Canalys Leadership Matrix EMEA Q1 2018

Tuesday, February 20 2018

Cisco, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Palo Alto and Veeam are the “Champions” of the EMEA channel

This prestigious accolade is based on over 2,700 channel partner responses from across EMEA, compiled continuously between February 2017 and February 2018, which compares vendors against their peers in channel management. “Champions” in the Canalys Leadership Matrix have achieved the highest scores from their partners across 10 areas of channel management, while also demonstrating the greatest year-on-year improvement in these scores. These are vendors that have placed the channel at the center of their corporate strategies, while consistently showing the highest level of commitment to their indirect partners.

Champions – irrespective of size or breadth of portfolio – continuously prioritize indirect over direct business. Most of their business is delivered through and with partners. They place a high importance on their channel relationships, investing in partner profitability, training, tools and engagement. They concentrate on the ease of doing business with their channel partners and constantly strive to enhance processes and programs.

  • Cisco remains a worldwide leader in channel management and program innovation and has shown its dedication to helping partners prepare for the future through a strategic combination of enablement and incentives. The quality of technical support provided to its partners sets it apart from its competitors.
  • Fujitsu has built long-term reseller and distributor relationships through a staunch commitment to a channel model for its products. Fujitsu’s technology reputation in EMEA remains strong, particularly in key markets such as Germany. Its Select Circle partner program has also proved successful in supporting its most skilled partners to develop high-value solutions, irrespective of their size.
  • Lenovo, which generates over 90% of its business from the channel, is reaping the benefits of its “Channel 2.0” initiative in EMEA, which has seen it simplify incentives and invest in improved tools for partners, alongside the global launch of its streamlined Partner Engage program.
  • Palo Alto Networks is recognized by partners both for the success of its specialist focus on network security, along with a consistent channel-led culture, which has helped to contribute to partner profitability.
  • Veeam, despite its small size and focus on virtual backup, has proven itself to be a pre-eminent vendor in the channel. Its proactive engagement with partners, excellent product and marketing support, and unwavering commitment to an indirect model has elevated it far above many larger, more established peers in the channel.

At the same time, nine vendors – APC, AWS, Citrix, Huawei, McAfee, Microsoft, Symantec, Veritas and VMware – have emerged as “Stragglers”. These have the lowest Vendor Benchmark scores compared with their peers, while also seeing year-on-year falls in their ratings. They are either lagging across all metrics or have shown significant weakness in areas of channel management. They include direct-focused vendors that lack maturity in channel processes and strategies, and established channel vendors that have seen a deterioration in partner relationships, either by choice or mistake. For some it reflects a deliberate focus on a core group of partners at the expense of a wider set of (less productive) partners. Being a Straggler in the Canalys Leadership Matrix does not always reflect underperformance in the vendor’s business. For example, AWS continues to lead in the global cloud infrastructure services market and is growing rapidly, while Symantec has seen a strong recovery in its business over the last 12 months.

Microsoft and VMware are two names to note in this group: both have highly successful businesses built on sales via partners. But their Straggler status reflects a growing wave of channel dissatisfaction with both brands. VMware partners complain of a loss of internal channel focus at the company, and an increasing lack of innovation in the channel. The appointment of Dell EMC as a “distributor” of VMware licenses in 2017 was a blow to both wholesalers and resellers. Microsoft, which has the world’s largest network of partners, is accused of squeezing channel margins as it forces a shift toward the cloud through partner programs such as Cloud Solution Provider (CSP). Stragglers can recover their positions in the Matrix, but this typically requires a change in management or strategy, or both.

It’s not only Champions and Stragglers that stand out in the Canalys Leadership Matrix. Another vendor to note is Apple, which has seen the greatest rating improvement of all vendors tracked over the last 12 months, positioning it as a “Grower” in the matrix. Apple’s overall Vendor Benchmark score remains low compared with its peers, given its low margin potential for partners and rigid terms and conditions. But as Apple increasingly turns to enterprise customers for growth, it is recognizing the importance of the channel to help it deliver solutions, particularly as it builds partnerships with vendors such as Cisco. It is unlikely to become a channel Champion any time soon, but this hints at a change in its previously unfriendly approach. Other Growers – vendors that have seen their rating increase from a low base over the last year – include Acer, Oracle, IBM and Dell EMC.

The remaining vendors tracked in the Canalys Leadership Matrix are classified as “Contenders”. These have higher Vendor Benchmark scores than the Stragglers and Growers but have seen their ratings fall in the last 12 months. This points to a worrying trend of either legacy channel vendors reducing their investment in partners, or a growing disconnect between vendors and their partners as the IT industry continues to rapidly transform. If this trend continues, it creates the potential for both Growers and Champions to replace some of these established brands in importance to the channel. 

About the Canalys Leadership Matrix

Canalys’ Leadership Matrix assesses vendor performance in the channel, based exclusively on channel feedback into the Vendor Benchmark. The Vendor Benchmark tracks leading technology vendors (above a minimum revenue size) around the world, collating channel partners’ experiences when working with different vendors. Channel partners are asked to rate their vendors on 10 areas of channel management. The Canalys Leadership Matrix provides a graphical representation to assess the performance of each vendor over time, and positions them in one of four categories:

  • Champions: Vendors with high Vendor Benchmark scores that have shown continued improvement in channel sentiment over the last 12 months.
  • Contenders: Vendors with high Vendor Benchmark scores, despite a decline in sentiment.
  • Growers: Vendors with low Vendor Benchmark scores that have seen channel sentiment improving.
  • Stragglers: Vendors with low Vendor Benchmark scores that have seen their scores decline over the last 12 months as channel sentiment deteriorates.


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