ARC 2013: Biggest Vendor Gains And Drops

The Ups And Downs Of The ARC

For 28 years, the Annual Report Card has surveyed solution providers for their opinions on their IT vendor partners. Their responses offer a snapshot of how well these vendors are working with partners -- or not -- as well as how their products stack up against their competitors.

Here are the biggest decreases and increases in 2013 -- five vendors whose scores fell year over year and six (including a tie) whose scores showed a lot of improvement.

Note: Given the ever-dynamic IT industry, the product categories covered by the ARC change year to year with some categories being dropped and new ones added (such as Converged Infrastructure this year). So year-to-year comparisons aren't always possible.

No. 5 Biggest Drop: HP In Volume Servers

CEO: Meg Whitman
Down 5.5 Points (Overall Score 69.1)

The drop in Hewlett-Packard's overall score cost it the top spot in this competitive category, pushing it down to second place behind Dell.

HP's scores were down for product innovation (87.5 in 2012 to 80.1 this year), support (from 65.6 to 61.1) and partnership (from 69.9 to 65.3), so it's hard to cite a specific area where HP fell down. But some of the most pronounced declines were on the product side, including richness of product features and functionality (down from 91.8 in 2012 to 82.6 this year) and product marketability (a drop from 83.9 in 2012 to 66.3).

Partners also dropped HP's scores for ease of doing business from 68.2 in 2012 to 59.0 this year.

No. 4 Biggest Drop: Microsoft In Data & Information Management

CEO: Steve Ballmer
Down 6.0 Points (Overall Score 67.3)

Microsoft, last year's winner of this product category, fell to second place this year behind Oracle because of its lower score.

The biggest declines in Microsoft's scores were in product innovation (83.4 in 2012 to 77.6 this year) and partnership (70.9 to 63.0), although scores for support also declined (64.5 to 60.9)

Partners' scores for the quality and reliability of Microsoft's products dropped from 94.1 in 2012 to 85.2 this year. Even bigger was the drop in the score given for ease of doing business -- from 76.1 to 65.2.

No. 3 Biggest Drop: Microsoft In Business Analytics

CEO: Steve Ballmer
Down 6.1 Points (Overall Score 67.1)

As with Data & Information Management, Microsoft's lower score cost the vendor the first-place ranking it held in 2012. In this product category it lost out to IBM.

Partners this year generally cut about 6 points off Microsoft's 2012 scores for product innovation (from 82.9 in 2012 to 77.1 this year), support (from 65.3 to 58.7) and partnership (from 70.5 to 64.5).

Microsoft's grade for product compatibility and ease of integration fell more than 10 points (from 87.1 in 2012 to 76.8 this year). Even more worrisome were big declines in scores for pre-sales support (from 68.5 to 54.5) and managing channel conflict (from 70.6 to 55.8).

No. 2 Biggest Drop: IBM In Volume Servers

CEO: Ginni Rometty
Down 7.7 Points (Overall Score 62.0)

Last year IBM came in third in volume servers, behind Hewlett-Packard and Dell and ahead only of Lenovo. This year IBM came in last, with Dell winning the category.

IBM's scores for product innovation declined from 81.1 in 2012 to 72.6 this year. Partners were especially critical of IBM's product quality and reliability, dropping its score for that criterion from 95.0 in 2012 to 78.7 this year. The score for product compatibility and ease of integration also dropped from 84.4 to 72.8.

Scores for support were down from 64.1 in 2012 to 56.7 this year, including a drop in the score for marketing support (from 64.5 to 52.5). Scores for partnership declined from 63.9 in 2012 to 56.6 this year, including a decline in the score for ease of doing business (from 59.5 to 45.0).

No. 1 Biggest Drop: RSA In Network Security Software

Executive Chairman: Art Coviello
Down 11.6 Points (Overall Score 79.3)

RSA, the winner of this product category last year, fell to third place behind Kaspersky Lab and Trend Micro after its overall score suffered the biggest decline among all vendors in this year's ARC.

What went wrong this year? To start, the scores for product innovation dropped from 95.0 in 2012 to 85.3 this year. Scores for specific product innovation criterion were generally down about 10 points across the board, such as the decline in the score for richness of product features and functionality (down from 98.7 to 88.3).

Things were even worse on the partnership side where the score plunged from 90.6 in 2012 to 77.3 this year. That included a drop in the score for communication with partners from 91.9 to 75.5. And the scores for support criteria dropped from 86.5 to 75.0.

No. 5 Biggest Gain (tie): Juniper Networks In Network Security Appliances

CEO: Kevin Johnson
Gain: 7.1 Points (Overall Score 81.2)

In a sign of how competitive this product category is, Juniper Networks boosted its overall score in Network Security Appliances, and yet it still came in fifth place out of six vendors.

