LAS VEGAS—With its greater emphasis on cloud and mobile computing, IBM has transformed its channel strategy by announcing One Channel Team, an effort that brings all of Big Blue’s channel support under one unit.
Big Blue announced the move at the IBM PartnerWorld Leadership Conference 2015 here. IBM’s One Channel Team is designed to bring simplicity to the channel by helping business partners build skills, drive demand and increase growth as they transform for the future. The focus on cloud technologies is particularly key as analysts project that business partners will double their cloud-based efforts over the next two years.
“As IBM continues its move to higher value solutions in strategic markets, we are helping business partners solve business challenges for clients by providing them deeper skills, collaborative tools and new growth opportunities,” said Marc Dupaquier, general manager of IBM Global Business Partners, in a statement. “With the One Channel Team, we’ve built a strong, dynamic partner ecosystem that is designed to make it easier for Business Partners to build more profitable lines of business. Business partners who have already transformed with us are seeing the results.”
The One Channel Team aligns channel operations from across the company to provide broader, more competitive partner experience, as current and future IBM business partners capitalize on new market trends based on cloud, analytics, mobile, social and security. The move also increases IBM’s focus on recruitment of new Business Partners, developers and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) delivering solutions aligned to IBM strategic initiatives.
“The channel continues to evolve as more partners are focusing on business solutions rather than product transactions, selling to the line of business more often than in the past and developing more of their own intellectual property,” said Darren Bibby, program vice president of Channels and Alliances Research at IDC, in a statement. “The greater cloud market alone is expected to reach $118 billion this year, representing a huge opportunity for partners who embrace it. In fact, IDC estimates that Business Partners expect to almost double their cloud-oriented business in the next two years.”
Indeed, IBM is accelerating the pace for current and future IBM business partners to transform and capitalize on these new market opportunities based on the IBM Cloud Marketplace, SoftLayer, Bluemix, and the ability to build scalable applications with the Watson Ecosystem and customize solutions with IBM Systems. In addition, the social collaboration solution, IBM Verse, due in March, provides business partners the opportunity for an improved mail and social experience while developing recurring annuity models, and offers valuable services, such as messaging migration and support.
For developers, IBM is increasing digital and social campaigns with co-marketing funds to provide business partners more web-based marketing and social media content across the range of IBM products and solutions, with the enhancement of the IBM Digital Content Marketing platform.
“Large companies tend to develop a reputation for being very hard to work with largely because they have diverse product groups each with their own channel teams which leads to inconsistent practices and poor partner care,” Rob Enderle, founder of the Enderle Group, told week. “For instance a channel partner spread across the firm’s products might not be very significant to one or all groups but have enough collective volume to be considered significant to the company and not get the treatment they deserve. By consolidating these efforts IBM can better track and focus on partner needs that span products and eliminate the annoying inconsistencies. Every partner sees an improved relationship and for those that are broad, and should be most important, the improvements can be dramatic.”
Big Blue also is increasing technical assets to help business partners and developers build and port customized server and storage solutions with OpenPOWER Developer Tools, maintained by the OpenPOWER Foundation’s more than 90 members. These assets, launched today, enable the development of new solutions with IBM’s open, licensable and high-performance POWER architecture. In addition, IBM is enhancing its dedicated developer engagement community with IBM developerWorks’ dW Answers, where IBM subject matter experts and external peers provide support, share expertise and build their network. Members can experience new topic and solution-specific Developer Centers—dedicated places for IBM development communities to quickly, directly, and authentically engage.
IBM Launches One Channel Team
The company also is increasing opportunities for growth with cognitive computing and the opportunity to resell Watson Explorer, a combination of data exploration and content analytics capabilities, providing the bridge between cloud-based services and on premise proprietary information. By offering Watson Explorer, business partners can help their clients reduce unnecessary research time, and work faster.
As part of the channel reorganization, IBM is delivering new incentives to make it easier for partners to grow profitably with IBM.
“We are hyper-focused on making money,” said Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive for Software & Systems at IBM in a keynote at the IBM PartnerWorld conference. When you make money, we make money.”
In that regard, IBM is increasing compensation through the Partner Growth Incentive (PGI) for selling IBM Power Systems and IBM Storage. The new program offers a quarterly incentive that doubles if certain requirements are met, and a quarterly bonus for achieving specific skills and certifications. IBM also is simplifying certification requirements for selected Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings, enabling business partners to earn incentives faster, with the new IBM SaaS Entry Product Group. The company also is improving rewards with the new Remarketer Margin Enhancer, which offers a 10 percent margin enhancement on incremental revenue for achieving revenue growth targets when reselling IBM Services; and offering a new Services Consumption Program to help business partners drive demand for service provider solutions. And IBM is expanding eligibility for the Solution Accelerator Incentive that allows business partners to earn an additional bonus on IBM defined solutions with the SAI Solution Bonus Reward.
Moreover, IBM is working to help business partner deepen their skill sets. IBM is expanding its Business Transformation Initiative (BTI) with more than 300 new workshops aimed at helping qualifying business partners through a strategic consulting engagement, which can help improve profitability and performance in growth areas as well as accelerate their transformation.
In addition, IBM is d Developing deeper knowledge and partner skills with a more intuitive platform for resources, including new educational modules around industry shifts, along with a broader roadmap of courses that lead to certifications, through the enhanced PartnerWorld University platform; Finally, IBM is delivering greater educational incentives through an improved Know Your IBM learning portal now with triple the earning potential to reward individual sales and technical staff when elevating skills around IBM’s infrastructure portfolio, as well as strategic growth areas, such as cloud and analytics.
Meanwhile, avid IBM watcher Enderle notes that while there are key advantages to IBM’s transformational channel move, there is also a down side. “The downside to doing this is you can lose customization for focused partners and the new group will have to be allowed the flexibility to assure that doesn’t happen in this instance. But for a firm who often has been the poster child for being difficult to work with this should be a God send for those that are the most annoyed and a sharp improvement for most everyone else.”
For his part, Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, said “IBM’s new One Channel Team effort is designed to achieve two goals. First, the company aims to align channel partners and communities around its own strategic efforts in cloud, analytics, mobile, social and security. That’s obviously important strategically for IBM but the training and certification portions of the program should also help partners find commercial opportunities in these rapidly developing markets.
“Second and perhaps more importantly, the One Channel Team program should help IBM’s partners deal with and adjust to the fundamental changes affecting the IT industry and marketplaces. The fact is that trends like IT commoditization and consumerization are impacting the tech industry to the point that virtually no business or individual job is secure. The company believes that it has prepared itself to address current and future challenges, and designed One Channel Team to help its partners do likewise. That shows admirable foresight by IBM, as well as a firm understanding of the critical connections between its partners’ and its own success.”