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5 Channel Ops: IBM Smart Cities, Teradata + Facebook, AWS

Lorna GareyOutgoing Cisco CEO John Chambers led his last quarterly earnings call this week. He’s leaving on a high note — numbers were good overall, UCS now has 43,800 customers, 34 percent of them repeat, and Cisco is the market share leader in x86 blades in the U.S. Who’d have predicted that a few years ago? It was also a good quarter for collaboration and services. A full transcript is here, via SeekingAlpha.

One area where Chambers took a few gleeful swipes: white boxes. “Our margins on the switching actually were at the higher end of our range,” he said. “They’ve been remarkably consistent for the last eight quarters. So all this garbage about new players coming in and software coming in and white label killing our approach was entirely wrong.” Chambers also cited the company’s unified platform approach, saying that architectures “beat white label and free software,” and played up convergence and the potential of the Internet of Things. “We spent the last 20 years moving everything to IP,” he said. “As 50 billion more devices come online, we have a strong hand to play, and we are playing it. We are driving outcomes for our customers through architectures. This is how we differentiate against white label and single-product companies.” Chambers also cited the deal with Microsoft Azure and continued investment in OpenStack Private Cloud Solutions, which the company announced at its recent partners conference.

Like Your New Marketing BFF?

Facebook’s content hosting agreement with The New York Times and eight other publishers is a big deal. The upshot: Facebook gets to keep its 1.5 billion active users tucked snugly within its walled garden as they consume information, rather than passing users off to the originating site. Today, that information is select Times and Atlantic stories. Tomorrow, it could be a documentary produced and distributed by Facebook, similar to Amazon Prime content.

What that means for anyone marketing goods or services is that Facebook plans to keep users in its system. No doubt the other big social sites will have their own stickiness strategies, so you need an effective social marketing plan.

Think about how selling on Facebook works now. You do some research on spring jackets, purchase one and show it off to your friends. Then, for weeks, Facebook shows you more spring jackets. It’s the definition of reactionary and wasted marketing budget. In fact, an IBM/eConsultancy study found that only 35 percent of consumers say the communications they receive from their favorite brands are relevant, and four out of five believe brands fail to understand them as individuals.

Big data analytics company Teradata thinks it can do better via its new Social Advertising Capability on Facebook. The plan is to help marketing pros “deliver highly targeted Facebook advertising as part of an integrated, omni-channel solution that incorporates social advertising with email, mobile and web,” said Teradata in its release. Translated, it wants to help you pull together a data-based campaign so well-tailored that customers don’t even notice how creepily accurate it is. Essentially, Teradata will help create “Facebook custom audience” profiles to predictively target potential customers. The new offering is available now as an add-on feature within Teradata’s Digital Marketing Center. The Digital Marketing Center is delivered in a SaaS-based model, and Teradata has partner opportunities for channel firms with software, digital and mobile practices. Details are here.

IBM Hits the Road

Do you do business in Denver, Detroit, Memphis or Rochester, New York? These are the four U.S. cities that won grants in IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge, announced this week. While in the past IBM’s channel has not been involved in the program, a spokesman told me that partners are encouraged to recommend local solutions to local problems.

In the coming year, IBM will send teams of experts to the four U.S. cities, along with a dozen more global municipalities, to advise civic leaders on using big data to help with job creation, transportation, public safety, health care and more. For the first time, that expert team will include Watson, and Detroit and Memphis will receive access to historic and current Twitter data pertaining to their cities. IBM says each consulting engagement has a value of $500,000.

The Smarter Cities Challenge teams consult with local officials, citizens, businesses and nonprofits in each winning city and crunch data about a critical issue facing the municipality. The end product is a road map on how the city can improve. As examples, IBM cites Birmingham, Alabama, rolling out mobile food markets in underserved neighborhoods to address local health challenges and helping Knoxville, Tennessee, secure $7.12 million to insulate 615 local homes and boost energy efficiency education.

