IBM tweaks partner programme structure

IBM announced several tweaks to its channel partners programme on Monday, continuing an overhaul it discussed in March at its PartnerWorld conference.

IBM announced several tweaks to its channel partners programme on Monday, continuing an overhaul it discussed in March at its PartnerWorld conference.

Starting around the middle of the year, IBM will scrap the four individual tracks within its PartnerWorld programme, creating instead a single programme. Previously, partners enrolled in one or more of IBM's Systems and Services, Software, Personal Systems and Developers tracks, each of which had its own membership criteria and benefits. That system became jumbled as an increasing number of partners joined multiple tracks, spokesman Michael Maloney said.

IBM will also adjust the formula it uses to calculate its partners' membership levels, which it categorises as "member”, "advanced" and "premier”.

Previously, the partner's revenue contribution to IBM was the primary criterion; now, other factors including the partner's skills and customer satisfaction levels will also be evaluated, Maloney said.

While those changes will be phased in over the next few months, others are effective now. IBM introduced a revamped PartnerWorld Web site to streamline access to its content, and has begun offering an optional "PartnerWorld Value Package" priced at US$2,000 per firm. That fee buys entry to a variety of IBM services and assistance, including access to sales and marketing centres, reimbursements for some training and certification costs, and some free software from IBM's portfolio.

The add-on value package has been available for several years to IBM's software group partners. "We thought it was a pretty good idea, so we added some hardware and services features and made it available to everyone," Maloney said.

IBM's move to eliminate tracks from the PartnerWorld programme does not affect its newly-created vertical partner networks, Maloney said. IBM announced the networks at its PartnerWorld conference, in a move intended to help partners tap resources relevant to their industry, and to align IBM's channel structure with its internal reorganisation around industry verticals, executives said.

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