IBM wants partners to help deliver a Smarter Planet

Published: July 14th, 2009

To help end-users meet their requirements to save money, capital and overall costs, IBM (NYSE: IBM) executives are urging channel partners to embrace the company’s Smarter Planet initiative.

During a Webcast held last month, Sam Palmisano, president, CEO and chairman of IBM, said especially in these challenging economic times, partners need to utilize Smarter Planet to deliver better value to customers.

“IBM invests over US$2.5 billion a year in support of the IBM Business Partner Ecosystem, including co-marketing to help (partners) grow and profit,” Palmisano said.

The Smarter Planet initiative, which was introduced at the end of last year, is a strategy the company is using to help deliver its overall corporate and channel value. Bruce Maule, worldwide director of business partner programs at IBM, says Smarter Planet is all about integrating the physical and digital worlds together.

“Smarter Planet is an overall strategy that encompasses hardware, software and services that deliver solutions,” Maule said. “Even in these difficult times, we want partners to know there are still opportunities for us and Smarter Planet plays a big role in helping to achieve productivity gains.”

As an example, Maule says a partner may use IBM’s Smarter Planet strategy to help a customer in the healthcare field transmit information between hospitals to create better overall efficiencies.

Within IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative are four key areas, Maule explained. They include dynamic infrastructure, green and beyond, new intelligence and smart work. Dynamic infrastructure is all about getting existing computer systems to work together, usually in some sort of virtualized environment. Green and beyond focuses on driving efficiencies in the physical world, while new intelligence deals with business intelligence. Lastly, smart work includes mobile and computing devices.

Under the dynamic infrastructure part of the initiative is IBM’s Dynamic Infrastructure Specialty Program, which provides partners with training, certifications, incentives, assessment tools and more.

Partners who are certified in this program can qualify for up to $100,000 in business development funds, which can then be used on almost anything within the dynamic infrastructure area.

So far, the other three areas don’t have a specialized program; however Maule said these are something the company’s currently working on.

“Smarter Planet is a dialogue that we want our partners to have with the marketplace,” he said. “It’s where IT technology has a fundamental and transformational change on the world.”

Especially in these tough times, many governments have introduced economic stimulus programs, which Maule said presents lots of new partner opportunities. Partners who work with the government sector, power, water, education and healthcare markets will benefit the most from the businesses that are spending money, he added.

Palmisano said even though businesses are facing many difficulties these days, they’re still willing to invest in the appropriate IT solutions as long as they reduce costs, capital and drive efficiencies and productivity.

“Smarter Planet will enable (partners) to engage clients of all sizes in higher-value discussions by focusing on the entire enterprise (so they can) act as a true consultant,” Palmisano said.

Moving forward, Maule said IBM will continue to invest more “energy and time” into other Smarter Planet themes and the solutions that will respectively fall beneath it.

“Smarter Planet is a great way for our partners to have conversations with their customers to bring solutions together,” Maule said.

Rich Hume, general manager, global business partners, IBM, said Smarter Planet will encourage partners to create new dialogues with their customers, which will ultimately lead to expanded sales opportunities.