IBM is setting out to increase its share of the SME market with the launch of two new partner initiatives in the UK.
It is also bringing its Tivoli and Informix partners under the same umbrella as its other software channel partners.
The two new UK schemes are the Top Contributor Initiative (TCI), which sees resellers focus on the SME sector, and the You Pass We Pay' scheme, which provides funding for technical and sales training.
Under the TCI programme, 65 of IBM's 300 UK software partners have committed to generating at least £500,000 from the SME market over the coming year.
Tony Occleshaw, IBM's northern European software marketing manager, confirmed: "The SME sector is the main growth area this year."
Under You Pass We Pay, Premier Partners must increase the number of their technically trained staff from three to five and need three trained sales representatives by the end of this year.
Advanced Partners must increase the number of their technical staff from one to three.
Occleshaw said the schemes will cost IBM about £400,000 in the UK in total and will give partners access to more than $1m worth of marketing support.
In a separate move, the vendor will inject more than $50m (£34.5m) worldwide into its channel programme Partner-World for Software from the beginning of next year.
This will lead to its Tivoli, Lotus, DB2, WebSphere and Informix channel partners all receiving the same benefits under a single software programme.
Paddy Lawton, chief executive of IBM reseller Digital Union, has been working on the TCI scheme for the past three months. "IBM is providing services that would otherwise be very expensive for partners. It has been invaluable in providing business leads," he said.
Kevin Drew, managing director of IBM reseller Triangle, said: "Some partners will lose out because they can't make the grade, but others will gain."
Drew added that he believed in a "quality channel rather than a quantity channel."
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