Less than two weeks before he takes over as IBM's chief, Samuel Palmisano issued a rallying cry for the company's business partners on Wednesday with a speech that closed IBM's annual PartnerWorld event.
Palmisano, who will become CEO and president of IBM on March 1, told the company's vast army of resellers, system integrators and developers that a ripe business opportunity lies ahead. The financial and strategic woes of competitors such as Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard have opened a chance for IBM partners to capture more business than before.
"Our competitors, who I would argue had a somewhat simplistic view of the computing model, are not doing so well right now," Palmisano said. "We don't see a need for a major strategic shift, unlike the competition."
IBM's partners account for about one-third of the company's $US85.9 billion in 2001 revenue, Palmisano said. "That's more than EMC and Sun combined," he said. "Call it a tie against Microsoft."
While its rivals adjust their businesses, IBM will turn to its partners more than ever before to tap their expertise in various areas and pick up new business, he said. One such area is in the field of life sciences, where IBM spies an enormous opportunity for its products by rolling out a set of initiatives directed at business partners.
Big Blue said that it would be recruiting hundreds of new business partners over the next two years, drawing on software developers, resellers, distributors and service providers to make inroads in the life sciences.
The company has already rolled out a number of products aimed at capturing the life sciences market. For example, more than 80 life sciences applications for drug discovery and development now run on pre-packaged and pre-configured server clusters of IBM eServer systems running the Linux and AIX operating systems, the company said.
The company now hopes to recruit business partners that will use and resell its products, in exchange for getting help from IBM in developing business plans designed to exploit opportunities in the life sciences market. The company also said that it would link its partners with bioinformatics software vendors and help determine additional skill and educational training requirements needed to enter the marketplace. Additionally, IBM is offering partners seminars and Web-based courses to fulfil these educational needs.
Citing a 2001 study by Frost & Sullivan, IBM said that the IT opportunity in the life sciences market could surpass $US40 billion by 2004 in pharmaceutical, biotechnology, bioinformatics, e-health, government, academia and other market segments.
Meanwhile, IBM used its PartnerWorld conference to add a little more muscle to its CRM strategy, announcing a four-year marketing and development deal with Avaya.
The deal calls for the two companies to jointly piece together CRM solutions to be anchored by IBM's middleware products and that will be tailored to work with Avaya's series of CRM solutions.