Mark Davison is at IBM PartnerWorld at Think in San Francisco – In the 18 months since he took over its channel operations, John Teltsch, GM of IBM’s Partner Ecosystem, has made significant impact with some of the changes he has brought to the partner table. And, in a fast-changing business environment, the company’s partners can expect more positive transformation in the coming months.

“It’s a journey,” Teltsch says. “A journey that started 37 years ago with PCs, servers and hardware, but now we’ve moved on from a volume to a value perspective and a key issue now is skills. Even in IBM itself, we are on a new path where IBMers are being reskilled and re-educated.”

Teltsch says that the company has been on this new path for over a year now, utilising about 15 different enablement tools based on its Seismic platform.

“So there’s no room for silos anymore,” he says. “Security, for example, can’t have their own operation. And partners can have access to the platform too. I’m paying for 90 000 seats so that all our partners can have access. We are looking to extend and improve the IBM footprint through the channel – not by hiring more IBMers.”

Teltsch says that adopting the name Partner Ecosystem for the channel has also made a marked difference in its perception.

“Traditional hardware resellers have morphed into services … into solutions … into this ecosystem,” he explains. “The marketplace out there has changed dramatically, much faster than I thought it would – naively – and there were lessons to be learned. But it has also opened my eyes to the right path and the right direction we have to move in.

“I’ve made some changes since I took the job that were not necessarily right, but I’m going to fix those,” Teltsch adds. “Fix them, add better ones, and move this ecosystem forward.”

Some of the changes Teltsch has made have been pretty dramatic – within months he had changed 80% of his direct reports “because we had too many in the channel for too long, some for 14 or 15 years.”

And, refusing to pay just lip-service to the overused “simplifying doing business with us” adage that permeates vendor channel programmes, Teltsch has made one of his missions to speed up contracts and lead generation with partners.

“It could take six to seven months for a contract to be signed,” he says. “That’s not agile. We need to get the first lead generation down to one to seven days for this new generation of resellers.

“We consolidated our channel in Brazil and were dealing with a partner focused only on security – and it took seven months for us to generate their first lead. We want to bring you in [to the programme] in seven to 14 days as a Platinum Partner.”

That kind of agility just might lead to IBM maintaining the success it seems to be enjoying within the channel. Last year it signed up 13 000 partners – 2X the number it normally does.