Mark Davison at IBM PartnerWorld, Las Vegas – One of IBM’s self-confessed “True Blue” partners was put on the spot at a post-keynote press conference when he was asked what three things he would initiate if he was in charge of the company’s channel operations.

Mark Wyllie, CEO of Flagship Solutions Group, says that he has been an IBM business partner for more than 30 years. And they don’t come any “truer” or “bluer”.

“We’re a True Blue partner,” he states firmly. “If the choice [on a deal] is IBM or a competitor, we’ll go IBM.”

So what are the three changes he would implement if he swapped jobs with current GM of Global Business Partners, John Teltsch?

“We work with a lot of IBM reps in the field,” he answers. “So the first thing I’d do is get them to understand that they don’t get paid any less if a partner is involved. They know that nowadays they won’t get paid commission if a partner is not involved, but if there was a way to further emphasise this aspect, I would implement it.

“Secondly, it used to be that when IBM came out with a programme, it came out from a market perspective – the partner was an afterthought,” he continues. “The excuse was always that ‘we have to get it channel-ready’. That attitude is changing, but I’d maybe just accelerate it a bit more.”

Wyllie seemed to struggle to come up with a third option. “I dunno,” he sighed, “it probably relates to my first point. I’d maybe reduce the number of salespeople covering the channel. I don’t need sales help as much as I need technical help.

“In my own company, we have three technical people to every salesperson,” he adds. “It used to be the other way around but, nowadays, the customer wants to know exactly what’s going to be done and how it’s going to be done before they commit to something. So to have that technical support at field level would make a real difference.”