IBM Overhauls Its Channel StrategyBy Gina Roos | Print
IBM has consolidated its channel sales and marketing groups for all its business units into a single channel team to better support its business partner network.
At its PartnerWorld Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, IBM has unveiled a new One Channel Team to help business partners increase revenues around growth markets and to make it easier for them to do business with the company. In a huge undertaking, IBM has consolidated the channel organizations for all its business units into one team.
As part of the move, the company also enhanced or added new programs around education, technical support, demand creation and incentives. In addition, it announced several new business units.
“We had multiple units that had their own channel sales and marketing organizations, and they’ve all been consolidated into a One Channel Team,” said Mike Gerentine, vice president of IBM Global Marketing. “We’ve been able to take all the talent across IBM that played a role in channel marketing, channel sales or channel management and consolidate them into one organization.”
These changes are driven by several factors, including IBM’s move to higher-value solutions in new growth markets—including cloud, analytics, mobile, social and security—and having more partners focus on business and services solutions instead of product transactions. This requires new and deeper skills and enhanced collaborative tools to leverage these new market opportunities, particularly around the IBM Cloud Marketplace, SoftLayer, BlueMix, Watson Explorer and customized IBM systems.
One of the biggest benefits to partners is that they now have a single point of contact at IBM. The move also is expected to allow the company to be more agile, to simplify programs, and to consolidate infrastructure and tools in a number of areas, including co-marketing, education and Web portals—all designed to make it easier for partners to do business with IBM. It also gives the vendor a single interface with its business units.
At the same time, IBM announced the formation of several business units: cloud, big data analytics, security and commerce, which includes mobile and social. Each of the business units will have end-to-end responsibility for its portfolios and for solving client problems, said Gerentine.
“Our organization will be the supporting arm into those business units, and we’ll take their offerings, messaging and content to the channel,” he added. "We will have a single one-channel model in how we work with the business partners."
Partner Program Enhancements
In addition, IBM is introducing several new partner program enhancements. These range from education and technical assets to demand creation tools and incentives, along with new offerings and revenue streams.
In the area of education initiatives, IBM is expanding its Business Transformation Initiative (BTI) with more than 300 new workshops in 2015—up from about 100 in 2014. These workshops help qualifying business partners, through a strategic consulting engagement, improve profitability and performance in growth areas, such as cloud, big data analytics, mobile, social, security and commerce. Initial results from partners indicate almost a 20 percent increase in revenues to date.
“Many of IBM’s partners are small and midsize businesses that don’t have a common selling solution methodology, and they also need a lot of help in marketing and demand creation,” Gerentine said. “IBM wants to help qualifying partners with their strategic three- to five-year plans. If we can help them grow and become more profitable, in the end we are going to be more successful.”
The IBM education delivery platform through the PartnerWorld University is undergoing several enhancements to make it a more intuitive platform for resources, which will include new educational modules. The enhancements will allow the company to develop road maps for courses that will lead to certification. Partners also will get greater educational incentives through an improved Know Your IBM learning portal, which will offer triple the earning potential to reward sales and technical staff for increasing their skills around IBM’s portfolio.