The nominations for this year's Channel Awards demonstrate that you do not necessarily have to the biggest to be among the best.
Deciding on the final nominations for each category was not easy. In the end the judges decided that in two categories, seven companies should be nominated, and in one only five would be put forward.
Competition for the Specialist Distribution Partner nominations was particularly strong and the judges had a very difficult time in picking the final list. In the end they decided it was impossible to boil it down to fewer than seven names.
Competition between the specialist security, storage and telephony distributors that have made it through to the final stage is likely to be intense. Audiovisual specialist Steljes, in particular, deserves an honourable mention in this category.
It was a similar story with the SME Reseller award, and with the judges unable to agree on the final exclusion, seven names have been put forward.
There were a great number of entries for this award and this shortlist has the most varied mix of contenders, ranging from small, locally focused resellers to the retail giant PC World. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top of this category.
In contrast to these two awards, only five names have been put forward by the judges for the Corporate Distributor of the Year award, quite simply because these five were so far ahead of the other entrants.
Consolidation in this part of the market has taken its toll and there are, realistically, only a handful of companies that can put themselves forward for this award.
The SME Distributor award attracted more entries and, while the big three names here should be favourites to win, with only six companies to choose from, Midwich, Hammer and Interchange must be in with a fighting chance this year.
In the Corporate Reseller category, there will also be very strong competition from six organisations that have all demonstrated their ability to meet the wide range of needs of their enterprise customers.
Previous winners Teksys and Equanet won't be able to be complacent among this group of strong service-oriented companies.
Among the vendor awards some companies, as might be expected, appear in both the corporate and SME lists. Avaya has already achieved a great deal by being shortlisted for both of these awards, and Veritas can be proud of managing this feat as well.
BT Indirect Channels (BTIC) has clearly made good ground in the SME market this year and is furthering its cause with the channel by sponsoring this year's reseller awards.
"Awards give resellers the opportunity to get the recognition they deserve, and that's why we are sponsoring the reseller category of the Channel Awards," said Lee Williams, distribution channel manager at BTIC.
"We are committed to working with our distributors and resellers to raise the level of excellence in this industry even higher. We reward our own partners for their commitment to going the extra mile with customers and we are always looking to attract any reseller that shares our aspiration."
In both the Corporate and SME Vendor categories there were plenty of very good entries, but the judges were asked to produce a list of six that, in their view - and taking into account the entries put forward and customer testimonials - were the most worthy of recognition.
The Specialist Vendor category has produced a shortlist of companies with very different activities. It is encouraging to see vendors that have started to break the mould in sectors dominated by only a few major players making it through to the final stages.
Accounting software vendor Exchequer can be proud of its achievement, as can RSA, which has been driving more and more of its business through the channel, and antivirus specialist Sophos.
While it is not the most high-profile of the antivirus vendors, Sophos has one of the best channel programmes in the market.
The presence of D-Link and Kingston on the Specialist Vendor shortlist also shows that you don't have to operate in an area that is currently a hot topic - such as security - or be a well known brand name to have your capabilities and quality of service recognised.
These companies are doing a good job for the channel and deserve to be on the shortlist.
Those that have not made it into the voting stages will undoubtedly be deeply disappointed, but they should not be disheartened. The standard and number of entries was very high.
It is clear that vendors and distributors are now really starting to listen to their reseller partners and are putting in place channel programmes that meet their real needs.
Resellers are also beginning to deliver services and support that are much more in tune with their customers' needs, both today and in the long term.
And while many companies now don't like to be called 'resellers', since that label does not accurately describe what they do as an organisation, it is still the best collective term we have for the third-party solution provider community in the UK.
The shortlists for the awards demonstrate that many different types of organisation can win an award.
It is vitally important that readers of Computer Reseller News and its sister title Computing cast their votes for the companies on the shortlists that they feel are most worthy of winning an award this year.
It is also important to remember that there are three other awards - the Vendor, Distributor and Reseller of the Year - for which there is no shortlist and which will be decided by a straight vote.
The race is now on and it is up to the vendors, distributors and resellers to encourage their partners to cast votes in their favour. It is important that as many readers as possible get their votes in to ensure that the companies that deserve to win this year do so.
CHANNEL AWARDS VOTING SHORTLIST 2003
Corporate Vendor Partner
SME Vendor Partner
BT Indirect Channels
Specialist Vendor Partner
Corporate Distribution Partner
SME Distribution Partner
Specialist Distribution Partner
Votes for the Channel Awards 2003 can now be cast on out Awards website accessed through www.crn.vnunet.com
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