IBM is working closely with start-ups, SMEs as well as business partners and helping them scale, innovate and come up with solutions which cater to different set of customer requirements. IBM’s outlook to its business partners is not merely about certifications, but in recognizing core competencies and innovative customer delivery model that partners can bring to the table. In an interaction with
Mukul Mathur, Vice President – Global Business Partners and System Integrators, IBM India/SA about the IBM’s overall market outlook and emerging technology trends.
What is your overall market outlook and where you currently focus?
Emerging technologies such as AI, Machine Learning, Blockchain and Data Science have disrupted traditional systems and business operations across the world. Cloud and analytics being the underlying capabilities have helped further accelerate access to these technologies. Last year, we witnessed a significant progress in terms of businesses embracing disruptive technologies across location and various sector to scale and create a differentiated business model. In this client transformation journey, our Business Partners played a key role in helping not just transform their own business but also be an end-to-end solutions provider to our clients. We are extensively focusing on cognitive technologies, cloud and security and we continue to innovate and bring in new solutions in each of these domains continuously. The launch of IBM Cloud Private is an example of our commitment. Our business partners have a huge role to play in each of our focus areas and we will continue to empower, enable and enrich our partners. Our partners today are end-to-end solution providers to our clients. Our vision is to help partners emerge as true technology consultants instead of resellers. With our technology edge, we are helping business partners build a sustainable business model, redefine revenue streams and embark on the next level of digital transformation by harnessing the power of Cognitive and Cloud.
What are the latest offerings of IBM for start-ups and business partners?
IBM is working closely with start-ups and business partners and helping them scale, innovate and come up with solutions which cater to different set of customer requirements. All our latest technology offerings are available to both the startups and business partners. We believe the next era of technology evolution will be built on cloud leveraging IoT, Cognitive, Blockchain, Security etc. From a start-up offering perspective, we revamped our global entrepreneur program which offers credits and benefits to the startup ecosystem. The program is now divided into three levels which are the starter lever, builder level and premium level. These services include a more rounded offering includes infrastructure, cloud and APIs of the cloud so that one can access to Watson, AI services, Block Chain services, IoT, security testing services among others.
India is a key market for IBM and we are offering richer incentives for partners across industries. At IBM, we now have a very selective approach for partners on our SaaS, IaaS offerings. We are already working with partners to engage them on IBM Cloud platform, helping them achieve technical certifications, accelerate development, and offer support. We work with partners across ISVs, SI, re-sellers etc and each one of them is equipped with the best of IBM technology, mentorship and go-to-market assistance. We have designed our PartnerWorld program to cater to their requirements. Our industry leading partnerships are envisioned to help our partners evolve and become solution providers and technology experts rather than being box sellers. We further built on our IaaS and PaaS platforms, and are currently offering all of IBM’s software and solutions portfolio as SaaS.
Could you explain IBM’s channel partner strategy to align itself to emerging technology trends such as cloud, IoT, analytics, mobile and social?
Emerging technologies have made a huge disruption across industries and sectors. Every business today is embracing digital. At a time, when digital is imperative, we at IBM have been focused on helping businesses in their digital transformation journey. For eg., IBM has been working with CEBS, a trusted Solutions Provider and partner for organizations across the globe, which is helping customers to use the power of IBM Watson Commerce and create an online B2B business model for commerce journey across all channels, leading the next phase of digital transformation. Trident Information Systems Pvt. Ltd, another business partner is one of the leading global providers of Information Technology services and business solutions is using IBM’s latest technology and well tested solutions which in turn is helping its clients to meet their organizational and technical goals.
Understanding the market requirements, early this year, we relooked at our channel strategy and revamped to a3E Channel Execution framework- Enrich, Enable and Execute. Through this strategy, we aim to enrich our partners by helping them build rich capabilities, solutions, and services for IBM’s cognitive, Blockchain, Security, IoT and cloud offerings. As part of the enrich strategy, we are constantly striving on enhancing our portfolio in a way that partners can leverage it, whether it is alliance with VMware, SaaS offering or the recently launched ICP. With the constant advancements, we are enabling our partners to deeply engage with IBM.
