IT manufacturers and software developers are demanding more from their channel partners. Whether they call them specializations, competencies or authorizations, nearly every major IT vendor, from Oracle to Cisco to Microsoft, is setting the bar ever higher for solution providers to qualify as resellers. Isn't it time partners demanded more from their vendors in turn?
The 2012 Partner Program Guide offers solution providers the information they need to evaluate IT vendors they already work with or are considering working with. The guide is based on detailed applications vendors submitted outlining all aspects of their partner programs. UBM Channel Research crunched the numbers and designated some programs as 5-Star Partner Programs.
The 5-Star Partner Program rating recognizes the elite subset of Partner Program Guide vendors that give solution providers the best partnering elements in their channel programs. The 5-Star rating is bestowed on programs whose overall rating is among the elite segmented by company size: enterprise (annual revenue of more than $1 billion), midsize (revenue between $100 million and $1 billion), small (revenue less than $100 million) and emerging companies (founded in 2006 or later).
The vendor applications also offer a snapshot of the current state of IT vendor partner programs and provide some insights into channel trends.
Take the number of vendors that offer service and solution-selling training to help partners boost their services-attach rates, for example. Less than three-quarters (73.6 percent) of all vendors offer such training, down from 81.0 percent in 2011.
Vendors, nevertheless, generally continue to help partners transform their businesses and expand into new markets. More than two-thirds (67.5 percent), for example, offer information to help VARs break into vertical markets. Training and advice to help VARs incorporate cloud solutions into their offerings are provided by 64.4 percent of vendors. And 49.1 percent of vendors provide business transformation training to help partners expand their service offerings, while 47.2 percent offer training for hosted and managed services. In all cases, vendors with 5-Star programs were more likely to offer such assistance.
NetSuite, the developer of cloud-based ERP, CRM and e-commerce applications, has expanded training to help partners boost their professional services and project management skills, said Craig West, channel sales vice president. That's needed as solution providers move beyond selling and marketing cloud solutions and get into full implementation mode.
"That's the big one right now," he said. "Revamping the delivery, the professional services side. That takes some of the burden off them and helps partners keep up with some of the growth they're experiencing."
NEXT: A Closer Look At The Numbers