, as some suppliers have used it as an excuse for a price rise. When combined with the worldwide rise in the price of copper, it has meant that Brainboxes has had to work very hard to remain competitive. Customers still expect to get more and more for less cost despite all these issues and it is up to us to meet that need.

This has meant that at Brainboxes we have increased the company focus on being lean in every area of the business, not just in manufacturing but in all of our processes. We know that to keep our position in the market we have to rapidly react to demand. We are passionate at Brainboxes about keeping all our processes local and to this end will be continuing to employ the lean practices throughout the whole company. We believe that if these practices were employed during 2007 by more companies within the UK it would benefit both the manufacturers, resellers and partners.

During 2006 we have concentrated on listening to our customers and their requirements. We believe it is vital that communication with the customer is kept in the forefront of our mind. We have also pushed hard to work even more closely with our channel and transport partners.

On the technology front, the past year has seen Brainboxes concentrating on developments around the change from PCI cards to PCI Express cards. We believe that this will mean a big change in the market as a whole and expect the full impact from this changeover to hit in 2007. Over the next year our aim is to find new ways of working with different partners and vendors to maximise the use of this product and provide our channel partners with a wider market.

At the end of 2005 Brainboxes decided that 2006 would be the year to expand further into Europe and we have found it very challenging process. Overall it has taken longer than we initially thought, though we did always view it as a long-term investment. Our experience has been that new European partners and resellers need to have the confidence that a company is really serious about operating in mainland Europe before they will commit. They want to see a consistent presence on the ground with full support in place. This means they can then feel confident that when the contracts have been signed everything will run smoothly. We have been very pleased with the progress we have made in France, Spain, and Italy this year and are looking forward to consolidating our presence there in 2007.

At Brainboxes we are looking forward to 2007 with enthusiasm. We believe that 2006 was a turbulent year in the industry and the New Year will bring a time for consolidation followed by expansion both geographically and technologically. Despite continued talk about the demise of the serial card we continue to see increases in the use of our products and the introduction of the PCI Express card promises to further expand the market. We are also seeing a grasp of the implications of using Bluetooth in industry with its data capabilities and ability to replace cables. We believe that all these provide opportunities for Brainboxes to work closely with even more customers and resellers in the forthcoming year.

Sean Suematsu, European marketing manager, DIMS and card printer products, Canon Europe

1. At Canons Barcelona Concerto event in June we launched our Pan European reseller and partner scheme, the Canon Professional Scanning Partner Programme. Highlighting its market leading position in both the Departmental and Low Volume segments, and to further develop its continuing growth within the scanner market as a whole, this programme supports partners across Europe and helps them to maximise their business potential.

2. By showing our clear channel strategy, the Canon Professional Scanning Partner Programme was created to bring us closer to our partners and resellers, which we believe we have achieved. Not only that but we are also further developing our professional scanning partner program to support their daily sales & service activities, and bring us even closer to the market.

The key milestone this year was establishing relationships with leading Pan-European value-added distributors such as DICOM and Headway.

3. This year we launched the DR1210C, which marked our commitment to the workgroup scanner market and its vision for its future growth. Moreover, as an innovator within this space, the DR-1210C denotes Canons recognition of a new, emerging market that it has classified, the sub-workgroup sector. Aimed at general business including the SoHo and SME markets, the Canon DR-1210C offers flexible two-way scanning. An automatic document feeder (ADF) ensures efficient batch scanning and the flatbed scans varied documents such as passports, business cards and books. This dual functionality means that the device is as productive and versatile as possible. Furthermore, as the most durable scanner in its class, the DR-1210C can scan at speeds of 12 pages per minute (ppm) in colour, black and white and greyscale at 300dpi and has a maximum of 600 dpi. The functionality of this device is extended to three fixed job buttonsscan to print, scan to file and scan to emailas well as 50 additional commands that can be personalised to suit the users requirements (such as scanning to specific files and email addresses). Additional software bundled with the device is industry leading Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Std, Canons CapturePerfect 3.0, and OmniPage SE (version 4) as standard.

4. Looking at how quickly weve grown in the market so far, things are looking extremely positive for 2007. New products are set to be launched in 2007 and we will keep your readers updated as soon as we make any announcements. We will also continue to focus on our Professional Scanning Partner Programme.

