W H I T E P A P E R
I B M S o f t w a r e V a l u e P l u s : C o m p r e h e n s i v e B e n e f i t s D r i v e
B u s i n e s s P a r t n e r O p p o r t u n i t y
Sponsored by: IBM Steve White July 2013
E X E C U T I V E S U M M A R Y
IBM understands the importance of the channel as a critical route to market, and IBM Software Value Plus (SVP) is a key program to support this community. Since its inception in 2010, SVP has expanded and evolved to drive significant growth for IBM's Business Partners.
This white paper looks at the ways IBM's Business Partners engage with SVP and the many PartnerWorld benefits offered that are most valued by these Business Partners. IDC identified a core set of highly valuable benefits consistent across the group of Business Partners we interviewed. The following core benefits were distinguished as having significant impact:
Business Incentives — Software Value Incentive (SVI), Value Advantage Plus (VAP), and Solution Accelerator Incentive (SAI)
Co-Marketing Support and Funding
IBM Value Package, including You Pass, We Pay training reimbursement Technical Support
IBM Global Financing
The preceding benefits are often the foundation of the relationship that Business Partners form by working with the IBM Software Group. As expected, some Business Partners have different areas of focus and thus leverage their own subset of the wider benefits offered.
Of course, there is always a trade-off between engaging in any activity or program, the resources employed, and the benefits realized. At the end of the day, any activity should lead to better business performance. IDC's guidance to Business Partners is to examine how the benefits offered can help support different stages of their business cycle. With the many elements offered, we expect Business Partners will find program elements that align with their particular business objectives, from training to business expansion and potential growth. When analyzing many large vendor programs over the years, IDC has seen a strong correlation between the time
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and resources a Business Partner invests into its vendor relationships and the benefits realized. We feel this will be the case with SVP Authorized Business Partners as well.
M E T H O D O L O G Y
IDC assessed and evaluated the key benefits available to IBM SVP Authorized Business Partners with the aim of determining which elements are most compelling and drive the most value. To this end, IDC completed a number of initial briefings with IBM to review Software Value Plus and the specific program elements. We then undertook a number of interviews with IBM Business Partners to understand their views and where they are seeing the most value.
IDC completed 21 interviews with Business Partners from the following regions: North America; Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), and Asia/Pacific (APAC). All Business Partners were Software Value Plus authorized in at least one product area and ranged in size from large multi-vendor Business Partners to smaller local or regional Business Partners.
Interviews consisted of high-level feedback from Business Partners on Software Value Plus as well as their relationship with IBM and covered the wealth of benefits on offer and where Business Partners were seeing positive benefits overall. We further drilled down into a more specific list of core benefits to understand which benefits Business Partners were aware of, using, and experiencing the most value from.
Findings are presented in aggregate across the group of Business Partners. Any comments or quotes are not attributed to specific Business Partners.
I B M S O F T W A R E V A L U E P L U S ( S V P )
O V E R V I E W
IBM Software Value Plus is a program designed for IBM Business Partners who sell products or solutions from the IBM Software portfolio, supporting them in the growth of their business. The guiding principle of SVP is to reward Business Partners for building their skills and certifications and also to incent sales of high-value solutions within the IBM Software Group portfolio. The growth of this portfolio through various acquisitions has expanded the SVP offerings to encourage Business Partners to sell more across the IBM software solutions stack.
IBM's message to Business Partners has been consistent as the program has evolved. The IBM Software channels team talks of three key drivers in the evolution of SVP: Simplicity Profitability Growth "There is a lot of thought behind SVP. The Partner dashboard is excellent — first-class job. IBM's channel organization is doing an outstanding job."
IBM wants to strike a balance by simplifying and yet strengthening the incentives for its Business Partners and underpin those incentives with increased investments in marketing, training and enablement, and technical resources that support Business Partner success.
Software Value Plus offers distribution models split between "Open Products" and "Authorized Products." The model aims to reward Business Partners for their investments in obtaining authorizations through SVP; therefore, the incentives may vary by Business Partner and deal.
