IBM reaffirms commitment to channel

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IBM has a global ecosystem of over 130 000 partners, says Mark Hennessy, GM of Global Business Partners at IBM, speaking at the IBM PartnerWorld Leadership Conference, in Las Vegas, this week.

He said the company's partner ecosystem is critically important "because of the client insight they have, the relationships they have with clients, and the skills they bring to market".

Partners are essential to the company's go-to-market strategy, said Hennessy, and each division of the company - hardware, software and services - must increase their participation rates with partners if the company is to achieve its objectives for the next few years. "We can't be successful unless the partner network is successful as well," he said.

As IBM mentions its commitment to transformation, Hennessy said many of the company's partners are transforming as well. "Many are transforming their businesses to a higher level of value," he said.

Hennessy said there are several things IBM is doing to facilitate this transformation. The first is to continue to improve the company's offerings. "From an offering standpoint, we clearly have a set of market-leading capabilities around the infrastructure in terms of smarter computing and integrated infrastructure," he said. "We have a huge portfolio of software capabilities, and we're enhancing that all the time with acquisitions."

The second focus area is on helping its partners get into new markets and obtain new buyers. Hennessy said: "Growth markets are a huge opportunity," adding that the company's geographic expansion is being driven, largely, by business partners.

The third aspect is the company's focus on what it considers to be the four most important IT growth areas: cloud, social, big data analytics and mobile. "Analytics for the IBM company in 2012 grew 13% and business partners were a big reason why. We now have 26 000 partners engaged in analytics. We have eight global analytics centres."

The last, says Hennessy, is "simplifying day-to-day operations". He said: "We've simplified programmes and support. We listened carefully to partners." The company makes $4 billion available for global partner financing, and has made its online financing capabilities available on mobile devices. He adds the company is increasing its technical support for partners, with some departments increasing their dedicated partner tech support resources by 50%.

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