IBM Expands Business Partner Program Built on Billion-Dollar Backbone; Public Sector Industries First to Benefit

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IBM today announced the first effort to recognise and reward business partners for expanding their repertoire of skills, services and solutions as business models in the IT industry rapidly converge.

This effort will include a broad range of new sales, marketing and technical resources offered through PartnerWorld Industry Networks and available to business partners serving the public sector industries government, healthcare, life sciences and education - that will enable them to increase profitability and meet client needs faster and more effectively.

With todays announcement, IBM also significantly expanded its highly successful PartnerWorld Industry Networks Program to include the widest range of companies ISVs, value added resellers, consultants and systems integrators - who are focused on building skills and developing solutions on IBMs open software and hardware technology.

As business needs continue to converge around integration services and software development, IBM is dedicated to working closely with business partners to address clients evolving requirements. Through PartnerWorld Industry Networks, IBM is providing technology companies who are increasingly developing applications, reselling hardware and delivering value-added services on their own with a single access point to all IBM technical, marketing and sales resources. Each Industry Network offers resources that support each step in the business cycle, including business insight to identify market opportunities, technical enablement assistance to build solutions and skills, networking and collaboration to create new partner ecosystems, and co-marketing and sales services.

Don't Fence Me In

In the On Demand Business era, technology providers are defying traditional categorization and view typecasting as an independent software vendor, systems integrator, value-added reseller or distributor as a label that limits their business opportunities. As the critical mass of IT companies converge around integration services and software development to better serve unique customer needs within each industry and in concert with IBM's industry-specific go-to-market strategy, the need arises to desegregate Business Partners and provide common resources that address this emerging reality.

Public Sector Opportunities

The public sector is one of the fastest growing industry segments for IBM and its Business Partners. IBM estimates the information-technology opportunity in this arena is growing five percent annually and will exceed $210 billion in 2006. Public-sector spending specifically includes e-government programs at the federal, state and local levels; healthcare and life science spending that is expected to exceed $30 billion in 2006; and major opportunities in education at the K-12 and higher-education levels.

IBM recognises these industries offer unique challenges. Declining budgets, aging populations and a reluctance to raise taxes have forced governments worldwide to cut costs while simultaneously trying to increase efficiency. In order to provide essential citizen services, successful governments at all levels must be innovative in changing their traditional models, deploying new technology and changing their basic business processes. Healthcare and life sciences also face tough business challenges such as improving the quality and safety of healthcare delivery, accelerating drug discovery and reducing administrative costs. In response to the global economy's growing demand for technical skills, and to ensure each student has the opportunity to excel, school districts and institutions of higher education are recognising they must better prepare students to be innovators in the careers they choose. IBM and its business partners are collaborating with their clients to create education ecosystems that fuel innovation, drive down costs and provide an environment of learning and advancement for a highly skilled workforce.

"At IBM, we believe that the Public Sector truly changes the world for people every day," said Robert Samson, General Manager of IBM's Public Sector, which is comprised of the government, education, healthcare and life science industries. "Public Sector touches citizens' most important needs sound and effective government, quality education and more effective patient care. This sector is an area where IBM wants all Business Partners no matter their scope or size to join us in our quest for better living."

New Benefits for Public Sector Business Partners

The new sales, marketing and technical resources available to Public Sector Business Partners through PartnerWorld Industry Networks include:

higher financial incentives to make it more profitable to sell with IBM in the Public Sector, such as special offers and rebates for ServerProven and TotalStorage Proven solutions,
enhanced industry-specific sales and marketing enablement and support, including marketing consulting services and access to IBM sales representatives to help close qualified leads, more industry and competitive insight, such as market intelligence reports provided by the IBM Institute for Business Value to assist Business Partners in developing thought leadership and positioning,  tailored offerings to grow business with IBM including government middleware solutions and Education Express offerings for small-medium education facilities, State and Local Government Express Offerings and Infrastructure Solutions, new collaboration vehicles to help partners expand their own ecosystems with and beyond IBM, such as Public Sector networking and collaboration events, and
new technical and marketing resources to help business partners successfully implement Service-Oriented Architectures (SOA) with customers.

The expanded PartnerWorld Industry Networks program will initially reward public sector Business Partners who individually, or collaboratively, build applications and provide sophisticated integration services for IBM middleware and eServers. Rich new incentives will be available to reward companies who are willing to work together and invest in extending their own capabilities. IBM will continue to roll out new resources to support business partners in the other industries throughout the year.

"By working with a select group of medical imaging ISVs in the health care industry, we have engaged ten teaming relationships and closed over $40 million of incremental IBM business. PartnerWorld Industry Networks has helped our ISVs further develop these relationships and drive even significantly more demand by providing ready access to information, enablement tools, marketing and market intelligence that has been leveraged with their SP2 partners," said Mike Nowlan, Director of Product Marketing, Arrow Electronics, Enterprise Computing Solutions, SupportNet Division.

PartnerWorld Industry Networks has become IBM's most successful program for independent software vendors (ISVs) since it's launch in February 2004 as part of a growing $1 billion investment in partner programs overall. In just 16 months, several thousand ISVs across 60 countries have joined PartnerWorld Industry Networks and leveraged its wealth of Web-based information assets, industry networking, sales and marketing support, and technical enablement into hundreds of new customer engagements in each of IBM's 12 major industries.

Alan Crean of Taurus Infomatics Limited in the UK said: Taurus is growing faster that any other similar Business Partner, purely because of IBM Valuenet and OnDemand.

Partnerships and friendships are everything in business and Valuenet delivers us a framework to build trust and cooperation with our application vendor and system integrator partners. After all you can not achieve presence in a market if you are standing on your own.

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