Altaf Sadique, CEO, Cipherlab

1. 2006 has been a monumental year for Cipherlab for several reasons:

- The company has invested in a new sales operation in St Albans, Hertfordshire.

- There has also been a major 1.2 million investment in a new European repair facility in Leeds that will enable us to grow market share and increase the reseller network. The facility will provide an EMEA support and service centre at the companys Leeds operation. This new support service is a key element of our future growth strategy and enables us to provide a first class service to resellers in key countries. It also allows Cipherlab to considerably improve aftersales by offering reduced repair times, in region which actually makes us unique amongst our major competitors.

- The key appointment of Ray Marsh, sales and marketing director, which has has lead to a restructuring of the channel and our pricing structure.

2. The above developments make it easier for partners to invest more in Cipherlab product sales and increases security and confidence in their decision to work with Cipherlab which is very important to us as a company.

Cipherlab has invested heavily in marketing communications with partners and has reassessed the companys general branding and public relations activity. This aims to increase the general awareness of Cipherlab amongst our target markets and communicate what Cipherlab can offer to partners and resellers. This has been made possible by investing in a professional marketing approach working alongside marketing specialists both overseas and in the UK.

As a company, Cipherlab is providing the channel with improved selling tools, including many elements of the marketing mix from direct marketing to web banners and web marketing kits.

We have worked hard to create improved channel communications with separate, dedicated days for tier 1 distribution and VAR/resellers.

We have three new tier 1 distributors, two new web-based distributors and 20 new resellers.

3. Cipherlab's technological developments this year are notable:

- The development of Cipherlabs CPT 9500 Windows CE/PPC mobile computer range.

- Two new products CPT9500/8500 now offer 2D combined with RFID support.

- GPRS support for CPT9500/8500.

- RFID support for the IP65 rated CPT8300 series. Not only can this range of mobile data terminals tackle application for popular 13.56 MHz tags we also provide a reader option for the well established 125 KHz EM, Hitag and Tiris tags. Allows us to tackle the ever growing waste management and process control industry.

4. Key for 2007, Cipherlab will be completing its Windows product range by the addition of the CPT9400 rangeour rugged pen-based windows CE PDA.

We will also be launching a new range of 2D hand scanners.

A new range of high-end imagers is also being developed for launch next year, which enables us to compete for the top end of the lucrative retail market.

Mark Beauchamp, European marketing manager, Citizen Systems Europe

In 2006, a great deal of our focus has been on the way in which our business affects the environment, and the way in which our environmental policy affects our resellers. Specifically, we have dedicated much time and attention to the RoHS (Restriction of Harmful Substances) directive, which came into effect in July, and the European Commissions WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) legislation, with its DTI set deadline of 1 July 2007 for implementation, ensuring that our channel partners can achieve compliance as easily as possible.

As an organisation, Citizen has always taken its responsibility towards the environment seriously, so rather than a sea change in our philosophy, this years work has been more a continuation of our longstanding policy of respecting the environment in everything we do.

In January, we started the year as we meant to go on, producing a booklet entitled Corporate Social Responsibility and a Sustainable Future putting in black and white our policy to carry out our production activities in an environmentally friendly way, and revising our long standing environmental policy to include reference to the new regulations. It also included our self imposed target that all of our products will be environmentally friendly and all of our production plants worldwide will produce zero waste by 2025.

This year has seen all of our production plants and factories achieving WEEE and RoHS compliance, demonstrating our progress towards these objectives and our commitment to environmental issues. Ignoring the issue of recycling is no longer an option for IT manufacturers and resellers, and at Citizen Systems Europe, we intend to support our resellers wholeheartedly with regards to waste handling, enabling them to focus on continuing to be the crucial interface with our customers. We offer a recycling service for our channel partners, and with all of our products now fully compliant with the WEEE and RoHS regulations, this service is now more effective than ever.

The Citizen group underwent a widespread restructuring programme in 2006, enabling us to concentrate on operating a lean and efficient organisation that concentrates its skills and resources on effective long term product development, supply and technical support for vertical sectors. This new structure will pave the way for a new generation of products in 2007 and beyond, developed in close collaboration with our partners to ensure that their customers needs are being responded to as accurately as possible.