We are enabling our partners by offering them building blocks such as APIs (application programming interface), which partners can use to combine IBM offerings along with their competencies to provide value added solutions to customers. We have created joint forums and events like Genius of Things, where we invite partners to showcase their solutions and expertise as well as to engage with customers. We will continue with our focus on constantly re-inventing ourselves, in order to deeper our engagement with partners.
What percentage of IBM India and South Asia’s business is from channel partners?
We don’t share business wise revenue percentage; however, business partners are an integral part of our go-to-market strategy to expand our business geographically, financially and across various sectors. Today, we have over 300 silver, gold and platinum business partners as part of our PartnerWorld program spread across the country and we are constantly bringing in new programs and partnerships to enrich, enable and engage more effectively. Majority of our business in the hardware and software domain is partner-driven. Our commercial segment, which constitutes business from SMEs and mid-market, is 100 per cent channel-led and a large part of our enterprise segment is also channel-led.
Could you describe about IBM’s Partner World programme?
The IBM PartnerWorld Program is IBM’s premiere partner program empowering Business Partners with the tools and resources to help transform clients into industry leaders. It is an umbrella programme for channel partners from around the globe. The program benefits include a view to all marketing, sales, technical, training and collaboration resources. The new Partner World program is designed to support and motivate all Business Partner types. All Business Partners will have opportunities to demonstrate capability through competencies and move up through the program levels. Partner World is designed to help partners respond more readily to changing customer needs, better differentiate themselves and enable them to join IBM as we continue the journey into the Cloud and Cognitive Era. The revamped IBM PartnerWorld Program has shifted from a product-centric program to a competency-based one that rewards cognitive computing expertise.
What are the new technologies introduced by IBM in the Indian market?
In 2017, we have made introduced multiple new solutions and products for our business partners and customers. We have launched a security command centerin Bangalore to cater to the security needs for our Indian clients and this is a good opportunity for our partners to leverage this service. We also launched our first machine learning hub in India, located in Bangalore. This year, we introduced various solutions and products for our customers which we believe are of immense value to our business partners in helping them at various deployments. Through the Hubs, data professionals, business analysts, our business partners and engineers work with IBM data science experts to understand and master the leading tools, technologies and techniques needed to visualize, analyze and interpret data. IBM experts also help visitors build and test rapid, scalable prototypes for fast deployment of their models on their organizations’ enterprises. We have also launched Watson-based services platform built on the IBM Cloud.
One of our more recent launches was IBM Cloud Private. It is a unique proposition, a pre-packaged enterprise-class solution, IBM Cloud Private delivers a single platform located behind the firewall. Businesses can leverage their on-premises software portfolio or easily integrate next-generation data and software optimized for cloud. This offering is unique because it combines in a private cloud flexibility of an open-source container architecture and extensive containerized services to support enterprise apps. IBM Cloud Private allows companies to create cloud environment behind their firewalls to maintain control of data and workloads while gaining the agility to quickly launch and update apps. Another dominant trend that we have seen is the adoption of Software as a Service (SaaS) leading to adoption of Blockchain, Hybrid Cloud, end-point security, and the IBM Watson platform. We have on boarded over 88 new SaaS partners in the first half of the year and we will continue to focus on adding more partners and further push the adoption of SaaS.
What are your future plans?
In the coming year, AI is poised to become more mainstream and we will witness more companies across industries adopt AI for competitive advantage. The coming few years will see more innovation in the AI space, making it augment human intelligence in the true sense. The combination of big data, powerful graphics processing units (GPUs) and deep learning will enable the growth of AI. In fact, deep learning will be the clear differentiator in the AI growth engine.
As a cloud and cognitive technologies companies, we will continue to focus on enabling our customers on their digital transformation journey, offer our clients new and innovative products in cloud & cognitive and strengthen our portfolio of offerings across domains like blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, IoT and more. Our business partners will continue to work with us to transform their own business as well as help clients in their growth. We will further strengthen our business partner outreach initiatives to include new sectors, regions and technology upskilling.