ORLANDO, Fla.—At the PartnerWorld Leadership Conference here, IBM today debuted a newly redesigned IBM PartnerWorld program and digital experience that expands on its commitment to help IBM business partners deliver higher value to businesses and organizations in the cloud and cognitive era.
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty was on hand at the event to tell partners firsthand how important the cognitive era is for their businesses.
Rometty said she flew directly to Orlando from a meeting in California with President Obama and heads of state of other countries and arrived at 3:30 a.m. Tuesday morning so she would not miss the opportunity to address IBM’s partners.
Rometty told partners that cognitive computing and the “cognitive era,” as she put it, will be the most disruptive as well as the most differentiating opportunity for partners. That is why IBM is tweaking its partner program for the cognitive era.
The redesigned IBM PartnerWorld program aims to provide business partners with a roadmap for driving mutual business growth in the cognitive area with education tailored toward cognitive solutions that IBM and business partners can sell. It is also designed to accelerate skills development they need to deliver value to clients. Additionally, it recognizes and rewards business partners with more predictable performance incentives.
As part of the redesign, IBM also is making a significant investment with new business partners, introducing a Skill Pack offering with education, support offerings, as well as a test voucher to aid in accelerating their time to market. Additionally, new competencies will be offered to business partners to support their transition to growth areas with increased opportunities.
“Digital business combined with digital intelligence is fundamentally changing companies, professions and industries,” said Marc Dupaquier, general manager of IBM Global Business Partners. “IBM is accelerating our transformation by helping business partners capture emerging business models, build deeper expertise and at the same time, broaden our reach to attract new business partners.”
Moreover, the PartnerWorld program now includes refined roadmaps designed to help build deeper expertise, offer guidance for building new capabilities in strategic growth areas, including cloud and cognitive computing, and help to increase revenue opportunities for business partners.
“We’re very excited about the changes IBM has made to bring higher value in the cognitive era,” Neelan Choksi, president and COO at Tasktop Technologies, an IBM partner, told eWEEK. “The over-arching focus on business value that cross cuts partners and IBM will be huge for IBM’s customers and big for IBM’s partner ecosystem. Specifically, for Tasktop, we see some tremendous opportunities feeding IBM’s IoT and Bluemix platforms with the end-to-end software and engineering lifecycle tool data that we uniquely have access to. With this evolution of our partnership, IBM IoT will be able to combine the engineering data provided by Tasktop with sensor, operational and device data in order to provide the business with insights and analytics on end-to-end product delivery. The combination will be far more meaningful for customers than either solution would be on its own.”
Key components of the program include new competencies that offer a simplified and integrated approach to recognizing and rewarding demonstrated business partner expertise around products, solutions and industries, including strategic growth areas such as cognitive computing, cloud, commerce, Watson, Internet of Things, analytics, mobile, social and security.
In addition, there is a new set of program membership levels that become effective in early 2017 and include Registered, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels. The new Platinum level will recognize and reward business partners for their investment in achieving high levels of competencies and sales success.
IBM Tweaks Partner Program for the Cognitive Era
There will also be new business partner marks that tap into a redesigned visual expression and showcase a business partner’s relationship with IBM and their competencies. These can be used by business partners on their company Website, on email signatures and other marketing collateral. As well, there will be comprehensive benefits aligned with deeper skills, training, marketing, sales, support offerings and other opportunities that build visibility for business partner solutions.
And, as noted earlier, IBM is introducing “Skill Pack,” a new offering designed to help new business partners accelerate time to revenue that includes resources to grow skills, build prototypes on IBM Cloud and connect with the IBM ecosystem.
“For a vendor like IBM, with a partner ecosystem that spans hundreds of markets and organizations and thousands of individuals, changes in fundamental strategies occur incrementally,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. “IBM has become increasingly committed to and vocal about its cloud and cognitive computing strategies over the past 24 months but what does that mean to individual partners? Not a whole lot unless the company can meld its strategic vision with tactical execution steps that partners can follow.
“That’s really what the programs announced at PartnerWorld aim to do. In essence, IBM is offering its partners ways to effectively build new cloud and cognitive skills, explore and develop associated services, and accelerate revenue opportunities attached to IBM’s new solutions. In very real ways, IBM—and other vendors, too—depend on partners to translate their strategic vision to customer organizations. But doing so with practical skills, solutions and benefits makes all the difference between partners showing their clients the value of IBM’s cloud and cognitive efforts or simply telling them what they might expect.”
In addition to launching the redesigned PartnerWorld program, IBM also is expanding a number of benefits for partners. These include a newly designed PartnerWorld University portal, a Web-based learning management system delivering education to business partners to help build sales and technical skills, with a broader repository of courses to enable them to gain new IBM certifications. The enhanced portal includes a personalized user experience that notifies users when a new course is available that meets their interest, ability to start where they left off, statistics on learning, and a course progress tracker.
IBM also is adding Digital Marketing Workshops across the globe, designed to enable business partners to include digital and social tactics in their campaigns. The workshops include practice with IBM Digital Content Marketing (DCM), an integrated suite of marketing tools and content that enables business partners to execute integrated digital marketing campaigns across the Web, email and social media.
IBM also is expanding its Business Transformation Initiative (BTI) workshop offering to reach significantly more business partners across the globe who are looking to transition their business models to higher value solutions and “as a service” delivery. And there is a new, limited time opportunity for business partners to acquire, at an attractive price, developerWorks Premium—a subscription service that provides developers of all levels with resources to help grow their skills, connect with the IBM ecosystem and build next-generation applications on IBM Cloud.