Still, the company has to feel good about its 2013 showing. The company's score for product innovation increased from 81.8 in 2012 to 84.7 this year. While scores for some criteria were nearly flat (richness of product features and functionality was 87.5 this year versus 87.8 in 2012), others increased dramatically such as product quality and reliability (up from 85.3 in 2012 to 93.8 this year).

Scores also increased substantially across all criteria in the support (67.2 in 2012 to 78.3 this year) and partnership (from 72.3 to 80.1) categories.

No. 5 Biggest Gain (tie): Trend Micro In Network Security Software

CEO: Eva Chen
Gain: 7.1 Points (Overall Score 82.6)

Trend Micro's gain in its ARC scores was good enough to bump up the company to second place behind Kaspersky Lab in this product category. Last year Trend Micro placed third behind Kaspersky Lab and RSA.

Partners rewarded the company with significant score gains across all criteria -- some by more than 10 points. Within support, for example, the score for post-sales support soared from 69.1 in 2012 to 84.2 this year. Overall support scores were up from 69.4 to 78.0.

Scores also jumped for product innovation (up from 79.6 in 2012 to 87.4 this year) and partnership (from 76.3 to 81.8). Within the latter the score for the vendor's solution provider program shot up from 69.6 to 80.9.

No. 4 Biggest Gain: McAfee in Client Security Software

President: Michael DeCesare
Gain: 8.5 Points (Overall Score 76.1)

McAfee came in last in this product category in 2012 behind highest scorer Kaspersky Lab and four other competitors. This year, thanks to its improved score, McAfee ranked fourth among five vendors.

The company's biggest gains came in the partnership category where its scores improved from 63.6 in 2012 to 75.5 this year. In specific partnership criteria, McAfee's score for its partner portal jumped from 51.2 to 68.3, for example, and soared from 68.6 to 86.5 for revenue and profit potential.

On the product innovation side, McAfee improved its scores from 75.3 in 2012 to 82.2 this year. As part of that, the company's score for services opportunities surged from 59.0 to 71.5. For the support criterion, McAfee's scores improved from 64.0 to 69.5.

No. 3 Biggest Gain: HP In Multifunction Printers

CEO: Meg Whitman
Gain: 8.6 Points (Overall Score 77.6)

Last year HP was dead last in this product category, coming in behind Xerox, Lexmark and Samsung. This year the company's much-improved scores were good enough to place the company second in a field of four, still behind Xerox but ahead of Samsung and Oki Data.

HP's product innovation scores improved from 79.4 in 2012 to 87.2 this year, helped along by gains in specific criteria such as product marketability (up from 75.9 to 87.6).

Partners added 7 points to HP's support scores, raising them from 63.9 to 72.7. Likewise they boosted partnership scores by 9 points, from 63.8 to 72.8. The latter included an 11-point gain in revenue and profit potential (to 76.2), and almost a 12-point gain in ease of doing business (to 76.6).

No. 2 Biggest Gain: Samsung In Notebooks

CEO: Kwon Oh Hyun
Gain: 11.2 Points (Overall Score 72.7)

Last year Samsung finished in fifth place in a field of five led by Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo. This year, while partners still awarded the highest scores to Lenovo and HP, Samsung climbed to the No. 3 spot thanks to a hefty increase in its ARC scores.

Partners added almost 12 points to Samsung's scores for support criteria (from 55.7 in 2012 to 67.3 this year) and partnership (from 60.4 to 72.1). The support scores included a big gain for the manufacturer's marketing support efforts (from a dismal 46.7 to 64.2) while the partnership scores got a boost from partners' higher scores for managing channel conflict (from 54.9 to 74.8).

On the product front, a big gain in product technical innovation (67.2 in 2012 to 81.3 this year) helped boost product innovation scores from 67.6 to 77.9.

No. 1 Biggest Gain: Lenovo In Notebooks

CEO: Yang Yuanqing
Gain: 11.6 Points (Overall Score 85.1)

A major reason why Samsung didn't climb higher among notebook manufacturers is because rival Lenovo improved its partner ARC scores even more. So much, in fact, that Lenovo captured the top spot in this product category, which Hewlett-Packard won last year.

Lenovo improved its scores in product innovation from 84.1 in 2012 to 89.9 this year, including an impressive gain in grades (from 83.8 to 94.1) in technical innovation.

But it was in support (up from 64.9 in 2012 to 78.9 this year) and partnership (up from 70.5 to 85.4) where Lenovo made the real gains. Under the former, Lenovo's score for pre-sales support shot up from 65.8 to 81.6. And in the partnership category the company's channel partners awarded scores of 74.7 for its partner portal (up from 55.7) and 92.8 (up from 75.9) for ease of doing business.