IBM Revamps Channel Program For Cloud Growth


IBM is rallying partners to up their cloud IQ with a range of new incentives, training opportunities and programs designed to incent partners to push more business into the cloud. The move is part of Virginia "Ginni" Rometty's overreaching strategy to transition IBM's $100 billion business into the cloud computing services era.

At IBM's PartnerWorld Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, IBM announced a bevy of PartnerWorld channel enhancements. Marc Dupaquier, general manager, IBM Global Business Partners, said the additions meet the "changing needs of the evolving channel" to enable our partners to transform to a cloud model for solutions and services to help them succeed.

Partners To Get More CEO Insight

One of the tweaks includes opening up weekly closed-door Friday meetings that Rometty broadcasts internally to staff -- previously known as Think Friday meetings. Now those meetings, hosted by Rometty and featuring IBM executives and partners, are being rebranded as ThinkAcademy and will be accessible to all IBM channel partners on a weekly basis.

Mike Waters, vice president of Developer Platforms for Seattle-based ClipCard, an IBM cloud and mobile partner, said, "IBM is in the midst of transformation and one thing, from a partner perspective, we want to see is focus. These channel changes signal to me focus." Waters said. "Being able to hear what Ginni is thinking, her strategy and positioning of products on a weekly basis is big. When IBM zigs, we don't want to zag. We want to be right on the same page internally and with messaging to our customers."

Part of IBM's push to boost online resources for training also includes an additional 20 cloud-computing courses through the PartnerWorld University.

Channel Pain Points Smoothed Over

IBM also is addressing a major pain point that partners have long identified when it comes to trying to navigate more than 40 channel benefits for building, selling and deploying IBM cloud solutions. A new PartnerWorld Cloud Benefit Guide, IBM said, will give partners for the first time an easy-to-navigate map of cloud opportunities to gun for.

Partners such as ClipCard's Waters told CRN, "Partner benefits are a critical part of our IBM relationship. IBM has a menu of benefits that has never been easy to navigate."

Through a new program called Ready for Smarter Commerce PartnerWorld Offering, IBM said it's hoping to lessen another pain point when it comes to collaborating with PartnerWorld peers. The new program, IBM said, will nurture the IBM ecosystem by creating a directory of prebuilt channel partner solutions.

Nick Potts, director for Cortell, an Australia-based IBM partner specializing in business analytics, said this type of interaction with peers will allow him to more easily identify collaboration opportunities and ideally help him drive more business.

"There are 140,000 IBM global partners. Which partner offerings might complement what Cortell is doing is a full-time job. Being able to identify cloud business takes a lot of hand-shaking. Tools around expediting those connections will make a big difference in growing opportunities," Potts said.

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