The last quarter of 2006 sees the launch of our new website, making comprehensive product information accessible to resellers and end users alike, incorporating a new Where to buy section, an expanded customer support area and more information of the extended range of Citizen products outside of the AutoID industry.

Looking forward to 2007, we will be continuing to provide our channel partners with the support they need to comply with environmental legislation, and furthering our commitment to these issues as a company wide policy. We look forward to seeing the output of our hard work in these areas this year, through even greater results from our partner channel in the new year.

Paul Duggan, MD, Datalogic UK

1. Datalogic has seen a number of significant developments during 2006. We reorganised our sales team by business unit: unattended scanner systems, hand held readers and mobile computers. This clear demarcation of responsibilities has allowed us to place a greater emphasis on developing our mobile computing business. To further expand our mobile product offering this year, we have launched the Skorpio, a rugged, compact palm terminal designed specifically for the retail market and our new version the Datalogic Jet PDA has been extremely well received by the market. Datalogic has also worked hard to reaffirm its commitment to our channel partners with the announcement of a new channel programme, EASEOFBIZ, at the Worldwide Sales and Partners Conference held in February of this year.

2. Datalogic has always prided itself on the strength of our relationship with our channel partners. In fact, Datalogic was one of the first manufacturers to develop a channel partner programme back in 1996. During our Worldwide Sales and Partners Conference we reaffirmed our commitment to our channel partners by announcing a new channel programme for our Quality Partners and Accredited Resellers called EASEOFBIZ.

EASEOFBIZ is the framework that enables our partners to benefit from an extensive range of tools and support from Datalogic. These include five exclusive service packets: EASEOFRESOURCES that dedicates specialised Datalogic personnel to the Partners, EASEOFACCESS for a range of online tools, EASEOFWIN for marketing and sales support, EASEOFSUPPORT for technical support and EASEOFSKILLS for specialised training.

EASEOFBIZ has helped us to attract new high profile specialist mobile computer partners. These include distributors Blackroc and Varlink and solution providers Sandpiper Corporation and Unique ID.

3. The new Datalogic Skorpio offers a rugged mobile computer particularly suited to the retail environment both front of store and stockroom. Thanks to one of the best ergonomic designs ever seen on the market, the Datalogic Skorpio reduces operator fatigue with no compromise in terms of reliability and robustness. The Skorpio offers the unique feature of integrated data capture technology combined with our patented "green spot" which provides a distinctive visual as well as audible "good read" in poor light or noisy conditions.

Datalogic Skorpio system architecture is based on the fastest Intel X-Scale series processors coupled with the latest release of the Windows CE operating system. It also offers wireless communication capabilities (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi), long lasting Li-ION battery, large high visibility colour, scratch proof graphic display with touch screen.

Staying within the retail environment, the new Diamond hands-free omni-directional presentation scanner is ideal for supermarket check-outs and front-desk operations in post offices and courier companies. The Diamond offers the smallest footprint in its category, saving valuable counterpace, high scan speed (1200 scans per second) and first pass read rate plus completely renewed optics and electronics. It is also equipped with the Datalogic code reconstruction system to read labels placed in various positions on items, as well as poorly printed or damaged codes.

It can read standard linear bar codes in addition to RSS, and can be upgraded in the field to keep it up to date with new functions or bar codes, hence protecting the end user's investment. In addition, the new Diamond has a stand-by mode and "wake-up" feature, single-line scan pattern option, beeper for good read confirmation, and a complete set of stands for versatility in installation.

4. All Accredited Resellers can use EASEOFACCESS, our new partner extranet, to obtain online sales, invoicing, delivery, marketing and technical information and downloads. Each subsidiary in the Datalogic family will also introduce a range of local initiatives and incentives to encourage reseller recruitment and loyalty, bringing them closer to Datalogic then ever before. We confidently expect to significantly develop the strength of our channel in 2007.

Datalogic UK celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2007, and we are planning a range of exciting activities to mark this milestone with our partners across the calendar. We are keenly anticipating some new product releases for mobile computing which will further strengthen our product portfolio. Similarly we will have much to talk about, share with our partners and offer to our end users in terms of product developments for hand held readers and fixed position industrial scanners. Working closely together to achieve our goals with our Quality Partners and growing network of Accredited Resellers, Datalogic predicts a very prosperous 2007.

