Big Blue encourages partners to go vertical

Mike Riegel

Mike Riegel, vice president of ISV and developer relations at IBM

IBM Tuesday introduced a trio of new programs that aim to help partners specialize on nine of the key vertical markets it says are being built and driven by its Smarter Planet initiative.

The company’s IBM Industry Authorization is an extension of its Software Value Plus program for software-centric business partners that offers partners help with building vertical-specific practices and offers incentives for partners to do so.

“There’s a huge shift in how clients are thinking about and consuming IT as an enabler to solve their challenges – you don’t go in and talk to them about IT products, you talk to them about industry problems,” said Mike Riegel, vice president of ISV and developer relations at IBM.The program covers nine verticals in total:

  • telecommunications
  • banking
  • insurance
  • retail
  • healthcare
  • government
  • energy and utilities
  • automotive, aerospace, electronics
  • chemicals and petroleum

“We’re going to help those who resell IBM software to be recognized for sales and technical expertise in industry-specific business problems,” Riegel said.

Partners will have to pass IBM’s industry mastery tests and will have to submit industry-specific customer references to qualify. Those who do will get additional margin on IBM software, access to dedicated technical support resources and additional co-marketing funds from Big Blue.

The company is also adding Industry Specialties for ISVs across the same nine categories. The program is for independent software vendors that have their applications “verified and validated” with IBM’s best practices and industry framework, Riegel said.

ISVs who make the cut will get priority access to the company’s development labs and technical experts, as well as a dedicated sponsor executive to help make connections within IBM and throughout the industry. Members also get increased development funds and “recognition at IBM’s industry events.”

So far, the company has 150 ISVs registered for its industry frameworks, Riegel said.

Also new is an IBM Security Authorization that fits across Big Blue’s security software offerings and underpins the vertical offerings. “[Security has] become such a dominant need in every industry problem, whether it’s protecting the smart grid, or retailers securing customer credit card information, or any of the requirements around healthcare,” Riegel said.

The program looks to authorize solution providers to resell and deliver security solutions around all of the company’s software portfolio, and offers additional margins and other financial incentives to partners willing to go through IBM’s security training and best practices.

Riegel said all of the vertical plays are worldwide, although the exact size and challenges of a given market may vary from country to country. Still, with industry-specific IT representing a $2.4 trillion (U.S.) and growing opportunity, it’s a place where more partners should and can play.

“A lot of partners started by solving technology problems but evolved to serve industries over time,“ Riegel said. “Smarter Planet is creating a lot of new opportunities to do that, and this will give them the skills and rewards to go after more Smarter Planet opportunities.”