SVP authorizations come in a number of flavors — e.g., product, industry, and capability. These authorizations have been expanding as the IBM Software Group has made a number of acquisitions over the past few years and also as its customer and industry solutions have developed. Each authorization features opportunities to develop and broaden business streams through enablement, skills, and added incentives.
An important benchmark is if these changes and continuous improvements to the program have led to better business performance. IBM monitors this with SVP Authorized Business Partners on a regular basis, and some of the notable improvements from 2011 to 2012 were as follows:
62% of IBM SVP Authorized Business Partners reported an increase in profitability in 2012, up from 45% in 2011.
69% of IBM SVP Authorized Business Partners reported an increase in revenue in 2012, up from 54% in 2011.
IDC thinks that the construct of SVP, with the core elements in place to drive sustainable growth and opportunities, positively reinforces IBM's premise and promise to IBM Business Partners that they are — and will continue to be — a key route to market for the IBM Software Group.
C O R E P A R T N E R W O R L D B E N E F I T S F O R
I B M S O F T W A R E V A L U E P L U S B U S I N E S S
P A R T N E R S
A core set of IBM PartnerWorld benefits is applicable to Software Value Plus Business Partners. The breadth of benefits is quite varied and significant in terms of detail. Business Partners have the opportunity to customize by engaging in the relevant mix of benefits to their business.
For this research, we focused on the core benefits to understand what value Business Partners are realizing and how they are using SVP to drive their business. These benefits fall under five main categories: Marketing, Selling, Technical, Training, and Collaboration.
For each of these areas, we wanted to understand the benefits, how Business Partners are using the benefits, and the value they are realizing. We also identified specific examples relevant to the wider Business Partner community.
"SVP gives us three main benefits: It's a differentiator for us as a partner, it gives us visibility within IBM, and the margins make it worthwhile."
M a r k e t i n g B e n e f i t s IBM Software Co-Marketing
IBM Software Co-Marketing provides funds to eligible Business Partners to generate demand, drive leads, and ultimately boost their pipeline. Funding enables Business Partners to extend their reach, frequency, and effectiveness in the marketplace through the marketing of their IBM Software solutions. Through this program, IBM will match the investments of eligible Business Partners.
IBM Software Co-Marketing is supported by the IBM Co-Marketing Center (CMC), which is designed as a one-stop resource for Business Partners who want to utilize IBM's wealth of co-marketing support and funding. To support Business Partners' use of funds, the CMC features a comprehensive set of marketing assets to help Business Partners at every level of their marketing efforts regardless of background or marketing acumen. The program is structured to accelerate campaign planning and execution, including marketing agency assistance if desired. Business Partners can access services such as Create & Design, using existing IBM campaign materials that can be customized as well as leveraging the support of IBM Marketing vendors that have been approved by IBM in terms of their capability and training to support execution of Co-Marketing campaigns.
Within the framework of the Co-Marketing Center, IBM also offers expertise through "accelerators," whereby Business Partners identify relevant assets leveraging best practices and are able to plan over multiple quarters with different tactics. The goal is to accelerate the marketing activities, from creating awareness to securing qualified leads. The feedback from the Business Partners we interviewed about Software Co-Marketing was very positive. All Business Partners were aware of the CMC, and a high percentage were actively using it in some form and gaining high value from it. Co-Marketing is certainly one of the leading benefits identified by SVP Business Partners.
At the top of the list of positive feedback was IBM's co-marketing funding support, and many Business Partners described how their own marketing plans and activities heavily rely on IBM's support. We heard many positive examples of how Business Partners are engaging with the IBM Marketing teams to create strong go-to-market activities leveraging this funding. We also heard that more experienced Business Partners who had been using Co-Marketing for longer periods had developed great relationships that enabled them to introduce more creative marketing ideas into the process, and they are seeing further benefits.
IBM continues to fine-tune these Co-Marketing benefits and processes and listens to Business Partner feedback about these changes. IDC's advice here is for Business Partners to take the time to understand what's available and leverage the compelling materials and support that IBM offers. The Business Partners who have done this, and taken the time to make it work, are certainly experiencing great value. In many cases, it has become an indispensable part of their marketing efforts.
