IBM Plants Seed for SMB GrowthBy Sharon Linsenbach | Print
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IBM's new Grow Your Business portal outlines growth scenarios for SMBs.IBM is counting on its new Grow Your Business with IBM Software portal as a key tool to help recruit 500 new SMB partners by the end of 2008.
The GYB (Grow Your Business) online tool identifies practice areas and products SMB (small and midsize business ) partners are currently working with, and then outlines specific cross-sell and upsell growth scenarios with other IBM products, said Michael Gerentine, vice president of IBM's SMB and channel strategy. Currently, the tool offers more than 50 products and 60 sales scenarios.
"A lot of the content exists elsewhere, but hasn't necessarily been summarized in these scenarios," Gerentine explained. The product information wasn't packaged as a single deliverable, he said, making it difficult for SMB partners to find the tools, training and support they needed to grow. "Historically, we generalized a lot. We've created these scenarios so solution providers can see more specifically the logical next steps."
The tool also includes an return on investment calculator, information about training and certification requirements, and a toll-free support line for customers who want real-time assistance.
Daphne Brashear, co-founder of Island Training, a solution provider based in Durham, N.C., said: "We've had very strong support from IBM, both sales and channel support. But business partners and channel partners know that navigating the IBM website was not the fastest process," she said. "This product is user-friendly and well-designed; it puts all the information you're likely to need in one place," she said. Brashear says she expects the GYB tool to have a positive impact on her bottom line, and said that it should help her business grow 10 percent over the next year.
While the GYB tool focuses mainly on IBM's software offerings, including WebSphere, Tivoli and Rational, a section of the tool is also devoted to helping hardware resellers make the move into more lucrative software and infrastructure solutions, Gerentine said.
"There's a lot of partners out there selling hardware with single-digit margins that want to get into the software business, but don't know how to get started," Gerentine explained. The tool can show them, for example, that the next logical step is to move into storage, with Tivoli, he added.