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IBM prepares partners for Cognitive Era

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By Mark Davison at IBM PartnerWorld, Las Vegas – Keeping pace with continually evolving business models, IBM yesterday once again revamped its PartnerWorld programme to help its partners better deal with what it calls the Cognitive Era.
And Marc Dupaquier, GM, IBM Global Business Partners, says the company will continue to tweak its partner programme as and when required.
“We have made more changes to our channel programme in the last year than in the previous 10 years,” Dupaquier told about 2 000 Business Partners crammed into the Chelsea Theatre at The Cosmopolitan Hotel. “You told us the existing programme was too complex and the market signals are that there are new business models emerging. So we’ve expanded and redesigned the PartnerWorld program to guide Business Partners of all types and models in developing capabilities aligned to our cognitive solutions and cloud platform strategy to deliver high client value.”
Dupaquier cites IBM’s new contracts as an example.
“Our new partner contract is very simple,” he says. “You sign and go and sell. It’s all about simplification and we’ve reduced the contract by half once again. A few years ago, it took seven weeks; we cut that to between one and three days. Now, it is a matter of a few hours.”
Education is another area Dupaquier highlighted.
“The PartnerWorld University has already conducted more than 300 000 classes,” he says. “That number will be closer to 1-million by mid-year.”
He says that IBM has increased the number of competencies available to partners to more than 40 to cater for customers.
“Because if you have client satisfaction, if the customer is happy, then you have an external reference,” he explains. “This, in turn, leads to more business.”
Dupaquier says the company currently has 84 Platinum Partners and more than 8 000 Gold and Silver Partners. It’s total channel ecosystem, he adds, numbers around 160 000.
“And they range from every level,” he says. “We have a Gold Partner in Sweden with 11 employees and eight desks. But their vision is to be the Uber of services in Sweden. Ambitious? Not really. They doubled their revenue in 2015 and again in 2016, so they are doing extremely well.”
Apart from the increased competencies to help its channel build greater expertise in high growth areas like cloud, cognitive and security, IBM has also announced key initiatives to help partners accelerate growth with embedded solutions, new IBM entry-point products, a simplified reselling process and enhanced software incentives.
“As digital and cloud solutions continue to transform industries, the time is now for our partners to deliver cognitive solutions with deep vertical expertise built on the IBM Cloud platform and made available in an omni-channel environment,” Dupaquier says.
In the second quarter of the year, the company will offer a competency in Information, Risk and Protection to protect customers’ critical information.For IBM Cloud, IBM will launch two new competencies: one in Cloud Video to help customers stream, capture, manage and deliver video, and another in High Speed Transfer to bring breakthrough cost savings and efficiency gains to customers who need to move large volumes of data over public and private IP networks.
Watson Internet of Things will offer Continuous Engineering to help with engineering innovative products and systems in the face of complexity. The company will also add a new Competency in IBM Global Financing to help partners mainstream “Financing” as a core capability they can use to differentiate themselves.
In addition to streamlining its partner focus around new competencies, IBM has made enhancements in following four areas to accelerate growth in the ecosystem:
Embedded solutions offering: IBM has launched an Embedded Solutions Agreement that makes it easier for IBM Business Partners to integrate their expertise and offerings with IBM technologies and services to create distinct, commercially available, partner-branded solutions and market them to their downstream customers. With this new embedded solutions model, partners can now leverage IBM technology and expertise at an attractive price to improve their profitability and client value while accelerating their time to market and sales cycle.
Nurturing ISVs: IBM now offers a Ready for IBM Cloud validation, as well as other benefits designed to encourage ISVs to build and monetise their cloud solutions on the Bluemix platform.
Simplified reselling: In Q2, IBM will launch an IBM Express Start offering to streamline the process for new Business Partners to be authorised to resell IBM entry-point products, including Software Open Distribution, IBM XaaS-Entry, PowerLinux and low-end storage products. Partners will be able to join PartnerWorld, receive pricing and resell these offerings faster than ever before with IBM Express Start.
Enhanced Software incentives: Beginning in April, IBM is enhancing its Business Partner software incentive offerings to provide the highest rewards for the highest value focusing on IBM’s Commercial segment, new client opportunities, solutions, and autonomous selling. With these new incentive offerings, IBM is providing improved line of sight, predictability, and reduced operational overhead based on partner feedback worldwide.