CDN’s Top 100 Solution Providers 2009 event partner workshop

All eyes on me please

During this year’s CDN Top 100 Solution Providers event in Vaughan, Ont., channel partners from across the country came together to recognize the Top 100 highest revenue-generating solution providers with major operations in Canada.

Preceding the awards ceremony, 35 channel partners were treated to a workshop and discussion on buyer behaviour and today’s channel ecosystem led by James Alexander, Info-Tech Research Group’s senior vice-president.

By: Maxine Cheung of Computer Dealer News

The channel partner landscape

Info-Tech conducted research that targeted buyer behaviour and channel partners during the latter part of 2008 and the beginning of this year. The research results were based on four end-user surveys and three supplier surveys, which had more than 2,200 responses collected.

The survey responses were generated from individuals representing different-sized businesses, industries and revenue brackets to better determine what today’s Canadian partner landscape looks like, said Alexander.

Taking it all in

The purpose of this partner workshop was to educate the channel community on end-user purchasing patterns so that partners may better succeed in today’s market.

With regards to small to medium-sized (SMB) purchasing patterns, Alexander said choosing whether or not to deploy a new solution is driven by both business need and senior management.
Key decision makers may include presidents, CEOs, owners, CIO, senior IT management and stakeholders.

Once SMB buyers decide they have a need for a particular type of solution, they’re most likely to purchase through a value-added reseller (VAR), Alexander said.

Who sells my stuff?

When it comes to vendors, many companies, for the most part, prefer purchasing all of their solutions from a single vendor, Alexander explains.
However, businesses that are less than 100 employees are more likely to show no preference for how these solutions are purchased.
Companies in the 501-1,000 employee-size are the only businesses in the SMB space that prefer to purchase all of their solutions separately.

Engaged in conversation

Alexander said that when it comes to partnerships, forging and maintaining relationships between vendors, partners and end-users is key. In fact, it’s the existing relationships amongst businesses that strongly influence the purchases of Canadian mid-market customers.

The most prevalent reason why a customer would ever consider or switch to another supplier would be because of a lack of responsiveness from the vendor, Alexander said.

Partner opportunities

Two key areas that represent a huge partner opportunity right now are in services on the enterprise software market side and software-as-a-service (SaaS).

Virtualization is another solution area that businesses are asking for, Alexander said. Partners can use virtualization solutions to increase their incremental dollars and overall revenue coming in.

Meaningful conversations

After Alexander’s presentation, the workshop attendees were given the chance to discuss amongst themselves the challenges they’ve seen working with other vendors and companies in the IT industry.

Some of the challenges partners identified were support from vendors in the form of financing and leasing options, making co-branded services available and internship opportunities.

Partners can help their customers by offering to them supplemental IT resources and outsourced and co-delivered services where applicable. And like the vendors,
partners can also offer financing and credit options to end-users to help win more business.

Speaking out

There was an agreement amongst a majority of the partners in the room that they become frustrated when a vendor lacks direct contact and responsiveness with them. This is why, Alexander said, open lines of regular communication are necessary for any channel partnership to succeed.

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