IBM Goes Soft On Partners


5 Aug 2011
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The partner structure at the IBM Software Group (ISG) has come a long way since its evolution in 2009.

The group has streamlined its initiatives, both tactical and strategic, and wants to enable all its 250 partners in as many competencies as possible. “We want to grow with our tier-2 partners, and strengthen them in the SMB and mid-market segments. We want our partners to move beyond commodities,” said Pradeep Nair, Director, ISG. The company will push all its software offerings—Lotus, Websphere, Rational, Tivoli, Cognos, etc—through its tier-2 partners in the country.

Named Project Praveen, the project has established 150 COEs in engineering colleges across India and certified more than 55,000 students. In the process, it has built a pool of resources that a partner and customer can hire.

IBM has opened 13 offices in the last one year. “We see the fastest growth outside the top three metro cities,” informed Nair. “We are spending a lot more money in selling to SMB and mid-market customers, and expanding outside metros. SMBs currently contribute 50 percent of our business, and we want to grow this manifold.”

To aid its SMB partners, the company started a 24x7 call center called Techline. “A partner can get his solution validated by talking to the tech team on Techline. It is a free service, and provides partners with some level of system assurance. We are now looking at developing industry-specific solutions and certifications under this program,” Nair said. IBM will release solutions around six industries in early 2012.

The company is also encouraging mid-market partners to opt for more technical trainings and certifications. Nair said that IBM has made it compulsory for partners to achieve certification to participate in bids. “The logic is simple: you need to have the requisite skills-set for deployment. Also, it dilutes the crowd and reduces competition.” He cited the example of Mumbai-based MindCraft which has grown rapidly as an expert in Websphere.

Similarly, a Mumbai-based partner helped a housing finance company to run its credit appraisal system and proposal approval system on Lotus. In another instance, a Kochi-based partner enabled a bank to adopt Facebook; it also provided security for the account as a value-add. Partners who enter such deals are entitled to a software value incentive whereby they can earn anything from 25 percent upward.

Explained Nair, “As we evolved we wanted partners to manage not just payment and credit but also solutions. As we started doing analytics, systems management and security, deploying it was critical. We acquired new companies—such as Cognos, Q1 Labs, Netezza and Guardium—at a fast pace. Consequently, we have built a broad portfolio and provided partners with up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. A lot of our Websphere partners are picking up collaborating and adjacent areas. They are also evolving in areas such as analytics and DB.”

source : crn
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