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IBM has rolled out three new skills initiatives to help its software channel partners capture more high-margin revenue from vertical industry opportunities. In addition, the company introduced its first skills programs for software developers and further expanded industry support for software resellers.

The initiatives will provide training and resources for partners to build expertise and skills in specific industries including financial services, telecom, healthcare, retail and energy and utilities. In addition, partners can achieve a cross-industry authorization to sell security solutions based on IBM software.

For ISV’s the new program offers the most new benefits.  IBM Industry Solutions Specialty is the first partner program for independent software vendors (ISVs) focused on nine industries including banking, healthcare, and retail.  Under the new program, qualifying partners will receive:

  • Access to new technology resources and IBM Innovation Centers including cloud and mobile application development
  • Dedicated IBM experts and technical advocates to speed application development and delivery to joint customers
  • Business development and demand generation funding for industry-specific marketing campaigns
  • Opportunities for co-selling and industry event participation.


The new IBM Industry Solutions Specialty will help partners leverage IBM Industry Frameworks, industry-specific reference guides that help bridge the gap between general purpose middleware expertise and industry-specific business applications. Industry Frameworks have now been expanded to include hardware, IBM said. Since their introduction in 2008, more than 150 ISVs have brought to market applications based on the IBM frameworks, according to IBM.

IBM’s Mike Riegel, vice president for ISVs and developer relations offered Channel Insider some examples of applications created by IBM software partner ISVs. For instance, he said, CareFX is a medical healthcare solution provider that has a healthcare application that works with IBM’s healthcare industry framework, he said. Their work with Boston Medical has helped improve patient referral times and patient wait times.

IBM has also introduced an IBM Industry Authorization initiative for resellers and system integrators with deep industry skills and solutions built with IBM software. IBM said it’s an extension of the IBM Software Value Plus program, announced earlier this year, that helps software partners build sales, technical and marketing skills on IBM’s software portfolio.   

IBM partners must pass two IBM Industry Mastery tests to demonstrate their solution aligns with IBM Industry Frameworks or strategy, and offer successful client implementations

Those who fulfill the requirements are eligible for the following:

  • Additional funding for industry specific co-marketing activities
  • Priority access to industry-focused technical enablement and industry assets
  • A dedicated executive advocate to represent partners across IBM and with customers
  • Ability to use the "Authorized Software Value Plus – Industry" designation

In addition, the IBM Security Authorization for business partners participating in the Software Value Plus program, helps partners develop industry-specific  skills to help customers take a comprehensive approach to IT security via a mix of sound policy, best practices and end-to-end technologies based on IBM software, IBM said

Benefits include the following:

  • Authorization to sell a broad range of security solutions based on IBM software including InfoSphere, IBM Internet Security Solutions, Optim, Rational, Tivoli and WebSphere
  • Additional financial incentives on security software sales
  • Ability to use "Authorized Software Value Plus – Security" designation


A recent IBM developerWorks survey of more than 2,000 IT professionals in 87 countries found that 90 percent said they believe it is important to possess vertical industry-specific skills for their jobs, yet 63 percent admit they are lacking the industry knowledge needed to remain competitive.