IBM has been making a lot of marketing noise lately about making the planet smarter, ranging from complex undertakings such as making the electric grid more efficient to just trying to synchronize traffic lights so cars burn less gas.
As noble as all those goals are, however, IBM has been pursuing this ambitious set of agenda pretty much on its own.
Well, no more. IBM Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano today will make a personal commitment to make sure that the company’s Smarter Planet initiatives will include opportunities for IBM business partners.
Furthermore, IBM is committed to making the mounds of business intelligence data that it collects through its IBM Global Services unit available to partners as part of a global effort to make IT a digital engine that will transform the global economy.
To that end, IBM is updating its Business Partner Charter to enshrine IBM’s commitment to developing partner-led Smarter Planet opportunities. At the moment, IBM says that 30 percent of its revenue currently moves through roughly 100,000 business partners worldwide, which is roughly equivalent to $30 billion a year.
By leaning more on its partners, IBM is hoping to turn its partners into evangelists for a wide range of emerging technologies that IBM says can transform every process on the planet by, in part, taking advantage of more than $3 trillion of economic stimulus funding that will be spent worldwide in the next year.
In the United States, IBM claims that the $787 billion economic stimulus package identifies more than $30 billion in technology-driven projects to modernize the nation’s infrastructure, improve health care, build smart power grids, expand broadband networks and drive energy efficiency. This funding could lead to more than 1 million jobs in the next 12 months, claims IBM.
To achieve its goal, IBM is launching more than 25 global Partnering for a Smarter Planet workshops both online and at its Innovation Centers, Executive Briefing Centers and Solutions Labs. Initial sessions will focus on Dynamic IT Infrastructure and Green IT. Partners can also attend Maximize Your Relationship and Connect to Win seminars where IBM and partners meet to explore go-to-market strategies based on local and global economic stimulus opportunities.
Separately, IBM is also increasing incentives by 10 percent to partners that expand IBM’s presence in the midmarket, which is where IBM says many of the Smart Planet-related initiatives are likely to first emanate.
It’s always heartwarming to see any vendor synchronize its end-user marketing campaigns with its channel activity. But when a company the size of IBM does it on this kind of scale, it sends a message about how critical the channel is to executing any go-to-market strategy.
In effect, what IBM is really saying is that there’s really no hope of building a Smarter Planet unless its channel partners take the lead.