By Andrew Seymour
Voting is now open for the Channel Middle East Readers' Best awards - time for the Middle East reseller channel to decide which IT vendor and distributor deserves recognition for making a real difference to the regional partner community
Vendors and distributors can be a vocal bunch, especially when it comes to championing the depth of support and services they provide to the reseller channel. Arming partners with the tools and resources they need to prosper is a talent that every supplier thinks they have in abundance.
Well, now Voting is now open for the Channel Middle East Readers Best Awards - time for the Middle East reseller channel to decide which IT vendor and distributor deserves recognition for making a real difference to the regional partner community .
The Readers' ‘Best' Awards will see one manufacturer land the ‘Best Vendor Channel Programme of the Year' prize and one distributor bag the ‘Best Distribution Growth Initiative' accolade when the inaugural Channel Middle East Awards ceremony takes place at The Monarch Dubai on Wednesday 26th March.
Resellers have between now and Sunday 9th March to decide which of the eight vendor finalists and five distribution finalists to vote for - and the polling process couldn't be simpler.
Just click on the link below, enter your name and e-mail address, and then select the vendor and distributor that you believe has implemented the best partner programme or growth initiative in the past year.
The line-up of finalists is extremely strong, underscoring the investment that vendors and distributors have been making to grow the Middle East reseller channel and drive customer commitment. In the ‘Best Vendor Channel Programme' category the benefits that manufacturers now offer range from lead generation and hands-on technical training to personalised account management and discounted partner pricing.
Meanwhile, the finalists in the ‘Best Distribution Growth Initiative' have all developed a variety of schemes designed to enhance the prospects of the reseller channel in one way or another during the last 12 months.
Details of the finalists and their programmes or initiatives are copied below. Read each one carefully and then visit the awards website to register your vote! But remember, you can only vote once.
One more thing - any finalists thinking that they can improve their chances of winning with a spot of self-voting shouldn't waste their time. Finalists cannot vote for themselves and any attempts to do so will not be counted!
Here are the finalists, in alphabetical order...
Finalists for Best Vendor Channel Programme of the Year:
AMD: Channel Partner Programme
Open to all companies dedicated to delivering AMD platform solutions, the AMD Channel Partner Programme is divided into Member, Gold and Platinum tiers. These levels award greater benefits and privileges as partners expand their collaboration with AMD. The Channel Partner Programme is now accompanied by a dedicated Middle East and Africa Partner Portal which serves as a hub of information on AMD and includes sales and marketing tools, product updates and customer success stories exploring key issues shaping the channel today. A key component of the programme is a marketing plan for each partner, which is supported by demand generation and time-to-market strategies.
Cisco: Channel Partner Programme
With Select, Premier, Silver and Gold tiers, the Cisco Channel Partner Programme reflects the number and type of technology specialisations that partners have achieved. Cisco specialisations demonstrate a partner's skills depth in a particular technology and offer a way for partners to differentiate themselves in the market. Each certification level of Cisco's Channel Partner Programme promises an increased level of support, branding and economic incentives including access to best-in-class products, technical support, productivity tools and online training. The programme offers benefits such as a Partner Locator to allow end-customers to find partners that are qualified for specific sales situations and learning tools to keep resellers abreast of new networking technologies.
EMC: Velocity Partner Programme
As well as consolidating the structure of its Velocity Partner Programme from five levels to three levels, EMC has simplified the accreditation process to make it easier and less costly for partners to join up. EMC has also replaced the points-based system, which formerly determined which tier a partner belonged, with a system based on revenue. Free training for sales and customer service is designed to help partners increase their revenue, while quarterly solutions roadmaps and marketing materials address the channel's need for more customer-focused solutions. In addition, a web portal caters for partners' pre-sales, services and maintenance requirements.
Hewlett-Packard: Preferred Partner Programme
The Preferred Partner Programme offers HP's key resellers increased opportunities for profitable growth based on the level of added value and expertise they bring to market. Preferred Partners leverage sustained multi-million dollar marketing and brand awareness campaigns from HP, as well as the opportunity to specialise in key areas of HP technology for top and bottom line growth. Benefits include personalised account management, exclusive use of the HP Preferred Partner logo, special pricing, early access to product roadmaps and customer leads. Average annual HP Preferred Partner revenue growth has increased by 13% on a year to date basis.
Intel: Channel Partner Programme
Driving competitive advantage with relevant marketing, business and technical support, the Intel Channel Programme supports faster technology transitions and offers members a clear path to upgrade their level of membership. Featuring three tiers of membership - Premier, Associate and Registered - Intel's channel programme offers a suite of resources such as a redesigned, easier-to-navigate web portal with content that is personalised for members' individual preferences. The portal has also been updated with new online and in-person training to improve technical and business skills as well as new differentiated logos that help members highlight their affiliation with the company.
