IBM Helps Resellers Serve the MidmarketOctober 27, 2010
After an internal reorganization earlier this year, Andy Monshaw took the reins as IBM’s general manager of global midmarket business. This segment, says Monshaw, spends $156 billion on IT annually to run and grow their businesses. But that figure does not include PCs, printers, or other commodities; rather, it comprises “the core of IBM’s addressable market.” Monshaw talks about his plans to help resellers address this lucrative market.
ChannelPro-SMB: What are the requirements of midsize customers, and how should your partners address them?
Monshaw: It comes down to availability, security, collaboration, and leverage. Availability refers to applications and information, meaning that systems must be up and running 24/7 with access to Web sites, Web commerce, and critical client data. It also refers to the use of applications and information on a proliferation of mobility devices to access information in real time.
Security, the second category, means everything from [protection] of credit card information to keeping hackers out of your Web site and data. This is important not just for keeping business up and running, but to make sure that your business is audit ready.
Collaboration includes both internal and external components. So not just email, but voice, video, and instant messaging with customers, suppliers, social networks, and communities. Clients are now leveraging this collaboration capability to drive new sales channels.
Leveraging around technology and data allows resellers to answer such questions for clients as: What is cloud computing and what does it meant to me? How do I leverage this new information technology to my advantage? How do I figure out how to drive business growth off of this? How do I better predict and control costs? How do I manage inventories that go in different directions? How do I set real time pricing? How do I accelerate new offerings or enter into new markets?”
ChannelPro-SMB: What plans do you have to further address the midmarket?
Monshaw: Looking forward, we need to focus on consistency, offerings, and reach. The primary demand in a business partner community is consistency. We already laid out a very clear strategy, and we’re executing to it and enhancing it, not changing it. We continue to receive feedback about marking programs and enablement to allow for further improvements. We’re focused on remaining very consistent in our approach of programs, marketing, and coverage.
Looking at offerings, we have a set of business outcome-based announcements coming out that are all about simplicity and consolidation of workloads, because that is what the client thinks about.
Finally, we address reach: In the past we had largely a hardware connection with clients, but that does not address the clients’ pain points. We have been working with our partners to help them [reduce their focus on hardware and] move up the value chain so they can sell to these business outcomes.
ChannelPro-SMB: How are partners embracing this switch to consultative selling?
Monshaw: Those focused on a core business of reselling with remain doing so; they have moved from traditional reselling to IT services as the next step. We are actively recruiting a new class of partners that have picked specific industries and horizontal or vertical applications and are doing end-to-end consultative selling upfront and technical implementation off-site, back-end telephone support, and hosting.