To celebrate its Toronto Software Laboratory’s 40th anniversary and its 90th year of Canadian operations, members from IBM’s executive team shared future business plans and channel strategies to showcase the company’s continuous commitment to innovation and customer satisfaction.During a recent event held at its Toronto Software Laboratory located in Markham, Ont., media, analysts and guests were treated to a discussion about IBM’s overall software strategy that the company assures will help both partners and the vendor drive solutions to market.
Steve Mills, senior vice-president and group executive at IBM Software Group, explained the company’s strategy is taking a new approach with its potential and existing customers.
“We want our focus to be very proactive and aggressive when it comes to establishing customer relationships around the world,” Mills said. “We have the largest software portfolio in the world made up of thousands of products that range from development tools, to system management solutions, to security. We have something to target every market.”
Based on last year’s sales, Mills said IBM’s software business has been doing extremely well, with 40 per cent of IBM’s profits being attributed to just software alone.
Gary Isaacs, director of business partners for IBM Canada, says the company looks to drive profit from all aspects of its solution portfolio and relies heavily on its partner community to help bring solutions to market.
“We’re looking to drive profit through our hardware business,” Isaacs said. “We view our business partners as our primary route to the market especially in the SMB segment. We want to grow our business in SMB by using our partners as an extension of us.”
IBM has had its eye on targeting the SMB market place for a while because they believe it’s the largest and fastest growing space in Canada.
One of the key elements for both IBM employees and partners are education and training. Isaacs says that because majority of customers are influenced by partners, partners need to be confident in knowing how and what to sell to them.
“For partners, we have an extensive list of education,” Isaacs said. “They can get certified on IBM technology and in most cases, the education that’s available is the same as the education that an IBM employee would take. Because they’re an extending arm for us, we believe their education should be the same.”
IBM’s partner community includes OEMs, SIs, ISVs and resellers and Isaacs estimates the number of partners who are authorized in hardware, software and the services segments amounts to over 1,200 members in Canada.
Among the new software innovations developed at the Toronto lab were Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and the WebSphere Integration Developer solutions that are geared towards improving business optimization.
IBM’s RFID solutions are a flexible architecture that works across platforms and works with both new and already existing applications. With these solutions, users can create, customize and monitor their business processes to efficiently manage operations.
IBM’s WebSphere Integration Developer is a tool for building SOA-based integration solutions to help businesses manage the interactions of its people, partners, services, applications and other elements to blend into one cohesive management model.
Isaacs says partners can expect higher margins on software over hardware solutions from IBM as well as other incentive opportunities.
“We have programs that let partners accumulate marketing dollars to develop marketing programs with IBM technology,” Isaacs said. “Partners can also make additional money when they identify opportunities in the SMB space, even if they don’t close them. Partners can also earn additional money if they close the sale.”
While partners have access to a variety of different IBM solutions, Isaacs says for partners, it’s important they take the time to understand all of IBM’s solution offerings in the market place. He says once they understand them, partners will be better able to integrate IBM solutions into solutions for customers.
“IBM’s whole foundation is built on the quality and execution of solutions and how we treat our partners,” Isaacs said. “We focus on maintaining our integrity and the bond that we share with our partners.”