"We like that IBM supports us in trying innovative new ideas. We have built an 18- to 24-month marketing plan alongside IBM and have found a very conciliatory approach." "The Co-Marketing Center and Co-Funding help us tremendously as a small company — any additional marketing benefits go a long way."
"Co-Marketing is an integral part of how we are able to execute in the market. Without the funding, 50% of our marketing program would not happen."
Ready to Execute Campaigns
Ready to Execute campaigns are a relatively new offering and feature pre-built campaign toolkits that the IBM worldwide marketing teams have developed for many key software portfolio products and solutions. The campaigns are very thorough and mirror what IBM has been executing itself worldwide with its customers. Business Partners have the opportunity to leverage proven campaigns and also align tightly with what IBM is marketing to its customers. These campaigns can be run as is or in a modular fashion, providing great flexibility for the Business Partner.
The campaigns are a great way for Business Partners with limited marketing resources to up-level their marketing activities. Due to the modular nature of the campaigns, more marketing-savvy Business Partners are also able to identify the key elements that work for their business, customize those elements, and then drive marketing activity effectively. Ready to Execute campaigns include all the elements of a well-rounded campaign, from strategy and planning to provision of marketing assets to drive multi-touch customer marketing. Business Partners are even able to leverage specific offers to incent customers.
In terms of Business Partner feedback, because Ready to Execute campaigns are newer, we found that a smaller number of the Business Partners we talked with had specifically used a campaign from end to end. Some Business Partners in fact had tried select assets from Campaign toolkits and made them their own, taking advantage of the modular approach. All Business Partners we spoke with saw the value of these campaigns in principle and the savings they could provide. IDC thinks it's only a matter of time before Ready to Execute campaigns will be more broadly used, especially because they are free to Business Partners.
IBM Market Intelligence (Competitive and Market Insights)
IBM provides Business Partners access to a number of competitive information sources related to hardware, software, and services as part of the subset of information that IBM uses itself. This information is made available within the COMP portal, accessible to Business Partners through IBM PartnerWorld. COMP is a rich source of information from a number of external sources, and it features information to help compete with IBM products. It even goes down to a level of providing pricing tools and "how-to-win" guides — materials to aid positioning, differentiation, and attack points to win deals.
Business Partner feedback on Market Intelligence was insightful, in that only 60% of Business Partners were aware of the benefit, yet almost 30% suggested they were seeing middle to high value. We heard specific examples of how Business Partners made a point of leveraging as much of this information as possible. There were other examples of how Business Partners had gained insights to support their own business development plans.
In IDC's opinion, this benefit could be one of the "best-kept secrets" within PartnerWorld. Every Business Partner has access to macro-level trends, competitive information, product comparisons, and the like, all of which can help the effectiveness of targeting future business.
"We see IBM as a market leader, and we tap into this great information. It saves money — this is a different type of information."
Web Content Syndication
The IBM Web Content Syndication benefit provides Web-based marketing assets and solution content from all IBM brands, including software, hardware, and services, directly to a Business Partner's Web site. The syndication platform maximizes search engine optimization and improves Business Partner page ranking with search engine–indexable content. All IBM PartnerWorld members are eligible for this benefit at no cost. IBM provides regular content updates that drive search engine indexing of the Business Partner's Web site and customization options, which allows each Business Partner's Web site to be unique.
IBM also provides lead responses directly to the Business Partner. This is managed on a Business Partner console allowing manageability of content while reviewing real-time Web site metrics. This feature is available in 12 languages.
IBM also provides a free hosted Web site option that allows Business Partners to create custom landing pages, which Business Partners can link to and drive traffic toward, in place of or to complement an existing Web site.
Business Partner feedback on Web Content Syndication was fairly consistent and very positive. The Business Partners who felt it didn't necessarily apply to them had fairly advanced Web sites and featured their own solutions that already included IBM technology. A high percentage of Business Partners were aware of and use this benefit, and the value experienced is high, as Business Partners told us the tool works well and gives them tangible savings.
