IBM yesterday announced in Australia the advent of its reinvented channel strategy, PartnerWorld, which will extend its reach to IBM's entire global network of 45,000 resellers and partners over the next two years.
Attempting to outdo rivals in the frantic race to adopt and deploy Internet-based business and technology, IBM is simplifying its existing 50 partner programs, claiming they are displaced geographically and categorically.
According to Kathleen Bailey, IBM's managing director, distribution channel, ANZ, the universal program will unite the previously disparate service, software and PC partners under one simplified banner. "PartnerWorld will instead be divided into four tracks: system and services, software, personal systems and solution developments. Partners can choose which track they wish to apply for and they will then be judged on the four c's: customer satisfaction, competency, commitment and contribution," explained Bailey.
IBM is anticipating that this policy will move it away from its traditional product base and into what Bailey describes as "a program designed around solutions, particularly e-business offerings. PartnerWorld will allow partners to deliver standard solutions across all brands."
Bailey is adamant that this is not a channel rationalisation, rather it is a "marketing and enablement program designed specifically to help our partners participate in e-business and secondly help them deliver IBM products". To this end, Bailey insists that existing partners will be given every opportunity to realign themselves under the new structure. "A lot of this change has been driven by our partners wanting to help their customers move from legacy systems into new e-business options." There will also be "more initiatives to encourage new partners", according to Bailey.
Partners will be sorted into three tiers: members, advanced members and premier members, depending on their aptitude in each of the four c's. "At the member level a partner has sales and marketing information delivered electronically, they get self-help support through IBM's Web portal and they can enhance their skills and education through seminars and training. In addition to this, the advanced level offers enhanced leads and you earn the entitlement to use IBM's brand and participate in cooperative marketing programs. You get training, technical support and software to use internally. The premier level gives you all this plus priority leads and market plan development assistance, all with the goal of helping partners take on solution portfolios," said Bailey.
PartnerWorld will revolve around a common technology infrastructure that supports IBM's online portal through which partners can access "enhanced information and support", according to Bailey.