This year's channel satisfaction survey gives VARs' take on vendors' financial impact
Working within essentially the same methodology that has successfully defined CRN's annual Channel Champions study for the past 17 years, the publication's editorial research team expanded its reach in 2007 to add a specific focus on financial criteria. After all, the solution provider's end goal is to make money.
At its most basic level, Channel Champions works by asking solution providers to rate their satisfaction with particular vendors in more than two dozen product categories, considering close to 20 weighted measures. While some measures transcend all categories, such as product quality and reliability or technical education resources, others are specific to the product set being considered, such as ease of configuration or compatibility.
|2008 CRN Channel Champions Awards, coming March 6, 2008|
While this methodology is the skeleton of Channel Champions, CRN readers are its beating heart: More than 2,000 solution providers participated in this year's study. They rated more than four vendors each, on average, yielding almost 8,400 vendor evaluations. A total of 54 vendors were represented in the 2007 study, often appearing in more than one of the 27 product categories.
The scores that solution providers contribute are weighted by how important the solution providers rating the relevant product segment or market segment say each criterion is, in business terms. Therefore, even though the CRN research team changes the criteria slightly from year to year, the vendor scores faithfully represent what's important to solution providers at that moment in time.
What's more, the methodology ensures that scores represent the opinions and experiences of partners with a real stake in the vendor. Only solution providers who say the product category is at least moderately important to their business may offer scores in a given product category. Furthermore, solution providers must have a current business relationship with a vendor in order to rate it.
The numeric values of the final scores are influenced by several factors. All rating scales are devised with values ranging from 1 to 7. For final computation, the average ratings are converted to a scale of 1 to 100.
The results are then weighted according to the average importance of each criterion in each product category, endowed on them by the solution providers according to a 1 to 7 scale. Those results are later normalized to a scale where the value "1" signifies the average importance.
The composite scores across all the criteria are computed for each vendor in each product category. The vendor with the highest score is deemed the Channel Champion for the given product category.
Ratings are also broken down into three subsets: technical criteria, channel program and support criteria, and financial criteria. Vendors that achieve the highest composite, weighted scores in each of these three subsets are also recognized.
Finally, vendors appearing in at least three product categories are eligible for recognition of their average scores across all their product categories. Among these vendors, those with the highest average scores in technical criteria, program and support criteria, or financial criteria are crowned as special champions.