Network Group 2022 Exhibition, Gala & Awards celebrated the power of community and peer learning. James Goulding reports
There was a strong rugby theme to Network Group’s 2022 Exhibition, Gala & Awards, from the venue, Twickenham Stadium, to the entertainment, a Q&A session with veterans of the successful 1997 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa, including Scott Quinnell of Wales, Tim Stimpson of England and Paul Wallace of Ireland, to the awards themselves, which this year took the form of personalised rugby balls.
Network Group Managing Director David Tulip told Technology Reseller that the sporting theme was appropriate as Network Group members, like top sports people, recognise the importance of coaching, advice and teamwork for their continued success, with the Lions, especially, embodying the spirit of coming together and sharing knowledge for the greater good.
This, he suggests, has been one of the core values of Network Group since it was founded in 1994 (as Network Buying Group) to give smaller technology providers the bargaining power of much larger organisations when negotiating prices and terms with vendors.
Improved buying power is still a major attraction for group members. So too is peer learning and support provided by fellow members and Network Group technology partners through focus groups, workshops, online events and four quarterly face-to-face roadshows/expos.
Taking place in January, April, July and October, these gatherings provide members with the opportunity to exchange ideas, gain new skills, learn about key developments in the industry and engage with vendors offering solutions that meet their needs and/or those of their customers.
Today, the Network Group membership consists of 80+ technology service providers from across the UK and Ireland, with managed service providers (MSPs) accounting for 90% of the membership and bricks and mortar retailers the remaining 10%.
“The average size company has £1.6 million in revenue, they employ 13 people and they manage 1,200 endpoints or seats,” explains Tulip. “My largest customer will be doing £17 million a year and have 100 staff and my smallest will be doing £500,000. But most of them are around that £1-2 million a year mark. It can be lonely running that size of business.
“The magic of Network Group is that members can stand up in front of 100 people at one of our events or join 50 people on one of our weekly online calls and say ‘I’m having a nightmare retaining staff; they’re all going to corporates who pay more money. What are you guys doing?’; ‘How are you addressing the cost of living crisis?’; ‘What’s your tech stack?’; ‘How do you price it?’; ‘How do you sleep at night?’. I’ve got some of the best MSPs in the country and probably a few at the other end of the scale and a large number in the middle. The common denominator is that we are all on a journey to improve ourselves and our businesses. Network Group helps members help one another.”
To this end, Network Group gives members access to a portfolio of vendor partners that it selects not just for the quality of their solutions and the competitive pricing/ terms/rebates they offer but also for their willingness to buy into the Network Group ethos through in-depth engagement with members.
“We want to be treated like a £150 million organisation rather than a £1 million or £2 million organisation, so we’ll drive some great commercials with partners. But just as important as that, we want great engagement from them. We want them to be part of our members’ journeys.”
Network Group currently has six distributors and 35 vendors as technology partners, including Pax8, AppRiver, Ingram Micro, Datto/Kaseya, Ci Distribution, Apple, Connectwise, Develop, Fortify, Epson, Exertis, Gamma, Kyocera, Terra Computer, ThreatLocker, Sonicwall, BT Wholesale and more.
One notable recent addition is Zellar, which provides businesses with a sustainability score and a step-by-step plan to reduce their carbon footprint and improve their sustainability profile.
“Zellar is offering our members free licences to give to their clients, which is another opportunity for them as trusted advisors to come in and add value rather than just say ‘Do you want to buy a laptop?’ or ‘Do you want to buy a projector?’ or ‘Have you got another user to add?’. This is a great opportunity for members to talk to their customers or potential customers and to position themselves differently to the guy next door,” says Tulip.
The third pillar of Network Group’s offering is its own portfolio of member services and benefits, from the staging of events to a marketing portal with a range of ready-made, customisable assets and CreditSafe credit checking.
Tulip says that there has never been so much interest in Network Group as there is today and that since the pandemic larger organisations with annual revenues of £3 million, £4 million and £5 million have been joining.
He attributes this trend to several factors, from growing awareness
of Network Group and the value of peer groups and sharing to MSPs’ eagerness to improve their businesses and learn about new trends, such as co-managed IT – the subject of a keynote by n-able at the 2022 Exhibition, Gala & Awards.
In the end, however, Tulip keeps coming back to the notion of community. “Our message is that everyone should be involved in peer groups and sharing. You should find your people wherever they are, whether that’s with Evolve, CompTIA, Synaxon or Network Group. There are places to go and to learn and to help each other and to not feel alone. We think community is really important and so do our members.”
Network Group Awards 2022
MSP of the Year (>1500 endpoints) Resolution IT
MSP of the Year (<1500 endpoints) Node IT
Reseller of the Year Utopia Computers
Retailer of the Year PCs Made Simple
Member Contribution – Support of Partners Aabyss
Member Contribution to Group Steven Pretlove – CCS IT
Partner of the Year Terra Computer
Biggest Impact New Partner Pax8
Partner Account Manager of the Year
Alicia Shepherd – Terra Computer
Distribution Account Manager of the Year
Peter Graham – Ingram Micro Cloud
Partner Value Add Content Delivery
Specialist Vendor of the Year KnowBe4
Distributor of the Year Pax8
Inspiring Content of the Year It’s All About the Journey, Rob Boyns
Chairman’s Award Wayne Cockerill
Team Member of the Year Ann-Marie Harpur
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