IBM Puts Its Money Where Its Mouth Is: Major Investments In Simplicity

May 19, 2010 at 8:53 am Leave a comment

Global PartnerWorld Program Streamlined and Multiple Partner Transactional Models Recognized

Beth Vanni – Director, Market Intelligence

The big theme around the halls of Big Blue these days? Extreme Simplification. Yes, the computing behemouth has been focused heavily these past 3-5 years on really being easier to do business with. Really. No small feat for a company with five huge independent business units (hardware, software, services, developer relations and mid-market) and which posts more than $12 billion dollars in net income for an average quarter (yes, quarter, not year).

In today’s announcements, the global partner team has taken an important next step in simplifying and streamlining the way their global PartnerWorld program recognizes partner value and offers up benefits. There are now four consistent criteria for PartnerWorld advancement, authorization and access to benefits – globally. Across all partner segments. In all geos (with minor modifications). For every product category. Think about that. Write it down. It’s a big deal.

The four criteria are skills, revenue, client references and customer satisfaction. Now, those elements aren’t new. But, one thing that is new is that two new types of transactional models count in earning program benefits, namely sales influence and application-specific licenses. The latter is when ISVs or other OEMs require IBM’s infrastructure software for their specific application to run. Their products either bundle with or require an IBM license to run. Those partnering revenue streams were tracked in the past, but didn’t “count” dollar for dollar with traditional resale or sell-in revenues. This change essentially puts SI’s and ISVs on an equal volume-based footing with more traditional reselling partner types. Easy to say, and MUCH harder to execute, especially when it comes to revenue tracking systems.

The other new simplified program benefit related to revenue is the company’s mid-market accelerator. Basically, a sale to a mid-market account earns 3x as many points toward program performance criteria than a sale to any other customer segment. Time will tell how clean the company’s tracking mechanisms are in capturing all those sales at that multiplier. But, the ability for any product sale from any partner type to carry a simplified weighting in a global program structure is a beautiful thing. Bottom line, general business accounts have always been important to IBM. Now, mid-market accounts (within general business) are clearly going to pull big weight in the program.

Another high-impact way simplicity is being packed in the new PartnerWorld program structure is in the form of access to IBM execs. A senior IBM leader is now assigned to each business partner at the Premier Level. That’s about 2300 partners. These execs’ job? To present “one IBM” to the business partner, build a more streamlined and integrated IBM brand presence within that business partner and make the partners’ life easier. It should be interesting to see how many “extreme simplification” realities become the topic of discussion with these partner-accountable execs. As further evidence to their commitment of people, the PartnerWorld Contact Services team has been enhanced, for business partners of all levels. IBM’ers are now accessible by telephone, live chat and email, all in local languages.

Now, IBM is one of those large entities that has chosen to stick with a points-based program structure, for purposes of recognizing partner investments and performance. And, points based systems are never perfect, and are rarely “simple.” And, yes, the program criteria for earning points across these four categories does take some close scrutiny and planning. But, Rome wasn’t built in a day either. Even though few would describe IBM as a “simple” company to do business with, progress is clearly being made.

If you think your company has significant ease of doing business challenges, consider IBM’s hill to take on this issue. Today’s announcements included all 7 of the company’s business units. The program overhaul had an executive leadership team of 5. The core cross-functional team was made up of 35, with an extended execution team of hundreds. This team had 7 parallel projects executed over an 8 month time period. There were seven major enhancement announced for business partners just to the Partnerworld web portal.

To talk further with Amazon Consulting channel experts about channel ease-of-doing-business and our methodology for helping IT vendors create and achieve impactful results in this area, email me at It’s that simple….

Official IBM Press Release

See Also: The Cost of Complexity – Executive Brief

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