IBM promises ‘extreme makeover’ to partner program

LAS VEGAS — In a move one executive likened to holding out an olive branch to its VARs, IBM on Tuesday said it will greatly expand the offerings of its Global Services division for partners to resell to small and mid-size clients.


is the IBM extreme makeover,” said James Corgel, vice-president of business lines and strategy for IBM Global Services (IGS) Americas.

“We need to change the way our clients view us together as a powerful set of teams to drive their profitability and growth,” he told attendees at the company’s annual PartnerWorld conference.

IBM has been transferring its emphasis on deriving revenue from selling hardware to selling services through IGS and its Business Consulting divisions for several years. At the same time it’s encouraging its partners to increase their services revenue. Generally, IGS has been focused on the lucrative enterprise market.

However, the company realizes that the SMB market will grow faster than that segment. So it’s turning to resellers to help get a big slice of outsourced services it believes SMBs will want.

One of the first offerings, all to be branded under the umbrella of IBM Express Managed Services, will be an e-mail managed service.

Also to be made available will be a preconfigured version of SAP’s All In One enterprise resource management application, a solution aimed at mid-sized companies.

Corgel also said that there will be a program to encourage collaboration with regional systems integrators to deliver services.

Through local teaming these integrators will have access to IBM’s sales force, benefit from its marketing and lead generation, the company said.

There will also be sales agent training programs for resellers to learn how to sell IGS hosting and strategic outsourcing services to SMBs.

Corgel said IBM is spending US$300 million to set up these programs, including training and marketing efforts.

Noting that IBM is closing a US$182 million purchase of Corio Inc., a company that hosts application services for solutions from SAP, Siebel and Oracle, Corgel said “we are moving quickly to an asset-based, rapidly-developed, inexpensively-delivered, brand-new model of service delivery.”

IGS will work with partners to develop the services it believes they can sell, he added.

There were no details on when services will be available to partners in Canada, nor were there details on pricing.

Gartner analyst Michael Haines said in an interview that the challenge for IBM will be to assess with partners where their services complement those offered by partners, and where they conflict.

Right now, he added, about five per cent of IGS’ revenues are partner-related, and it won’t rise by much. However, he said, if it tops at 10 or 15 per cent, that will be a big increase to IBM’s bottom line.

“If IBM has enough of a menu of services for partners to chose from then most of them should find something to pick from,” he said.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer. Former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, Howard has written for several of ITWC's sister publications, including Before arriving at ITWC he served as a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times.

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