ASCII Group: A True Channel Ally

I’ve used this platform to raise awareness regarding many issues facing the IT solution provider community.

Elliot Markowitz

October 19, 2012

4 Min Read
ASCII Group: A True Channel Ally

elliot markowitz

I’ve used this platform to raise awareness regarding many issues facing the IT solution provider community. I’ve opined on big vendors including Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Dell (NASDAQ: DELL), and even some smaller ones such as AVG (NYSE: AVG). I’ve discussed industry opportunities and trends from managed services to cloud services to social media strategies. I even managed to get football, hunting and baseball into the mix. After all, The VAR Guy himself told me it’s my forum — for now anyway.

But this time around I would like to take a break from giving my one-sided opinion on vendor channel programs and offering up some business insights and instead focus on giving some credit where credit is due — and that is to highlight the ASCII Group and all it does for the small channel guys. It may not be as amusing as picking on Apple’s gurus or calling Dell the boogeyman, but it deserves attention, so stay with me.

ASCII has been servicing resellers, VARS and solution providers “since Hector was a pup,” as my old editor would say. (I never knew who Hector was but I figured, Man, he must be old. There are a lot of things my old editor said that didn’t make much sense but that is for a different time.) The point is, while the channel as we know it today has gone through a complete metamorphosis from primarily box-pushers to full managed services providers during the past 25-plus years, ASCII has adapted with them and has remained true to its commitment to them.

ASCII was founded in 1984 and is the oldest and largest group of independent IT solution providers, integrators and VARs in the world, according to its website.“The original ASCII business model was created by Alan Weinberger, who forged the network out of a failing franchise of software retail stores owned by Ashton-Tate, a major software publisher of the time. The 40 independent software retailers decided to join together as a buying group and pay monthly fees to support their organization and in turn support each other and their programs for mutual benefit,” the website states.

Over the past 27 years the organization has stayed true to its core focus: leverage purchasing programs with large distributors and manufacturers, education and training, business tools and peer-to-peer knowledge sharing. It also has adapted its offerings to include emerging industry technologies. Its latest ASCII Cup winners show that. The ASCII Cup is what the channel, at its core, is all about: relationships that foster success.

First, a little background on what the ASCII Cup is all about. The ASCII Cup Winner, Top Contenders and Esteemed Noble Partners awards are awarded annually to technology companies that have shown outstanding channel goodwill and a commitment to helping ASCII members grow their revenue and more effectively serve their customers. The winners are voted upon by the ASCII attendees at regional ASCII Success Summit meetings, and the Cup and awards are given out each year at the SMB Nation event. The Cup itself is given to a single technology company, voted upon by ASCII Group members at regional ASCII Success Summit meetings around the country and is tied to many channel folk lore as to how it got started and what is done with it. I won’t even touch that.

This year’s 2012 winner is Level Platforms. The top four contenders are Datto, CharTec, HP and Intronis.

The distributor of the year was awarded to D&H for getting the most votes throughout the year in the category of “Best Distribution Sales Support.”

Recognized as Esteemed Noble Partners are Lenovo, ConnectWise, GFI MAX, AVG Technologies and Reflexion Networks.

What I sincerely like about these acknowledgements is two-fold. One, it is tradition and being a part of the channel for the past 20 years, it is good to see tradition continuing in the mix of so much change. Secondly, it’s not political. It’s not give to the biggest or most powerful company, although they qualify. It’s all about the channel service they provide, It’s simple and it works.

Keep it up Jerry, Jean and the gang.

Knock em alive!

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About the Author(s)

Elliot Markowitz

Elliot Markowitz is a veteran in channel publishing. He served as an editor at CRN for 11 years, was editorial director of webcasts and events at Ziff Davis, and also built the webcast group as editorial director at Nielsen Business Media. He's served in senior leadership roles across several channel brands.

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