IBM loves its business partners and in 2004 plans to continue providing them with a barrage of new offerings and sales support.
"About one-third of IBMs overall revenue is generated through its worldwide base of 90,000 business partners," says Pamela Kaplan, director of Worldwide Partner Marketing Programs, at IBMs Software Group. "In 2003, IBM invested more than $1 billion in partners worldwide, and well continue to do so."
For 2004, Kaplan is optimistic. Its not the enterprise market where IBM expects to see the most growth. Instead, IBM is focusing on the SMB market where the pace of growth is expected to skyrocket, Kaplan says.
"The key to SMB growth in 2004 is the integration of customers with their suppliers," she says. But why is this trend occurring in the SMB space? In the enterprise area, this type of integration is largely complete. But thats not the case in smaller businesses, where IT spending has been reigned in for the last few years.
To support its business partners in selling into that market, Kaplan says IBM is driving consistency and ease of use of marketing tools across all product segments. "Across software, servers, and storage youll see architectural design created specifically for these products to complement each other," says Kaplan. Web services and security are now part of the mix.