Getting Started with Social Media
As social media has grown in terms of activity and impact in the market, IBM has looked to provide insights to its Business Partners from the company's own experience. This begins with tools to educate Business Partners on the basics, as well as how to integrate social into the Business Partner's own sales and marketing plans. IBM provides a social media site for Business Partners to access the fundamental elements of social media, sharing details on some of the most popular social networks and how social media can help them achieve business objectives. As a starting point for any Business Partner looking into social media, this is a great set of resources. In this relatively new area, IBM also shares Business Partner success stories to bring to life how appropriate use of social media can drive business success. A high percentage of Business Partners were aware of this benefit, and while it is a good starting point, many were still looking for the development of extended materials. Some Business Partners told us they're investing in specific social media activities, but in terms of extensive use of social media as part of their marketing mix, it's still fairly limited today. IDC has heard from IBM that social media has become a core part of its own customer-facing activities and that its marketing mix is increasingly moving that way, and the results are becoming more tangible. Therefore, this is a growing area we suggest Business Partners pay attention to and make relevant to their own outreach activities to their customer base.
"We're starting to use social media as IBM's focus is here. IBM is in advance of the market, and social is coming along by leaps and bounds." "Excellent, works really well. It's a comprehensive Web site. Lots of savings, both time and money."
S e l l i n g B e n e f i t s IBM Global Financing
IBM Global Financing (IGF) offerings are designed to allow IBM Business Partners to provide impactful financing options to their customers. There are a number of different offerings, such as leasing for deals, working capital for businesses, and IBM Certified Pre-owned Equipment and Asset Buyback options. In terms of IBM Software sales, the current offer of 1% back to Business Partners on IBM Software, as well as 0% interest for 12 months, is compelling for both Business Partners and their end customers. Feedback from Business Partners identified IBM Global Financing as one of the most important core benefits. Every Business Partner we talked with was aware of and had used IGF at some point with customers. For those Business Partners who were higher-volume companies, there was certainly evidence of them seeing a high value. IGF enables Business Partners to help their customers afford the solutions they are selling, in flexible ways and with the visible backing of IBM. Business Partners also spoke highly about the IGF team and the efficient processes in place.
IDC's advice to Business Partners on their use of IBM Global Financing is simply to try to leverage it as much as possible. The financing options are a great sales tool and, more importantly, a great way to help customers afford solutions in a way that suits their payment needs by eliminating the burden of significant up-front costs.
Incentives: Software Value Incentive (SVI), Value Advantage Plus (VAP), Solution Accelerator Incentive (SAI)
IBM offers a number of incentives with Software Value Plus designed to incent and reward Business Partners for their activities in different phases of customer sales. Within this research, we focused on the three major incentive programs: Software Value Incentive (SVI), Value Advantage Plus (VAP), and Solution Accelerator Incentive (SAI). IBM also offers some complementary incentives that further reward Business Partners for competitive wins and for selling approved solutions aligned with Industry and Capability authorizations.
Software Value Incentive provides Business Partners with the ability to earn incentives for their role in deals they register through the Global Business Partner Portal. This incentive has defined levels of percentage payout for the role a Business Partner plays in identifying and selling opportunities across different account types. SVI can pay out up to 40% in incentives for an end-to-end sale across all stages of the sales cycle.
Value Advantage Plus provides incentives focused on rewarding Business Partners for integrating their solution with IBM software. There is also a version that offers rewards for the same scenario, but specifically when selling to government customers.
Solution Accelerator Incentive is aimed at rewarding Business Partners who are integrating IBM software, hardware, and storage into their solutions. There are additional bonuses for selling pre-defined IBM solution bundles. Business Partners can earn from 8% to 20% of the deal value.
"We use it as one of our tactics. We try to get sales to offer it on every deal, and it gets used on maybe 30% of deals. The process with this works really well."
"We use IGF a lot… with customers to overcome objections in the sales cycle and to upsell customers on renewals. It lowers the cost of doing business, allows us to finance customer deals, and helps our cash flow."
"SVI — we're able to leverage additional margin to offset services cost, which is a huge help when we are in competitive situations. Those fees help us to reinvest with customers." "We leverage SVI and VAP wherever we possibly can. Both are good programs. They help us to reinvest."