Tony Revis, general manager, Extech Data Systems

1. We expanded our distribution in a number of countries including France, UK, Czech Republic, Poland and Greece. We introduced 802.11g with enhanced security features and we lowered our add-on cost for Bluetooth option.

2. All our business goes through the distribution channel of our significant OEM partners. We strengthened our European wide marketing program adding multi-lingual capability in our written communications as well as our sales and marketing support team.

3. Enhanced features of our new Bluetooth module (at a lower cost) as well as new security for 802.11.

4. We will enter new markets with the introduction of a new product range, code-named "ANDES". The first of these, our 3 inch version will debut in January. We will be more competitive in 2007 with enhanced product range, new features and with reduced pricing for a number of our options. We will be introducing a new printer command language designed to make label and form development easier for developers.

Hand Held Products

2006 has been another highly successful year for Hand Held Products. As the worlds leading developer of image-based data capture solutions, we are well aware of the need to keep producing exciting and innovative devices. Our ability to achieve this has been underlined by three key solutions launched this year.

Significant developments during 2006 included:

- Multi-purpose scanner

The first of these was the 3800g general purpose reader. This exciting new high performance linear scanner can be used for a wide range of applications throughout many different industries. It has a formidable pedigree, as it belongs to the legendary 3800 series of linear imagers. The original IT3800 has set many records, with nearly two million units sold globally and the lowest defect return rate of any similar device worldwide.

The new 3800g has extended the capabilities of its predecessor. Although it is an entry level unit, it has more features and a higher specification than many mid-range or even high-end devices. It boasts an extremely high reading performance, and is even faster than the IT3800. It also offers an impressive depth of field, making it easy to read barcodes from a comfortable distance.

All of these enhancements have been made without any increase in price. The new model is sleek and stylish, but also very strong and rugged. As a sign of our confidence in this product, we include a full five year warranty.

- Pushing the bounds of technology

The 3800g incorporates another new developmentthe latest version of our highly advanced data capture technology, Adaptus 5.0. Adaptus is a versatile imaging technology that can meet both existing and future data collection needs. It gives world class performance on high, medium and low density bar codes.

The latest version uses an advanced miniature image engine and fifth generation image processing capabilities. One key change has been that Adaptus 5.0 is very motion-tolerant. This is essential in environments in which operators are constantly on the move. It also enables devices to scan products on a moving conveyor belt.

Other enhancements include greater depth of field; improved low light reading; and decreased time to read. There have also been improvements in the form of increased resolution and image quality.

- Small is beautiful

The third significant development during 2006 has been the launch of the Dolphin 7600: the most compact mobile computer weve ever produced, with the emphasis on the right features for the right price. It outperforms other similar devices in its class and is packed with technology, including co-located Bluetooth and 802.11b/g radios.

The new Dolphin incorporates Adaptus 5.0 and is a powerful and versatile omni-directional imager. It has a laser aimer for rapid decoding of linear and matrix codes, and offers digital image capture. It also has an angled scanner, for greater comfort when reading bar codes.

The units light and balanced design incorporates a finger saddle, making it very easy to hold and use with one hand. It is also rugged (with an IP rating of 54), making it ideal for light industrial, field and retail applications.

Partnerships are stronger than ever

These three important solutions have boosted our relationships with our partners, as they provide them with an even broader portfolio of high performance products. Our partners have commented that Hand Held Products is an easy company to work with, and that we maintain excellent communications with them particularly in relation to new solutions. During the year, several new partners have been added to our base.

We have recently also launched a new, three-year comprehensive service package called Service Cubed. This is targeted at customers that want an all-inclusive service in which all costs are known in advance. This comprehensive coverage is included at no additional charge, so this package offers customers savings of up to 40 per cent when compared with the same coverage on an annual basis.

Looking ahead to 2007

In 2007, we aim to build upon the developments made during 2006. The most important of these is Adaptus 5.0, as this will be incorporated into all of our latest products. However, we will also be focusing on driving sales of the Dolphin 7600 and the 3800gindeed, we are already planning a cordless version of the latter. We will also be promoting one of our other newer Dolphins, the 7850. This compact hand held computer is ideal for warehouse applications.

