High achievers in the criteria of quality and reliability drew scores in the upper 90s and even 100-plus this year, with Intel garnering the highest score of 108. Solution providers gave top grades to a number of industry giants including Cisco Systems, EMC, Hewlett-Packard and Panasonic, and some not-so-big companies such as Kaspersky Lab. Many of the same companies also received top scores for technical innovation with EMC and Intel ranking the highest.
This marked the third year in a row that Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel has topped the ARC scores for innovation. This year the chip maker scored 108 for quality and reliability, up from 87 last year, and 91 for technical innovation, up from 85.
Executives at these companies generally say there's no secret formula for developing high-quality products.
"We just sweat the details every day," said Ken Steinhardt, CTO for customer operations at Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC, which won high marks for quality and reliability for such disparate products as Network Storage and Storage Management Software.
There's also a whole lotta shaking going on at Panasonic, which scored 105 for product quality and reliability in Notebooks and Mobile Computers. Kyp Walls, director of product management, said quality teams are always developing fiendish new ways to test products, even using vibrating Panasonic back massagers to shake racks of laptops in an attempt to find loose components. "That makes sure our DOA rate is almost nonexistent," Walls said.
Panasonic has an advantage in that the company manufactures many of the components that go into its laptops, from LCD screens, to circuit boards and batteries. "We're literally building the product from scratch," Walls said. "That allows us to control quality all through the manufacturing process."
The fact that Woburn, Mass.-based Kaspersky Lab scored 98 in quality and reliability and 86 for technical innovation in the Client Security Software category doesn't surprise Shane Vinup, president and CEO of Cyber Advisors Inc., a Dedham, Mass.-based solution provider that resells security products from Kaspersky and other vendors.
Kaspersky's software has maintained a slim footprint on the desktop compared to "fatter" clients from competitors, Vinup said. "That makes it faster and it's still able to catch a ton of viruses."
Maintaining quality in a product that's constantly being updated—even hourly—to protect against new threats is a challenge, acknowledged Dave Aucoyne, Kaspersky senior vice president of service and support. The company has more than 100 people assigned to quality assurance, he said, and has spent millions of dollars this year to upgrade its testing equipment base.