IBM is a global technology and innovation company that has global innovation centers that develop and deliver next-generation software portfolios and cloud offerings.
Here is an exclusive interview with Ms. Lata Singh, Director – Partner Ecosystem, IBM India & South Asia, wherein she elaborates to delve deeper into IBM’s ecosystem focus and momentum on ‘Build’ partnerships.
Describe the role of the partner ecosystem in emerging technologies like AI, Cloud, and Blockchain?
Partner Ecosystem is central to our growth strategy and plays a critical role in driving digital transformation for clients across industries. Over the past few years, we have seen the emergence of Virtual Enterprises as the next generation of organizational and operating models. This has been further accelerated in the pandemic. Powered by a Golden Thread of Intelligent Workflows, Virtual Enterprises connect ecosystem participants for shared value and truly enable platform economics to play out while helping bring innovations faster to the market.
The ecosystem is understanding and leveraging the tremendous value offered by IBM’s open, hybrid cloud architecture built on Red Hat OpenShift which enables them to build once and deploy it anywhere. Partners are delivering value by developing custom solutions and offering managed services to end clients. There has been increased adoption of digital solutions by customers and our partners are leveraging IBM technologies to migrate workloads to the cloud, modernize their applications using AI, and deliver managed services not just on-prem but also remotely, especially in the managed security services segment.
The ecosystem of solution providers is also focussing on using blockchain in their applications as they address the changing business needs of their clients. Supporting our ecosystem partners in the IBM Hybrid Cloud Build Team which are dedicated to co-creating advanced solutions. The team helps in modernizing and migrating workloads and infusing technologies like AI, 5G, Kubernetes, and Edge into their applications and software.
What are the challenges faced by partners during a lockdown?
This year is critical for our partners as they continue to pivot their business and delivery models to support their clients’ as they reset, recover and accelerate for the next phase of growth. While the key priority continues to be the overall health and safety of their employees, during the pandemic the ecosystem faced challenges around resources, changing model of client requirements, and definitely finances.
To help our partners accelerate their hybrid cloud and AI journey in these challenging times we offer them flexible payment options through IBM Global Financing (IGF) and cloud engagement fund. In addition, we provide technical assistance to our partners through the Hybrid Cloud Build team because we understand that a financially secure business requires not just investments but also developing technical capabilities to build solutions and create a sustainable revenue cycle. We also help partners enhance their capabilities and build credibility, IBM has launched various skilling initiatives aligned to the market and client need for proven competencies across leading technologies like Hybrid Cloud and AI. In addition, we have launched digital resources and engagement solutions to help partners acquire new-age digital marketing skills, explore collaboration opportunities and accelerate co-creation of joint solutions through design thinking workshops.
Describe how IBM intends to strengthen its partner ecosystem and what are the key components of building a strong partner ecosystem?
IBM is laser-focused and has made significant investments in open hybrid cloud and AI, which are the dominant forces driving change for clients. The $1 billion investment in the ecosystem, focuses on providing partners to access to new benefits such as co-creation client centers, provide technical support including access to Hybrid Cloud Build team to co-create advanced solutions and modernize and migrate workloads and demonstrate competencies to differentiate their expertise across technologies such as hybrid cloud, automation, and security
For instance, we are working closely with ISVs as they leverage their industry expertise to build solutions that address the need of clients. Similarly in this evolving landscape, clients are looking for simplified platforms that can manage security events across tools and clouds and can be deployed as a service. Hence to address this need we are also working closely with managed security service providers, which is among the largest and is predicted to be the fastest-growing segment in the security market by IDC. In addition, we are also focussing on increasing collaboration not just with OEMs but also connecting the partners within the channel community.
How are women playing a leading role in IT sector today?
Diversity and inclusion are key to our company’s success. We believe that it can help propel innovation and open up several avenues for growth and success. At IBM, we continue to advocate globally on policies to promote diversity, equality, and fairness in our society. Women make up more than a third of IBM’s workforce, and we increased the representation of women, Black and Hispanic employees in 2020 compared to the prior year.
We have seen great examples of women leadership amidst challenging times demonstrating empathetic leadership, introducing unique attributes to their role, and bringing people together be it for business or to address the crisis. Additionally, there has been the ease in taking up different roles since the pandemic has proven that we can do it all remotely.
We are at an inflection point and we all need to commit to diversity and inclusion to be able to realize a workforce that reflects the world in which we live and work.
What is important for a partner in terms of building a future road ahead?
We have seen most of our partners have pivoted their business models to address the needs of the market.
The most important focus for the ecosystem is to develop skills aligned to the business and market requirements. We are working closely with our partners to help them build deep skills in technology areas that will help them deliver the next set of capabilities to their end clients.
Another key area is developing competencies based on where they are in their digital journey and their future business roadmap. Therefore, it is important for partners to not just enhance their build competencies but also explore ways to enhance their delivery or service competencies.
Finally, it is essential to embrace agility in adopting new models and technologies to match the pace of change on the client front as they drive their transformation to become Virtual Enterprises.
Therefore, it is important for the ecosystem to skills, build and demonstrate differentiated capabilities aligned not only to their business models but also to meet the future demands of their clients.