2006 has therefore been a year of developmentsones that should prove to be a springboard for further success for Hand Held Products in 2007.

Hauke Fast, product marketing manager, Distributed Capture Products and Capture Software, Europe, Africa & Middle East, Document Imaging, Graphic Communications Group, Kodak GmbH

1. Thanks to the hard work and dedication across all departments from marketing and sales to service, support and logistics, Kodak has achieved outstanding sales results in 2006. While maintaining the leadership in the high- and mid-volume scanning market, Kodak continued this success into the Workgroup and Departmental segment.

It is not only the dedication, but also innovative products which have enabled us to gain market share. For example the KODAK i40 Scanner, a small A4 desktop scanner for less than 1.000 featuring a transaction feeder for front scanning and ejection in office applications, or the entry level A3 Scanner namely the KODAK i100 Series Scanners. All products feature state-of-the-art Perfect Page image processing technology, and a consistently high product quality.

2. With innovative products, marketing programmes and personal support we enable our traditional channel to address and develop new niche markets. The KODAK Scan Station 100 addresses the multifunctional devices (MFD) market, offering DMS resellers the possibility to satisfy customer needs in the general office arena. The Scan Station 100 is not just a device, but a complete solution. In 2006 we have also developed new partners, who are committed to selling Kodak products and services.

3. A significant product development of 2006 is the KODAK Scan Station 100. It is an all-in-one device, including a document scanner, a powerful computer and a LCD-Colour touch-screen. The Scan Station 100 allows users to share and send documents within a networked environment with scan-to-file, scan-to-mail, scan-to-print and scan-to-USB memory stick. The Scan Station 100 does not need any additional software or hardware. It is simply leveraging components already installed within a networked environment, such as file-servers, mail-servers and network printers. The Scan Station 100 connects to the network with its integrated 10/100 Base-T Ethernet connector. The Scan Station 100 enalbles us not only to address the general scanner market, but also reaches into the segment of MFDs.

Another significant technology development is Perfect Page, the image-processing standard from Kodak. It is now available over the whole product portfolio from 800 to 80.000 list price scanners. Kodak continuously invests into the Perfect Page development, and has added an impressive list of features for colour image processing and improvements in black-and-white image output. Kodak Perfect Page virtually eliminates the needs for rescans and represents a significant factor for cost savings in a scanning operation. With Perfect Page we live up to the original marketing slogan of George Eastman defined You push the buttonwe do the rest.

The recently announced i1200 and i1300 will have tethered flatbed capability, to offering more flexibility in the way documents are scanned. The new dual lamp design and the aluminium transport path insure the highest level of quality and reliability to meet the needs of even our most demanding customer.

4. 2007 will be another exiting year, as we continue to gain market share, meeting the needs of our growing customer base.

Vladimir Yakovenko, deputy manager, marketing and sales, OPTI-UPS

1. OPTI-UPS has made a number of significant developments in 2006. We launched an industry first solar charged UPS, using the latest solar technology which puts us way ahead of our competitors in the UPS field. We recently opened a regional office in Dubai which is very successful. This means we can develop our international market in this region, and enhance our presence and service in the Middle East. During 2006 we opened our German branch, which is now fully operational and enhances our sales and service in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

2. OPTI-UPS has built a strategic network of sales and distribution centres all over the world. This will enable us to provide more support and improved services with the local channel partners. Our local support enables us to understand the nature of our customer needs and ensures that we have the correct product profile in stock at all times, which reduces our lead times and improves our sales. Our local sales offices are well placed to carry out our marketing activities and help our customers to increase UPS business in their areas.

We have successfully built new business relationships with more European and Middle Eastern distribution partners than our competitors during the past two years, which will enable us to make a quantum leap in turnover. We are pleased to announce that Tech-data one of the biggest distributor groups in Europe has become our partner..

3. The entry level VS575C offers the highest level of surge protection at levels of 1050 joules. It has been specifically designed to provide high levels of surge protection for desktop computers and high performance games computers.

Our ES-C range of Line interactive models has been extended to include higher power models, and provide the consumer with more choice. OPTI-UPS are actively launching new models of our DS on line double conversion models, to provide the largest range of models currently obtainable. Available in 1kVA, 1.5kVA, 2kVA, 3kVA and 6kVA Rack mount. The OPTI-UPS DS fully on line double conversion range, provides superior protection in the harshest possible electrical environments, and offers the widest choice of products for the end user.

