Channel Marker

Sep 2 2009   4:27PM GMT

Not ‘getting’ the channel

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Why is it that very smart, MIT-educated technologists cannot answer a simple question when it comes to the VARs and systems integrators that often implement the products they build?

It never ceases to amaze. Earlier this week, a very smart Oracle technologist was asked what about the new Oracle 11g R2 will particularly please Oracle VARs. His answer was that customers will love the stuff it does to lower the cost of ownership, its new advanced compression technology that helps reduce storage costs etc., etc. 

The fact that this guy could not talk about how a VAR could parlay those technology strengths to satisfy a customer need is almost stupefying.

Say what you will about Microsoft–and I myself have written some very negative things about it– but Microsoft execs–both on the marketing and the technology side–are able to turn on a dime and talk about the VAR benefits of an upcoming product.

This is not rocket science, it’s a tacit admission that for many IT vendors the VAR community is the first line of communication to customers and that VARs themselves constitute a large subset of users.They USE the technology they sell.  But what VARs really want to know is how they can make money and serve customers with the new features and functions of products.

I can think of one exception to the Microsoft-execs-know-the-channel rule:  A few years back the company brought in a big wig from Adobe Systems. Faced with a  panel of reporters covering channel concerns, he quickly showed he had no idea what the channel was. Some of the other Microsoft execs present were visibly steaming. Not sure how much that damaged him in front of the other Microsoft execs present, but he was gone within months.

Now everyone knows Oracle has had its issues with the channel, but one thing it could do to remedy the situation, is make its own executives aware that there is a channel out there and what it does.


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  • KenK
    What matters most is not that technologists “get” the channel, but the business development folks do and SOMEBODY in the organization takes the time to translate those great technological features and benefits into those relevant to the channel. As a small network management software provider, Entuity doesn’t have a fraction of the channel resources of Oracle. We have been able to more than double the number of resellers participating in our channel program by recognizing that the VAR community is the first line of communication with the customer and giving them the tools to be successful. Our program includes flexible, on-demand training to make them not only technical but also sales experts, marketing programs to identify new prospects, and compensation programs to keep them interested. Our VAR community helps us address markets and geographies that we wouldn’t be able to do on our own. For that, they get our full attention.
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