If your territory includes one of the four winning cities and have an innovative idea to use data to solve a pressing problem, let IBM know. You can also follow progress on Twitter.

AWS Names First White-Label MSP

This week Day1 Solutions announced that it’s the first member of the AWS Partner Network (APN) to be recognized for white-label managed service capabilities as part of the AWS Managed Service Program.

To enter the AWS Managed Service Program, a partner must pass a rigorous third-party audit. Mike Bradicich, vice president, cloud managed services at Day1, told me that the company is looking to work with other channel companies in two ways. First, providers engage Day1 as an MSP partner to deliver, under the partner’s brand, a package including email, ticketing and a dedicated 24×7 support line based in the U.S. The company will also inherit controls at two levels to help APN partners pass the AWS Managed Service Program audit. White-label managed services allow for faster entry to the AWS program versus hiring staff or doing training internally, said Bradicich.

If you haven’t checked out AWS’ partner options lately, it may be worth taking a look. The company has expanded its technology partner roster and just launched a series of APN How-to Guides, in addition to the existing free marketing tools.

Plus: Speaking of free guides check out Microsoft’s series of 11 how-to webinars on using intellectual property and recurring revenues to establish a profitable and sustainable business model.

Dell Vet: $1 Billion by 2020

Know a woman with a great idea but no funding? TheEmpowering a Billion Women by 2020 movement, led by Ingrid Vanderveldt, former entrepreneur-in-residence of Dell, along with partners including Dell Financial Services, Frost & Sullivan and cloud accounting software provider Xero, this week announced its “Business in a Box” software platform as well as a $100 million IV Credit Fund.

The software package integrates select finance and other technologies to help entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground, or take them to the next level, while the fund, backed in part by Dell Financial Services, is looking to build a portfolio of relationships with fast-growth startups that have at least 51 percent women in the C-suites by lending up to $100 million over the next 12 months.

“Our business goal by 2020 is to get $1 billion of credit into the hands of women, enabling them to gain access to up to $10 billion worth of support and infrastructure to build their ventures,” said Vanderveldt in a statement. “With that, we expect them to generate up to $100 billion in global market by providing women with the tools, technology and resources they need to succeed.”

Beyond just software, EBW matches entrepreneurs with experts to help set financial goals and recommends technology solutions from trusted partners. If you’re looking for funding, or to get involved in a program that can do some social good, this is a great opportunity. “Women-led companies are among the fastest growing entrepreneurial segments,” said Darren Fedorowicz, executive director of Dell Financial Services. “By providing financing options, we can help qualified companies access the scalable technology and capital they need to grow.”

Plus: KPMG announced this week that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Duke Energy President and CEO Lynn Good will keynote its inaugural Women’s Leadership Summit, held next month in conjunction with the Women’s PGA Championship. Other speakers and panelists include KPMG U.S. chairman and CEO-elect Lynne Doughtie, Frontier Communications executive chairman Maggie Wilderotter and Nasdaq President Adena Friedman. 

Quantum Revenue Leaps

If you needed more proof that scale-out and software-defined storage is hot, take a look at Quantum’s revenue trajectory. In a release, the company said that for FY 2015, revenue from its scale-out storage products and related services grew 74 percent over the prior year, with increasing momentum quarter by quarter. After growing 41 percent in Q1, revenue increased 58 percent and 77 percent in Q2 and Q3, respectively, and then 116 percent in the fourth quarter.

To meet that demand, the number of channel partners reselling its scale-out storage offerings grew too, by 38 percent.

Quantum has a diverse product portfolio, including high-performance and object storage, intelligent tiering software and backup and disaster recovery for physical, virtual and cloud, so it’s a viable partner whether your customer base is SMB, enterprise or verticals such as finance, government or health care. Its channel program includes a tiered validation platform to test and qualify solutions.

Follow executive editor @LornaGarey on Twitter.


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