Big Blue has dramatically overhauled its approach to the channel with a new IBM Partner Plus programme.
This is less abstract than it may seem for IT leaders and will affect most customers, however obliquely.
The move comes as IBM has cut its direct relationships with customers from 5,000 to 400 in just two years.
(This has been to the chagrin of some senior IT leaders: At a recent dinner attended by The Stack, several CIOs lamented their inability to reach people at IBM, despite long standing relationships with the company.)
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IBM now reaches the market primarily through partners. And it says it is backing its new streamlined IBM Partner Plus programme by doubling the number of “partner-facing brand and technical specialists” it has available.
(Customers can still buy via IBM directly if they want, it says...)
For customers, it arguably still has a lot of work to do in terms of simple partner discovery.
IBM's existing parter portal offers up a rather crude search function that certainly did not surface what The Stack wanted to find: A quick list of platinum partners globally. Startling, nor was Google much help either.
There's work to do here on visibility.
The new IBM Partner Plus programme:
The new IBM Partner Plus system will offer a “a transparent, simple and modern experience” claims Big Blue.
It will also bring all partner types and programmes together into “one integrated ecosystem.”
Partners will have to demonstrate expertise to progress through silver, gold, and platinum tiers.
In terms of what it means by that "integrated ecosystem" IBM says that it "recently enabled partners in North America to resell IBM products through other cloud marketplaces. This allows for independent software vendors to embed IBM Software from partner marketplaces into their own solutions. All partner sales through the marketplace accumulate towards their progression in IBM Partner Plus" -- i.e. resellers can count sales of IBM software made through AWS Marketplace et al, as well as direct sales, toward their committed spend targets.
In a press release published by IBM on January 4, the company said: “Partners can advance through tiers to unlock benefits and demand generation programs which could offer them up to a threefold increase in total investment from IBM… gives partners real-time visibility into the incentives they are eligible for, predictability into potential earnings and includes an automated deal share engine that helps them surface quality leads.”
The new incentive programme is effective April 1, 2023: “Registered PartnerWorld members will maintain their current tier through July 1, 2023 and can progress to the new tiering system during this time” IBM said.
The co-marketing and demand generation programmes meanwhile will start on July 1, 2023, the same date by which IBM partners must meet the new tier requirements of the IBM Partner Plus programme.