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Rating system has potential

Rating system has potential

Website has ambitious plans to rate thousands of IT providers

I recently found a new website called vendorrate.com that invites IT users to rate their vendors (including channel organisations). Companies, or particular product categories such as IBM server & systems, are rated out of 10 across a list of 10 qualities including budget, communication, customer service, expertise, integrity, reliability and usability.

For the record, VMware headed the multinational vendor list in the website’s latest report with a rating of 84.3 (out of 100). Others to receive ‘exceptional’ ratings were Seagate (83.3 from its SMB customers), HP servers (82.3), Microsoft server/infrastructure (82.2), Apple (81.1) and Dell servers (80.5).

At the other end of the scale were EMC, Symantec (enterprise backup and storage) and Microsoft (operating systems), which all earned a score of exactly 50.

It should be noted that these high and low scores were compiled from the responses of more than 10 and less than 50 users per company. The numbers will only really become useful if the site can generate broader engagement with hundreds or thousands of customers sharing their thoughts. But it’s an interesting concept nonetheless.

This ratings idea is not a new one; Microsoft has been talking about rating its partner community for years and currently has a solution finder tool called Pinpoint in beta testing in the US that allows users to rate the performance of its partners.

To combat abuse of the system, vendorrate.com uses an algorithm that analyses ratings and corrects them for inconsistent input. Users register on the site using their business email address, which the site verifies to ensure they are qualified to submit a rating and don’t work for a competitor. It also considers how long a user takes to submit a rating and how frequently they make submissions.

If this site, or something similar, really gets some traction it has the potential to be a very valuable resource. The clearest parallel today is probably with consumer sites like metacritic.com that collate reviews of movies, music, books and games. All titles are then given an average score from the reviewer community and also from the people who bought them. In the world of entertainment, such sites have helped savvy consumers identify the lemons without having to part with their cash.

While it’s a very complex idea to perfect across the IT industry, and will no doubt be lampooned by companies with low scores, it has the potential to be a valuable guide for buyers that would see demand drop off for those offering poor products and services. That sounds fair to me.

On a separate note, I’d like to remind everybody that voting is now open for the Channel Choice category of the ARN IT Industry Awards 2008. So please take a minute to visit arnnet.com.au/industry_awards/channel_choice and cast a vote for Vendor, Distributor and Reseller of the Year.

Only one vote will be accepted per email address, with the vendor, distributor and reseller organisation polling most votes presented with their award at the ARN IT Industry Awards 2008 celebration dinner, which will be held at the Sydney Hilton on September 18.


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