IBM's PartnerWorld program has revved up another notch with the launch of an e-business certification program designed to educate IBM partners about the merits of e-business.
Announced this week at IBM's Solution 99 conference, the certification program is IBM's attempt to bring its partners up to speed on the intricacies of e-business.
The program is divided into two main areas of sales certification and technical certification.
IBM announced PartnerWorld as a massive worldwide initiative in May this year to streamline its partner programs and classifications, which currently involves over 45,000 members and accreditations across the globe.
"When we established PartnerWorld we knew it was going to be huge so we had to establish continuous proof points," explained Ian Bonner, vice president, marketing, global business partners, IBM.
"Our e-business certification program front-ends our whole value proposition to our partners."
According to Bonner, e-business is a fundamental component of ParnterWorld's and IBM's general strategy.
"About 25 per cent of IBM's revenue comes from e-business and that will continue to grow. Yet our partners are still unable to walk into a customer and tell them what they can do with e-business, how they can do it and how they can make money from it," Bonner said.
"Previously e-business was defined by each individual experience," he continued. "IBM has provided an e-business framework that teaches partners how to provide an e-business solution to customers, execute that proposal and become an e-business themselves."
Bonner stressed that Australian businesses needed to skill up quickly because even though it has a high technology take-up rate, it lacks the skill to implement e-business practices.
"Australia's infrastructure is an inhibitor, as are the distances involved there. But mainly it is the lack of skills that is inhibiting the uptake of e-business in Australia," Bonner said.
He suggested that less than the top 100 companies in Australia were capable of e-business education, sales and integration.
These pockets of resistance to e-business explain why IBM is aggressively marketing the training certification to all of its existing customers and any potential partners, from Web integrators and developers through to small business partners.
"We developed a program called StartNow about four months ago," Bonner said. "It packaged an NT server, sample applications and services together so that a business could get on the Web cheaply," Bonner said of IBM's philosophy to "train as many people as we can because the backlog in the e-business space accounts for billions of dollars".