So the Awards are over for another year, and what a night it was. Some 1,600 vendors, distributors, resellers and other tech providers enjoyed the glittering ceremony at Battersea Arena on 18 November. Dinner and more drinks were followed by the traditional after-party at Pacha for the stayers.
There were certainly a few surprises. Des Lekerman, co-founder and joint managing director at Eurodata Systems, was proven wrong on the night. He had been heard to say that his firm had no chance of winning, because so many contenders were short-listed for the services provider prize.
It was tightly contested – but Eurodata took it. Judges said that Eurodata demonstrated “tremendous consistency” in service delivery and set the highest standards for customer satisfaction and retention.
“I am over the moon,” said Lekerman. “The odds were against us – we really appreciate all the people who supported us in our entry.”
VAR Softcat this year took home the Reseller of the Year prize.
“By putting people first, the reseller has been able to achieve record growth and customer satisfaction. It has achieved this as the whole industry has faced incredible challenges,” said CRN editor Sara Yirrell, who was also a judge.
Softcat has been going from strength to strength; it was named the top small UK company to work for by the Sunday Times this year, has been awarded annual gongs from firms such as Dell, Microsoft, HP, Sophos, and was Corporate Reseller of the Year at the Channel Awards 2008.
Channel Personality of the Year 2010 was Servium boss Paul Barlow – although there was consternation when he took some time to appear on the podium to collect his prize.
“He has been a valuable contact for CRN over the years and is a respected player in the industry,” Yirrell said. “This was well deserved.”
Barlow has been in the IT industry since the late 1980s, working at Compaq and Atlanta Busines Systems, then taking a role at successful reseller Equanet before becoming managing director of Equanet in November 2002.
Barlow oversaw Equanet’s sale to PC World Business and became sales director at corporate VAR Computacenter. He then worked for a short time as a management consultant before reentering the reseller world this year with Servium.
Top emerging company was five-year-old Block Solutions. This fast-growing, London based Cisco partner recently reported annual turnover of £4m. Founder Jonathan Pickering has spurred the firm on to become one of just a handful of top-level Cisco Gold partners in a short time.
“Block Solutions is an ambitious young company and is definitely one to watch in the future and is a deserving winner of the Emerging Company award,” said Yirrell.
Among the panel-decided categories, Computer 2000 won the most prizes overall, with it and its subsidiary Maverick taking home not only the software and audiovisual distributor prizes but the coveted overall Distributor of the Year title – which was only awarded after an hour of wrangling and discussion among the judges.
All three categories were closely fought so C2000 beat various formidable contenders to do so well, according to Yirrell.
Its entry demonstrated its thriving software licensing business and top-class reseller support. It has focus and delivers value to resellers, she said.
Trend Micro deserves a special mention for standing head-and-shoulders above the competition in what was a closely fought Awards overall, with judges having little or no hesitation in singling it out as Security Vendor of the Year.
“The entry was packed full of facts and figures and information about its strong channel incentive programme, backed up by powerful reseller and distributor testimonials,” said CRN’s Yirrell. “The judges had no hesitation in picking Trend Micro as the winner.”
The judging panel was unanimous in selecting Dell as the leading storage vendor. The panel remarked on how the EqualLogic acquisition has made Dell more channel-aware and the entry itself was full of facts, statistics and figures and was backed up by strong partner and customer testimonials.
Paul Harrison, UK channel manager at Dell – currently sans his trademark sideburns -- said winning was “bloody brilliant”.
“We are delighted, and it is a real vindication of our partners. The secret of our success is having great partners who have stuck with us and just being able to commit to the customers,” Harrison said.
Acer was another unanimous choice in its systems vendor category with the judges. The vendor submitted a detailed yet simple entry. The candidates’ calibre was sky-high in this category, but Acer’s entry stood out.
Alicia Shepherd, who left her role as Kyocera channel head mid-year to join Acer as distribution sales manager, said: “To win is awesome, and testament to the way we work and our commitment. Everybody played a part in this.”
Shepherd said she was really enjoying the Awards night, complete this year with fairground attractions, star-studded memorabilia in the silent auction, and funny-money casino. “It is a great night – and it is really only just beginning. We have all been having a really good time,” she added.
Special thanks must also go out to event sponsors Oki, Intel, Kaseya, LG, Riverview Channel Services, VIP Computers, Symantec, Comms-care, Computerlinks, Hammer, HP, Eaton, and DWA.
Channel Awards 2009 winners