Enterprise App Vendors Tapping ISVs to Reach SMBs

By Sharon Linsenbach  |  Print this article Print


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Slowing enterprise IT spending is prompting many large software vendors to step up their SMB channel efforts to maintain revenues. IBM, Oracle and SAP are examples of large companies with support programs focused on ISVs.

Large software companies are rolling out targeted programs to help their reseller channels drive more revenue through the lucrative small and midsize business market and lessen the impact of economic turmoil.

Leveraging the ISV channel to tap into an SMB market isn't a new strategy, as evidenced by the number of ISV-focused support programs unveiled by large software companies such as IBM, Oracle and SAP over the last few years. But the strategy is beginning to pay dividends, as the channel's importance has been brought into stark relief by the economy putting a damper on large enterprise IT spending.

IBM has been pursuing such a strategy for about four years now, says Chris Wong, vice president of IBM ISV and developer relations.

"Focusing on end customers with 500 employees or less didn't make much sense, because our DNA is built on large enterprise customers," Wong says. Redirecting energy and resources toward programs like IBM Express Advantage, which gives partners turnkey, quick-to-deploy customer solutions targeted to vertical markets to help shorten sales cycles and drive new revenue, has created incredible opportunities for ISV partners and also eliminated channel conflict, he says.

The strategy results in a mutually beneficial relationship, in which each party plays to its strengths, Wong says.

"We realize that while these ISVs are incredibly skilled at the technical aspects of developing, integrating and implementing solutions, they're not well-versed at business development, finding sales opportunities, marketing and closing deals," he says.

Wong says while IBM's channel relies on IBM for back-end business development, marketing and sales support, and product information and training, it's certainly not a one-way street.

"We are incredibly reliant on our ISV channel since we aren't in the business of CRM or ERP. Our strategy says we're depending on our partners, [and] investing in them means investing in IBM," Wong says.

SAP's strategy focuses not on customers of a particular size, but on time to market and helping partners increase customers' efficiency, says Jeff Stiles, SAP's senior vice president of SME solution marketing.

SAP's Best-Run Now initiative, launched Oct. 29, looks across market segments and routes to market to help partners deliver software and services packages that increase customer efficiency and shorten sales cycles, Stiles says.

"We're working with partners to help make it easier for them for them to sell and make our solutions faster for them to implement," Stiles says. Companies of all sizes are facing slowing sales, credit limits and increasing costs and are looking for ways to increase visibility into their cash flow and liquidity, make efficient work force shifts, more rapidly access critical performance data, and streamline supply chains, he says.

Sharon Linsenbach Sharon Linsenbach is a staff writer for eWEEK and eWEEK Channel Insider. Prior to joining Ziff Davis, Sharon was Assistant Managing Editor for CRN, a weekly magazine for PC and technology resellers. Before joining CRN, Sharon was an Acquisitions Editor for The Coriolis Group and later, Editorial Director with Paraglyph Press, both in Scottsdale, AZ. She holds a BA in English from Drew University and lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her significant other and two neurotic cats. When she's not reading or writing about technology, Sharon enjoys yoga, knitting, traveling and live music. Sharon can be reached at Sharon.Linsenbach@ziffdavisenterprise.com.

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