IBM reaches out to MSPs and ISVs

Big Blue makes major enhancements to its partner programme with the aim of attracting and rewarding those that specialise in developing their own IP and providing services

In normal circumstances, IBM’s partners would be sitting down and concentrating on a stage that was being commanded by the vendor’s channel executives at its Think Digital event.

But because of coronavirus, the event, like so many others across the industry, has gone digital. Resellers and distributors tuning into hear the keynote from David La Rose, GM, IBM Partner Ecosystem, will find that the vendor has been working on making significant enhancements to its PartnerWorld programme.

Like most vendors, Big Blue has based its programme on sales and has rewarded those that have delivered the most in revenue. But the world is changing and service specialists have emerged that don’t want to handle the hardware in the traditional way and, increasingly, the channel is developing its own IP to sit on top of vendor platforms.

IBM quoted IDC research that indicated 58% of partner revenues were now coming from their own IP, and more were focused on integrating their expertise with wider cloud-based solutions.

To ensure that it can capture and reward the activities of those partners, IBM is adding a build and service track to its existing sell option to help partners unlock rewards.

La Rose said IBM was on a journey deeper into a hybrid multicloud world and wanted to make sure it had the means to attract and reward partners that could support that ambition.

“The world looks drastically different than it did just months ago, and our current business environment has only advanced the trend toward business model flexibility,” he said.

“During this time, our business partners continue to adopt cloud business models and strengthen their digital skills to serve clients, who are also facing new challenges.

“Our partners’ success is dependent on their adaptability and ingenuity when it comes to helping clients overcome these challenges, now more than ever. We are counting on them to use IBM’s open, hybrid cloud approach to help clients discover new ways to solve problems during these uncertain times.”

IBM spoke to its partner advisory council and throughout the process of developing the programme, has checked in with the channel to gauge its response, he said.

“We wanted to know how we could provide clarity and support and have simplified the incentive structure to align it to IBM’s go-to-market model,” said La Rose.

Partners will be encouraged to pick the areas of the sell, build and service programme that they want to invest in, developing skills so they can access the right support.

The hope is that the addition of the build and service tracks will attract some fresh blood to IBM’s channel and bring on board some MSPs and ISVs that have not previously worked with the vendor.

“Our existing programme truly hasn’t been attractive to the new players that don’t have any resale solution in their go-to-market,” said La Rose. “This is as much of a recruitment aid to attract new partners as it is to help the existing partner base.”

Aim of the partner programme

IBM has certain aims with its enhanced PartnerWorld offering:

  • Rewarding partners that deliver value around cloud and systems, including those that develop bespoke solutions and IP, and demonstrate deep skills and industry expertise.
  • Encouraging partners to gain competences that are aligned to the build, service and sell tracks. IBM has also launched a new partner support desk that serves as a central location for personalised and proactive support via phone, email or chat.
  • Introducing partner packages that bundle cloud and cognitive benefits so that partners can quickly learn, develop and test solutions on the IBM Cloud.

Big Blue is giving its partner base plenty of warning about the changes, which are not coming into effect until 1 July, so that people can make sure they are lined up behind the right track.

There are also chances for the channel to continue to give its feedback with La Rose encouraging them to help them iron out all the nuances before it goes live.

Steve White, programme VP of IDC, said: “At IDC, we believe the new PartnerWorld programme framework gives partners the flexibility they need to succeed in the market, rather than being relegated to a single partner type. These tracks are innovative, giving builders, sellers and service partners access to the benefits that matter most to them.”

Apart from the partner programme, La Rose is expected to use his keynote to discuss the ways the vendor can support the channel during Covid-19.

IBM is offering a range of support options, including: a number of offers and resources to help business partners grow, build new skills, embrace cloud and AI and go to market in new ways; extending the partner revalidation grace period so that partners hold on to their tiered positions; a 0% finance option for new power, storage and software licences; offering free cloud and Ai SaaS resources for 90 days; and reimbursing 100% of approved digital co-marketing activities.

La Rose said the other impact of the cornonavirus had been to increase the move towards more digital campaigns and IBM was directing partners to its free My Digital Marketing platform, which would help them put together campaigns to reach out to customers.

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