IBM partners from New Zealand who attended the vendor’s PartnerWorld conference this month have returned with a fresh sense of Big Blue’s commitment to its channel.
Around 16 people representing 12 IBM resellers and distributors Ingram Micro and Value Added Distributors (VAD) attended the annual conference in Las Vegas.
Those surveyed by Reseller News say the vendor provided a high-level view of its long-term strategies and direction, and reiterated the importance of partners to its business model with global partner general manager Donn Atkins outlining the role of partners in the vendor’s business.
Local partners also had the opportunity to spend time with IBM’s local and regional management team, including ANZ director for global business partners Scott Kardash, New Zealand managing director Katrina Troughton and channels manager Michele Adams, who hosted the local contingent.
Stuart Alexander, head of procurement at Gen-i, attended PartnerWorld for the fourth time, this time with new general manager Chris Quin and general manager of software solutions John Bessey, and says IBM positioned the channel the strongest this year than ever before.
He adds that the time spent with regional and local IBM executives at the event was invaluable.
“It is hard to get those peoples’ time on a daily basis, but when you are embedded in a conference like that you tend to find a lot more opportunities to talk about the business,” he says.
“We could share ideas on how they would like to engage with us and how we would like to engage with them. That is invaluable to create opportunities.”
Darryl Swann of Christchurch-based Computer Concepts agrees, saying as a relatively small, but fast-growing IBM partner, the event raised the company’s visibility with high-ranking members of the IBM management team.
“It was great to catch up with the people within IBM who make the decisions and now people like Katrina and Michele know who we are,” he says.
Swann adds the various “after-match” functions hosted by IBM created excellent networking opportunities, allowing him to make contact with fellow IBM partners, such as VAD, Ingram Micro and Gen-i.
For Gen-i’s Alexander, meeting partners from other regions provided a chance to discuss shared business issues in a non-competitive environment.
This year was VAD managing director Terry Dunn’s fifth visit to PartnerWorld.
“It was mindboggling to see how big IBM’s partner community is and how entrenched their go-to-market strategy through partners is. They made it clear they can’t do it without their partners,” he says.
Meanwhile, attendees say the Solutions Centre set up at PartnerWorld provided a glimpse of new IBM products and introduced them to applications by ISVs from around the world, many of which are not available in New Zealand.
Wellington-based ISV Max Availability was also represented at the Solutions Centre and is believed to have made vital business contacts at the event, but representatives of the company could not be reached by deadline.
Local partners agree IBM reiterated its continued investment in research and development at the event.
“Their development over the last 20 years has been fantastic and if they continue that way the next 20 years will be even more exciting,” says Dunn.
PartnerWorld was not all about business however, as IBM New Zealand hosted several social functions for the local contingent, including Nascar racing and an Elton John concert.
The main event also included several social opportunities and closed with a concert by erstwhile rockers The Eagles.
These distractions helped keep most people out of the casinos, quips Alexander.
IBM’s Adams says the main messages of PartnerWorld will be condensed and communicated to local partners at partner summits in Auckland and Wellington on April 5 and 6, respectively.