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IBM Launches New Social Networking and Skills Resources to Help Partners Accelerate Global Innovation


ARMONK, N.Y. - IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a new social networking community designed to help its partners more easily connect and collaborate with each other from anywhere around the world to bring new technologies to market and close sales faster and more efficiently.

The new community enables companies to gain real-time access to IBM subject matter experts to support sales leads and client implementations. Partners can also create personalized profiling tools to develop online communities that make their skills visible to other partners, connect with them on new technology innovations and joint sales leads and develop and deliver new technologies online through interactive forums before test-marketing or taking offerings directly to clients.

IBM recently held an online idea exchange with 1,100 global partners to brainstorm new ways to grow profitability and develop skills. One of the leading ideas from that session called for a Web 2.0 approach to help IBM’s partners improve collaboration with each other and establish new relationships across global markets. IDC states that a typical client implementation usually involves more than one IT vendor to develop, deploy and implement an IT solution. In fact, 40 percent of partners who team with each other and build strategic relationships see greater than a 21 percent increase in sales.(1)

IBM is responding with PartnerWorld Communities, bringing together the best in social computing technologies and online community building tools to connect more than 100,000 partners worldwide on emerging business opportunities such as analytics, cloud computing, green IT and economic stimulus projects. The new online forum aims to facilitate partner to partner relationships and enable joint go to market planning and innovative solution building around smart infrastructure opportunities.

With today’s news, IBM is also making it easier for partners to tap these and other business opportunities with a new online skills resource that offers a single view of smarter planet education tools including more than 60 online classes, webcasts and extensive global in-person events on topics such as building a smarter planet and stimulus opportunities, creating dynamic infrastructures, selling to the midmarket, and selling to the CFO (chief financial officer).

Fostering Global Collaboration For More Effective Selling

Based on Lotus Connections, IBM’s enterprise networking and collaboration technology, PartnerWorld Communities enables members to collaborate through a secure network that connects people around a focused task or goal using blogs, forums, private teaming spaces for solution design and market planning activities, social bookmarking and RSS feeds for real-time access to key topics of interest.

For example, as stimulus funding accelerates smart grid projects across the energy and utilities sector, partners can collaborate real-time for faster access to other partners and IBM subject matter experts with the skills required for client implementation. Users can also tailor their homepage to automatically follow subject matter experts and business topics to connect with them on new technology developments and selling innovations.

Collaboration between partners is enhanced through profiles that make capabilities visible across the network, allowing businesses to match themselves with others who share complementary skill sets. Partners can also develop and deliver new technologies online through interactive forums before test-marketing or taking offerings directly to clients.

“We are seeing the emergence of new ecosystems being developed for the IBM smarter planet initiative and key growth plays,” said Rich Hume, general manager, IBM Global Business Partners. “For IBM partners, smarter planet is about engaging clients in higher value discussions. With today’s launch of new skills-building and community opportunities for our partners, we are facilitating more effective, efficient selling in this unique economic environment, and jointly laying the groundwork along with our partners for the infrastructure of tomorrow.”

Additional features include:

* Ability to create an open profile which can include a partner’s technology offerings, expertise, market reach and primary business interests.
* Live chat and telephone assistance for partners ready to deliver a new solution to the market
* Access to complementary Business Partners to create new solutions and jointly penetrate new markets, and access to IBM subject matter experts to help connect partners with the necessary skills and resources to close deals in the sales pipeline.

Building Smarter Skills

IBM has launched the Business Partner Development Series, an extensive online education and networking forum that connects partners on key skills building designed to help them identify new partnerships and create new routes to market. The online resource provides partners with a single view of new skills offerings available to help them build smarter infrastructures for clients beginning with 60 no-cost online classes and 25 global in-person education and networking events.

Topics include:

* Smarter planet for a challenging economy
* Dynamic infrastructure for key industries
* IBM Business Partner financial selling to the CFO
* Capturing the mid-market opportunity with infrastructure solutions
* Basic sales skills

In addition to on-line opportunities, the new development series includes several seminars at the 43 IBM Innovation Centers around the world, bringing leading IBM experts into these centers to provide partners with skills training. Scheduled events include Chicago, Boston, Toronto, Madrid, Sydney, Shanghai, Stuttgart, Seoul, Bangalore and others over the coming weeks.

To learn more about IBM PartnerWorld, a comprehensive program that offers marketing and sales resources, training, certification and technical support to help create new revenue and market opportunities for IBM Business Partners, visit

(1) Source: IDC Multiclient Study, Channel Profitability, May 2008

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