IBM partners are gearing up for a year of increased enablement, support and joint customer opportunities, as part of deepened channel plans across Australia and New Zealand.
According to Alison Freeman - general manager of global business partners A/NZ at IBM - the vendor is doubling down on its partner ecosystem on both sides of the Tasman, amid plans to drive more software-as-a-service (SaaS) opportunities through the channel.
"Our priorities for this year are very clear client segmentation, particularly from a software perspective on how and where we go to market with our partners,” Freeman said. “There’s a big focus on embedded solution agreements - where partners are developing solutions with our technology.
"We’ve had some great success and growth there in the past year. We’re getting the whole business behind achieving double digit growth for our partners in 2019, that’s our focus."
Last year, Big Blue wanted partners to have a larger handle on commercial business opportunities, an area the vendor will continue working through with partners specific to software.
"There’s a lot of work going into that this year," added Freeman, when speaking to ARN on the sidelines of PartnerWorld at Think in San Francisco. "We did that with a number of accounts last year, and this is a continuation.
"It’s a shift that allows partners to invest and bring on the right people and skills. We’re working with them by client, on which partners we shift, based on their skills. It’s a big move and that’s how we’ll help them grow, which will also help us grow."
Another point of focus for Freeman this year, is creating a better alignment with global system integrators (GSIs) such as KPMG, Wipro, HCL and DXC Technology.
This move may raise some intrigue over the competitiveness between IBM and such GSIs, but Freeman said the vendor was looking at how it can strengthen its go-to-market strategy in other areas of the business.
Another particular area that IBM is concentrating on is centred around providing more enablement and skills for partners, Freeman said.
“We’re providing the tools to enable our partners in the same way that we skill our IBM teams,” she said. “We’re pushing better enablement, better connection with our partners, protection under deal registration and much quicker pricing."
The tech giant formally rolled out new initiatives, including its Watson-based collaboration engine called IBM Business Partner Connect - which A/NZ partners piloted last year; My PartnerWorld; new software deal registration and IBM Power Systems, LinuxONE and Z ‘In It to Win It’ incentives.
In San Francisco, John Teltsch - partner ecosystem general manager at IBM - revealed that partners created more than 84,000 opportunities and drove over US$14 billion in revenue during 2018.
Such growth was triggered by the migration of multiple tools to My Sales Activity (MySA), a single portal that helps partners manage their business with the vendor.
Enhancements were also made to the PartnerWorld on-boarding process, cutting the time to on-board new partners by 70 per cent in the process, resulting in the addition of 13,000 net new ecosystem partners globally in 2018.
“From a partner point of view, we’re seeing a lot of growth in security, SaaS solutions, as well as the Internet of Things," Freeman added.
"We’re very strong in those areas. From a systems point of view, we’re seeing growth in storage and that’s another area where we’ll look to bring on new partners."
Julia Talevski attended PartnerWorld at Think in San Francisco as a guest of IBM