IBM Steps Up Software Partner Program with Vertical Market Specialty, Authorizations

Vendor offers new ISV specialty in 11 named industries, vertical market and security authorizations. Taps nine software partners for new Industry Authorization.

November 10, 2010

D.H. Kass

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IBM Corp. moved yesterday to home in on industry-specific solutions, skills and credentials for its software channel partners, adding a new specialty designation and two new authorizations along with a raft of resources and training.

The vendor outlined its new initiative in Barcelona, Spain at its initial Smarter Industries Symposium, attended by channel partners, customers, academics and government officials, the topic of which is the transformation of industry in both local and global economies.

The effort is framed by three primary offerings—an Industry Solutions Specialty aimed at ISVs, an Industry Authorization and a Security Authorization, both of which are targeted at members of the vendor’s Software Value Plus program.

Sandy Carter, IBM vice president, Software Group, Business Partners, called the skills and industry-oriented offering the “most significant we’ve ever done with software resellers--it moves partners into a higher value space as trusted advisors of extreme value to customers.”

The Industry Solutions Specialty is targeted at ISVs selling solutions built for 11 named vertical markets or industries--specifically, telecommunications, banking, insurance, retail, health care, government, energy and utilities, automotive, aerospace, electronics, and chemicals and petroleum.

In particular, IBM is targeted developers building solutions on top of its Industry Frameworks—middleware solution platforms aimed at helping businesses to fit technology to specific industries.

The vendor’s roster of Industry Frameworks includes nine of the 11 industries tied to its Industry Solutions Specialty, with telecommunications and aerospace as the two exceptions.

Benefits from the industry specialty are designed to speed application development and time-to-market for industry-targeted applications, Carter said. Qualifying partners will receive access to new technology resources, including mobile and cloud application development, dedicated IBM experts and technical advocates, business development and demand generation funding, and co-selling opportunities.

“Since 2008, 150 ISVs have built applications on top of our Industry Frameworks,” Carter said. “This gives developers an opportunity to become further entrenched.” She said that the specialty includes teaching partners how to use the IBM Frameworks.

Industry Authorization extends Software Value Plus program

IBM also extended its Software Value Plus program— launched earlier this year to section its 50,000 software resellers based on certification and skill--through a new Industry Authorization for channel partners and system integrators commanding industry-specific skills and sporting solutions built with IBM software.

“The goal is to train partners on industry knowledge to add value and then authorize them so that customers can recognize those special skills,” Carter said.

To qualify, candidates, who must be the solution’s author, are asked to pass two IBM Industry Mastery tests, demonstrate that their solution maps to an Industry Framework or strategy, show successful client implementations along with providing references and complete a board review.

The authorization program will be offered worldwide.

IBM has developed 130 modules across 17 different industries from which partners can choose. Carter said that IBM is pegging the market opportunity at some $123 billion, based on its own internal research.

“We expect it to be rigorous and challenging enough to have value,” Carter said. “We anticipate that even though the requirements are strict, a lot of our midmarket partners who do this naturally will come forward,” she said. “No one else is offering anything like this.”

Those that meet the grade will be offered 15 percent in incentive funding for industry sales of their solution, additional co-marketing funds, priority access to industry-focused technical support, a dedicated advocate within IBM and an Authorized Software Value Plus emblem.

But perhaps the biggest prize for qualifying resellers is access to IBM’s storehouse of assets--such as Cognos blueprints for the banking industry, data and process models, financials and research—much of which previously has not been made available to channel partners, Carter said.

“The number one benefit to authorization is access to assets,” she said. “We have inventoried thousands of assets that are now available to partners.”

IBM thus far has piloted the program with nine channel partners who have met the requirements and achieved the Industry Authorization medallion.

Those partners include Croz, based in Croatia and Elinar Ltd., based in Finland, for government; Crossview, based in Goldens Bridge, NY, for retail; ISF ALPIZ C.A., based in Venezuela, for banking; Informatica El Corte Ingles, based in Spain, for insurance; Prolifics, based in New York, for energy and utilities; Summa Technology, based in Pittsburgh, PA, Ascendant Technology, based in Austin, TX, and Ultramatics, based in Oldsmar, FL, for health care.

The program will go live in January, Carter said.

Security authorization

In addition, IBM initiated a Security Authorization for Software Value Plus business partners aimed at helping resellers build industry-specific skills to provide security solutions based on IBM software to customers.

Sanctioned resellers will be authorized to sell an array of security solutions based on IBM InfoSphere, Internet Security Solutions, Optim, Rational, Tivoli and WebSphere.

“Security is top of mind with CEOs,” Carter said. “But partners don’t usually have the ability to offer a broad range of solutions—this authorization promotes training and enablement on an entire industry solution, not just a piece.”

She said that IBM pegs the market opportunity for channel partners at some $23 billion, two-thirds of which is for end-to-end solutions, based on the vendor’s internal market intelligence.

To qualify, partners must pass an overall Security Master test and a technical certification test, provide references and register their solution. Authorization resides with the individual.

“A significant number of people in this area will sign up to do this,” Carter said.

IBM is considering other horizontal markets to open industry-specific authorizations, Carter said, but declined to identify any future areas of focus.

Research supports new programs

Carter said that both IBM’s internal research and data presented by researcher International Data Corp. supported the framework for its industry-specific offerings.

For example, in a recent IBM developerWorks survey of 2,000 IT professionals, 90 percent said they believe it is important to possess vertical industry-specific skills for their jobs, yet 63 percent admit they are lacking the industry knowledge needed to remain competitive.

In addition, the vendor pointed to IDC's 2010 Partner Profitability study, which indicated that selling IBM Software positively impacts the profits of its channel partners. Nearly 90 percent of IBM’s channel partners said that the vendor’s software either made them more profitable or led to complementary business.

TAGS: software,IBM,vertical,partner,channel

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