IBM Australia’s personal systems group (PSG) is swinging back to the channel, promising to allocate 80 percent of marketing dollars this year to generate demand for resellers and distributors.
The move is a big change from a few years ago when IBM ramped up direct online sales.
"The pendulum is swinging back the other way and IBM is committed to the channel," said IBM’s marketing manager, PSG ANZ, Peter Di Pietrantonio.
Meetings with customers and focus groups persuaded IBM that customers prefer to buy through the channel, he said.
New IBM advertising inserts in major newspapers would direct potential customers to an outsourced call centre where they would be routed to the nearest IBM reseller partner.
Previously the inserts would have driven people to the web or to IBM’s own call centre. IBM’s Australian product website would still have web or RRP pricing and the capability of taking orders. David Nicol, offering manager at IBM, said programs such as the ‘Super Seller’ rebate would give the channel an edge with pricing.
Di Pietrantonio admitted that there could be some cynicism in the market about IBM’s ‘born again’ conversion to the channel.
"In 2005 that’s all in the past. Major competitors such as HP and Toshiba have very strong channel models for good reason, and even while IBM was running a hybrid direct and channel model, channel revenue still grew year on year at an average of 15 percent," he said.
With niche markets becoming an important vendor focus, IBM would be looking to replicate the success it’s achieved with the private schools-targeted ‘Launchpad’ program in other niches such as health and finance.
The company would also trial shop front displays with two Melbourne-based resellers and there are plans to extend the approach throughout the rest of Australia should it prove successful.
Other programs aimed at beefing up IBM’s channel presence include higher levels of support with the ‘Know your IBM’ reseller education programme and the ThinkVantage technology accreditation program.