IBM partners have voiced lingering doubts over its landmark move to hand them full control of the mid-market, despite agreeing that it will help clarify which accounts they should target.
Big Blue last week unveiled a package of mid-market-specific channel initiatives designed to put partners at the centre of its mid-market strategy. This includes more co-marketing and coverage resources and plans to launch between eight and 10 “mid-market solution blocks”.
IBM also pledged that all lead-generation work in the 100 to 1,000-seat space will be carried out by partners.
Shamus Kelly, chief executive of IBM partner Portal Partnership, described
move as a “very big step”.
“IBM is taking a segment of the market and is very publicly saying it is changing its strategy. There can be no competitive activity as all those leads will now be managed by the channel,” he said.
However, some resellers were concerned that IBM is using the strategy to squeeze its partners into the lower end of the market.
Kevin Drew, director of DU360, said: “Any time a vendor clarifies where its partners will lead the charge is a good thing. This means there is an area of the market that is partner-led and where IBM will not confuse the issue by getting involved.”
But he said IBM would still address some preferred midmarket accounts through its GB team, leaving partners to service “the great unwashed”.
“Partners need to have a mix of small, medium and big business customers to survive and I am worried IBM will squeeze partners into an area in which it wants them to operate,” he said.
Rob Tomlin, business unit director at IBM distributor Interface Solutions, said: “We have seen a very good period for the past three to six months on IBM storage and server sales and hopefully this will be another kicker for them in the market.”
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