IBM continues to transform itself by going after higher-value opportunities, and Big Blue is moving into these new spaces with its ecosystem of business partners in tow.
The company is looking at three primary imperatives: to lead in the new era of computing, to reach new kinds of clients and to demonstrate new types of expertise, Bruno Di Leo, senior vice president of sales and distribution at IBM, said at the IBM PartnerWorld Leadership Conference 2013 held in Las Vegas from Feb. 25 to 28.
The new kinds of clients include customers in growth markets.
IBM generates about 65 percent of its revenue from major markets and 35 percent from growth markets, Di Leo said. Now IBM is present in 24 African nations, he noted, adding that although the company has had a presence in Africa for more than 60 years, up until four years ago the majority of its efforts were in just a handful of countries.
"It's not only a geographic statement, but the move toward new clients is also about making IT relevant for the CMO [Chief Marketing Officer], the chief of police" and others, Di Leo said. "Last year, the CMO was responsible for deciding on $38 billion of IT investments, and in a few years, they will be responsible for $80 billion in IT spending."
Regarding the new type of expertise IBM is looking to deliver, Di Leo said IBM has to get better at knowing its clients' business. "We want to be the most essential company in the industry," he said, noting that business partners come in on all three of these imperatives, and IBM cannot do everything on its own.
IBM is offering $4 billion in financing to its business partners to help them along. "We are willing to support you; we are willing to finance you," Di Leo said. "Thirty-six percent of our partners had a higher win rate using financing," he added.
"IGF [IBM Global Financing] has made a commitment around making $4 billion available to partners," said Mark Hennessy, general manager of global business partners at IBM. "Then there is the new mobile technology that takes our rapid finance application and moves it to mobile."
IBM's new Rapid Financing mobile app enables IBM partners to include financing options in their client deals quickly and easily while on the road, said Tom Higgins, director of global financing at IBM. The app is available on Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows Phone platform and is rolling out in more than 30 countries in 2013.
"We made all this money available, and we also want to make it more accessible with an app that's easy to use," Higgins told eWEEK. "The response we've gotten from partners is this is not just another tool, but one that gets to the heart of how they do business."
IBM partners can use the mobile app to get financing for their clients, and once the application for financing has been submitted, they can get an approval within minutes, Higgins said. One shortcut to winning business and gaining approval for financing is to "lead with a monthly payment; you do more business and get bigger deals," he said.
Deals that involve competitive displacements—in which a partner is displacing an IBM competitor's technology with IBM's—tend to get approved for financing quicker than other deals, Higgins said.