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IBM introduces three new channel programs

Marc Dupaquier, IBM worldwide channel chief

Orlando, Fla. – IBM rolled out three new channel programs to address the market opportunity with cognitive computing, cloud and data analytics at the annual PartnerWorld Leadership Conference.

These programs are not what channel partners traditionally see from vendors. The three new programs start with Partnerworld, which puts the focus on skills development, competencies and customer satisfaction over revenue. IBM worldwide channel chief Marc Dupaquier, said the new program will have revenue requirements, but they will be blended with certifications. For example, a large revenue partner may not have the certifications and competencies to reach the top tier in the Partnerworld program, whereas in previous programs it would. This new program also introduces four tiers: Registered, Silver, Gold and Platinum and these levels will carry different revenue thresholds for each region of the world. IBM also confirmed its looking for new partners and said more than 600 new players are attending the conference this year.

Dupaquier told CDN that Canadian channel partners will have their own revenue requirements and they will not be the same as those in the U.S. market.

The other two programs are SaaS Acceleration and IBM LinuxOne.

The strategy behind the three plans centre around cognitive computing with the Watson Group along cloud services and data analytics. Dupaquier described these programs as more than just product reselling.

“We completely redefined the curriculum to help the partners understand the investments should be made to build up the skills of a partner,” he said.

The Partnerworld program will feature 44 new competencies and these will be fluid, according to Dupaquier. “We thought 44 was a good number but in a year’s time if we don’t see many solutions in one area we can reduce it or if there is more add to it.”

Channel partners will have a year to get into the Partnerworld program as Big Blue revealed the launch date to be Jan. 1, 2017.

Timothy Kreytak, CEO of current IBM Premier partner Ironside of Lexington, Mass., told CDN the new Partnerworld program will help his company differentiate in the marketplace as well as help establish the business at the Platinum level.

“We are going to fit the level on our revenue and certifications, which is analytics and not infrastructure,” he said.

As far as the incentives go Kreytak said he is optimistic as IBM transitions from perpetual licenses to SaaS similar to what other vendors have done.

“This is a challenging time, but I am optimistic that IBM will share the revenue during the transition. This is a shift to align with digital sales over relationship sales. There are longer terms costs to deal with and we had to change the way we compensate our sales people along with cash flow. I’m not sure how this will all play out but I believe IBM will share margin with the channel to help bridge the transition,” he said.

Dupaquier made it clear during his press session that he is not interested in partners who provide just fulfillment services.

Each year IBM loses partners because they stick to the fulfillment model. “It’s not where we are today,” Dupaquier said.

“I’m not interested in the fulfillment channel. They will need certifications. This is a closed model, not an open one. But they will get full autonomy and business value. The view here is to be meaningful,” he added.

In terms of program benefits, Partnerworld will boost benefits at each level and again it will not be solely based on revenue. Instead, IBM will provide more support such as access to computing architects for Gold and Platinum-level partners.