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01732 759725 32 INTERACTIVE DISPLAYS SMART Technologies, which started out with a focus on business customers before it was discovered by schools, colleges and universities, is re-engaging with enterprises and SMEs struggling with the practicalities of hybrid working to be back and are really looking for new solutions to help enterprises return to the office in a more productive way,” she said. Business sales SMART has been pivoting towards business sales for several years, especially in the UK where it has 100% penetration of the education market and an open channel policy that has traditionally attracted resellers from different parts of the market – an approach that it has now replicated in North America, resulting in the recruitment of 300 new partners and increased traction in segments it wasn’t strong in before. Over and above this, there is little doubt that the return to the office and the reorganisation of workspaces to support diverse collaboration requirements is giving a real boost to the business market, at a time when schools are cutting back on purchases due to inflation and the high cost of energy. “Where we’re seeing most of our strategic counselling is in the return to office and how to set up spaces where people can come and work together. We know that you can work from home, from your laptop quite productively, but that’s not always 100% collaboratively. When do you need to be in the office and what do you need the office to do? What does that space look like?,” said Pipchuk. “In our enterprise market, the return to work is a bit scrambled and we’re using some of the learnings that we have gained from education to help organisations understand that the office has changed from a place that you go to every day just to do your work to a place where you really need key collaborative environments. Businesses now understand that they have to combine what’s going on in the office and what’s going on at home and make the space in the office much more relatable to collaboration.” In addition, SMART is seeing demand from certain niche areas, such as digital courtrooms, and key verticals like construction, as well as the broader SME market. Pipchuk adds that in some respects today’s stronger focus on business is taking SMART back to its roots. “A little known fact about SMART is that we started in the enterprise and then schools adopted the technology, after which touch technology really grew. People sometimes forget we were doing touch before iPads, when touch was a phenomenal, magical thing in education. Over the years, we’ve had a few entrances into the Business and Enterprise space. We were one of the three main manufacturers for Microsoft Room Systems a number of years ago. Now that people are trying to redefine what working should be like after Covid it seems as though the business market is ready again.” She adds that one of the reasons the business market has caught up is that SMART is already familiar to so many of today’s office workers. “We’ve been selling into education for a few generations, and people who know us from that environment are now in the workforce and expect to use the same kinds of collaboration technologies that they had in schools in their work environment.” Simply better That aside, why should a customer choose a SMART Board rather than an equivalent from one of many other providers in this space? One reason, says Pipchuk, is the simplicity of SMART technology. “The technology just works. And what we mean by that is when you pick up a pen, it writes like a pen. When you pick up an eraser, it erases and you don’t have to be fooling around in menus or As inventor of the category 35 years ago, SMART Technologies was once synonymous with interactive whiteboards. Since then, many more vendors have entered the market and interactive whiteboards have been superseded by interactive displays – a development SMART was initially slow to pick up on. Today, it is still a major player, moving up and down the top three rankings, with a solid base in education and a growing footprint in the enterprise. Buoyed by post-Covid education sector grants and corporate investment in collaboration spaces to support hybrid working, SMART has been growing by 30% to 40% in every region across the world, except in the UK, where demand has been constrained by a lack of Government support for schools and a mature, replacement market – in education, at least. As Jenna Pipchuk, Executive VicePresident Chief Sales Officer at SMART Technologies, told Technology Reseller when we caught up with her after June’s InfoComm event in Las Vegas, there is still much new business to be won in the enterprise and SME space and a real appetite amongst SMART’s UK channel partners to make deeper inroads into that growing part of the market. “I have just come back from InfoComm where I met many of our UK channel partners. It was great to see them in person and there really was a great vibe at the show. You can tell people are excited Back to its roots Jenna Pipchuk