Motorola: Enterprise Mobility PartnerSelect Programme
Placing resellers into either Partner or Premier Partner membership levels, the structure of the PartnerSelect Programme recognises that many members specialise in application development and professional services, while others are focused on hardware deployment and network integration. Partners are managed by channel account managers to ensure a two-way line of communication and gain access to marketing programmes and other revenue-generating sales initiatives. The PartnerSelect Programme also carries the distinction of being developed by partners for partners. Motorola Enterprise Mobility meets with a dedicated Partner Advisory Council consisting of 20 key partners on a bi-annual basis to gauge their views of the programme and upcoming products.
Netgear: Channel Partner Programme
Netgear's Channel Partner Programme is designed to enhance reseller engagement and assist partners in securing new business opportunities. Accredited partners are rewarded with a rich array of benefits to reward their commitment and drive sales. Comprised of two levels - PowerShift Partner and ProSafe Partner - the programme offers resellers 24/7 technical support, a not-for-resale scheme for risk-free product evaluations, and government and education discount pricing. Resellers that achieve its top-level ProSafe membership are treated to dedicated account management, a listing on NetGear's ‘Where to Buy' web pages and priority attention from the vendor's Customer Support Centre.
US Robotics: Channel Partner Programme
US Robotics' Channel Partner Programme takes into account the country size and business module of each market in the region, meaning partners are measured on their ability to hit targets in the specific markets that they serve. Hands-on technical training, including the development of specialist wireless VAR partners to handle enterprise-wide wireless deployments, gives resellers of all sizes an opportunity to enhance their prospects in the market. US Robotics claims that a fundamental aspect of its Channel Partner Programme is that it protects the resellers' sales price by administrating a careful stock management policy that doesn't encourage overstocking to secure rebates.
Finalists for Best Distribution Growth Initiative:
Almasa: Customised Reseller Pricing
Almasa's pricing initiative is based on a reseller's involvement with its product range and monthly consumption, and is designed to offer competitive pricing without forcing the reseller to buy excessive quantities of stock. With an in-country just-in-time supply chain service behind it, Almasa encourages resellers to order lower volumes, but to do so more frequently and with a wide range of product mix. The customised pricing policy enables resellers to reduce their capital investment and avoid price erosion on their stock holding. Almasa says this helps resellers buying certain lines to purchase products from additional categories, allowing resellers to grow their market share with minimum capital investment.
Al Yousuf Digital: Branded display showrooms
Al Yousuf's concept of opening a branded showroom - first in Egypt and subsequently in the UAE - has been a major initiative for the company in its quest to drive business growth among partners. The showrooms serve as an area to display products and allow resellers to deliver live demonstrations to prospective clients. With many local IT traders unable to display all of their product lines due to space restrictions or high property costs, Al Yousuf's decision to invest in viewing areas and hire educated staff has helped resellers increase their chances of selling more sophisticated solutions to customers. Any sales leads generated by the showroom are also forwarded onto partners.
Aptec Distribution: E-Supply Chain
Faster turnaround, accurate delivery and optimal response time is what Aptec has provided to customers following the implementation of E-Supply Chain, which makes the entire sales order process from initial quoting to final delivery to the reseller fully integrated. This integration includes the entire intermediate process of placing orders on suppliers, receiving these and allocating them to the orders. E-Supply Chain integrates Aptec's ERP system with vendor's order processing systems using XML technology and allows orders for any item not in stock, such as a software licence which cannot be physically stocked, to be automatically placed on the relevant vendors and executed with minimum intervention.
Comstor: Micro Credit Programme
Launched exclusively in the Gulf to attract new partners to Comstor and its main vendor partner Cisco, the Micro Credit Programme enables resellers to obtain near-immediate credit financing and enter into reselling Cisco SMB solutions the same day that they sign up as a Comstor partner. The initiative is designed to make it as easy as possible for resellers to understand the opportunities with Cisco and Comstor - effectively allowing them to ‘get aligned, get trained and get trading' in as short a timeframe as possible. Comstor developed the programme without the assistance of a third party credit provider, therefore taking on all the risk itself.
OnLine Distribution: Value Add Distribution Service Programme
OnLine's Value Added Distribution Service is an innovative addition to the company's portfolio and consists of presales and post sales support such as channel training, site survey, demo kit offers and RMA. As well as a vehicle for providing resellers with valuable technical support and training, the initiative includes a range of benefits such as a help desk technology centre and assistance on project management, disaster recovery and IT governance. Part of the VAD programme is an online portal allowing partners to process their service requests at any time of the day and serving as a hub for product information.