IBM overhauls its partner program, launches new initiative

IBM Corp. today released details of IBM Partner Plus, a new channel program it said is designed to fuel growth for new and existing partners that include resellers, hyperscalers, technology providers, independent software vendors, and systems integrators.

According to the company, the initiative is central to its hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) strategy, and “aims to empower partners to help clients automate, secure and modernize their businesses.”

A main ingredient of IBM Partner Plus is a tiering program: “By growing technical expertise and demonstrating sales success, participants can progress to three tiers – Silver, Gold and Platinum – which unlock specialized financial, go-to-market support, and education benefits,” a release issued this morning by IBM stated.

“In the new program, badging will become the standardized measure of skills, and validated solutions will demonstrate expertise. The enhanced IBM Partner Portal consolidates and tracks all expertise, revenue, and deals globally, offering each partner a clear line-of-site into their progression through the program.”

The program, said Kate Woolley, general manager of IBM ecosystem, introduces a new way for the company to deliver value to new and existing partners by helping them gain skills, grow faster, and earn more.

“We have hybrid cloud and AI as the foundation of everything we are doing. And we are investing in areas such as data, automation, security, and modernization. And this all comes together in how we support our clients to transform their businesses.

“The second priority for IBM is around transforming our go-to-market. This is about technical expertise and innovation, and how we can get that into the hands of our clients faster. And then our third priority is around our ecosystem, and an open ecosystem. We cannot be leaders in hybrid cloud and AI without a thriving ecosystem.”

Asked by CDN during a press conference about the level of partner involvement in creating the new model, which will replace PartnerWorld, Woolley said the company worked “hand-in-hand” with a broad group of partners.

Partners involved in the program, IBM said, will have the opportunity to access:

  • Competitive incentives: Get real-time visibility into earnings and deal eligibility.
  • Enhanced support: Leverage global technical resources to differentiate and close deals faster.
  • Insider access: Receive the same education programs and hands-on training as those who work at IBM.

The latter specifically, said Woolley, is “about how we work with our partners. We are giving (them) access to the same education and programs and hands-on training that IBMers get, free of charge.

“We announced that back in October, and we already have 9,000 partners engaged in building their proficiency with IBM. This is also about how we engage with our partners. We have the partner portal, which is a single point of engagement for our partners. It puts all of our tools and resources at our partners’ fingertips. It is easy to navigate. It is a one stop shop.

“This is where our partners can come for deal registration, an incentives dashboard, and expertise tracking. They can engage with IBMers through that dashboard, and it gives them a clear line of sight to their progression where they can track expertise, they can track their revenue; they can track their deals.”

As for enhanced support, said IBM, partners “can grow skills, develop solutions, and build sales expertise with technologies like AI, security, and cloud, on an open hybrid cloud platform by leveraging experts from IBM.”

The company said it will also “assist partners in the development of proofs of concept and custom demos to help them win client businesses and accelerate growth. In addition, as partner businesses grow with IBM, they can unlock additional benefits designed to help them expand capabilities and find new clients.”

Bo Gebbie, president of Evolving Solutions, a hybrid cloud and infrastructure services provider based in Minneapolis, MN, said IBM is “more serious than ever about putting partners first. They have listened to our feedback, and it is reflected in the new partner experience that makes it easy for us to collaborate, rewards our investments and fuel growth.”

Plans call for IBM’s PartnerWorld to transition to Partner Plus today, with the new incentive program taking effect on Apr. 1. Registered PartnerWorld members will maintain their current tier through July 1 and will be able to progress to the new tiering system during this time as they meet criteria, IBM said.

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Paul Barker
Paul Barker
Paul Barker is the founder of PBC Communications, an independent writing firm that specializes in freelance journalism. He has extensive experience as a reporter, feature writer and editor and has been covering technology-related issues for more than 30 years.

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