Hoping to bolster resources available to its network of global business partners as well as expand its numbers, IBM has introduced services and support programs that boost financial support for co-marketing campaigns and grant deeper access to its sales network to close deals faster.
Another goal of the initiative is to simplify the process of developers to become classified as IBM business partners. This elevated status will help them accelerate new business opportunities by working with IBM salespeople who have expertise in a range of vertical markets.
"Users are always coming to us looking for application suppliers who understand the details of their business, and often that equates to understanding the region they operate in or a specific industry.
"Understanding banking in Germany is different than understanding banking in China," vice-president of marketing and strategy for IBM Developer Relations, Scott Hebner, said.
Under the new program, developers had access to marketing professionals as well as pre- negotiated rates that reportedly helped them run more effective marketing campaigns, a company spokesperson said.
Through this service, developers could get help with direct mail campaigns, gain discounted advertising up to 70 per cent in vertical publications, and access a number of Web marketing services.
The company was also introducing its Sales Connections service that put together a qualified ISV with an IBM sales team or other business partners that could more effectively work together to close a deal, a spokesperson said. The program could be accessed through the Web and is staffed by IBM business development teams.
"Sales Connections is a new program but we have been essentially doing this kind of thing for hundreds of ISVs for a while now," Hebner said. "But now we are going to blow it out to thousands of ISVs that are regional or industry-specialised to do the same thing, but do it more in a transactional manner."
Some developers said the programs would help them more easily piece together solutions from drawing on a range of other providers.
"[Sales Connections] looks like it can help us make quicker contact with IBM sales representatives and/or other business partners, such as hardware resellers, that are important to many of our deals," marketing executive at RJS Software Systems, Bill Whalen, said. "We anticipate that the program will be a tremendous asset to our business on the sales side," he said.
A third aspect of the program is designed to expand IBM's business partner program, allowing more developers to grow their relationship with the company and to gain access to program benefits through a self-directed qualification process.
That process was based on ISV support for IBM's On Demand infrastructure as well as how an ISV worked with corporate users in vertical industries, a company spokesperson said.
"Instead of going out and selecting 1000 partners, we are now opening it up to anyone who can self-qualify regardless of size, location, or industry to move from an ISV to an IBM business partner," Hebner said.
"I would expect our partners to grow to 10,000 over the next couple of years."