Changes to the distributor categories last year saw a more even playing field as awards were shared by more companies than ever. This year there promises to be even more recognition for some of the as-yet-unsung heroes of the channel.
Distributors are a competitive bunch. And with the categories for this year’s Channel Awards more clearly defined and delineated than ever before, more companies can expect to be in the running.
The specialist categories for Storage and Security have been retained, while Systems and Software categories have been reintroduced to ensure that the companies meeting the day-to-day needs of resellers get the recognition they deserve. At the same time, the Specialist category gives distributors that have a particular focus on key markets, such as audiovisual, an opportunity to shine. The new Components category recognises, for the first time, the wholesalers that specialise in meeting the needs of system builders.
Nigel Judd, general manager of marketing at Computer 2000, welcomed the changes that have been made to the categories and to the judging process. “The category definitions are much better and more a reflection of what is actually going on in the market this year. I think the mix of judging and reseller voting will also give everyone a fair chance of winning. The companies that deserve to win should win this year,” he said.
Alex Tatham, vice-president at Bell Micro, said: “The Channel Awards must reflect the ever-changing world in which the channel finds itself. I welcome the changes, not only in the categories of this year’s Channel awards, but also how the voting system works. We at Bell Micro had a successful 2004 awards with three prizes. We will be competing in many of this year’s categories, and campaigning hard for the newly created category of Software Distributor of the Year.”
Jon Atherton, vice-president of Enta Technologies, also believes the changes to be an improvement. “It’s clear that more thought has gone into them, and hopefully that will deliver a fair set of results,” he said.
As a player in the system builder market, Enta has more chance of winning because of the new Components category. Other companies will need to work a bit harder to make it onto the shortlists. There is a single unified Networking award, so companies that specialise in data, voice, or both, will be competing with each other, or entering the Specialist award.
This is what BT broadband specialist DMSL, short-listed for the voice award last year, plans to do. “The changes to the categories have made it harder for us but we believe we have a decent chance in that [Specialist] category as we’ve grown our own sales and sales for resellers dramatically over the past year,” said John Carter, managing director of DMSL. “Services are where resellers need to be now. There is just no margin in products, and we’re giving them the chance to generate profitable, and recurring, revenue streams with BT for broadband, voice and leased-line services.”
James Ward, managing director of Hammer, is hoping to hang on to the Specialist title, and maybe aim even higher. “We were really proud, because it recognised our efforts and achievements. We have also had customers and vendors congratulate us with comments such as ‘about time’, and ‘you really deserve it’, so we are very happy. We just want to keep hold of it now, and win Storage Distributor of the Year too,” Ward said.
Another company looking to retain titles is Unipalm. David Ellis, director of e-security at the firm, said: “It has proved to be extremely useful for us when talking to new customers as it provides a high level of credence. The IT security market is growing rapidly and there are good opportunities for a much broader reseller base, many of which may not have dealt with us in the past.”
Darren Lewitt, divisional director at Midwich, agrees that winning a Channel Award can help companies to win business. He said: “We gained even more respect and credibility in the channel. Although the effects of winning the award were not quantifiable, it certainly enabled us to break into new accounts.”
Just making the shortlist can help improve the way a company is perceived, according to Roger Mather, managing director of Actebis, which last year was short-listed for the Storage award. “It is always satisfying to receive recognition for your achievements. It shows that your customers appreciate the value you are adding to their businesses and we hope for recognition again this year,” he said.
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