One In Three VARs Says Has Fired A Vendor This Year

Surveying The Channel

Enterasys Networks recently revealed the results of its global channel partner survey, a set of technology- and vendor-related questions that were answered by 170 of its solution providers worldwide.

While some of the questions were specific to Enterasys, many were not, and they serve as an interesting (and sometimes shocking) sample of what's top-of-mind for solution providers today.

Ranging from partners' biggest vendor pet peeves to the newest technologies they're chasing, here's a look at some of Enterasys' most significant findings.

Cutting Ties

Bob Noel, director of global channel and field marketing at Enterasys, said the most surprising finding from the survey was the fact that 25 percent of solution providers have "fired" a vendor in the past 12 months. In North America, Noel said, that figure was an even larger 33 percent.

Survey-takers weren't asked to identify the specific vendors with which they cut ties, but they were asked to give the reasons for the split (hint: see next slide).

"In North America, one out of three VARs has fired a vendor this year," Noel said. "And there were five key reasons they validated as to why they had done that."

Vendor Headaches

The biggest complaint solution providers expressed about their vendor partners was a lack of vendor-provided leads, with 42.7 percent of survey-takers identifying the issue. An excessive number of competitive resellers and channel conflict was the second-biggest challenge with 33.6 percent, and poor service and support came in next at 31.3 percent.

Just shy of 30 percent of survey-takers said insufficient profitability or ROI was their biggest vendor challenge, while 27.5 percent said it was a lack of understanding of the partner business.

"[VARs are saying] if you as a vendor don't get the changing of my business model and don't support me with services and programs, then we are no longer in sync and I don't want to work with you," Enterasys' Noel told CRN.

Trust Issues

Enterasys' survey revealed three other reasons solution providers may choose to break things off with vendors. A lack of trust was one of the largest, with more than 48 percent of respondents identifying this as a pain point.

About 36 percent of solution providers said poor vendor services and support was another potential deal-breaker, and roughly 27 percent said they'll call it quits when there's lack of alignment between a vendor's business goals or go-to-market strategies and their own.

New Business Models A Priority

Of the 170 global solution providers surveyed by Enterasys, roughly 60 percent of them identified the move to selling integrated solutions as the top priority for them in 2013. For 20 percent of respondents, the biggest priority this year is transitioning to a new business model -- namely, away from one-off hardware sales and toward recurring revenue opportunities. Some 9 percent said industry or vertical specializations were a main focus.

Enterasys' Noel said the fact that integrated business solutions emerged as such a big priority for the channel was an eye-opener, and one that will push Enterasys to ensure its own solutions can interoperate with those from other vendors.

"One of our key takeaways was that, as a vendor, if you want to attract more VARs to your business, you need to make the interoperability and programmability easy," Noel said. "And not just by supporting standards, but by making open APIs available to the partner to create a business model that provides real value to their customer."

BYOD Is A Big Deal

Solution providers taking the Enterasys survey were asked to identify what they consider to be the top three technology trends for the year. Enterasys found that mobility is top-of-mind for many solution providers today, with 74 percent of respondents electing BYOD and 60 percent electing mobility, in general, as the biggest trends in technology this year.

Cloud computing also emerged as a mega-trend, with 60 percent of solution providers identifying the technology as one of the most significant for them this year.