When Compujter Reseller News announced the Top Ten Channel Champions for 2009, I wasn’t surprised, but a bit disappointed. The list (from a survey conducted by CRN’s parent company, Everything Channel) contained the big names I expected. Xerox took the top spot, followed by IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, and Oracle. Value leaders (rated according to “Financial Factors”) included HP, IBM, Xerox, Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate, Western Digital, and Acer. I applaud the choices because these companies are brilliant vendors who have succeeded in maximizing the value of channel partnerships. They set a very high bar and received well-earned accolades from the field of 115 vendors included in the survey. I was disappointed because I champion the underdog. I wanted to see new names emerge on the channel horizon and infiltrate the elite group of accomplished aficionados. Just like “Slumdog Millionaire” slew the Goliaths of the film world with its low-budget success story, I had hoped to see a rising star emerge from the shadows and demonstrate that a technology vendor can make a mark on the industry without expending six-figure (and greater) budget — because I believe that success as a channel partner is as much about innovative thinking and communication as it is about monetary investment. I challenge both vendors and VARs to build stronger channel partnerships in the coming year, by teaming up to create end-to-end solutions for the customers they serve. And whether or not any of the up-and-coming vendors becomes a 2010 Channel Champion, I hope that, on a one-to-one basis, they become champions to the VARs (and, indirectly, the end-users) that they serve.
Let’s see what happens as we move into 2010. Do you think we’ll see any new “Slumdog Millionaire” up and coming vendors? Should we? Should CRN take a look at innovative smaller vendors?