IBM Sees New Partner Roles Due to Disruptive Tech

By Gina Roos  |  Print this article Print
IBM partner transformation

As cloud, big data analytics, mobile, social and security technologies blur the channel's roles, IBM is making significant changes in how it works with partners.

These changes have driven IBM to rethink its entire channel engagement model, "starting with the creation of the One Channel organization, which tries to make it much simpler for our partners to work with IBM and get the support they need, irrespective of which product group it happens to be from," said Mason.

"That has driven IBM to a much more holistic customer-centric approach, he added.

So instead of organizing the company by product groups within specific brands, IBM is placing more emphasis on solutions around the technology categories of cloud, analytics, social and security, as well as industry verticals.

For the past 20 years, the technology industry has worked with traditional partners, including distributors and resellers, who get a set of programs around a particular product set, Mason said.

"The opportunity for the partners today is that they can play in different parts of the value chain, depending on where they see their strength and opportunity in the market and what their value prop is to their customer set," he added. "They can specialize in particular technologies or a certain geography or industry or customer set, and we'll support that partner with programs and incentives and support tailored to them.

"The combination of analytics, cloud and mobile is the area where I'm seeing lots of innovation from smaller companies that have access to technologies that previously would have required a lot of capital investments," said Mason.

One example is WayBlazer, an ecosystem partner and startup, that is using IBM Watson technology to deliver more optimized choices in travel arrangements. The WayBlazer Insight Engine uses a standards-based cognitive cloud from Cognitive Scale, which is powered by IBM Watson technology.  

"It's freeing up small businesses to enter new markets, scale faster and be more targeted with new offerings with disruptive business models. It's also opening up new opportunities for our business partners to help them to do that and that is really what's most exciting," he added.

Gina Roos, a Channel Insider contributor, focuses on technology and the channel.