Do Vendors Really Matter?

By Sara Driscoll  |  Print this article Print


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At the Ziff Davis Enterprise Channel Summit in Dallas, one panel debate brought up the topic of vendor/VAR relationships—with a suprising outcome.

Ouch! That was the reaction from the vendor executives who were present at the panel debate "How to Choose a Vendor Partner" at the Ziff Davis Enterprise Channel Summit last week. After laying out the things VARs should be looking for from a vendor partner, one analyst on the panel asked whether it even matters what vendor a VAR chooses.

The point is that if everything the channel sells eventually becomes commoditized, the way the channel will thrive is by wrapping services and consulting around technology—nothing we didn’t already know.  But if the technology is commoditized, then that technology brand becomes almost irrelevant—because all the boxes do roughly the same thing—and achieving sales comes down to the VARs’ own brand and USP.  All of which makes the vendors somewhat superfluous.

Click here for the Channel Insider slide show, "10 Ways to Choose a Vendor Partner."

But many of the channel audience rushed to the defense of the vendors. Aside from the help that vendors can provide the channel, one VAR pointed out that most resellers do like being part of a vendor partner program.  They take a certain amount of pride in being called a Cisco Gold partner or an IBM Premier partner, and this also helps draw a customer's eye in a VAR ’s marketing brochure.

The audience also pointed out that VARs do still need to get a server, for example, from someone, and therefore making sure that the vendor you choose for your server, or software or hard drives, is going to help your business is vital.

But, the panel pointed out, choosing the right one for your business is fraught with danger. The trick, the panel said, is getting the balance right, not being so reliant on a particular vendor that any changes to its rewards structure, its rebates or its Ts and Cs will send your company into a spiral of destruction.

Pick one primary vendor for each of your technology areas and supplement this with a secondary vendor, the panel advised.  And, more shockingly, don’t be afraid to fire vendors. Check each year for your lowest-performing vendors and fire them. There is no point in holding onto vendors that do not perform for you and whom you do not make a profit from.

Sara Driscoll began her journalism career at 16 years old on her local newspaper, The Watford Observer. Working part time, she covered a range of beats. Leaving to complete her Journalism Degree at Bournemouth University, UK, Sara then went on to graduate and work for Emap. She began as a reporter on APR, Emap's construction title, being promoted to senior reporter with a year.Sara then joined VNU Business Publications as Deputy News Editor on CRN, the weekly trade title for channel players. She covered industry/business news from vendors, distributors and resellers, product announcements, partner announcements as well as market and trend analysis, research and in depth articles to predict up and coming trends in the sector. She was promoted within a year to News Editor, a year later to Deputy Editor and the following year became Editor. Sara remained editor of CRN for three years, launching the magazine on new platforms including CRN TV and eBooks, as well as several magazine and web site redesigns. She was called on for expert industry comment from various publications including appearing on live BBC news programs. Sara joined Ziff Davis Enterprise as Editor of eWeek Channel Insider. She runs the title in all formats – online up to the minute news, newsletters, emails alerts and events. She also manages the brand of Channel Insider in all formats - events, shows, awards, panel debates and roundtables.Sara can be reached at:sara.driscoll@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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