Australia is set to become the first recipient of a combined Lotus and IBM developer program that falls under the global umbrella of IBM's ambitious PartnerWorld initiative.
Focused on software, the alliance between IBM Software Group and Lotus Development will combine the presently disparate business partner programs and members into one cohesive group called PartnerWorld for IBM and Lotus.
The program will focus on strengthening IBM's, Lotus' and their partners' e-business, and facilitate partner access to the vendors and customer access to the partners. "IBM's channel understands where the company is driving e-business through its E-business Application Framework but Lotus partners have only concentrated on Lotus software.
"This program will allow them to understand the broader concept and provide the customer with more complete solutions," said Steve Blunt, channel sales director for Lotus. E-business training and enablement sessions are already underway.
Under this new guise, Lotus' 450 Australian and New Zealand partners and IBM's 350 local developer partners, many of them overlapping, will be classified under three new partner tiers; Member, Advanced and Premier.
The Member category is the entry level to the program and provides partners with access to Lotus and IBM technology. Participants will only able to stay members for 12 months. "Previously partners could join the program and sit there indefinitely. We would like them to now become actively technically competent and certified and move onto the next level within 12 months," Blunt said.
Advanced partners need to show a strong commitment to IBM and Lotus software by using it internally as well as showing a high level of competency proven through certification.
Premier members are the elite of the program and will focus on solution deployment and service delivery.
"Previously IBM and Lotus soft-ware focused on our partners being technically competent. But under the PartnerWorld program we are broadening this criteria to include the four Cs; commitment, contribution, competency and customer satisfaction," Blunt said.
In return, Lotus and IBM will provide partners with access to $US100,000 worth of software, sales and promotional assistance, up to 40 free support incidents, financial assistance with technical training and regular communication and access to IBM and Lotus.