IBM channel sales and marketing teams consolidated

At IBM PartnerWorld Leadership Conference, the company announced that it has combined its various channel sales and marketing staffs into one consolidated group. It also made incentive and certification changes.

Today, at IBM PartnerWorld Leadership Conference 2015 in Las Vegas, IBM announced the One Channel Team, which consolidates the company's global business partner operations to better align with IBM's meaner and leaner strategic focus for partners on higher-value solutions in areas such as cloud, analytics, mobile, social and security. There are 950 business partner companies from 89 countries in attendance at the partner conference.

The One Channel Team -- with Marc Dupaquier, general manager with IBM global business partners, in charge -- consolidates IBM channel sales and marketing teams across the company's multiple divisions into one group.

Anurag Agrawal, CEO and analyst at Techaisle, said that One Channel Team represents a resounding statement of IBM’s commitment to the channel for reselling cloud, analytics, mobile, social, security, etc.

"[The new IBM channel group] conveys not only unity of thought but also unity of execution," he said, adding that it reflects the way products and services are bought today -- not in isolation but across solutions. "When you consolidate all these channel teams and allocate resources, depending on which enterprise and which channel member requires what type of help and expertise -- analytics, application development on Bluemix, etc. -- it will help partners a lot because they don’t sell solutions in isolation either," Agrawal said.

As One Channel Team brings greater simplicity to doing business with the channel, IBM is focused on creating a simpler IBM PartnerWorld program that revamps how the company enables, incents and educates partners to drive increased opportunity and revenue.

The company wants to turbo-charge the pace at which partners seize new market opportunities based on IBM Cloud marketplace, SoftLayer and Bluemix, as well as application development around the Watson ecosystem and IBM Systems. 

IBM also made it clear that it intends to broaden its partner ecosystem and is looking to recruit new business partners, developers and independent software vendors (ISVs), with a keen focus on systems integrators, ISVs and born-in-the-cloud companies.

When you consolidate all these channel teams … it will help partners a lot because they don’t sell solutions in isolation.

Anurag Agrawal, CEO and analyst, Techaisle

In an effort to encourage business partner transformation and more in-depth knowledge acquisition and training, IBM said it rolled out a number of initiatives, including an additional 300-plus workshops in IBM's Business Transformation Initiative (BTI), a program to help partners transform their business; a more intuitive education and training platform, with new modules and a broader roadmap of certification courses; and more educational incentives through an improved Know Your IBM learning portal. The incentives triple the reward for individual sales and technical staff who pursue education around the IBM Infrastructure portfolio and strategic growth areas such as cloud and analytics.

To help partners increase their profitability with IBM, the company rolled out a number of new incentives. For starters, there's a new program for partners who sell IBM Power Systems and IBM Storage that offers quarterly incentives that double when certain requirements are met and a quarterly bonus for achieving specific skills and certifications. Compensation is through the Partner Growth Incentive (PGI), a program for IBM specialists. IBM has also simplified certification requirements for select software-as-a-service (Saas) offerings, enabling partners to earn incentives faster with the new IBM SaaS Entry Product Group. And, the company's new Remarketer Margin Enhancer program improves rewards via a 10% margin increase on incremental revenue for partners who achieve revenue growth targets when selling IBM Services. IBM also introduced a new Services Consumption Program to help partners drive demand for service solution providers. Finally, IBM expanded eligibility for its Solution Accelerator Incentive (SAI), which enables partners to earn an additional bonus on IBM-defined solutions with the SAI Solution Bonus Reward.

Partners are also getting two new marketing and developer tools offerings, the IBM Digital Content Marketing platform and the OpenPower Developer tools. In the IBM Digital Content Marketing platform, partners will find more digital and social campaigns with co-marketing funds to provide them more web-based marketing and social media content across a broad range of IBM products and solutions. And IBM has increased the number of technical assets to help partners and developers build and port customized server and storage solutions with OpenPower Developer tools.

In an effort to expand is partner ecosystem, IBM has enhanced its developer engagement community with dW Answers, a site where IBM subject matter experts and peers provide support. Members will find new topic and solution-specific Developer Centers. Partners can also offer Watson Explorer, which has a combination of data exploration and content analytics capabilities that provide a bridge between cloud-based services and on-premises proprietary information.

In a recent annual study of channel partners by Techaisle, Agrawal said that 54% of midmarket channel partners rated IBM as having the most cutting-edge technology compared with competitors such as Cisco, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft. However, he noted that IBM, when rated by channel partners as a good and trusted business, fell a few notches in the most recent survey compared with a year ago.

Will efforts such as those outlined today boost IBM's rating among partners? "The proof is in the pudding, and in a year from now we’ll see," Agrawal said.

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