Best In Class: Winners Of The Inaugural B2B Channel Performance Awards


Solution providers have been enjoying a fast start to 2018, with total revenue through the channel up by 9 percent in the first half of the year, according to market information and business solutions company The NPD Group.

Software and PC and notebook systems led the way, with the categories posting growth rates of 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively, between January 2018 and June 2018, according to Michael Diamond, NPD's director of industry analysis for B2B technology.

The NPD Group recognized the vendors that achieved the top revenue increase or secured the top revenue market-share change in the U.S. through the inaugural B2B Channel Performance Awards, which are being handed out Monday at XChange 2018, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company.

[Related: 2018 Annual Report Card Winners: Solution Providers Give Top Marks To Key Vendors]

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The new awards celebrate 12 winners across six categories in the U.S. B2B indirect hardware and software markets, according to Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD. Kate Roe-Semyon, NPD's president, B2B technology sector, was on stage Monday at the JW Marriott Hill Country in San Antonio to present winners with their awards.

From a technology standpoint, Diamond said smaller firms are looking for the same advantages and capabilities as their hypers-cale peers, particularly when it comes to areas such as open computing.

"We're moving to a software-defined data center that's growing at the midrange and low-end segments," Diamond told CRN.

Cybersecurity is also hot, Diamond said, as smaller businesses responsible for sub-contracting work or integrating systems on behalf of government agencies are also finding themselves in the line of fire. Hackers are good at figuring out who does peripheral work for companies, Diamond said, and then go after those larger firms that way.

"The small-business market is ripe for security right now," Diamond said. "Everybody's under attack."

From a big picture standpoint, Diamond said companies have upgraded their network and access points to handle all of the data coming in due to advancements around artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. Companies also have upgraded their analytics applications, business intelligence databases and data information software to ensure they're able to capture all the data coming in from new sources, he said.

As businesses add analytics to more departments within their organization, Diamond said they must also secure that information to ward off the risk of insider threat. Companies must therefore not only have a cohesive strategy around deploying all of the new data to everyone, Diamond said, but also have a game plan as it relates to protecting and managing that data.

"All of these things are happening because of IoT, AI, and what companies are doing to make that work," Diamond said.


The award winners were selected based on U.S. B2B technology revenue and market-share data for the 12 months ending in May 2018, as reported by NPD's B2B Distributor Track and Reseller Tracking service. These services track both revenue and units sold through the largest broadline distributors and national solution providers in the market, according to Diamond.

To be eligible for the award, NPD said vendors are required to have sold corresponding products through the indirect B2B channel for a minimum of one year and through two or more channel partners.

The NPD Group looks beyond conventional product areas when calculating total IT spending through the channel to include items such as warranties, Pro AV (Audio Visual), physical security, data capture, and point-of-sale (POS) offerings, according to Diamond. As a result, NPD sees a higher growth rate than some peers since the firm is looking at a more complete picture of what the channel is selling.


The NPD Group has seen strong growth around both Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service as distributors continue to add programs around both technologies, Diamond said. The SMB market, meanwhile, has been gravitating toward licenses in the 30-day range, according to Diamond.

Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM earned gold for the greatest year-over-year cloud revenue growth in the U.S., while San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Sytems took honors for the greatest year-over-year cloud dollar market-share point change in the U.S.


Some of the fastest-growing areas for the channel within cybersecurity include identity and access management, security information and event management (SIEM), and dataloss protection (DLP), with DLP business through the channel up 20 percent year-to-date, according to NPD's Diamond.

Seattle-based F5 Networks took honors for the greatest year-over-year cybersecurity revenue growth in the U.S., while Mountain View, Calif.-based Symantec won the top prize for the greatest cybersecurity dollar market-share point change in the U.S.

Hyper-Converged Systems

Hyper-converged systems have been a high-growth category for the channel as of late, Diamond said, driven by greater adoption in small businesses as well as remote breach offices. Adoption levels are expected to continue rising - particularly in the sub-5,000 user segment - as prices come down, according to Diamond.

The ability to quickly spin up dozens of virtual machines within minutes has been attractive to smaller business that would prefer having one node rather than multiple servers, Diamond said. Businesses have embraced a hybrid approach of having the application on-premises, and then backing it up to the cloud.

Round Rock, Texas-based Dell Technologies took the gold for both year-over-year hyper-converged systems revenue growth in the U.S., as well as year-over-year hyper-converged systems dollar market-share point change in the U.S.

Mobile PCs

The mobile PC category includes notebooks, 2-in-1s, and sub-notebooks such as the Chromebook, according to Diamond. Chromebooks tend to really take share from other operating systems during the June education buying season, Diamond said, and then wind back down afterward.

The NPD Group has also seen strong growth in the premium segment of the mobile PC category as well, Diamond said.

Dell Technologies earned top honors for both year-over-year mobile PC revenue growth in the U.S., as well as year-over-year mobile PC dollar market-share point change in the U.S.

Network Security – Hardware

This product category is focused around large security appliances such as web application firewalls (WAF), next-generation firewalls, and intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS), according to Diamond.

F5 Networks earned the gold for year-over-year network security hardware revenue growth in the U.S., while Santa Clara, Calif.-based Palo Alto Networks took home top honors for year-over-year network security hardware dollar market-share point change in the U.S.

Network Security – Software

This product category includes a multitude of technologies such as firewall licenses, gateway and firewall applications, email and web security, and virtual private networks (VPNs), Diamond said. The strongest growth, though, has been seen in SIEM software as companies try to add more artificial intelligence into the network.

Symantec earned the top spot for greatest year-over-year network security software revenue growth in the U.S., while Cisco took the gold for year-over-year network security software dollar market-share point change in the U.S.