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Big Blue talks $1B partner investment at IBM Think 2021

IBM's spending on its partner ecosystem includes new competencies, role-based guided learning, increased technical support and financial incentives to boost hybrid cloud business.

IBM has provided details on its $1 billion investment in its partner ecosystem, a key piece of the company's growth strategy.

Company and partner executives speaking at IBM Think 2021, a digital event, fleshed out IBM's ecosystem plans. IBM in January unveiled its ecosystem investment program and updated partner go-to-market strategy. Five months into that effort, IBM is focusing on increased tech support, an expanded set of partner competencies and funding tools for capturing hybrid cloud deals.

The tech support investment includes putting 300 IBM employees into technology partner architect roles, said David La Rose, general manager of IBM global sales and the partner ecosystem. Those resources, which will specialize in areas such as security, analytics and automation, will be available to partners in every market, he said.

David La Rose, general manager, IBM global sales, partner ecosystemDavid La Rose

La Rose also provided an update on IBM's Hybrid Cloud Build Team, launched in February 2021. The build team, which helps partners migrate cloud workloads and develop proofs of concept, currently works with partners on 100 active engagements worldwide, he noted.

IBM, meanwhile, has added 10 new competencies to its portfolio, which now stands at 17 competencies in total. The lineup includes competencies for partners that build their own IP on top of IBM's public and hybrid IBM Cloud products; cloud service competencies that cover manufacturing, financial services, application modernization and VMware workload migration; data and AI service competencies; and sales competencies that span cloud, systems and services offerings.

IBM has also launched a role-based "guided-learning journey" to help partners attain competencies, La Rose said. In addition, a training API lets partners integrate IBM courseware into their own learning systems. La Rose pointed to the example of integrator Capgemini, which he said has seen a 12 times increase in its consumption of IBM courseware since deploying the API.

Other partner investments include co-creation client centers, demand-generation benefits, a digital marketing platform, proof-of-concept incentives and service engagement incentives. Additionally, La Rose highlighted IBM's Cloud Engagement Fund, which helps partners deploy Cloud Paks or modernize applications with Red Hat's OpenShift hybrid cloud platform.

Partners invest in IBM business

IBM Think 2021 also showcased partners' investments into growing their IBM-based businesses.

[IBM's partnership] is really going to accelerate us to the market and help [clients] solve their most pressing problems.
Dan HigginsGlobal technology consulting leader, EY

Sudhir Chaturvedi, president and executive board member at Larsen & Toubro Infotech (LTI), a technology consulting company based in Mumbai, India, called hybrid cloud "the only way for us to go" given the large technology estates of its enterprise customers. LTI collaborated with IBM's Hybrid Cloud Build Team on a project to deploy a social scoring-based underwriting system for an insurance company, he said.

LTI initially focused its IBM partnership on hybrid cloud, digital integration and asset management, and continues to invest in centers of excellence (CoE) for each of those areas, Chaturvedi added.

EY, a professional services firm, has also invested in an IBM-oriented CoE. EY and IBM unveiled a CoE to accelerate financial institutions' digital transformation and hybrid cloud initiatives. EY recently launched IBM TechHub, a decentralized network of EY consultants who build offerings based on IBM's hybrid cloud and AI offerings.

"[EY's IBM partnership] is really going to accelerate us to the market and … help [clients] solve their most pressing problems," said Dan Higgins, global technology consulting leader at EY.

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