Comment July/August 2021

Technology in a post-pandemic world.


Every year in the July/August issue of OPI, we shine a light on technology solutions in our sector. We find out what the challenges and opportunities are, consult with tech experts and then advise our readership on how to overcome or indeed embrace them. 

Deciding which specific topics to explore, I was struck by just how much there’s to talk about this year. No prizes for guessing why. If any company – or individual, in fact – needed a gentle nudge or perhaps almighty push to up its tech game, COVID-19 provided it. In spades.

The first one of these is our Big Interview with Simon Drakeford. His company, EO Group, is one of the UK’s e-commerce pioneers with its direct businesses. But since 2013, it’s also been helping independent dealers with its technology and services arm Office Power – now incidentally the biggest part of the company.

Other articles include commentary from the popular software providers in our industry and a best practice case study. In our Opinion section, meanwhile, Kevin McGirl highlights the impending importance of artificial intelligence (AI) on the sales function. Are the days of dealers personally calling on customers, going to community events with them and knowing their children’s names gone? Perhaps not, but if they want to sell business supplies too, AI and what it can do in terms of data and analytics will likely become an invaluable sales enablement tool.

On that relationship note, I would also point to this issue’s Hot Topic, where Michelle Sturman looks at the buy local’ trend that has gathered pace during the pandemic and questions whether it’s here to stay. This is not a technology feature per se and as such is not marked as one, but for anyone engaged in buy local initiatives, being tech-savvy is certainly an invaluable attribute. Just think of the brand-building opportunities that social media affords, for example.

Until next time! Spoiler alert: this will be OPI’s special 30th anniversary bumper issue. Don’t miss it!