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It has been a year since IBM cut the ribbon on Partner Plus and the vendor has seen positive results as a result of its enhanced channel approach.
The vendor used its TechXchange Summit EMEA partner day on 22 January to outline enhancements to the programme, including more support specifically for system providers, and gave an update on the progress made over the past 12 months.
David Stokes, general manager of IBM partner ecosystem EMEA, said it had introduced Partner Plus against the backdrop of wanting to work more effectively with the channel and had seen the approach reap dividends.
“It’s been an exciting 12 months. Demand around the programme has been tremendous. I think we’ve seen a rejuvenation, in many ways, of IBM in the ecosystem,” he said.
Stokes said IBM would continue to develop its channel ecosystem, but already it had benefited the vendor’s partner position.
“The feedback we’re getting from partners is that we are now much more pointed towards working with them, not as an optional part of our go to market. Is that consistent everywhere? No, not yet. We’ve got an incredibly strong sales force across Europe, that every day most of them wake up and they’re ready to work with partners, but there are some we’ve got to get on board and make sure that they are confident working with partners. Until we are doing that 100%, I won’t feel the job is done,” he said.
The introduction of the programme has also tempted more to join Big Blue’s channel fold in the past year. Stokes said thousands of fresh partners had joined since Partner Plus was launched.
“We have accelerated the time from when partners join us to being able to trade with us,” he added. “We’ve run that process up where it’s a matter of days versus what used to be from months.
“I’ve been very pleased by the demand from a lot of new partners, who may have previously not seen IBM as a potential partner for them. I’ve also been happy with the fact that maybe some partners who were trading with us … maybe once a year, a couple of times a year, have now started to look towards IBM as a more strategic partner.”
David Stokes, IBM
He said proof of the progress made over the past year was in the numbers, with a growing volume of business going through the channel.
“The increasing amount of business that is going through our partners gives me confidence that we’re making progress,” he said.
Stokes added that IBM was still in “listening mode” and would act on partner feedback to continue to make its ecosystem more channel-friendly.
“We’re going to continue to listen to our partners, and I hope by listening and acting, our partners will continue to say that we are genuine and putting into action our statement that partners are at the core of the IBM strategy,” he said.
Stokes said it was introducing a specific service provider track within Partner Plus to make sure those channel players are well served as it looks to grow the programme further this year.
IBM also announced it had set up a joint centre of excellence with NTT Data to support generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) and tap into growing customer demand for that technology.
“We’ve heard a lot from our partners over the last 12 months [of] a massive opportunity to help businesses of all sizes across all industries take advantage of generative AI,” he said.
“There’s still a big gap between the opportunity and the capability of many organisations to get there, so we are working with our partners to build that expertise,” he added.