IGS Gets Channel ReligionBy Michael Vizard | Print
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Opinion: Of course, this isn't going to create a massive peace movement in the IBM channel overnight.
IBM has been promising to unleash the potential of IBM Global Services in the channel beginning with a program that started four years ago when IGS signed its first partnership with Ingram Micro.
Unfortunately, the success of that effort has been a bit spotty due largely to the cultural hurdles that exist within IGS and the solution provider community.
IBM did some things right such as changing the compensation model of IGS people to give them greater incentives if they take deals through the channel. But within IBM, the biggest obstacle between healing the rift between IGS and channel partners that view IGS as a major competitor for services revenue has largely been internal communication and training. While IBM promoted its IGS efforts in the channel and among solution providers and its own channel people, it more or less forgot to drive the message home to the IGS sales force that deals with the end customers.
According to Candy Shaughnessy, vice president of channels for IGS, IBM is now making a concerted effort to train the IGS sales team about the value of the channel partners. In addition, she says IGS is now taking pains to make clear what services it offers and what services their channel partners have and, surprisingly, is now willing to take its competitive services offerings off the table when IGS goes to market with its channel partners.
Of course, this isn't going to create a massive peace movement in the IBM channel overnight. After all, IGS people are still mostly Type A control freaks trying to make a quarterly number in contrast to partners that are not as wrapped up in IBM's quarterly financials. But to IBM's credit, the company is giving extra incentives to partners that help bring deals in within certain quarterly target goals, which is a whole lot more preferable to trying to muscle the partner out of the account all together.
None of this is happening because somebody at IBM developed a conscience about the role IGS plays in the channel. It's happening because IGS is in the midst of changing its business model following the acquisition of companies such as Internet Security Systems (ISS).
As IBM pulls its services and software offerings together into a set of software-as-a-service offerings designed around specific functions such as security, desktop management and server provisioning, it's become pretty clear to even the most ardent IGS sales fanatic that the company needs a different approach to sales if it hopes to scale these services out to the broader small to midsize business market, which IBM CEO Sam Palmisano has said will be the company's largest customer segment within the next five years.
So while we have all heard this channel song before from IGS, it appears the long missing ingredient of self-interest has finally been added to the IGS channel recipe, which means more solution providers might actually want to put IGS to the test now that they actually have enough skin in the game to actually be trusted.