4. In 2007, our goal is to strengthen relations with our channel partners, and offer more incentives and training of partners for "value addition" which improves their margin. We will ensure our product availability is increased to all major business cities in Europe. We will be introducing a range of new products featuring the latest Parallel redundant features for scalability. The end user can always up size their installed system to meet new demands without replacing the entire UPS system again. This adds flexibility in ensuring the customers UPS system is future proof. In the future OPT-UPS will contribute to reducing energy by offering environment friendly products including solar energy, wind power and green mode UPS systems.

Robert Hurt, EMEA marketing director, Metrologic

1. The announcement of the pending Francisco Partners acquisition was a major milestone for Metrologic. It recognises the considerable successes and growth achieved over the recent past, validates our strategic direction and secures our future. In explaining their decision to purchase the company, Francisco Partners cited Metrologics 20+ per cent CAGR, worldwide coverage, IP strength and scope for future growth as key factors behind their decision to invest. In turn, their investment will enable us to continue to build our core Auto ID business by developing the international distribution business and expanding in core verticals outside of Retail.

Winning a large Stratos bi-optic scanner deal this year at one of Germanys top supermarkets was another significant achievement. Following previous key account wins at the largest retailers in the UK and France we are now firmly established as a leading scanner supplier to Europes tier one retailers. This success is the end result of a decision about three or four years ago to target this segment, some great product development work and terrific sales effort across Europe in conjunction with a number of outstanding partners.

In the last 12 months we have shipped significant quantities of our high performance Focus hand held imager. The most pleasing aspect of this new business has been the highly innovate range of applications we are now seeing for 2D bar codes. On this evidence bar codes look to have a strong future alongside technologies such as RFID in the future.

2. The 2D applications have generated strong new revenue streams for some of our European partners. Likewise, our release of a range of new wireless mobile computers has stimulated incremental business for our established partners.

Metrologic continues to support its channel partners, many of whom have been loyal to Metrologic for many years, with the highest respect. This coupled with Metrologic's commitment and open communications to it's partners eliminates any potential for channel conflict with direct sales activities. We have brought several new resellers into our network in 2006, predominantly expanding our geographical coverage in core markets. Overall, we have been delighted with the way our existing partners have grown with us.

As we have expanded the business into tier one retail accounts we have had to invest heavily in building relationships with several top integrators and scale manufacturers. Our strong commitment to these relationships has paid dividends throughout 2006 for Metrologic, the partners and, above all, the end-user customers.

3. Whilst we have continued to invest heavily in core products like the best-selling Voyager hand-held scanner range and the Orbit presentation scanner we have released a number of innovative new products.

In the hand-held category we launched the Fusion combination scanner, which offers omni-directional bar code reading and, optionally, single line scanning in a design that can be used fixed-mounted on the counter in presentation mode or as a hand-held gun, depending on the users preference. All at a very competitive price point.

In the bi-optic category we have integrated our Stratos scanner with scales from all the big suppliers to the European market: Avery, Mettler Toledo, Digi, Herbert, Bizerba, Medesa. Our customers can now choose the combination that suits their business best.

Our OEM engine business continues to thrive, boosted in 2006 by the Quantum E omni-directional engine, which has been implemented in a variety of kiosk and payment devices. However, the biggest success in this segment has been the IS220 dual scanner designed for reverse vending machines. Our heritage in high speed fixed-mount scanning and decoding helped us to develop the benchmark product for this market.

Lastly, in the mobile computing category we have introduced the new Optimus range of terminals. Low cost hand held computers with Bluetooth or WLAN communications; ruggedness up to IP65 for outdoor use in real world environments and quick and straightforward application development using the free Optimizer development software.

4. We plan more of the same from Metrologic in 2007. We are still very focussed on our core business of reading barcodes. There will be more Voyager and Orbit innovations. You can expect to see more imagers for reading 2D bar codes, as these become increasingly popular for their ability to hold large amounts of data at virtually no cost. There will be more rugged devices for use throughout the retail supply chain and also in manufacturing. These environments are increasingly implementing RFID, so well be developing products with that capability too. Across the range there will be more use of wireless technology too, for increased operator mobility.

