The 2023 CRN Annual Report Card: A Closer Look At The Scores

The CRN 2023 Annual Report Card gives solution providers the opportunity to grade IT vendors on their performance in product innovation, support, partnership, and managed and cloud services.


Who among the leading IT vendors are doing the best job of working with their channel partners?

The CRN Annual Report Card provides a look at which IT vendors are doing the best jobs – and which ones have some work to do – in meeting their partners’ needs in terms of products, support, partner program resources and other critical criteria that determine the success or failure of a vendor-solution provider relationship.

This year marks the 38th year that CRN has offered solution providers in North America the opportunity to grade the performance of their IT vendor partners with the CRN ARC.

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The winners of this year’s ARC project were announced in August in conjunction with the XChange August 2023 conference in Nashville, put on by The Channel Company, CRN’s parent company. Companies that won top scores in multiple technology categories included Sophos, HPE Aruba Networking, Fortinet, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, SentinelOne and Scale Computing.

Here we provide a more detailed look at the scores that solution providers gave IT vendors in each technology category and provide readers with more opportunities to drill down into the results.

Solution providers scored vendors across 25 product technology categories. These include longtime channel technology mainstays such as industry standard servers, laptops and mobile devices, enterprise network storage hardware, and enterprise and SMB network security. It also includes newer technology areas such as converged/hyperconverged infrastructure and hybrid cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service.

Partners graded IT vendors on a total of 21 criteria spanning four categories:

Product innovation criteria: Includes product quality and reliability, richness of product features and functionality, product technical innovation, product compatibility and ease of integration, marketability, and services opportunity.

Support criteria: Includes pre-sales support, post-sales support, training, quality of field management, and marketing support.

Partnership criteria: Includes solution provider programs, communication, managing channel conflict, revenue and profit potential, and ease of doing business.

Managed and Cloud Services criteria: Includes consumption-based and subscription pricing, integration with services management tools, cloud-readiness of channel program, field teaming and channel compensation alignment, and profit margins and profit potential.

Companies received average scores for each criteria category and an overall average score for the technology category.

In some technology areas a single vendor dominated the scoring, winning not just the top overall score, but also the average grades across all four criteria categories and, in some cases, even sweeping all 21 specific criteria.

In other technology categories two or more vendors split the results with different vendors earning the highest average scores for different criteria categories. In the highly competitive cloud security technology segment, for example, one vendor had the highest average scores for product innovation and partnership while another company had the highest average scores for support and managed/cloud services.

There were also many cases where while one vendor had the highest average score for a criteria category, one or more rivals may have won the top grade for specific criteria. In the previously cited cloud security tech segment, for example, one company had the highest average score for partnership criteria, but within that criteria category another vendor had higher scores for communication and ease of doing business while a third company had the highest score for managing channel conflict.