"For the loser now will be later to win; For the times they are a-changin'"
The lyrics of Bob Dylan's anthem of change could not be more apt for the latest CRN Vendor Report.
Many of the losers from the last time we conducted this research, which sees resellers rate their vendor partners in four key areas of service, have triumphed this time around.
Reseller allegiances, just like customer loyalty and satisfaction, are ever-changing, and those vendors that have boosted their support since our 2014 report have now been rewarded with a higher ranking.
Some 38 vendors were rated by 200 resellers, MSPs, consultancies and other firms in the channel for the research, which was conducted between August 2016 and April 2017.
Respondents were asked to grade each vendor they had dealt with during the past year on four aspects of service, namely product quality, after-sales and technical support, channel management, and lead generation.
As this is a paid-for report, we're not able to divulge the full rankings. However, we can confirm that several vendors have surged up the rankings, a testament to the hard work they have put into their channel strategy over the last three years.
From mid-table mediocrity to table-topper
Having been placed mid-table in 2014, this storage vendor topped the rankings this time around after "finding its feet" in the channel, according to the report.
Despite recently undergoing a change in ownership, this player had the highest overall service score among the 25 communications and infrastructure vendors assessed in the report, finishing first for channel management and second for both product quality and after-sales and technical support.
"[It] is delivering first-class account management with intelligent, service-minded support on deals and a coherent, well-pitched training programme," the report stated.
The comeback kid
A few years back, this security vendor's reputation in the channel was in tatters, so it was no surprise when it finished a woeful 46th out of the 50 vendors assessed in our 2014 Vendor Report. Three years back, it had a reputation for competing against partners, low-quality products and shambolic tech support.
But it has improved its performance a great deal since then, to judge by this year's report, where it finished a respectable sixth out of the 25 security vendors assessed. With some resellers its standing has yet to recover, however, with one partner dubbing its product quality "appalling" and another describing its channel management as "non-responsive and awkward".
Rising star in security
What a difference three years makes for this UK-based security vendor.
Having been savaged in our 2014 report, it finished a worthy 11th out of 25 in this year's research.
Three years ago it was found to have a product range weakened by confused management interfaces and flaky updates, its channel management undermined by interfering and inefficient staff, a dreadful web portal and archaic procedures. In contrast, our 2017 report found it to have a decent product, with most resellers reporting a good degree of engagement from high-quality staff and valuable help with leads.
Who's tanking in the rankings?
By the same token, several vendors who came out of the 2014 report shining finished well down the pecking order this year.
In an era where everyone is obsessed with net promoter scores, customer satisfaction is king. But arguably, channel satisfaction should be regarded as just an important a metric, given the enormous influence reseller, MSP and consultancy partners have over where end users direct their IT budgets. So hats off to those who have done well this time around.
Which vendors were included?
Amazon Web Services, Apple, AVG Technologies, Barracuda Networks, Brocade Communications Systems, Check Point, Cisco Systems, Citrix Systems, D-Link, Dell, Dell EMC, F5 Networks, Forcepoint, Fujitsu, Hitachi Data Systems, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, HP Inc, Huawei, IBM, Juniper Networks, Kaspersky Lab, Lenovo, LogRhythm, McAfee, Microsoft, Mimecast, NetApp, Oracle, Pure Storage, Salesforce, Samsung, SolarWinds, Sophos, Symantec, Trend Micro, Veeam Software, VMware, Webroot
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