The Software Value Plus incentives received by far the strongest feedback from Business Partners, with every Business Partner we talked with seeing high value. The feedback was particularly focused on SVI as the lead incentive. The financial incentives enable Business Partners to be competitive in their deals, as well as re-invest in their business, and the program is seen as the leading benefit within Software Value Plus. As with any registration system, a level of administration is required to register deals and incentives. Business Partners did understand the need for a systematic way of measuring these results, and IBM is working to make the process more streamlined. We heard examples of how some Business Partners had outsourced the administration of their incentives and other work for the Global Partner Portal to local specialists who have experience working with IBM.
Software Sales and Marketing Plays
IBM provides specific Software Sales and Marketing Plays to help IBM Business Partners accelerate their learning and achieve their sales goals faster. Each Sales and Marketing play focuses on a specific solution and includes messaging, value propositions, and multiple sales tactics that can be utilized. These Sales Plays are updated on a quarterly basis and include specific incentives to reward Business Partner activities and provide demand-generation campaigns and deliverables (e.g., client references, white papers, videos).
Feedback on Sales Plays was positive, with all Business Partners being aware of them and a high percentage using them on a regular basis. In terms of the value realized from Sales Plays, the Business Partners pointed to the ability to enable their own sales force and drive campaigns. In particular, the comprehensive nature of the materials allowed Business Partners to bring new staff up to speed quickly. The only minor issue cited by Business Partners was timing, in that they felt some Plays might not have been on the market long enough to reflect a customer deal cycle. However, Business Partners are able to request special deal funding for longer cycles.
T e c h n i c a l B e n e f i t s
Technical Support, Pre-Sales and Porting/Testing and Validation
IBM offers a very broad range of technical support options for Business Partners. Resources start with many online self-options for technical support and product-specific knowledge bases as well as technical forums and planning and pre-sales repositories. There is also a broad range of pre-sales support options with skilled specialists available to provide voice and email support across the sales cycle. When specific issues arise, Business Partners are able to open service requests and even track all their customer cases.
On top of the comprehensive support options, IBM is unique in offering a number of facilities across its many regions where Business Partners can get in-person support. Examples of these facilities are IBM Innovation Centers, Design Centers, Benchmark Centers, and Forum Centers.
"…for the past two to four years, we have used it to the max. Have a team who focuses on it."
"Very useful to get new sellers off the ground. We can use these for standard plays on IBM Software solutions."
"There are a lot of Sales Plays out there that allow extra discounts…we make sure we know what is live as we go into deals all the time where we are using Sales Plays as it is a competitive advantage for us."
"We have very close ties across IBM's Technical teams. We often use pre-sales guys — also use IBM labs. We see a lot of value..."
Feedback was very positive from Business Partners on the wide range of technical support options available from IBM. Technical support is one of the core benefits cited across a range of specific technical benefits. Business Partners in general are mostly self-sufficient in terms of the technical support supplied to their customers. Therefore, when issues arise that Business Partners can't fix alone, their relationship with IBM Technical Support becomes all the more important. In this regard, IBM's Technical Support was one of the key benefits.
IBM Value Package
The IBM Value Package is an optional fee-based set of benefits for Business Partners and includes access to the latest versions of IBM Software as well as a number of other benefits that are focused on enabling Business Partners to accelerate their skills. Three key benefits are included with the Value Package subscription:
Software. IBM provides Business Partners with access to download the entire IBM Software portfolio. The software can be used for demonstration and evaluation, internal training, development and testing of commercial solutions, and internal use, known as Run Your Business. IDC research has repeatedly shown that hands-on software familiarity is critical for Business Partners to effectively develop, sell, and service software solutions.
Support. This benefit covers pre-sales and pre-deployment support that
Business Partners need during the sale of software solutions to the end user/customer.
Skills reimbursement. Business Partners can file reimbursement claims for class and test expenses when achieving technical certification under the You Pass, We Pay benefit. This benefit is widely utilized by Business Partners because it helps offset the costs associated with the certification requirements for SVP authorization and participation in IBM's sales incentives. The amount of money available for reimbursement through You Pass, We Pay is tiered by membership level; higher amounts are awarded to SVP Business Partners driving revenue through the software incentives and those who have achieved higher membership levels in PartnerWorld. Additionally, Business Partners can request vouchers to cover the cost of sales mastery tests, also required for SVP authorization.
