Enterprise Software: Microsoft Retains Crown

Microsoft is the preferred channel choice as the enterprise software vendor; it seems to have further strengthened its position from #1 business applications vendor the year before

Enterprise software is a new category in this year’s Channel Satisfaction Survey created following the demerger of the business applications category that used to be there in previous surveys. Depending on the nature of the applications and how they are deployed by the channel partners, packaged software and enterprise software were the two new segments created from the erstwhile business applications category. Though with licensed software sales now happening also on cloud (apart from on-premise sales), there has been some impact on the partner perception of different vendors

While for packaged software, most of the channel partners surveyed is either software distributors and resellers and less of software system integrators, it was the other way round for enterprise software. Microsoft emerges the #1 choice of most SIs and partners winning hands down against other competitors in all the categories. There is an overwhelming endorsement for Microsoft product quality, diversity of its product range, its price vs. performance ratio as well as the richness of online resources it offered and the effectiveness of its partner portal. In fact, on most product quality and online support parameters, Microsoft bagged higher scores over its competitors.

Microsoft’s aggressive marketing campaigns over the last 12-18 months seem to have paid off with the system integrators and channel partners. Most partners feel Microsoft has innovative market development programs, is flexible in conducting localized promotions and is properly allocating funds for marketing (co-op funding). It however needs to make its communication with partners more consistent and effective as well as retain dedicated personnel for maintaining partner relationships.

One strange co-incidence in enterprise software category looks like IBM and Oracle consistently coming up as #2 and #3 respectively across all the major parameters just like Microsoft emerging as the #1. Both pre and post sales parameters emerged clearly as strong areas for IBM. For instance, IBM’s turn around capability in case of disaster or crisis, its proactive services approach and wide geographical reach have little match with its competitors, including Microsoft. It also emerged strongly on overall relationship management front—its communication with partners is consistent and effective, it has enhanced training and certification program for partners and great reward systems for the channel.

Oracle scores high on user-friendliness of its products, richness of online resources offered and high interactivity of its site in resolving partner queries. But it slipped up on marketing parameters like allocation of funds for marketing (co-op funding) and flexibility in conducting localized promotions. Even channel relationship management is something Oracle needs to emphasize in the future especially on the consistency and effectiveness of its communication with channel partners.

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