By Kate Woolley, GM, IBM Ecosystem
The past three months have been transformative for the IBM Ecosystem. Our investment in the ecosystem is deeper than ever before, and momentum is accelerating across all partner types as they continue to scale and innovate. This demonstrates their commitment to clients, deep expertise and hunger to collaborate and co-create with us. Thanks to each of our partners and the many IBMers working alongside them, we’ve accomplished some incredible things. Here are some key takeaways on just how far we’ve come together.
- Programs for partners must be built with partners
The role of partnership is more important than ever today, especially when it comes to bringing client solutions to market faster. This is why we have accelerated the expansion of our ecosystem and taken major steps to make it easier for partners to work with IBM. Chief among these steps was the launch of IBM Partner Plus™ in January. IBM Partner Plus is the catalyst for our accelerated investment and growth in the IBM Ecosystem for 2023 and beyond. The program reimagines how we engage with partners by providing more access, enhanced support and benefits, and competitive incentives (whether they build, sell or service IBM technologies) across software and infrastructure. This was created for our partners, with our partners.
No matter a partner’s size or location, they will all experience an integrated and transparent program designed to give partners more control of their growth by deepening their technical expertise, accelerating time to market and winning with clients. For example, we are now giving our partners more expertise through skilling (providing the same training and sales enablement that IBMers have access to) at no cost to them. Gaining expertise or building solutions is core to the new program, which helps partners unlock specialized benefits and demand generation programs that offer up to a threefold increase in total investment from IBM.
- Early numbers are encouraging
Part of getting “it” right for our new program was defining a focus, and our focus is our partners. To demonstrate, I want to share some highlights that have encouraged me:
- It’s been one year since we introduced deal sharing, and since then, we have integrated partners into more than 23,000 deals valued at over USD 2.8 billion.
- Our new skilling has created more opportunities for partners looking to grow their expertise, to the tune of almost 45,000 individuals starting their learning journey since launch.
- We’ve also seen the addition of over 1,400 registered partners since the new program was announced.
These highlights are a powerful testament to the work our partners are doing to grow and create momentum for themselves and their clients.
- This is a journey—with exciting updates along the way
This month we’re launching new parts of our program. Based on partner feedback, we’ve created a simple incentives stack across software and infrastructure that maximizes transparency and predictability. It provides a clear line of sight into how a partner’s business decisions impact the incentives they receive, including how to maximize incentives and eligibility. Partners can start earning in the new incentives program on day 1 of joining as an IBM partner, making it easier than ever to scale their growth. Partners can also maximize new program offerings through the new Value Seller Tool, which provides upfront discounts on infrastructure and services.
Partner Plus hasn’t just added to and simplified an existing partner program; it is a significant change in how we work together:
- We’ve increased the resources supporting the IBM Ecosystem. Last year we doubled the amount of brand-specialized resources and increased our technical resources by 35 percent. In January of this year, we increased resources by another 50 percent.
- We’ve amplified our marketing efforts by increasing the direct investments we’re making in the demand generation program campaigns and giving our partners access to our Demand Engine and our Marketing Kits.
- The IBM Partner Portal rounds out the partner experience and is a critical tool for how we engage moving forward. Some recent updates that partners can enjoy include visibility into how they are scaling through the program tiers and access to a live dashboard that shows how much they are earning.
- Our partners value transparency and simplicity
You’ve heard my thoughts on how the new program is coming to life, but I thought it’d be helpful to share perspectives from others in the IBM Ecosystem:
“IBM Partner Plus demonstrates that IBM listened to the partner experience and designed a modern program with us in mind. They are supporting partners through new avenues, such as upskilling our sales teams, increasing visibility into tier progression and earning opportunities, and providing access to new businesses that can help drive our growth. It’s clear that IBM is investing in its partners’ success, and I look forward to our continued work together,” said Bo Gebbie, President of Evolving Solutions
“I believe that IBM Partner Plus, designed to help business partners to gain skills, grow faster and earn more, is a turning point in the relationship with IBM and their committed partners, like Integra … It is early still, but I believe that the new program is an important step in the IBM strategy of focusing on their ecosystem, simplifying and putting the partner as the pillar of the relationship with the customer. That’s something that partners like us were demanding from IBM,” said Felix Gil, CEO of Grupo Integra
- The best is yet to come
I’m really energized to share these highlights on behalf of my team. Investing in our partners’ sustained success is a priority to me, and I hope many partners will see that mirrored in IBM Partner Plus. The program is our way forward, from its interconnectivity to IBM’s company priorities, to designing it with partners in mind and partner feedback at the forefront. We are continuously updating, but I am confident that we’re on the right track and we’ve created something that will help many partners.
I am motivated to continue our journey and see what success we can achieve together this year. When our partners win, we win. And this is just the beginning.