IBM Worldwide Channel Chief: Big Blue Helping Partners 'Swing the Bat'

By Kelly Teal Comments
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**Editor's Note: Click here for a list of recent channel-program changes you should know.**

As cloud, analytics, mobility and other technologies reshape the IT market, so too are some industry stalwarts overhauling how they work with indirect partners. The aim, of course, is to capitalize on new revenue sources. For its part, IBM Corp. is tackling this goal in three ways that matter most to partners: by adjusting margins, by shifting how it goes to market and by bolstering support.

"IBM is transforming our business, our business partners are transforming, and it's because the marketplace is in perpetual change."

That was the word this week from David Carlquist, vice president of worldwide channels within the Systems and Technology Group, at the 2014 IBM PartnerWorld Leadership Conference in Las Vegas.

As a result of that mutual transformation, IBM continues to invest in its partners, both from a financial and skills-development perspective.

Take, for example, Big Blue's recent increases in minimum margins on power and storage platforms to 20 percent.

There's also the move to a co-sell model. As of Jan. 1, IBM rolled out that initiative, which it announced last summer, from select geographies to its entire global market. With exceptions among some government and very large accounts, IBM no longer pays its direct sales people on deals unless those reps sell with or through channel partners.

"What that has done for our business partners is, first and foremost, aligned the IBM field sellers' interest with the partners' interest," Carlquist said. "It's provided what partners tell us they want, which is clarity around our routes to market — where we want and need them to engage."

The overall intent is to "go after what we all strive for, which is growth," said Carlquist. 

With that in mind, IBM continues to augment its partner-support resources through new efforts such as the Business Transformation Initiative, a workshop that helps business partners' leadership teams plan strategies and roadmaps. IBM also is emphasizing partner skills development in the cloud, analytics, mobility and social arenas, via its Partner Technical Advocates. Finally, IBM keeps beefing up its co-marketing and demand-generation programs to help partners maximize sales.

"It's more than just pointing to the fence, it's helping them swing the bat and hit the ball over the fence," said Carlquist.

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