Already Microsoft's largest worldwide reseller, Software Spectrum has created a separate consulting practice focused exclusively on IBM and Lotus business solutions.
The practice includes expanded global technical support capabilities and extensive training programs. Software Spectrum in Sydney becomes one of three technology support centres along with Dublin, Ireland and Dallas, Texas to provide "follow the sun" help desk support globally.
"The development of new technologies, such as the Internet and intranets, provides a whole new means for businesses to access existing information and increase its value," said IBM vice-president of the Worldwide Channel Software Group, Ian Bonner, on a recent visit to Australia.
"This has opened up tremendous opportunities for IBM and its strategic partners. Over 70 per cent of all data is held in IBM databases and in some countries up to 90 per cent. With new technology organisations we'll be able to access and update this data seamlessly."
It is here that Software Spectrum will play its part.
Bonner said Software Spectrum is one of the first groups to respond to the new business model and deploy new technology skills. "It is imperative we work together to build the skill sets necessary to service our customers," he said.
"The worst thing for IBM is to have partners who represent themselves to have skills which they do not have. We recognise that there are not sufficient Tivoli (IBM's enterprise management suite) skills in the Asia-Pacific region, but we will work with Software Spectrum to address this," said Bonner.
In order to support the dedicated consulting practice, Software Spectrum has worked with IBM and Lotus to develop training for technical certification, service delivery methodology and advanced consulting skills, enabling consultants to develop complex enterprise solutions.
Software Spectrum's Asia-Pacific managing director, David Colvin, said that already three of its Technology Services Group (TSG) consultants from Australia have attended the inaugural eight week intensive IBM/Lotus training school in Dallas and are now using those skills at customer sites.
"Software Spectrum's primary focus is in the network area to provide the interface into other areas such as mid and mainframe systems," said Colvin. Tivoli is driving the cost down of supporting the enterprise and taking the cost out of the business model for our customers."
The three C's
According to Bonner, IBM owns the market for electronic commerce with the three Cs of Net commerce; collaboration, content and commerce with groupware (Lotus and Domino), systems network management (Tivoli) and with DB2 and MQSeries. "For instance, American Airlines have now forced the balance of the airlines to follow its lead in Web technology to stay competitive."
Bonner is bullish about Lotus. He said 4.5 million new seats were sold in 1996, with one million of those in Japan. He says Domino will be a driving force with customers upgrading technology. in fact, he is confident the horse has bolted with Domino.
Software Spectrum TSG's president, Link Simpson, says customers who do not recognise the importance of technology in commerce will get left behind. "Time is of the essence, and the foundation technology is now available to conduct commerce over the Net. Having the necessary skills is the most important factor in utilising the new technologies.
"Software Spectrum will develop the knowledge and experience and will combine with IBM to draw on that experience locally or globally to deliver solutions for our customers," said Simpson.