All Business Partners we talked with were aware of and using the IBM Value Package, and it's clearly one of the most highly valued core benefits. Although there is an annual fee for the Value Package, it's obvious that access to the latest IBM software and training and additional benefits within the package is empowering for the Business Partner. We heard a number of examples of how Business Partners' delivery teams are actively using the Value Package with customers for pre-sales technical support, to develop their own solutions, and also for the You Pass, We Pay benefit.
Although Business Partners have to pay for these extra benefits, the obvious value of the IBM Value Package far outweighs any potential cost concerns Business Partners may have — especially considering there is no membership fee to join IBM PartnerWorld. IDC thinks that all Business Partners should be taking advantage of the Value Package, particularly for the access to use IBM software internally and to build
"With customers calling day in/day out, 90% we can answer ourselves. When we can't, we work with IBM Support…"
"The Value Package enables us to use the latest IBM software within our own business as well as introduce it to new customers." "Our delivery team uses this for internal training and pre-sales work. It's pretty much all training and also opens up 'You Pass, We Pay,' which we use a lot."
T r a i n i n g B e n e f i t s IBM Training
Similar to IBM's Technical Support within Software Value Plus, the training options for Business Partners are very broad and comprehensive. Like the authorizations within Software Value Plus, which in turn enable Business Partners to qualify for highly valued incentives and rewards, the training options are structured by product, capability, and industry.
IBM products are the foundation of the solutions, and at this level, Business Partners can select their IBM product area and access general skills as well as certification-level skills, then access the criteria to qualify for Software Value Plus. This construct of skills growth is then available for SVP Capabilities such as Business Analytics, Cloud, etc., and also for SVP industry-specific skills. Another notable training offering is the IBM Software Practice Accelerator, which is focused on implementation skills. Its purpose is to deliver a portfolio of learning paths that enable Business Partners to improve their service expertise in a consistent manner.
Feedback from Business Partners on training was very good, and all Business Partners we talked with look to leverage training across their business. Training is one of the core benefits where Business Partners see a high value. There was good feedback on the number of training options, as well as the depth of training available by product, capability, and industry.
IDC believes that IBM's focus on products, capabilities, and industries, and then providing in-depth training in those streams, should allow Business Partners to access the right skills for their chosen competencies.
You Pass, We Pay
The You Pass, We Pay benefit is one of the elements of the IBM Value Package, and its purpose is to support Business Partners in building up their skills by offering reimbursement of course and test fees when certifications are achieved. Different levels of reimbursement are available, determined by the membership level of the Business Partner. The principle of the program is to reward Business Partners for their certification attainment, and this maps well to the IBM SVP focus around authorizations leading to certifications and capabilities.
Business Partner feedback on You Pass, We Pay is that the reimbursement model works well because it allows Business Partners to offset training costs in areas where they want to grow capabilities. It's also really helpful for a Business Partner's extended staff because it allows them to grow their capabilities and certifications with support from IBM.
IDC's view on You Pass, We Pay is that it's a straightforward yet innovative way for IBM to reward commitment from its engaged Business Partners. Business Partners encourage IBM to continue to extend the program.
"There's a great bundle of training opportunities made available — instructor led, online, etc. We are leveraging those training classes to expand our capability."
"We leverage IBM-generated training as much as possible. We want our staff to do certain training and achieve certifications that drive our business."
"What helps us is that we need training, and we need our technical guys to be trained and getting certifications. You Pass, We Pay works well."
"We've used it frequently. It enables savings in training and certifications."
C o l l a b o r a t i o n B e n e f i t s IBM Business Partner Locator
IBM Business Partner Locator is a tool that IBM's customers can use to search for and identify Business Partners by region, skill or certification, or industry solution or specialty. Business Partners can create and update their profiles through PartnerWorld to highlight their capabilities and enhance their visibility. IBM notes that over 1 million searches per year are conducted in the IBM Business Partner Locator.
