News | May 30, 2012

IT Channel Partner Programs Evolving As Business Models Shift, New CompTIA Study Finds

Source: CompTIA
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Satisfaction levels high, but emergence of cloud, mobility and pay-as-you-go services highlight need for more training, streamlined communications.

Downers Grove, Ill., May 30, 2012 - Cloud computing, the consumerization of information technology (IT) and other disruptive technology trends are causing a significant shakeout in the programs that link IT vendors and their channel partners, according to a new study released today by CompTIA, the non-profit association for the IT industry.

CompTIA's Second Annual State of IT Channel Programs study finds that satisfaction levels with these programs are generally favorable. Sixty percent of respondents are satisfied with their primary vendor partner programs. Just over one-quarter said they are very satisfied with program resources, benefits and requirements.

But the study also reveals that major shifts in the IT landscape, such as expanding adoption of cloud computing, are prompting a re-examination of channel programs.

Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of IT firms said that in the next 12 months they will focus on establishing a cloud-based delivery model. In all likelihood, the cloud model will exist in a hybrid form alongside on-premise business for these firms.

Other areas of business transformation that IT firms intend to focus on include moving to a managed services model (46 percent); shifting from transaction-based product sales to recurring revenue models (39 percent); and specializing in vertical industries or customer segments (16 percent).

"With the industry changing and business transformation becoming a must, the channel is increasingly looking for help with how to sell and how to structure their business in new models," said Carolyn April, director, technology analysis, CompTIA. "Vendors are communicating more than ever.

While the sheer volume and sources of communication can be overwhelming for channel partners, many firms want this information if it's relevant to their business."

The volume of vendor communications is magnified when considering that on average, a channel firm belongs to eight different vendor programs; and 14 percent belong to more than 15 programs.

Social media tools are gaining ground as a commonplace communications link between vendors and their channel partners. In the past year, more than half of vendors have used social media tools for partner recruitment and to share information on sales and incentives. On average, upwards of four in 10 channel firms cite social media tools as the most common way they receive information from their vendor partners.

High Marks for Vendor Training

The highest marks for specific partner program elements came for Web-based technical training, with a net of 73 percent of channel firms saying they were satisfied with that vendor-provided resource over the last 12 months. Vendor-provided business training in sales, marketing and other aspects of running a services-oriented company also scored well in terms of satisfaction levels.

April noted that while new training options and streamlined communications from vendors will be paramount in helping channel partners make the transition to new business models, theses shifts must be balanced against current reality.

"Many vendors are looking at ways to identify practical partner segmentation and engagement strategies to pull off the balancing act of aligning new go-to-market strategies while maintaining short-term revenue productivity," she explained. "Channel partners are in the same boat, eyeing new business models and markets, which continuing to nourish legacy revenue streams for survival."

Despite the challenges, 43 percent of channel companies reported a net gain in program participation in 2011. Top reasons for adding new vendor programs include variety of products sold; ease of doing business with; quality of leads and demand generation; quality, affordability and availability of technical training; and pre- and post-sales support

Money, strategy and execution are the most common issues that cause channel firm to leave a vendor's partner program.

Data for CompTIA's Second Annual State of IT Channel Programs study is based on an online survey of executives at 400 U.S. IT companies and in-depth interviews with IT channel executives at a cross-section of Fortune 500 technology vendors. The survey and interviews were conducted in February and March 2012. The complete report is available at no cost to CompTIA members who can access the file at or by contacting

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