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Big Blue has an Information Agenda

IBM says partners can find success helping SMBs be more efficient with their data

Las Vegas — IBM (NYSE: IBM) used its Information on Demand conference this week to usher in the age of the “Information Agenda” in front of 7000 partners and customers in Las Vegas.

The concept of the “information agenda” represents a different approach to the way organizations interact and use data to address business challenges. The shift is towards using the information to create effective business strategies. While seeming like common sense, this notion is indicative of a changing approach in which IT departments store, approach and use information. Businesses are full of information. The goal of the information agenda is to get managers to think about the data in a different manner, to shift away from “storing” to “using” the information – thereby ensuring that it is dynamic, useful, valuable, and relevant.

The key phrase being “optimization” – IBM wants organizations to better use their data. According to IBM, there is tremendous growth in the area of business optimization – an 11.1 per cent CCR growth rate globally, in a market of US$117 billion. This growth figure was contrasted against the growth rate of “business automation” – which is more of the legacy approach of selling/acquiring hardware and software. At US$594 billion US, business automation is the larger market. The growth rate is smaller, however, at 5.1 per cent CGR.

It’s an “old” idea, “to analyze data and use [it] for business strategy,” said Steve Mills, senior vice-president and group executive, IBM. The challenge arises in the vast type of data currently available. From text, audio, video, there has been a “widening out [of] the types of information and data”. The vast amount – and types – of data pose challenges for IT departments in all organizations – with the larger companies experiencing the greater number of challenges.

All of this approach sounds high level and not necessarily relevant for the small and medium business (SMB) landscape that is the Canadian businesses scene. Not so is the case said Michael Lenhardt, IBM software business development manager with Synnex Canada.

“Perception is the primary barrier to increased adoption of IBM software in Canada,” he said. Quite simply, Microsoft is recognized as being the SMB solution, while IBM is recognized as being the large enterprise solution. IBM’s challenge lies in gaining headspace within the SMB market.

This is where the reseller partner community can play a substantial role and reap benefits. IBM offers “enabling sessions” across Canada –which are educational opportunities for partners to learn more about what IBM offers. Aside from the time investment, there is little financial cost to the partner. This lies outside of the IBM Business Partner program – which is free join, and can offer increased in-depth training.

Aside from providing valuable solutions for the customer, financial benefits exist for working with IBM and a value-added distributors such as Synnex, suggestd Lenhardt. The VAD brings opportunities and suggestions for business process improvements to the partner community.

Working together, in this case within the IBM partner ecosystem, the combination of VADs, reseller partners and IBM, share the objective of providing technological solutions to the end-client, to address key concerns for improving business processes.