Best Channel Vendors 2013
Welcome to the fifth annual Best Channel Vendors special report! From September 2012 to mid-October 2012, BSM VAR subscribers were asked to participate in the Best Channel Vendors survey. We asked subscribers to rate their vendor partners on a scale of 0 (worst) to 5 (best) in seven categories. An overall average score for each vendor was determined by adding the cumulative scores of the seven categories and dividing that score by the number of VAR subscribers who rated that product.
The Best Channel Vendors winners are listed below in alphabetical order. We did not rank them according to their overall average score. One of the main purposes of this special report is to give our resellers a guide to who their peers think are Best Channel Vendors. Ranking vendors according to their overall average score would mislead readers and defeat that purpose.
For details on the methodology behind this survey, click here.
Improved supply chain visibility — and related efficiency gains — along with mobile workforce empowerment have been driving technology innovation and spend among related data collection technologies in 2012. According to analysts, 2013 should see more of the same, which is good news for VARs in this space.
More than 50 vendors made up the data collection field for our survey. In general, winners scored highest in product reliability and product features — two categories VARs rank highly.
Out of 22 ECM hardware vendors we received feedback on this year, two stood out as best channel vendors. All ranked high in the "Product Reliability" category, but beyond that our winners also earned high scores in other key areas, including "Channel Program," "Service & Support," "Product Features," and "Product Innovation." It's also noteworthy to mention that this was a tight race — especially among the top three vendors.
In the ECM software group, we received responses for 51 vendors. The one category that our top three winners all had in common was "Service & Support," which wasn't a big surprise. Beyond that, however, you'll notice that the next highest ranking category is different for each of the winners. Depending on your needs as a reseller, you can decide which of these additional categories carries the most weight.
Lenovo and Intel made the Best Channel Vendor winners' list once again, and they are joined by HP and Logitech. Unlike some of our other technologies, general computing's top categories continue to be "Product Reliability" and "Product Innovation."
For our winners in the managed services category PSA (professional services automation), "Channel Friendly" was the most important criteria our readers based their decision on, and "Product Innovation" and "Adequate Margins" were the least important. Our managed services winners' list continues on the next page with RMM (remote monitoring and management) software.
RMM (remote monitoring and management) is a must-have software for a managed services provider. In addition to sharing the top two choices from our reader survey, we have a first-ever product review of this technology, beginning on page 48, which includes results from seven RMM software tools.
We had 51 vendors up for nomination in the categories of "Networking" and "Network Security." This year you'll find a few new names on the list as well as quite a range of top categories from which our readers based their decisions.
ACCESS CONTROL & VIDEO SURVEILLANCE
The shift from analog- to IP-based access control and video surveillance solutions continues to be a significant trend VARs and integrators should note. As with last year's survey, we saw an increase in the number of survey takers who voted in this category — evidence that IP security adoption is on the rise. Combining the access control and video surveillance field of 118 vendors, 5 had good enough scores to place them as Best Channel Vendors. Interestingly, top categories varied among the winners.
For VARs who work in the retail and hospitality verticals, 2012 was an interesting year. Pressure from consumer-grade devices like iPads along with increased competition from the payment processing space is forcing many VARs to reevaluate their sales strategy. This means that technologies outside of POS that appear on this survey are viable options for line card expansion.
That said, tried and true POS technologies still hold great potential for VARs. Seventy-four vendors made up the hardware field in our survey, while 55 companies rounded out the software category.
Last year, the trend of payment processing companies looking to partner with retail and hospitality IT VARs and software vendors continued its upward path. VARs in these markets looking to grow their recurring revenue have found payment processing to be a great revenue generator. What's been troubling for some VARs is the sheer number of companies entering this field. For instance, 68 companies were a part of this year's survey. Five had scores high enough to earn Best Channel Vendor honors.
BACKUP & DISASTER RECOVERY
Business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) planning continue to be hot topics among our VAR and MSP readers. Events such as Hurricane Sandy, which left millions without power for an extended period in Q4 of 2012, created a spike in BC and DR opportunities. This year we welcome one new BDR (backup and DR) vendor to the winner's circle. Not only did this new addition score high in "Product Features," a category shared with several of our other winners, it also earned high marks in "Product Innovation."
In the VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) category, you'll notice the same three winners that made our list last year. What you might not realize is that the categories that put this year's winners back in the top spot are different. Last year it was all about "Product Reliability." This year "Service & Support" and "Channel Friendly" were more important.