IBM has revealed its new Partner Plus program which continues to place the ecosystem at the centre of its strategy to capture a slice of the US$1 trillion hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) market.
IBM Partner Plus is a single integrated program that covers all partner types across all sections of the ecosystem whether they build, sell or service IBM technologies. It will replace the current PartnerWorld program, with partners having until 30 June to skill up and transition across.
IBM ecosystem general manager Kate Woolley said the new program consists of three key tenets: inside access, enhanced support and benefits; and competitive incentives, marketing and demand generation support.
Analyst firm Forrester estimated in November that the public cloud market will more than double from US$446.4 billion in 2022 to cross the US$1 trillion mark by 2026.
“We are committed to growing and investing in the IBM ecosystem. It is a critical priority for IBM and this is about how we simplify the experience to deliver a transparent and predictable program for our partners, putting our partners in control of their earnings and setting them up for success,” Woolley said.
“Over the past 12 months, I've spent a lot of time with partners and I've heard that they want more simplicity and transparency in everything that we do with them.
“We've built this program hand-in-hand with our partners and they’ve been involved every step of the way.”
The program features three tiers – Silver, Gold and Platinum – offering unique levels of tailor-made benefits across each level including financial incentives, benefits and go-to-market support.
Partners will also have access to the same education programs and hands-on training that internal IBM staff receive, free of charge.
“For the very first time we're putting our partners in control of their own destiny and that starts with giving partners more access than they've ever had before,” IBM ecosystem sales general manager David La Rose said.
“We're 100 per cent committed to continuing the investment in the success of our partners. We actually have over 9,000 partners that have started their learning journey. IBM Partner Plus streamlines how we engage together.”
La Rose said the IBM partner portal puts IBM tools and resources right in the hands of partners and enables them to register deals, monitor incentives and engage directly with IBM staff who are dedicated to the partner growth.
A new partner accelerator will also be launched to help provide support, onboarding, training and a host of benefits in the first six months of a new partner joining to help them gain expertise, drive demand and realise the value and progress through the tiers, La Rose said.
“The new program also prioritises the importance of progression of our partners,” he added. “As partners gain their expertise, generate revenue and or bring validated solutions to the market, they will progress through the tiers.
“Put simply, as their goals expand so does the support that we provide them.”
For partners that both sell and service, expertise will be measured by the number of individuals that earn proficiency badges around the products that they choose to be proficient in as well as how they scale their revenue, La Rose said.
For independent software vendors (ISV) or partners that build with IBM or on IBM technology the expertise is measured around general availability of client-ready validated solutions, integrating the IBM technology and then how that is scaled together with their solution in the market.
There is also another designation called Blue that offers a level of benefits tailored to strategic IBM partners, which are vendors that partner with both IBM consulting and technology solutions such as Adobe, AWS, SAP, Samsung, Microsoft and Salesforce, among others.
“We've identified specific ways to help a partner’s business thrive as they engage with us and work through these tiers in delivering tools, resources and strategies that are customised for our sell and build partners, those are ISVs and generating new tech,” La Rose said.
“It's all about providing them with cloud solutions that can take their product to the next level and as their business relationship grows with IBM and expands, we're unlocking additional benefits that will help them break through adjacent spaces and find new clients.”
At the Silver level, partners are offered demand generation capabilities and the ability to list their products on the Red Hat marketplace or the IBM Cloud catalogue.
At the Gold level, go-to-market activities are accelerated with lead sharing and engaging with IBM staff that are working with them to prospect, progress and close deals.
At Platinum level, La Rose said this was focused on scaling the partner’s business for growth, helping them to deploy IBM software with customer success managers, and helping with co-sell engagements.
La Rose said it has also created a simple incentive stack across both software and infrastructure that maximises transparency and predictability.
“It gives our partners a very clear line of sight in terms of how they maximize their earnings and puts them in the driving seat with real time access to incentives and see what they're eligible for,” he said.
“We have re-imagined a co-marketing program where we look at investing three times more for partners that are growing with us.
“Over time, we've opened up access to our marketing platform to allow partners to have access around marketing kits and enhanced lead sharing and we're also engaging with partners around embeddable AI that will allow partners to connect qualified deals based on their profile and experience.”