IBM Business Partners Weigh in on COVID-19 Relief Plan

By | Managed Services News

Apr 23

IBM business partners get immediate business support and enablement to grow tomorrow.

IBM business partners and executive channel leadership at IBM are in synch about a robust COVID-19 relief plan introduced this week. The latest pandemic response measures address the partner program, competencies, cloud and AI, and new go-to-market models.

IBM’s initial COVID-19 commitment to partners rolled out in March. A digital resource page, introduced at the time, continues to be updated.

IBM's David La Rose

IBM’s David La Rose

“How we constructed this is an important part of the discussion. We have global advisory councils, one that we updated the team on yesterday morning – North America and Europe, and Asia Pacific countries – Japan, China, and the rest of Asia in the evening,” David La Rose, general manager, partner ecosystem, told Channel Partners. “We’re hearing about partner priorities and how we’re responding. It’s a two-way street. We’re looking for feedback and dialogue about, are we doing enough and what can we press more on.”

Coming just a few weeks ahead of IBM Think 2020 – now Think Digital – scheduled for May5-6, La Rose talks about the four categories the vendor is addressing.

The first area is programs, terms and how to help stabilize the partner’s business, quickly.

IBM is extending the IBM PartnerWorld Program revalidation and certification grace period from May 5, 2020 to January 1, 2021. Partners are guaranteed that they will remain at their program tier level for the remainder of the year.

“The gates that we had for May and July have been lifted. Partners will maintain their current status,” said La Rose.

  • The use of eligible partners’ co-marketing funds is been extended.
  • IBM has added millions of dollars into the incentive portfolio for distributors and specialty partners in markets, worldwide.
  • IBM extended flexible financing options for IBM Power and IBM Storage solutions to partners and clients through IBM Global Financing.
  • The company also increased Q2 performance incentives for Power and Storage partners.

The second bucket of measure addresses developing competencies.

“Partners are telling us that they don’t have all the skills needed for today and tomorrow. And, North America is not immune to this,” said La Rose. “So, what we’re doing this year is increase the number of assets that we have and the capabilities that we have digitally. That’s around enablement, selling skills, providing visual selling activities, offering webinars on technical support, even to the extent that we’re doing proof of concepts in a virtual environment.”

Here is how IBM is addressing the area of competencies.

  • Think Digital offers partners tracks and is free.
  • Enablement webinars are available.
  • Access to key virtual selling tools are available to help partners shift from in-person selling to remote digital selling.
  • Resources to help plan/prospect and progress leads are available. There’s also information for partners on how to run a digital workshop with the Digital Technical Engagement team.

The third area of new measures address how to harness IBM’s cloud and AI portfolio. The company launched a 90-day software offerings and trials at no cost for cloud and cognitive software, for example.

“We’ve opened this up across the majority of our software portfolio. It allows the partners to act quickly, integrate that into a proposal to clients, get them online, get them to try something, it has technical capabilities built-in,” said La Rose.

From a hardware perspective, IBM put together a set of focused solutions for IBM Power, IBM Security, IBM Storage, IBM Z and LinuxONE. “There are also extended flexible financing options for [partners’] clients.”

Other new measures in this bucket:

  • IBM’s Skills for Deals program for security, valid through April 30th, lets partners follow technical skills development programs at no cost.
  • Ongoing Seismic updates.

The fourth area addressed by IBM today is enabling partners to run their own digital demand. IBM launched IBM MyDigital Marketing in February. Today there are about 1,800 partners on the platform.

“If you’re a new partner and you haven’t tried it yet, if you give this thing a shot, we’ll give you a $2,000 credit,” said La Rose.

More specifically, the My Digital Marketing promotion helps partners build and execute…

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