11 Dec 2013
Just like 2013 has been a year of complete change for the IT channel - so it has been for CRN.
We have always reflected the shifting landscape of the industry - and it is not surprising that there has been a lot of consolidation this year particluarly in the distributor landscape, but also in the VAR world as well. In turn this consolidates/changes our readership.
The term VAR is an interesting one - and I'm after opinions on what companies want to be described as in future - because the term 'solution provider' is not a popular one with me (far too American), but seems to be creeping in more and more! I'd be really keen to hear your thoughts on that one.
In our last issue of the year the term Varmaggedon popped its head up - not as scary as it sounds - but reflects the jouney many resellers are making to remain relevant in this era of cloud, apps and services.
And just like our readers, we are on a journey to remain relevant in this era of changing audience/sponsor demands and business models in the publishing world.
News continues to be the foundation on which we build all our offerings to the audience - and there have been some pretty big stories out their this year, the one that resonates with a lot of people is the demise of 2e2, but there are far too many others of equal importance to mention by name.
Print has also had an interesting year. The decision to finally go fortnightly this year proved to be the right move following our redesign the year before. It means our readers use Channelweb for daily news, but the magazine for a more in-depth read - just as intended. One thing we know for sure - our audience has a hunger for tailored, relevant content and we will continue to provide this in spades, both in print and online.
Our events side of the business has been an interesting one - I think it is common knowledge now that Partner Connect will not be happening any more - after many years trying to provide something to our smaller readers - and frankly with one of the best speaker line ups we have already had - we realised we were flogging a dead horse. And I for one couldn't be happier.
Smaller, more focused and tailored events are the way forward, as the success of our Channel Conference on managed services proved. Watch out for some interesting ones next year.
Fight Night was a roaring success, our Sales and Marketing Awards had a very successful year two, and the Channel Awards were the best yet judging from the feedback we have received.
One of the biggest changes to CRN this year is our foray into market research through our 'CRN Intelligence' moniker - we are not trying to compete with the incumbents, but spotted a gap in the market and are making it our own.
The success of the 2013 Vendor Report speaks for itself - no other report out there benchmarks vendors based on seven key channel performance indicators, as viewed by the partners themselves. We are currently working on the 2014 report, and would really appreciate as many people taking a few minutes to fill out our survey. It can be found here.
We also launched a Public Sector (local government) report and are working on a similar one for the Education sector - watch this space - and our Top VARs, and A-list proved as popular as ever.
I even wrote a report myself - the IT Buyers Guide - and the feedback I've had from it so far is very encouraging. We questioned 350 IT managers, 100+ financial directors and 100 VARs to get a 360-degree view of the IT buying process and how customers actually view the channel/spend their budgets. The results were very intersting indeed.
We have a lot of exciting stuff coming up in 2014 - it is definitely going to be another busy one for CRN and as soon as I can tell you all about it - I will!
However for now I'm really looking forward to a couple of weeks off and recharging batteries ready for next year.
I'd like to finish by thanking everyone for their continued support of CRN and our various events/publications/supplements/reports.
Your support and feedback means a lot, and we look forward to working with you in 2014.
Happy Christmas/festive period and a very happy and prosperous New Year.
15 Nov 2013
As we struggle with our hangovers after the 20th Channel Awards, I truly feel proud of the event that I have watched evolve over my 14 years working on CRN.
Last night around 1,650 people packed into the Battersea Events Arena to celebrate our industry's achievements, and it truly was a night to remember.
We had comedian Omid Djalili as our compere for the evening and he certainly sailed quite close to the wind in his comedy, but certainly seemed to go down a storm on the night.
We even had the official voice of Siri as our voice of God for the evening - now that is exciting!
With 24 Awards to give out, the ceremony went as smoothly as can be expected and I'd like to say a huge congratulations to all our winners.
Contrary to belief, the judging process is extremely strict and all our judges take their duties very seriously, reading through each and every entry in their assigned category and scoring each entry on quality.
I will reiterate again that it is entry quality that wins these awards. NOT who is the bigger player or as some might believe - who spends advertising money with CRN.
That belief is frankly an insult to the whole judging panel and is a personal slight to me because I put a lot of work into ensuring the two-tier judging process is fair and impartial.
