IBM will host a two-day expo in Sydney next week in which its 30-odd partners will showcase their solutions to approximately 1,000 end users, ranging from small business users to corporate CIOs.
The hardware vendor is investing heavily in its quest to convince business partners that they play an integral role in the manufacturer's go-to-market strategy, despite widespread scepticism in the channel.
Andrew Baker, director for business partners at IBM Australia/NZ, said the event provides an ideal forum for partners to gain access to customers. IBM has designed a lead-referral management system to glean information from customers while they are visiting stalls. IBM will be responsible for collating the data and disseminating it among the appropriate business partners.
Customer ownership is an area where IBM has caused much contention with partners in the past, although Baker insisted that "the bulk of leads will be going out via business partners".
The first day of the conference will focus on industry verticals while the second will be a solutions day centred around customer relationship management (CRM), supply chain management and enterprise resource management (ERP). The expo will focus heavily on the ability and value of independent software vendors such as Ariba and Candle, as well as attracting representatives from leading networking, telco and consulting companies.
Getting so many competitive entities in the same space has been a challenge, conceded Baker, but there is an understanding that it is an open market and survival is about being the strongest in a particular field.
Baker would not say how much money IBM will spend on the expo but said "it is not an insignificant exercise to put together a such a event".