Impact: Driving Growth and Delivering Value Leveraging IBM's Partner Resources
- May 3, 2010
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(Editors note: After a whirlwind 3 days, without a wireless connection for the entire event, I’m just now catching up on writing about the sessions I attended)
The second session I attended was a session by Shaun Jones and Mike Riegel on how to leverage IBM’s many partner resources to drive growth and value. First a round of introductions – would have gone quickly if not for late arrivals. Of course, not knowing anyone in this room, it was actually helpful to hear some of the introductions, where people were coming from, and why they were in the room.
There were at least two other BPM (business process) focused companies in the room. Unfortunately I missed the names of the firms but I’ll have to try to track them down.
The “Smarter Planet” messaging will translate into a focus on smarter industry groups: a focus on “Smarter Banking” for example – leveraging industry frameworks to address the market, rather than total custom or total product. I know this is a positioning that the Webify/Fabric team have long been advocating – to go after industry vertical solutions.
The speakers encouraged the room to get “validated” or “certified” on one of these frameworks (like CAREfx, on the healthcare framework): Being validated will give you more engagement, more opportunity, and more marketing dollars, according to IBM.
One firm was given as an example, which used the banking framework to build a $400M pipeline in a year.
A redesign of Partner World to make it easier for people to find their way around – new user interface, but there are still some particular assets they wanted to draw attention to.
There were several “Partner Plays” to respond to particular competitive situations:
1. Smarter Commerce
2. Optimize Business Performance with Optimization
3. Connect to maximize the value of business interactions
4. Sell and win against open source competitors
The materials to support these situations can be adapted or rebranded by business partners.
An interesting case of product design debt surfaced. “Just Push Go” is the marketing equivalent of the install wizard for the Partner World website. As the number of brands and products and partner resources available to business partners has grown, the design of the site couldn’t scale to continue to make it easy for partners to get to the information they need. This is the classic product design debt problem that Andrew Chen has previously described. Just Push Go sounds like an interesting take on how to cut down on the confusion, but it sounds like some real product design effort needs to go into figuring out a site design that will be more useful. I’ll find out as I’m not a Partner and will be working through this site to find IBM resources!
There was also a discussion of cross-selling – that cross-selling products leads to disproportionately higher revenues. This makes sense (up to a point), simply because you get more efficiency from your sales efforts. There are tools to help you figure out what products are “adjacent” from a sales and marketing point of view.
IBM gave a good pitch for why all of the partners should really think about SEO. But I think one problem that larger firms have is they often explain their internal motivations at the same time: they gave the other half – why they care about partners having good SEO. There are 900 partners, imagine the noise they can create if they all do a good job promoting on the web – well, yes. But also, this raises the concern (to me) of how does a single partner stand out amongst these 900 partners. That “standing out” argument is also an argument against cross-selling and in favor of specializing in an area that doesn’t get enough attention (yet). It is part of why BP3 has and will continue to focus on BPM – it may be a big tent, but compared to IBM’s software offering it is just one sliver!
A quick aside to emphasize the value of IBM Innovation Centers. I think I just earned the price of admission to Impact right here. I knew about the innovation centers, but I didn’t understand what the rules of engagement were. I assumed that these were very expensive offerings for big partners. What I heard from this session:
- 38 innovation centers
- built exclusively for partners
- meetings, labs, demos, testing, product launch events: for free(!)
- Another office for you anywhere in the world.
That’s pretty amazing actually. NY, Chicago, San Mateo, etc – and free. Very impressed that they offer this capability, and as Shaun said: “The innovation centers aren’t just for visiting and touring – you can use these centers to grow your business.”