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In the following pages, you'll learn about innovation and quality as well as see how various vendors performed in their respective categories. All the scores are based on the results of surveys of solution providers that deal specifically with these vendors. For more perspective, here are 10 top-line findings to keep in mind before you dive into this year's ARC.
1. The Highest Individual Category Score? Intel
Quality is always at the top of the list of characteristics VARs look at when choosing a vendor. It starts with quality, and then trickles down into all the other criteria. And excellent quality is a big reason why chip maker Intel Corp., for instance, handily beat Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) in the Client and Server Processors category. Intel earned a whopping 108 in quality and reliability--a score unrivaled by any other vendor in any category or criterion in the entire survey. In addition, the product innovation subcategory had the highest average score of 88--up from 77 in 2007--indicating that vendors are putting effort into this area and that VARs are noticing.
2. Quality Counts, But ...
Toshiba Corp. managed to edge out Panasonic Corp.--by one point in the Notebooks/Mobile Computers category--with a stellar score of 105 in quality (tied with EMC Corp. and NEC Display). Although Toshiba lost the product innovation subcategory to Panasonic--it scored a respectable 88 in quality--the vendor earned first place in the other two subcategories, propelling it to the top of Notebooks and Mobile Computers. Panasonic struggled in managing channel conflict, revenue and profit potential, and communication, effectively overshadowing the vendor's amazing achievement in quality. Despite those challenges, Panasonic's showing in the Notebooks category was an incredible ARC debut.
3. VARs: It's All About Communication
Many VARs cited communication as vitally important to their vendor relationship. With so many ways to communicate today, it's important the vendors choose the method that solution providers prefer, and to be sure the communication itself is valuable. Panasonic's score overall suffered largely because VARs weren't satisfied with the desktop manufacturer's communication. That wasn't lost on Sheila O'Neil, vice president of channel sales.
"Our partners are very vocal. It's information they want," O'Neil said. "[They want to know] how to sell against the competition, what's happening in the market--and it's about hearing from us what's happening so they are better prepared."