IBM is too reliant on revenue from direct high-end accounts and wants the channel to help it gain a better share of the mid-market, according to director of business partners, Scott Kardash.
The message was delivered to existing resellers and potential new recruits at a series of business partner summits held recently in the state capitals. Kardash said IBM was shifting resources away from user-facing roles in order to provide better channel support.
From a recruitment perspective, it was particularly keen to add volume partners that could focus on xSeries entry-level servers, storage and software.
"Existing partners are doing a great job but they can't cover the entire market," he said.
"There are many competitors but we feel a consistent channel strategy is a key differentiator for IBM. We will rely on business partners for growth in the mid-market and public sector.
"This means not hiring any more direct sales people. All our eggs are in the partner basket."
In a highly competitive entry-level server market, Kardash said IBM was already being price aggressive. A major strategy would be to get resellers combining those sales with its storage products. For software partners, the emphasis would be on making them more autonomous.
"We have raised the certification bar and specialised distributors around specific products so they can invest in more expertise to support resellers," Kardash said. "Some distributors have been frustrated at the narrowing of breadth but other smaller guys are ecstatic to be representing IBM."
The company has swelled its partner ranks by 150 in the first six months of the year but wants that number to rise by a further 200 before the end of December.
It has created a team to cultivate a business solutions ecosystem of software developers and integrators. Another team forms a transaction hub created to help partners with configuration and pricing.