For the first time, IBM will:

pass new midmarket sales leads valued below $50,000 (USD/EU) to authorized IBM Software partners;

deliver new cloud computing architecture certification for partners, including education on cloud business models;
provide direct access to more than 130 industry training sessions online and in local markets worldwide.

Businesses today are adopting technology to become more efficient and transform their organization based on specific industry requirements. IBM is delivering this initiative to help partners build the right skills needed for 21st century transformation projects. Given these requirements, under the IBM Software Value Plus skills initiative, partners can choose which products across the IBM software portfolio to become certified and authorized to sell based on their business model and industries served such as healthcare, banking and financial markets, retail, government, telecommunications, chemical and petroleum and energy and utilities among others.

According to a new Global Business Partner Profitability Survey conducted by Ronin Corporation and commissioned by IBM, 60 percent of IBM Software partners said they expect to increase profitability in 2010 and beyond by participating in Software Value Plus. The same percentage of IBM’s top-tier Software partners said they see more revenue in the form of hardware, software, and services when selling IBM software as compared to revenue generated by other vendors’ top- tier partners. From a growth perspective, 50 percent of IBM’s top-tier Software partners report that cloud computing will be a leading driver of profitability over the next two years, and the same percentage of all IBM Software partners rank consulting services as their top cloud opportunity.

In response to these survey results, IBM is delivering new resources as part of its skills initiative including:

Automatic Lead Passing — For the first time, authorized IBM Software partners can automatically receive new midmarket sales leads through IBM’s Global Business Partner Portal valued at $50,000 (USD/EU) or below. IBM will track incoming sales leads, evaluate the skills and capabilities as required by the client, and notify qualified and authorized IBM Software partners through the portal in markets where skilled partners are available.

Cloud Architecture Certifications — Authorized IBM Software partners can now learn to design public and private cloud computing solutions based on the same IBM software products they are authorized to sell. As part of the new certification, authorized partners can take advantage of a new cloud business adoption guide that shows how to structure deals based on proven IBM business models. Additionally, IBM will launch new cloud camps for software partners through IBM Innovation Centers and other IBM locations.

IBM Technology and Solutions Training for Software Partners — For the first time, authorized IBM Software partners have an opportunity to train side-by-side with IBM Software Sales teams to learn key topics such as Industry Trends and Directions, IBM Software Industry Strategy, IBM Brand and Cross Brand Solutions and IBM Industry Frameworks. More than 130 industry sessions will be available in 2010 to authorized IBM Software partners around the world through IBM Innovation Centers or online using Virtual Industry Summits.

“Our partners are constantly looking for new ways to demonstrate business value to clients and differentiate themselves from the competition,” said Philip Gallagher, Global President, Avnet Technology Solutions, an IBM value-added distributor. “IBM’s strategy to boost access to sales, marketing and technical skills with initiatives like Software Value Plus can help partners better meet client requirements and improve their profit margins.”

The news comes at a time when IBM is expanding its commitment to increase marketing investments for all IBM Business Partners serving mid-sized companies including a new cross-IBM solutions development team to create a suite of integrated, cross-IBM solution building blocks around areas such as data protection, business analytics and dynamic infrastructure; a $130 million (USD) investment in marketing and demand generation programs including a significant expansion in co-marketing programs to help partners design their own lead generation campaigns; and increased support of local partners through Territory Business Partner Representatives to drive opportunities, develop solutions, maximize co-marketing activities and focus on client satisfaction.

“Clients recognize the value in working with skilled partners to architect and implement solutions that can transform their business,” said Nicolas Jabbour, CEO, Prolifics, an IBM Premier Business Partner. “Our primary goal is to help clients succeed, and many have already switched to Prolifics because of the business and technical skills we bring to the table. IBM’s focus on providing new and relevant skills to software partners complements our core competencies as a systems integrator, and we are now tapping these resources to grow our bottom line.”

The new resources announced today are provided through the IBM Software Value Plus skills initiative that helps software partners build technical, marketing and sales skills on IBM’s software portfolio and key growth opportunities such as business analytics, collaboration and industry transformation. IBM will continue to expand Software Value Plus with additional demand generation, co-marketing and technical skills resources for software partners throughout 2010.

“Business Partners are key to IBM’s success in the marketplace, and we continue to invest in new resources that help ensure their success,” said Sandy Carter, vice president, IBM Software Group Business Partners. “With this new initiative, we are now providing our partners with the same training and resources we provide our IBM sales team. That is why our partners see us as providing the best opportunity and rewards for those who invest in our software portfolio to better serve clients, tap new markets, and sell into new industries.”