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Pandemic has underlined importance of peripherals

The experience of Tech Data in the education market over the past 20 months has shown the value of getting the right tools into the hands of users

The Covid-19 pandemic had an impact on almost every aspect of life and every customer, including those that operate in the education market.

Classrooms were closed last year during lockdown and the shift to remote learning highlighted the need for more devices and peripherals to support students. Even with the doors of schools and colleges reopening, the isolation for those with Covid has continued and the need for technology has not diminished.

Tech Data has a long track record of selling into education and has seen demand fluctuate as conditions have changed on the ground.

For Mara Pereira, who is director Sbu peripherals Europe at the distributor, her role covers all the tools beyond the desktop and laptop that customers would need. The past 20 months have seen demand for those products increase dramatically in some cases, as users reached out for webcams, keyboards and displays.

“Of course Covid had a huge impact – no one was forecasting this pandemic,” she said. “I think the world changed the way we live, the way we study, the way we learn and the way we participate in meetings and the way we communicate with each other.

“Even though we are back to a ‘new normal’, there are student centres that are opting to do a Zoom class, or a virtual session to support studies, and they are doing this online.”

Tech Data reacted with the development of a personal approach, where it could provide options for educational buyers looking to meet specific needs through a catalogue of Persona use cases.

“We created different profiles, so if I’m a teacher, what devices do I need to teach from home?” said Pereira. “If I’m a teacher and need to be located physically in a school, based on this new environment with all the measures and the security needed, what devices do I need to have to perform in the classroom and the virtual classroom?”

The distributor is continuing to expand the number of use cases and is looking at taking a similar approach with other verticals.

When there isn’t a pandemic raging, the summer is normally the key time for those in the channel selling into education and Pereira believes that those seasonal patterns will return to the market.

“So back to school, it will be always back to school,” she said. “We see the spike of the sales and we see manufacturers adopting and we see forecasts done in January for supply needs by September, so the seasonality will not change and it’s still there. But the consumption is more moderate, so instead of having a huge spike of sales in July, August, September, you already have also in Christmas, because people are investing in different devices and peripherals because of the need for renewal.”

The experiences that many education users have gone through in the past 20 months has made many appreciate the importance of peripherals even more, said Pereira. “Covid brought a different spotlight to peripherals, making sure that you need to select the right device to achieve your goal.”

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