Going for a gong

Ralph Donohue sings the praises of vendors and customers alike

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to meactually, Ive got to come clean here: it wasnt my true love at all. Although I do enjoy reasonably close and affable relationships with our vendors representatives, love doesnt come into it. Im not saying it never will; after all, Im as moved by a really good lead as the next guy. However, with this particular channel manager, excellent chap though he is, I can assure you that its strictly platonic.

Anyway, he sent me twelve nominations for the best new product category in my annual awards, The Dons. The sharper ones among you will already be shouting: Shurely shome mishtake! This is not because no vendor has actually launched twelve new products this year. In any case, he might have included another vendors items in his list. No, thats never going to happen. Getting back to the point, the cause of the derision might be to do with my claim that The Dons are annual, when appearancesor more accurately nonsuggest that they may be biennial.

Although The Dons made their debut two years ago, and havent been seen again until now, I maintain that they are a yearly phenomenon. The only reason for their absence last year was the fever that I was suffering, which resulted in the publication on these very pages of a strange fairy tale, or as I prefer to call it, a cautionary fable. Notwithstanding that aberration, The Dons were present, if only in my troubled head. But I digress.

Virtually intangible
The purpose of my awards at this time of year is to give a well-deserved pat on the back to organisations and individuals who have punched above their weight and made life generally sweeter for my team and me, not to mention the shareholders. And for those few who have underperformed and made our lives hell, we offer a resounding raspberry. The good guys get Dons and the rascals get Donkeys. Before recipients start complaining that, well, they havent received anything other than a mention here, I must remind you that my awards are virtual, and therefore virtually intangible.

Can I have some hush, please? Thank you. The Best New Product category: so many contenders, but Ill single out just a few of the very best. Symbols MC70 has been an outstanding success, and we love the companys 4278 wireless scanner. Datalogics Skorpio terminal packs a lot of features into a truly compact and user-friendly unit. Metrologics Focus imager represents great value for money. Zebras S4M printer has answered a genuine need. For the huge demand it has created, the MC70 takes the Don by a comfortable margin.

Theres a new award this year: the Goodbye Old Friend Well Miss You Don. Duncan Birch, wherever you are, you so nearly landed this one. However, that stately old trooper, the Workabout MX, outranked you and, if truth be told, earned us rather more money. Psions stalwart of umpteen years has finally shuffled off, mortally wounded by RoHS regulations. But what a glorious way to go: with not a whimper but a real bang. We salute the tens of thousands of you. Adieu! (Could be au revoir as it happensif youre quick we might have a few left).

Necessary to blackball
Best vendor channel scheme: Again were spoiled for choice. Theres PartnerSelect, PartnersFirst, EaseOfBiz, FirstEasePartner. Alright, I made that last one up. The key requirement of a channel scheme is that it recognises and serves the channel. This might seem to be somewhat obvious, but it has been necessary to blackball at least one nominee. So, from a short shortlist, Zebra has emerged ahead by a head. PartnersFirst receives the Don because the scheme places sales and marketing resources at the fingertips of member resellers, assisting them in growing their Zebra business.

Naturally, the people whom I hold most dear in this business are our customers, those hard-working resellers who toil selflessly at the coalface that is the end-user. Sadly, I cannot single out just one for a supreme award; that would be tantamount to asking me which of my children is my favourite. The fact is that I love you all with equal passion, particularly when you pay your bills on time. So, instead of standing in line for a handshake and brief word of thanks, you may join me in song. A Don for each of you and the many others who go unmentioned.

All together now

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