IBM unveils new partner resources at Impact 2010

LAS VEGAS – IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)unveiled new resources to help its partner community grow their businesses, including direct access to IBM software lab experts, social media tools on the PartnerWorld Community, and cloud computing certifications.

The IBM Technical and Industry Advocates program gives about 5,000 authorized business partners from 70 countries access to the company’s 70 software labs around the world.

The resource allows partners to tap into more than 50 years of experience through resources like IBM Fellows and industry experts, said Sandy Carter, vice-president of IBM’s software group for business partners.

There are now four new social media tools added to the PartnerWorld Communities site, launched in 2009. This includes 17 industry-based online communities, like retail and oil and gas, where partners can communicate and discuss issues relevant to them. “These are watering holes where partners can go to chat about industry challenges, problems that they’re having, things they can work on,” said Carter.

The PartnerWorld Community now also features a Flash-based social media desktop widget that Carter said resembles a “remote control menu” to push out useful information like demos, sales materials and presentations that partners can use in their business.

But it’s a two-way street in that IBM can track statistics on downloaded information assets to ascertain partner interest and need, said Carter.

The community also now offers an Internet lead generator that pushes out to partners all leads under $50,000 received on IBM’s site. And, a new service for Web syndication and search engine optimization is designed to help partners optimize their Web sites and organize virtual events.

To help partners better support customers, the company also announced new Cloud Computing Architecture certifications created to help partners understand the various types of cloud deployments and IBM’s portfolio of offerings.

The certification was being offered live at the Impact 2010 conference where Milwaukee, Wi.-based MSI Systems Integrations was the first partner in the U.S. to get certified. Brian Bradford, the company’s System Z software representative, said customers prefer to deal with call centre staff with technical rather than just sales expertise.

Bradford said MSI Systems Integrations built its own private cloud to demonstrate the technology to customers “to show them we have the talent and expertise to work with them to potentially implement a cloud solution there.”

A Tampa, Flo.-based partner, Ultramatics Inc. plans to use the IBM Technical and Industry Advocates program to help its customers get more value from their services-oriented architecture investments.

“Having direct access to the software labs really gives us the credibility as well as our customers the confidence that we can help them successfully deliver even the most complex and unique use cases,” said Dana Levy, Ultramatics’ strategic alliance manager.

CrossView Inc., a New York-based partner that offers cross channel retail services such as through the Web and kiosks, uses the search engine optimization tools to promote brand awareness. It’s great for lead generation especially among potential customers who may not know the company, said Mark Fodor, CEO of CrossView. “It gives the ability for them to find us when they’re looking for a solution,” said Fodor.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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