"We had different people subscribing to VARBusiness and CRN by our own design, but the universe is the same," said Larry Hooper, ChannelWeb editor, who had been editor-online for CRN.com and its companion e-newsletters before the ChannelWeb launch.
"We conducted extensive research of how our readers seek, find and use information," he said. "We learned that they come to the Web with a different mind-set than when they read our print publications."
ChannelWeb incorporates many avenues, in addition to text, that allow editors to communicate with their audiences, such as blogs, video and slide shows. Audience members, meanwhile, can interact with editors and one another by commenting and voting on stories and participating in message boards and moderated discussions.
However, Hooper and management all the way up to company CEO Steve Weitzner wanted to do more than marry content and community, and approach the channel with one convenient, combined Web site. "We wanted real tools our readers could use to make their jobs easier," Hooper said.
One such tool is the Solution Provider Locator, which makes it easy for IT end users—the audience of CMP's sibling TechWeb sites—to find VARs and other channel partners. Another is the Channel Group Lead Generator, which enables the channel audience to send marketing e-mails to targeted, localized lists of IT end users.
Foremost is the Configurator, an online work flow platform that automates the process of producing sales quotes and developing sales packages from among a vast number of rapidly changing product offerings. The software service is the result of a partnership between CMP's Channel Group and eXalt Solutions.
CMP's parent company, United Business Media, has invested $2 million in eXalt Solutions in exchange for a 25% equity stake. "Adding eXalt's work flow tool to ChannelWeb adds a new dimension to our product portfolio," Weitzner said in a news release. "We aim to work even more closely with our IT solution providers' audience and to provide them with a wider range of integrated products and services that help them meet their business objectives."