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The bridge across the chasm between emerging technologies and mainstream market acceptance has always been the channel.

Unfortunately, that bridge has always been somewhat rickety. For every product that makes it across successfully, there are hundreds of good products falling into the abyss of oblivion.

For some peculiar reason, nobody ever seemed to want to invest in shoring up the actual bridge over the chasm. Instead, as an industry we just kept sending more and more products across the bridge in the hopes that the more we sent, the more products might actually make it across.

But eventually somebody looks up and asks the right question. In this case, the right query is, Why can’t we find a more reliable way to bring emerging technologies to market? And finally, somebody with the size and weight of IBM, which this week is rolling out a new initiative to shore up the channel bridge, is not only asking the question but also trying to do something about it.

Called the Ecosystem of Innovation, this latest IBM effort could seem to be yet another high-minded marketing effort packaged up by the marketing mavens of IBM. But this program is actually backed up by IBM’s efforts to share intellectual capital with solution providers. More importantly, the intellectual capital attached to this program includes not only technology, but also the processes that IBM has crafted to better implement new products and technologies.

Click here to read more about IBM’s new initiative to drive innovation.

After all, we all know that the massive cultural and process changes that usually accompany new products and technologies are what more often than not retard their adoption by customers. So anything IBM does to accelerate that process is not only a good thing for the channel, it’s a major step forward for the industry as a whole.
And now that solution providers have a vested interest in some of those products and technologies, IBM is creating incentives that should motivate solution providers to help drive demand for new emerging technologies.

We all know nobody has more potential to drive demand among customers for new products and technologies than solution providers. Over the years they have worked hard to gain the trust of their customers, and in today’s world of channel dynamics they are more of an advocate for the customers than they are a sales representative for the vendor.

More often than not, the solution provider is the only entity in the equation that is advocating a solution for the customer that actually helps improve the business. Vendors, on the other hand, are typically hawking a product, while the customer is naturally attracted to the path of least risk.

But now the customer, along with the solution provider, gets access to IBM’s intellectual capital, so for the first time everybody has skin in the game when it comes to actually bringing new technology to market. And that ultimately means the odds that any given product or technology might actually become a success just got a whole lot better.

Michael Vizard is editorial director of Ziff Davis Media’s Enterprise Technology group. He can be reached at