IBM is reorganising its business partner programme, instituting an industry focus on an organisation traditionally arranged around products.
IBM will now group its independent software vendor partners into networks by industry and tailor its communications and partnership programs to the various verticals.
The move is intended to make it easier for ISVs to access the information and contacts they need from IBM, claimed Scott Hebner, IBM's vice president of marketing and strategy for developer relations.
The first six verticals for which IBM will introduce the program are retail, financial services, banking, telecommunication, life sciences and health care.
The move is part of IBM's company-wide effort to tailor and bundle its products to meet the specific needs of its customers on an industry-by-industry basis, and to build its channel strength through better geographic and vertical targeting.
"This is very much a reflection of what the customers want us to do, not just the ISVs," Hebner said.
The new vertical channel networks are a continuation of changes IBM began last year, when it introduced ISV Advantage, a programme that offers IBM's top midmarket ISV partners an array of marketing and support services in exchange for a commitment to lead with IBM for at least 60% of their outside software, hardware and services needs.
IBM relies on its partners to provide customers with applications, which the company generally does not develop. IBM's strategy is to partner with application suppliers and provide for those suppliers' customers their underlying hardware and middleware infrastructure.
IBM's Hebner said the new vertical focus to IBM's channel activities is helping the company identify, by territory, areas in which it needs to attract additional ISVs. The company is drawing up "solution blueprints" for problems it sees customers facing in various industries, and with those blueprints it can determine where functionality gaps exist, and seek new partners to fill them, while also encouraging existing partners to expand their offerings.
Stacy Cowley writes for IDG News Service
This was first published in March 2004