Back in 1999 when IBM decided to take on the partner programs, it primarily focused on our Strategic Alliances, the big companies. This was a good move as it got the program off the ground and generated revenue. Most Strategic Alliances have a services practice around them. Many times, IBM has a bigger service practice than the company that is our partner.
Nowhere in that paragraph was anything but Enterprise scale companies for the most part. Yes, there are many companies that have SMB applications, but by in large, it was Enterprise focused. From nowhere to a very successful partner program in a very short time.
At the same time, the developer program started, but it quietly perked along as most of the press in this area came from Redmond.
A shift in strategy started driving this down to smaller companies and at least into the M of SMB to start. developerWorks expanded into the universities and leveraged IBM research through alphaWorks. Again, very quietly. Part of moving quietly is to not let IBM headquarters know what you are doing or nothing will ever get done. We’re successful and building a good program. The best way to get results at IBM is to not let them know what you are doing until afterwards, then share the results and the glory.
The big shift in strategy came with the PartnerWorld for Industry Networks a couple of years ago. Prior to this, we were sailing along with generally accepted partnering practices, both internal and external. The purchase of Price Waterhouse Coopers consulting practice made this all possible now (BCS). With this, IBM realized that customers buying habits are industry focused and there are a lot of ISV’s that have a specialty, just waiting for an industry program to come along.
Not that our partner programs weren’t a leader, it was everyone playing by the same rules. It was like Captain Kirk who changed the rules in the Kobayashi Maru to win or later to cheat death, IBM now went to market with partners in a significantly different way than the competition.
If being copied is the sincerest form of flattery, we’re being flattered. I’ve noticed many of our competitors partner programs now have an industry flavor, albeit window(s) dressing in some cases.
Back to SMB, the M and the S are now in play for us. No one is going to claim that we dominate the S space, but we’re there and growing.
Our developer program is now kicking into high gear. The key is skills and skills development. We are cultivating the open standards/systems skill sets in the colleges and universities around the world. Companies are implementing LAMP standard applications/software and need folks that can make it happen. We’re helping to cultivate this. developerWorks now cross-pollinates with the Rational tools for developers, another arrow in the quiver. Count Glucode as another arrow.
Some say that a change in big companies is like turning an aircraft carrier, a big process. But after the turn, your face into the wind and ready to launch your aircraft for attack or defense.
Live long and prosper.