IBM adds tactics to boost middleware sales

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IBM has concocted two new initiatives, Practice Accelerator and Solution Builder Express, to help boost sales through its software business partners.

IBM has concocted two new initiatives, Practice Accelerator and Solution Builder Express, to help boost sales through its software business partners.

Sue Hope, channel manager at IBM Software Group Australia and New Zealand, said the two free initiatives were the first fruit of a plan instigated early this year aimed at ramping up IBM software sales through the channel.

The overarching idea was to get resellers pushing "solutions" instead of simply selling products, she said.

"We're doing a lot of things," she said. "We're trying to go for deeper partnerships."

IBM had already introduced a certification program for its partners and expected that certified resellers would go on to take part in Practice Accelerator or Solution Builder Express, Hope said.

She said Practice Accelerator was a locally-developed initiative aimed at helping partners such as system integrators and VARs grow their IBM Software practices faster. IBM would help them use middleware sales to grow their services revenue, she said.

IBM's Software Innovation Centre pre-sales team would support reseller members of both programs, she said.

Solution Builder Express was a localised version of a global program. ISVs, system integrators and VARs would get help deploying "solutions" faster, better and more effectively, Hope said.

"We're coming up with a reportable costing [for deployments] that has been tested," she added.

Hope said the new programs had been well-received so far by partners such as Synergy Plus.

Perry Blackney, chief executive at Synergy Plus, said Practice Accelerator and Solution Builder Express would help the services provider refine its approach.

"Customers are looking for greater expertise from us and their needs are becoming more diverse," Blackney said.

Hope said six partners had already signed up for Practice Accelerator and 14 for Solution Builder Express.

IBM wanted to grow its software revenue 30 percent via channel sales and 10 percent overall by the end of 2005, she said.

Hope said both new programs existed under the aegis of IBM's new business partner program, Business Partner Advantage, announced at the IBM Partnerworld forum in Las Vegas in March.

Hope took on the channel manager role at IBM in February. The local program, Practice Accelerator, was the brainchild of Hope and technical pre-sales manager Kevin Ross, from IBM's Software Innovation Centre team, she said.

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