It certainly beats the old 'voting' method, where anyone could vote for a company multiple times, and bribe random people to vote for them with the promise of winning a shiny prize. To win a Channel Award, it has to be earned.
I genuinely think people are beginning to apreciate the system more now and not one person complained to me on the night - something that has never happened before and I'm very happy about that.
So I'd like to say a huge thank you on behalf of CRN - to all of you who came along on the night.
Thank you for entering, thank you for cheering even if you didn't win and thank you for your continuing support.
It means a lot to us and we do appreciate it.
I look forward to seeing all the entries next year. The slate is once again wiped clean and the 2014 Channel Awards could be won by anyone.
Until then though, well done to our winners.
To see the list of winners, click here.
And to see some of the pictures from the night - go to our Facebook page. Don't forget to like it!
11 Sep 2013
Now I'm not someone who enjoys seeing themself on screen - so if you relish the thought of me cringing - please do watch the video below.
On a serious note, I have spent a huge chunk of August writing a report based on some exciting research we have done questioning financial directors, IT managers and VARs about the IT buying process. I can guarantee the findings will prove interesting to both VARs and vendors.
Find out exactly what IT managers and FDs think of the channel during their procurement process and where they think things are going wrong and also what some of the biggest bugbears are from their point of view.
But to hear more about the report - have a look at the video. More tasty snippets will be revealed in the coming weeks.
09 Sep 2013
A while ago I wrote a blog post on how PR firms really need to do their research when it comes to dealing with journalists.
I really would like to speak to a roomful of PR bosses and ask them exactly WHY they think their strategy of blindly spamming journalists with rubbish, or phoning to ask if a press release can be sent, is so favoured in their training methods.
Let me update you all here and now. IT IS BLOODY ANNOYING and IT DOESN'T WORK.
So here are my five top tips for really annoying journalists - just so you can insert them in your training manuals.
1. Call and ask if "I have five minutes to talk through a press release" before sending it anyway. No. I don't. That is the beauty of email. if it is of interest, rest assured I or the editorial team will be in touch pretty sharpish.
2. Call and ask "if I got your press release last week" and whether "it was of any use". Clearly if it was sent a week ago, and you haven't heard anything, then no. It was not of interest.
3. Get the jounalist's name wrong. The clue is in the email address. For example, my name is SARA, but the amount of people that write 'Dear Sarah' are too many to list. I couldn't care less if IBM had just bought Microsoft - anyone that gets my name wrong is instantly deleted.
4. Call and launch straight into a press release pitch - basically reading off a sheet and not actually trying to put it into context for the publication/website you are calling. Then when being asked the relevance, make something up and hope for the best. Seriously. DO SOME RESEARCH.
5. Finally, and this is the best one. When there is something of interest, make sure either there is no-one in the office to answer questions/arrange interviews. And ALWAYS make sure you NEVER have a headshot of the spokesperson from the company in question.
As I've said before, I know people are just doing their jobs, but the methods being employed are outdated, unhelpful and just succeed in winding most journalists up.
Give me another six months, and I'll probably be writing something very similar again.
27 Aug 2013
So that time is here at last.
The Channel Awards shortlist has been released and can be found here.
We had a record number of entries, and as the article points out - some of the shortlists are quite long. This is because there were so many entries for those particular categories that we felt cutting them by two-thirds was more than enough.
Also I know a lot of companies will be disappointed that they haven't made it this year.
Please don't despair and don't give up. The standard was extremely high, and the judges were forced to be extremely harsh on all the entries - any that didn't meet the criteria were simply not included in the running.
I cannot stress enough the importance of getting to the point, including hard facts and figures and actually explaining WHY a particular company is entering a certain category - setting the scene may seem basic, but it really does help. Demonstrate growth and investment - it can only work in your favour.
Also with vendors, too much talking about product and not enough about what it actually does for its channel partners will also lose it points.
As I've said before I am not giving individual feedback for every entry as no other awards ceremony does that - but I hope the above has been helpful.
I spend a long time writing out the criteria and top tips for entry - but it seems a few people haven't read those before writing their entries - they are only there as a guide and I will be adding bits for next year that will hopefully make them even more helpful.
