IBM to simplify software channel strategy

IBM to simplify software channel strategy

IBM is simplifying its software sales and marketing programs, part of a larger move that should make it easier for the company's partners and customers to order and integrate software from IBM and its subsidiaries, the head of IBM's software sales and marketing group said today in an interview.

The simplification will give IBM's channel partners and 600 account managers responsibility for the company's "whole portfolio" of software products, according to William Zeitler, general manager, sales and marketing at IBM's software group. Partners and account managers will handle products from IBM units Lotus Development and Tivoli Systems, in addition to IBM's own offerings, he said. In the past, the sales strategy was not as focused and had less coordination between the various software units, he said.

In addition, IBM will trim the number of software "channel programs", or specific programs such as co-marketing, education and incentive programs, Zeitler said.

"There's real benefit to the partners having fewer IBM programs that are more consistent," he said. "One of the key things we want to do is make IBM easier to do business with."

The move is part of an IBM program designed to rationalise the US company's channels strategy across all of its product lines. The new program, called One IBM, will be outlined for the first time in New Orleans later this month when 6000 IBM partners assemble for an annual meeting, Zeitler said. The One IBM program will be headed by Ian Bonner, currently IBM's vice president for Lotus and IBM Worldwide partner marketing and programs.

The program will affect IBM's wide range of partners, which include Ingram Micro, Tech Data, and Chandler.

In short, the program will "rationalise" the company's number of products and channel programs. It will slash the number of such programs, which about a year ago was as high as 47, he said.

As with IBM's PC group, which several years ago went through its own streamlining after ballooning to thousands of models, IBM appears to be now trimming the fat off its software lineup.

The software group will focus on seven brand areas: Tivoli management software, Lotus messaging products, DB/2 Universal Data Base (UDB), WebSphere Web application products, MQSeries transaction systems, VisualAge development tools, and SecureWay. The seven brand areas are pruned from over 1000 software products IBM juggled in recent years, Zeitler said.

In addition, the group will target four "solution areas", which include electronic commerce, business integration (focused on MQSeries), Web self-service and business intelligence (focused on DB/2), he said.

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