IBM channel chief points partners at Smarter Planet, analytics, cloud

Rich Hume

IBM global channel chief Rich Hume.

SAN ANTONIO, TEX. IBM channel chief Rich Hume told an audience of the company’s solution providers Wednesday to bet their businesses on “changing the level of dialogue” they have with their clients.

Hume’s presentation at Avnet’s IBM Partner Summit at the J.W. Marriott resort here centered around partner opportunities in three of Big Blue’s biggest targets for the next five years: its Smarter Planet initiative, business analytics, and the cloud.

Underlying those specific opportunities, Hume said, is an overall transformation in how IBM addresses its business customers. While before, the company too often focused on feeds and speeds, Hume said it now focuses on a more business-centric discussion “because our clients are taking us there.”

Hume walked partners through the three biggest opportunities Big Blue sees for its business partner community right now.

The first of those big opportunities is IBM’s major Smarter Planet initiative, which Hume pegged as a $10 billion per year opportunity for IBM and its partners by 2015. And although the perception of the company’s view of transforming infrastructure and systems for a new generation is primarily a direct message, Hume said that currently 35 per cent of all Smarter Planet deployments have partners involved.

“All of you have the opportunity to step into this space, and many of you have,” he said. He urged partners to get educated on what Smarter Planet is all about and think of ways to work it into their existing customer base.

“Engage Avnet, engage us,” he said. “The folks who develop these solutions really take pride in being able to demonstrate their skills and acumen externally. Take advantage of that as we move forward.”

Hume offered the company’s PartnerWorld Smarter Planet Web site and its Smarter Planet for Midmarket Web site as good starting points for partners looking to carve their own niche in the Smarter Planet effort.

Business analytics is a $200 billion market opportunity over the next five years, and a $16 billion per year market opportunity for partners. In IBM’s own survey last year, CIOs reported business analytics as their number one concern and priority, above even hot buttons like virtualization. He also described it as an opportunity with “tremendous growth” and “outstanding economic attributes” for solution providers.

“Embedded in every single one of our industry frameworks are our software capabilities and assets,” Hume said. “And every time there’s an instance of software in the solutions, there’s great margins on that software.”

Hume described the cloud as IBM’s third big focus area for the next five years – growing at 22 per cent annually. Although still a small part of the overall picture, Big Blue expects the cloud to represent about 10 per cent of the overall IT opportunity by 2015, with a mix of about one third public cloud and two thirds private cloud.

“You need to decide where you fit in this gamut, where you want to jump in and how you want to grow your business with an opportunity growing at seven times the rate of the industry,” Hume told attendees.

He detailed a variety of options for partners to work with Big Blue in the cloud space, ranging from annuity options for selling IBM’s own cloud services to support and infrastructure for those who are spinning up and building out their own private cloud architectures. Showing a slide of IBM’s cloud-based offerings today, Hume said more were on the way in the fourth quarter of the year, and by this time next year “we won’t be able to fit our offerings into five pages.”

Overlaying it all, Hume said that because of the company’s new focus and the new nature of opportunities, solution providers don’t necessarily need to look to new customers to grow their business. “There are significant opportunities even in the clients that you serve today, and it’s our commitment to work with our channel ecosystem to help you have great success as we move into the future,” Hume said.

Quoting Jerry Garcia’s line “When you think life is on Easy Street, there is danger at the door,” Hume urged partners to think about making the same transition Big Blue is itself making to talk up the value chain. It’s an evolving model, and solution providers will have to be ready to make it happen.

“Our agenda is to compel you to consider to come on this journey with us,” he said. “Because we know, we are 100 per cent sure, that if we don’t get you to come with us, we won’t succeed in what we need to get done,” he told partners.