Above all, expect to see more performance and even better value of money in all core product categories, supported by improved service and support. Were recruiting a large number of additional staff across the EMEA region to support you, better than ever, in 2007.

Duncan Smillie, UK MD, Psion Teklogix

1. The launch of our UK Partner Programme (UKPP) is one of the most important initiatives to take place in 2006, we have a fantastic small group of companied that really do add immense value to our hardware offering, without these partners it would have been impossible for us to achieve what we have this year as an organisation. Product wise ROHS dominated our efforts and money and we did an excellent job in making sure our entire product range was ready on time, this really was a challenge and one that our engineering guys in Canada handled in a first class and professional manner. The most exciting product launches were the 7535 RFID device and just last month at Logistics Link North we launched the Workabout Pro Speech (WAPS)

2. Can you imagine if we missed the target in having our products ready to meet the ROHS legislation? It would have been a disaster for our partners, no hardware to sell? But we were ready! We have between 25 and 30 partners in the UKPP, we have three Premier Plus Partners who hold large stock of our product and then we have around 10 Premier Partners who are either working with us directly or purchasing through our Premier Plus Partners, the balance are our approved Partners, all partners are treated equal irrespective of how and where they purchase our hardware, this is crucial as we train and motivate the UKPP members

3. Technology wise, the two biggest developments have been our RFID products and the Workabout Pro Speech (WAPS). I think we are in a unique position with our range of RFID product offerings, to my knowledge there isnt another company out there that has all three frequencies available on their hand helds, feel free to correct me on that one. The WAPS is my opinion the most exciting product we have launched for some time, this has been jointly developed with Vocollect (manufacturer of the Talkman) and as such we have combined our first class hardware with their voice recognition capabilities, the outcome is the WAPS and I can assure you this terminal is first class, the voice recognition quality is superb and having the ability to use the terminal in a more traditional data capture method when voice isnt needed makes this terminal a sound financial investment, as a Scotsman I always have had a soft spot for that great accountants term sweating the asset!

4. As ever, we are looking to aggressively grow the UK business and that is impossible without the continued support of our Partners, we will be launching a few new products in 2007 but I can't say too much for now; however, I can say that these are products that our partners can and will be selling! The key thing for me in our UKPP is maintaining the direct link with them and going to battle with them to help them sell, we made a commitment that the WAP would be a channel product and that has been true, every single WAP sold in the UK this year has been through our partners, 2007 should see our revenue from the UKPP increase by around 50 per cent!

Xavier Cartiaux, MD, ScanSource Europe

For our recent Partner Conference, ScanSource Europe adopted the theme of The Future the future of the channel, the future of our partnerships. We know that as the channel continues to grow, so will the expectations of our reseller partners, and ScanSource must continue to evolve along with the channel, in order to meet those expectations.

2007 sees ScanSources five-year anniversary in Europe. We started out with a huge warehouse, with plenty of space to invest in stock. Five years on, we still have plenty of space to meet growing demand. ScanSource has grown on the premise that we can offer customers the products they require when they are needed and deliver those products where they are needed, quickly and accurately. We now ship thousands of orders per month (while maintaining a shipment accuracy of over 99 per cent.

It has always been our aim to offer far more than just logistics. We made a commitment last year to expand our value-added offerings and provide easy access to information and education and have delivered this through enhanced Financial, Partner and Professional Services. We have also expanded our sales team, bringing new language capabilities on board and ensuring we can serve customers across Europe, from Portugal to Ukraine and Norway to Hungary.

We have implemented a robust online catalogue and online ordering system, and on the marketing side, we have revised our corporate website and now offer it in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish for the benefit of customers across Europe. We also released our first Solution Guides, one on EPoS and one on Auto ID, providing a multi-vendor take on practical solutions, featuring real case studies and products in action.

Last year we invested a lot of resources, time and energy in developing the EPoS side of the business. We have delivered more and more EPoS product training to our sales representatives and have even set up a dedicated EPoS sales team as well as Business Development Managers, focusing on EPoS business solutions.

