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Still thinking technology is your biggest asset? If you’re a solution provider, you might want to reconsider.

Sure, technology is a must because it provides the foundation for any channel business. After all, most founders of channel companies are technologists.

But understanding the technology alone will not make you successful. If anything, plenty of evidence exists pointing to other factors, such as business acumen, marketing and employee recruitment and retention, which make solution providers successful.

This is why an increasing number of vendors, including IBM and Mitel, are placing more emphasis on training their channel partners on business processes. Mitel, for instance, offers intensive business consulting for partners that agree to work with the vendor exclusively.

Solution providers, at least the successful ones, understand this too. A lot of the successful channel executives and company owners I have come to know over my many years of reporting on this space have been businessmen first. A few will even admit they know little about the technology, and so they hire people who do.

Knowing how to sell, of course, ranks high as a factor in what makes a solution provider successful.

But what struck me while readying this month’s eWEEK Strategic Partner cover story, “Reaching the Top,” for publication was how much emphasis the handful of solution providers featured in the story placed on people.

The story focuses on how small solution providers can succeed in building a strategy for sustainable growth, so a lengthy analysis of numbers, strategy and marketing savvy would not have been out of place.

And while these elements of growth strategies are discussed, it is clear the solution providers wanted to get across the value they place on employees. To become successful, they stressed, it’s important to attract, retain and nurture talent. To create trust between employer and employee, employers have to give workers responsibility and know how to forgive mistakes.

In some cases, solution providers share ownership with employers to create a sense of belonging and to motivate people to perform at their best. Of course motivational approaches differ, and what works for one company may not for another.

Flexibility and fun also matter. Employers that allow flexible working schedules and create an enjoyable working environment are more successful at retaining their valuable employees.

In a bottom-line-driven world, it’s easy to be cynical as benefits shrink and salaries stagnate. But it’s encouraging to see employers recognize that success is tied to how they treat their workers.

“The focus on human beings is one of the most important tenets of building a successful business,” says Tim Marshall, vice president of technology at solution provider Neudesic.

He should know. Neudesic had growth exceeding 1,000 percent in the past year and ranked 197 on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies in 2007.

In the course of doing business, trying to make the next sale, learning the nuances of the latest technology development, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of what is truly your most important business asset. But the companies that never neglect the need for nurturing that asset have a better chance at sustainable success.

Pedro Pereira is editor of eWeek Strategic Partner and a contributing editor for The Channel Insider. He is at