As the technology industry sits at the precipice of an economic downturn, channel chiefs at every vendor are likely to feel the pressure to deliver more sales.

But the initiatives they choose to focus on for their 2009 channel programs will make the difference on whether they succeed or fail in their efforts to deliver top line growth, according to a new survey of channel chiefs by partnership relationship management vendor Blueroads.

"Certain channel chiefs are focused on cutting costs. They default to automation," said Charles Watson, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Blueroads. "You don’t have to go to your CEO to get permission to build a chatroom. But it doesn’t result in revenue growth either."

Blueroads divides channel executive activities into what it calls low risk/automation type activities termed "efficiency focus" or higher risk/accountability type activities termed "effectiveness focused."

The Blueroads-commissioned survey conducted by Sirius Decisions demonstrates that activities such as lead management and deal registration – which fall into the effectiveness focus category — are the ones that boost the top line for sales through the channel, while efficiency focused activities are easier to do and tend to cut costs.

Here’s what else the survey revealed, and what partners should hope to expect from channel executives in 2009.

Four out of the top five planned technology investments channel executives are planning for 2009 are focused in infrastructure, administration and operations, according to the survey results. They include the following:
•    Training/learning management systems
•    Partner communications and blogging
•    Partner content portals
•    MDF/Co-op management