In 2007, we aim for our Professional Services team to become a one-stop shop for all reseller service needs, offering service contracts across our vendor range. Currently we offer over 1,000 maintenance contracts in 17 countries with 16 vendors. We have recently launched Configuration Services, enabling our resellers to free up valuable technical resources and reduce time spent on labour-intensive low value return areas, thus increasing their profitability. We will also expand our Partner Services offerings with the addition of Marketing Services and continue to widen our network of Solution Partners.

At ScanSource Europe we will continue to focus on delivering excellent logistics and on investing in the right services at the right time to ensure we provide our partners with everything they are looking for in a value-added distributor. Cementing our position as a trustworthy partner dedicated to optimising the channel is the basis of our relationship with resellers and vendors. The main message we can give for 2007 is a simple onemore of the same.

Martin Croome, VP Business Development, Socket Communications, Inc

During 2006 Socket launched several important products for the company. The new P500 and P300 802.11g CompactFlash and SD WLAN cards have already found their way into several Windows CE and Linux solutions. The Socket Cordless Ring Scanner brings new levels of productivity to warehousing and delivery applications in a uniquely durable product. The scanner is worn on a finger, releasing the workers hand for other tasks and speed work by removing the need to pick up and put down a normal gun scanner.

The ring scanner has taken Socket into additional markets where ruggedness is a more important feature however our range of CompactFlash, SecureDigital and Bluetooth data collection products continue to fit well in solutions where standard PDAs and smart phones are in use. This has expanded the number of value added resellers that are actively developing solutions around our products.

Due to the growing number of resellers, Socket restructured its EMEA sales force in 2006, hiring three new sales people covering Southern, Northern and Eastern Europe. In addition, we recognized our top distributors by establishing a program focusing on these partners and held a major channel event in Portugal in March. We expect to rerun this meeting in 2007. It provided an excellent forum for our top partners to influence Socket's direction in EMEA and learn about new plans directly from Socket's executive team.

In late 2006 Socket launched a Strategic Vertical Integrator programme in EMEA. This program, which has already been successfully running in the US with over 120 signed partners to date, promotes companies building solutions using Socket's products. It provides them with privileged information about Socket products, priority technical and sales support and unique service and warranty options along with easy access to demonstration and development product.

2007 promises to be another exciting year for Socket with new product directions and a continued focus on building our business via the channel.

Raymond Wolfert, EMEA sales and marketing manager, Unitech Europe

1. Unitech reports several major developments, including:

- One of the most significant developments for Unitech and its partners was the introduction of the new HT660 hand held terminal. The HT660 is the first terminal to come with the MCL Collection as standard. This will allow Unitech partners to enter new areas such as Retail and Warehouse applications supported by MCLs rapid application development suite.

- Another partner-focused development in 2006 was Unitechs introduction of a new marketing and advertising approach to support our partners by increasing market awareness and generating leads for them. This 'HOW ABOUT U' concept will underline one of Unitechs core values: U/Youour partners.

- Last but not least we were able to extend and expand our partner network in various areas of EMEA and this will remain a focus for 2007. These new partners have all taken on our complete range of products and services to increase their own business. If you are a partner that is not currently selling Unitech you should ask yourself: How About U?

2. Our Empowering Partner Program, EP2, which we introduced in 2005, has been further developed in 2006. The core components of this program include logistic services, product training, lead generation campaigns, vertical segmentation selection and partner protection. These have been put together to offer partners a complete package to develop business with Unitech in their respective area. Unitech is continuously matching its existing channel against the criteria listed above to develop new partners.

3. Besides the ones that can be seen by the outside world such as Windows Mobile 5.0 and UMTS support for our PA-series, we have been working very hard internally to offer various e-service solutions for partners, such as pCRM (partnerCRM), due to be launched in 2007. This will allow our partners to be in even closer contact with Unitech, giving them the best pre-sales support as well as quick response times. It will also allow Unitech to provide its partners with things like lead follow up and partner protection.

4. In 2007 Unitech will continue to introduce new products for various market segments such as retail, warehousing, route accounting and a variety of other application areas. We will also continue to expand our strategic alliances beyond the current ones we now have with MCL Technologies, Microsoft and others. This will offer our partners an even more complete product surrounding, allowing them to offer end users with end to end solutions straight out of the box. More exciting news will follow soon.

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