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​How a new-look IBM is changing the Kiwi channel

​How a new-look IBM is changing the Kiwi channel

Channel change ahead as Big Blue brings new life to the New Zealand market.

Mark Baker at the 2016 Reseller News ICT Industry Awards in Auckland

Mark Baker at the 2016 Reseller News ICT Industry Awards in Auckland

Think pin-striped suits, white button-down shirts, rep ties and wing-tipped shoes.

Spanning tabulating systems, typewriters and time clocks, then hard drives, personal computers and laptops - IBM is viewed by many as a relic of the past, a one-time dominant player in the old enterprise world.

And with consumer powers such as Amazon, Facebook and Google now taking centre stage, the industry has been quick to dismiss Big Blue as merely a corporate colossus of a bygone era.

Yet as the company enters its 106th year of existence, a new IBM is surfacing, driven by the rise of emerging technologies.

The local result is a revitalised vendor in New Zealand, driven forward by a new leader in Mike Smith, a new Auckland home and a new channel chief in Mark Baker.

Specific to the partner community, and as reported exclusively by Reseller News, Baker vacated his role as country manager of Westcon-Comstor in New Zealand, joining IBM as a channel and digital leader in January 2017.

“My role is part of the local investment set up around our One Channel initiative,” said Baker, speaking exclusively to Reseller News.

Unveiled in early 2015, the One Channel initiative is designed to bring simplicity to the channel by helping business partners build skills, drive demand and increase growth as the industry changes.

In short, the One Channel aligns channel operations from across the company in a bid to provide a broader, more competitive partner experience, as current and future IBM business partners capitalise on new market trends based on cloud, analytics, mobile, social and security.

Ginni Rometty - CEO and Chairman, IBM
Ginni Rometty - CEO and Chairman, IBM

The move was also designed to increase the vendor’s focus on recruitment of new business partners, developers and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) delivering solutions aligned to IBM strategic initiatives.

In New Zealand, Baker is tasked with growing the vendor’s channel and digital businesses, engaging with partners current and new along the way.

“My role is to bring the channel and digital facets of the business together, joining the channel to the digital capabilities of the business,” Baker explained.

“It’s about generating new opportunities for channel partners within the digital space, which forms a huge part of the business locally.”

Lightbulb moment

Having represented the IBM hardware business in distribution through Westcon-Comstor, Baker has since been exposed to the wider aspects of the vendor’s operations, spanning technologies such as cognitive, analytics and cloud.

“There’s certainly been a lightbulb moment from my end,” acknowledged Baker, who spent nearly 20 years in distribution. “I’ve concentrated on one aspect of the IBM business but there’s huge potential for partners given the depth and breadth of solutions available.

“IBM is an incredibly innovative organisation but the challenge has been around articulating to the channel that the company has changed.”

For Baker, a key part of the new role will be translating the new vision of IBM, while demonstrating the opportunities that brings for partners in New Zealand.

“We have a strong team with strong leadership and I’m looking forward to getting out into the market to tell the story of IBM,” he added.

“But crucially, our focus is around how partners can become profitable from this.

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