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IBM's Monshaw to Midmarket Partners: Pick an Expertise, Add Services

By D.H. Kass

January 31, 2011

Andy Monshaw, IBM Corp.’s global midmarket general manager, wants the vendor’s channel partners to “pick a field of expertise and move to value-added services.”

The vendor lists about 5,550 active channel partners in the midmarket segment, some of which accomplish but a few sales a year and want to progress, Monshaw said, in an interview.

“We want partners to grow in the midmarket,” he said. “We’re seeing the managed service provider model emerge, bringing a solutions orientation to the market,” he said. “We know there are a number of product-focused channel partners who want to move towards services but don’t have the wherewithal to do so,” he said. “We can help.”

To advance its midmarket channel base, Monshaw said that the vendor actively seeks to team partners with one another to augment the skills of each. It also is investing in what he called “deep account planning,” or fashioning sales and marketing strategies jointly with partners. In addition, the vendor offers education, training, favorable lease options and other support.

To make its point, in recent months the vendor has touted midmarket client wins by channel partners incorporating IBM technology, including deals with Varsity, a Memphis, TN-based athletic apparel business, last October, Sun World International LLC, a Bakersfield, CA-headquartered agribusiness company, in July, and VCC LCC, a Little Rock, AR-based construction company in September.

With Varsity, Trifecta Technologies Inc., an Allentown, PA solutions provider, deployed its “Store in a Box” e-commerce solution, helping the company to extend its sales efforts to blogs, mobile phones, and social networking sites, resulting in a doubling of daily sales and a global market expansion.

Sun World, an agribusiness that develops more than 60 different commercial varieties of produce on 12,000 acres of farmland in California, tapped Applied Analytix Inc., a Belmont, CA-based developer of performance management solutions, to find a better way to collect, interpret and use real-time data issues important to its success, such as crop management and managing sales while still maintaining quality control and containing costs.

VCC, a 250-employee construction company based in Little Rock, AR, specializing in large scale retail, renovation and expansion projects, expanded its business into schools, government and medical centers when it deployed wireless customer relationship management (CRM) solutions from Murray Hill, NJ-based iEnterprises Inc., which allowed it to internally collaborate on new bids.

Monshaw said that what’s common to the wins is that the “solutions our partners developed with these clients are not point-product oriented, they’re not a server or a piece of software but instead an answer to a business dynamic.”

From the client’s point of view there is “direct, hard, measurable return-on-investment in terms of reduced cost per unit of volume and increased profitability--clear, positive business outcomes,” he said.

“IT investments don’t always translate into profitability but clients can tangibly measure the ROI on these investments because our partners deliver a solution that answers a problem,” Monshaw said.