You should have found in your mailbox this week the January 2014 issue of Business Solutions magazine, which contains the results of our annual Best Channel Vendors survey. This is the sixth year we've run this survey which gives us a lot of data to analyze. One fun thing I did last year with the winner's list was to apply conditional color formatting to the scores to create a heat map. I did it again for this year's winners (randomizing the winner's list, of course) and the results are pretty cool.
Take a look at the accompanying chart. The categories are split into columns (service/support, channel friendly, channel program, product features, product reliability, product innovation, margins). The scores for each vendor (reading across) are color coded. The highest scores are dark green and the lowest are red. Scores in between fall into a shade of green or a shade of orange.
In looking at chart as a whole, you can see that the lowest scores (i.e. red and dark orange coloring) fall in the categories of channel program (third column from the left) and margins (last column on the right). I saw this same trend last year. The easy explanation would be that solutions providers will always want more/higher margin and stronger channel programs. I'm sure there's some truth to this. However, there were a handful of companies that scored highest in one of these two categories. This tells me that, if you're a vendor thinking VARs will never be satisfied, you're wrong.
There's also a strong message here for VARs. The vendors whose highest scores were in the category of margins were the remote monitoring and management vendors. If you haven't made the leap to managed services and automation, here's proof from hundreds of MSPs who took the survey that the margins are very good in their line of work.