Rometty carries on Palmisano’s course for IBM, partners

NEW ORLEANS — With her first chance to address the vendor’s channel partners as a whole since she succeeded Sam Palmisano in January, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) president and CEO Virginia Rometty used her keynote speech at the PartnerWorld Leadership Conference Wednesday to pledge her allegiance to the channel and largely reaffirm the long-term course set by her predecessor.

Rometty, a 30-year IBM veteran who has spent half her career in sales and distribution and the other half in services, began by assuring partners that major changes would not be forthcoming; particularly to IBM’s commitment to the channel.

“Our commitment to business partners will not change. It will grow stronger. You’re 20 per cent of our revenue and you’re 120,000 strong around the world,” said Rometty. “I will be relentless about giving you high-value leads and integrated offerings, and taking you with us. Our commitment to business partners will only grow.”

IBM will also continue its shift to higher value business, said Rometty, and will stay focused on the growth plays Palmisano outlined at last year’s partner conference, such as cloud computing and analytics.

Several executives at PartnerWorld also reaffirmed that IBM’s decision to shift away from PCs was the right decision, and Rometty told partners she believes a new era of computing is emerging, one that will open new markets and new clients for IBM and its partners. She sees it revolving around big data, with decision-making moving from the back-office to the front-office.

“Analytics is the silver thread that will weave through much of what we do in the future,” said Rometty. “Data is the world’s next great natural resource.”

Rometty told partners that a key new customer for analytics will be the chief marketing officer, who will increasingly be looking for customer intelligence to make better marketing decisions and will have the budget to pull the trigger on IT purchases. She also promised certifications for social business, IBM’s vision for social media in the enterprise, and more support for marketing in the SMB segment.

A day earlier, IBM launched new incentives to encourage partners to sell both hardware and software together in a solution-based selling approach. CDN spoke with two Canadian partners with two different perspectives to get their take on the new program.

Serti Informatique Inc. of Montreal is a software developer with a solution for automotive dealers that combines both hardware and software; Francis Gingras, vice-president of sales and business development, wants to see the fine print but expects it will help make their solution more cost-competitive. And based in St. Laurent, Que., PCD Solutions is a more traditional infrastructure provider and co-president and founder Pierre Cayouette said while there are other factors to consider before he’d get more involved in the hardware side, the incentives do help sweeten the pot.

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN.

Photo credit: Sophie Elgort/IBM Corp.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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