In ISV Partnerships, Leading Vendor Programs are Expanding Their Sales and Marketing Offerings, IDC Finds

FRAMINGHAM, MA – DECEMBER 12, 2006 – While vendor partner programs for independent software vendors (ISVs) have historically focused on technical enablement, a new IDC study analyzing the 10 top ISV partner programs has found that the focus is moving equally to sales and marketing. IDC believes that technical enablement, marketing enablement, and sales enablement are the three key pillars driving successful ISV relationships.

"IT vendors have traditionally focused their efforts with ISVs around technical resources, including support and tools for enablement around porting and interoperability. The hand-off from technically enabling an ISV to helping that ISV go to market with its application has not been elegant. Vendors are, however, starting to put more effort behind enabling an ISV's sales cycle," stated Stephen Graham, group vice president, Global Software Business Strategies.

The IDC study, Worldwide Top 10 ISV Partner Programs 2006 Vendor Analysis: Enabling ISV Partners for Success (IDC #204272) provides a review and comparative assessment of the program offerings to ISV partners from 10 IT vendors that all met IDC's criteria for inclusion in the report as an industry leading ISV partner program — BEA, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, Progress, SAP, and Symantec. The report assessed the vendor's ISV programs across three areas: Marketing resources; Sales resources; and Technical resources. After compiling the scores in each of these three areas, IBM received the highest overall score, followed by Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, and HP.

The study also provides guidance to ISVs reviewing membership in any of these vendors' programs and to IT vendors that are developing or redesigning their program offerings to ISV partners. It found that for the foreseeable future, ISVs will continue to be an important factor in vendor technical and go-to-market strategies, and that providing appropriate offerings across the product and sales life cycles to these partners will become more critical to success. In order to be competitive, vendors will be required to build effective ISV recruitment and retention strategies, which will include focused efforts in the areas most important to ISV success (i.e., various aspects of technical, marketing, and sales). It is likely that investment in program offerings in support of ISV activity will increase over 2007, given these factors.

Additional key insights from this report include:

— Technical resources are the most important category of offerings provided by vendors to ISVs overall, but marketing resources and sales resources are not far behind, whereas rewards and incentives and infrastructure are not considered to be very important.

— IT vendors need to focus their efforts on improving the value provided to ISVs across the three most important components of a program: technical resources, marketing resources, and sales resources.

— Not one of the 10 vendor ISV partner programs assessed in this study received full marks across the components assessed, which leaves opportunity for any one vendor to make changes to affect ISV partner relations.

For this report, IDC recruited 11 executives from ISV organizations to a research advisory panel — called the ISV Partner Advisory Council (IPAC). These ISVs were considered typical of the profile generally targeted by vendor ISV programs. Through in-depth telephone interviews, the IPAC validated the master list of ISV partner program criteria to produce a list of five key program categories and 27 subcomponents. The IPAC then weighted the importance of each of the categories and subcomponents to their business.

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