While 2020 might seem like a distant memory to many already, when it comes to reporting on the performance of the IFPD market – it’s very much front of mind. That’s because the most recent Futuresource Consulting figures not only report on the latest quarter… They reveal how the market, and individual manufacturers, have performed throughout the whole of 2020 – and Promethean has been confirmed as leading the UK IFPD volume market*. Talking directly to Promethean’s UKI business leaders, AV News asks what it takes to consistently maintain leadership, especially in a market that’s starting to decline?
“Remaining fully operational throughout the first and second UK lockdowns undoubtedly contributed to our success last year. But it’s what we did before, during, and after, that’s made the biggest impact. Staying open for business alone isn’t enough. Having the right foundations established in the first place is what really set us up to navigate through the challenges. These were in motion long before COVID-19 was ever even heard of,” explains Jim Wallis, Head of UKI Markets at Promethean.
We asked Jim to elaborate on this further, especially given many others experienced challenges during 2020: “Naturally we were able to continue supporting customers and developing sales opportunities, because all of our teams were available and accessible. But when you look at the market figures over the last 12 months, and even further back than that, what you see from us is consistency. We’ve maintained steady growth by following a clear and long-term strategy.”
As one of the founding manufacturers of the interactive display industry, Promethean is definitely in one of the strongest positions to define what a long-term strategy should look like, with channel operations at the core of this. According to Simon Port, Head of Channel Operations EMEA and Asia Pacific, “We’ve made significant investment in our UK channel operations over the past five years.”
When asked to define ‘significant’, Simon provided an excellent overview of the Promethean Partner Accreditation Programme and how investment has been made in not only bringing this to market initially but bolstering it with enhancements year on year:
“As we grew in the IFPD space, we needed our channel operations to grow too. Using the Promethean Partner Accreditation Programme as the backbone of our strategy, we’ve introduced installation certification training, demonstration registration and an online partner communications platform, to name just a few examples. These all make it easier for channel partners to do business with us, which backed by a product range which benefits from continued innovation, makes for a compelling proposition.”
The ActivPanel Elements Series, Promethean’s advanced IFPD, has been designed to give schools increased flexibility and choice. With product development aligning firmly with evolving market needs, the ActivPanel was not only the UK number one in 2020 – excluding China it’s the market leading brand globally.
“Market leadership is not just about the numbers,” emphasises Jim. “Being at the forefront of a market comes from doing everything right. Every aspect of our operations and business decisions are made with the customer, and our channel partners, in mind. This is reflected in us maintaining our leading position over the last 12-month period.”
Simon steps in to elaborate on Jim’s comments: “That’s exactly right. We work hard to build stability for our partners that gives a platform for innovation. If something isn’t working, we have solid foundations in place that enable us to make changes without compromising progress.”
Having followed Promethean’s growth closely for over 20 years, AV News has seen evidence of what Simon and Jim are saying. Most notably the move to a dual distribution model in 2017, and more recently the appointment of Midwich as joint UK distributor alongside incumbent Tech Data**.
“We do what’s best for our channel partners. If their needs evolve, we need to keep pace. COVID-19 was a catalyst for many things in 2020, and it highlighted that there were areas that we could improve,” continues Simon.
“Another example of evolution is the Experience the Elements demonstration programme,” adds Jim. “As the UK went into lockdown it wasn’t an option to deliver face-to-face demonstrations. But it wasn’t an option for us to stand still. With swift investment, we equipped every member of our business development team with professional video conference technology and made demonstrations available virtually. In doing so, we helped to maintain existing opportunities and generate new demand for our partners.”
It’s one thing to reflect on what makes success when the figures say that you’re a market leader, it’s quite another to look forwards. Given the UK market is at 96% penetration when interactive projectors are factored into the figures, what does this mean for Promethean’s outlook in 2021?
“Schools are continuing to invest,” says Jim. “There’s still huge potential for upgrades to IFPDs, whether that’s from a legacy IWB or interactive projector. The functionality of IFPDs as a classroom display came into their own over the last 12 months. The flexibility of the ActivPanel has seen it used to support students learning from home, facilitate hybrid teaching models, and enable teachers to better engage students when they are back in the classroom.”
Simon echoes Jim’s comments: “IFPD technology has experienced a seismic shift in schools. It’s no longer a peripheral AV device – the IFPD is the connected hub of the modern classroom. This is something we have long championed, but we’re now seeing this use on a much larger scale.”
Promethean continues to be a market leader not only when it comes to its sales performance, but also in the way it develops its business and channel operations. Some would say that there’s never been a better time to become a Promethean partner. To learn more about the Partner Accreditation Programme, visit:
*Futuresource Consulting Q4 2020 report on World Interactive Displays
** Exertis Ireland is the sole distributor of the ActivPanel in Ireland