Allan King, managing director, Infront
I am not sure the answer is as simple as more or less. We are definitely seeing a shift in message, if not focus, across both traditional and cloud vendors. Several years ago, vendors that were ‘born in cloud’ had a casual relationship with channel.
However, as the cloud pendulum has settled more on a hybrid approach they have realised the importance of building out a strong channel presence.
The more traditional vendors profess commitment but the realities of a lacklustre market (CAGR <5%) means channel is often sidestepped in the grab for cash. I believe that the biggest challenge channel will face in the coming years will be vendor cannibalisation of well-established professional services practices.
Adam Davenport, managing director, Loop Technology
There is more discipline now among the good vendors. There are still Wild West vendors whose account managers will do anything to grab a quick end-of-quarter sale but fewer than before. Loop avoids them. Vendors can struggle to find enough good partners competent to skill up and sell their complex technologies. As a result many vendors must do more themselves, so they focus less on the channel and more on a direct selling model.
We can all name household IT brands that have direct and channel models. Sometimes these can work. We are seeing more vendors operating with blended sales strategies that combine direct touch/sales on the one hand, and channel sales on the other. There are exceptions that operate 100 percent channel models but sadly, fewer than before.
Joseph Mesiti, sales director, Enosys Solutions
Most of the vendors we work with are very channel-focused. Coming from IBM, my fellow directors and I understand the value of support from the vendor and that it needs to be very much a symbiotic relationship. We work every vendor-initiated opportunity like it’s our own, but we have no expectations and pretences as to what should be coming our way.
Our business hinges on engineering excellence, hence I find channel programs that enhance this capability very attractive. Further, you’ll find that our main vendor partners have comprehensive skills enablement programs for engineering staff and value that as much as we do. We thrive on complex solutioning, so I only work with a vendor focused on its channel and partners.