Congratulations to all our shortlisters and I look forward to seeing all those that didn't make it this year harden their resolve and go for it again next year.
31 Jul 2013
I'm not going to be around that much in August.
There I said it.
Sadly I'm not taking an extended holiday, although a girl can dream, nor am I hiding under the desk like the guy in the picture, but instead I'm writing a top secret new report for CRN and it is going to be exciting.But it is a long report. Probably longer than anything I have written before in my entire life! And I thought my dissertation was long 18 years ago!
We have been busy asking lots of opinions for this research piece and it is going to be something that has never been done before.
So please if I don't answer an email don't take it personally, but email is the biggest distraction I can possibly think of so I am trying to ignore it wherever possible and only answer urgent queries out of working hours. I will be checking, but only in the evening.
Then in the same month there is the small matter of reading every single entry for the CRN Channel Awards. And with a record number of entries, I certainly have my work cut out - I roughly estimate I will have read 500,000 words worth of entries by the third week of August. It makes my eyes water just thinking about it. But I'm looking forward to seeing what firms have been up to as well.
Have a great August and I'll see you all the other side!
24 Jul 2013
I'm not sure why I was sent a press release about a talking teddy bear, but there you go.
Having seen the film Ted for the first time this year (and loved it - perhaps because it not only featured a talking bear, but the original Flash Gordon as well), it certainly captured my interest.
Named 'Supertoy', this furry creature is described as a teddy bear with a mind of its own and the ability to hold 'real conversations' with those who speak to it.
A real conversation with a teddy bear? Is that just not a little creepy?
According to the press release, the robotic tedy 'mimics awareness' and has his own 'autonomous thoughts'. His mouth also moves in synchronisation with what he says apparently.
What on earth could a teddy be thinking? Do we actually want to know what our teddies are thinking? Particularly when they are dragged around by the arm or an ear by their young owners most of the time. I can't imagine their thoughts are that nice.
Something like: "OW! That hurts! Not my ear! No, that doesn't come off! Put me down! Don't chew that! Noooo, not the scissors! I'm going to get you back for this! You are going to SUFFER kid!"
Reading further into the release it emerges that you will need a smartphone to really get the best out of the bear. It features a handy compartment to place said smarthphone, after you have downloaded a special talking teddy App. Probably priced at about a gazillion pounds.
How many teddy age children own a smartphone? Possibly more than I think, but surely not that many.
To make matters worse, the technology is described as a 'sort of Siri for children'.
Let's stop right there.
As an iPhone user the thought of having to deal with Siri again fills me with dread.
I don't speak with an American accent - so immediately I was on the wrong foot, and it just got progressively more rubbish, until I finally turned it off.
So if this toy takes off, we could see hoardes of UK children speaking with faux American accents just so they can have a conversation with their talking bear.
Welcome to the workforce of tomorrow!
22 Jul 2013
Going on holiday is always a double-edged sword.
While there is no doubt about it - taking time away from the office and from the ever increasing mountain of email is much needed, coming back is also very difficult.
The first day back always leaves you feeling a little disorientated and unsure of what is going on! Well it does with me anyway.
Have I missed anything? Or is everyone on holiday now? August is known for being a traditionally quiet time of year, when news dies down and everyone's out of office goes into overdrive. I wonder if that will be the case this year?
I understand we have had a record number of Channel Awards entries, so that is very encouraging news, and I am the only person that reads every single one of them - they are divided between the judges to ensure each gets as much attention as possible.
Being the 20th anniversary of the Channel Awards, it is going to be a year to remember and I'm looking forward to reading about all the great achievements over the past year.
I will also be starting work on a brand new CRN report due out later this year and starting to send out invites to the CRN A-list. I'll stress that this is something that is invite only and the aim is to have as many VAR bosses on it as possible. This means I cannot feature many vendors as I am limited in space.
We have lots of exciting things coming up in the Autumn at CRN, so it is not going to be a quiet summer for us at all.
However if you have any news stories that you are holding onto - now is the time to send them to us - don't be shy!
Views - both channel related and everyday life observations - from CRN Editor Sara Yirrell. If you have any gossip that you would like to share with me please do get in touch and also we would love to see your comments at the end of the blog.
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