IBM Business Partner Solution Catalogs (Business Partner Application Showcase and Global Solutions Directory)
The IBM Business Partner Application Showcase allows Business Partners to share their own specific solutions, alongside those of IBM, that meet defined success criteria for specific IBM initiatives and that are developed on IBM technologies. The IBM Global Solutions Directory is the place for Business Partners to list all of their solutions. By adding solutions to the directory, Business Partners can also use their solutions to qualify for additional marketing and technical benefits, as well as view requests from customers on those solutions.
Feedback on these Collaboration benefits has been aggregated together because they're seen in the same light by Business Partners — as directories in which to list their capabilities. All Business Partners are aware of and leverage these tools, though the ability to validate tangible benefits is not as direct. There were some interesting success stories of how Business Partners gained customer leads, but this success is tempered by the time and effort required to understand these systems.
IDC recognizes that while working with solution directories and tools across the IT industry requires time, it's important that Business Partners regularly update their profiles. We heard of a great example from one Business Partner who had listed its solution and, because of the listing, was contacted by a very large customer in another geographic region. As a result, the Business Partner closed one of its biggest deals that year. IDC suggests that all Business Partners make regular efforts to maintain their profiles as a relatively low investment element of their outreach activities.
F U T U R E O U T L O O K
IBM continues to see its Business Partners as a key route to market, and with this in mind, the company is continually looking to evolve Software Value Plus. The IBM Software Channels leadership team is driving this evolution on top of two key tenets: To continue to simplify and strengthen incentives and to continue to increase investments in marketing, enablement, and technical support.
In January 2013, IBM announced enhancements and improvements to Software Value Plus that IDC thinks will be well received by Business Partners based on the research undertaken as part of this white paper:
New SVP Capability authorizations that reflect market demand Smarter analytics for Big Data
A mobile-first solution
Improved and expanded options on incentives Software Value Plus qualifying solutions expanded Renewal Value Incentive — New
Solution Accelerator Incentive — Claim time increased to 60 days
Software Value Incentive fees — New payment option (from IBM or discount from a value-added distributor [VAD])
You Pass, We Pay — Expanded tuition reimbursement eligibility Techline — Returns in a new form, based on Business Partner feedback
IBM Software Product and Capabilities Navigator — New tool to aid view of growing IBM Software portfolio
Enhancements to Web Content Syndication Expansion of Ready to Execute Campaigns
Increased investment and tools to ensure faster and better leads
This is not an exhaustive list of changes, but IDC thinks these examples will certainly resonate positively with Business Partners based on the feedback we heard within this research. Business Partners told IDC they think IBM is driving benefits and making changes in Software Value Plus with all the right intentions. IDC sees this program evolution as proof that IBM is listening and acting with Business Partner success as its lodestar.
O P P O R T U N I T I E S A N D C H A L L E N G E S
Every big vendor faces challenges and opportunities when building an effective volume partner program. Equally, there are opportunities and challenges for partners to realize value from those programs.
In the case of Software Value Plus, IDC thinks that IBM is addressing its program opportunity with a strong set of fundamental values to drive for simplicity and focus on improving capability and Business Partner success. This is well understood and
valued by IBM's Business Partner community, and the positive alignment is where much opportunity lies both for IBM and for its Business Partners.
In terms of specific opportunities for Business Partners, this research suggests that there is a core set of benefits that any Business Partner should be focusing on as the foundation of its SVP investments. The IBM Incentives are well thought out and structured to reward the right Business Partner behavior and should be an area in which all Business Partners invest time to understand and maximize. These incentives allow Business Partners to re-invest in their business and also be competitive in the market. Making the incentives, as well as the other core benefits of Co-Marketing, Technical Support, Training, and IBM Global Financing, the foundation of any Business Partner's relationship with IBM is a great way to bolster a strong platform for growth.
IDC also sees great opportunity for Business Partners to leverage some of the newer tools available as IBM expands its software portfolio. IBM's consistent and clear construct in the way it provides incentives, training, and technical support options specific to each technology area should mean that adding capability should be straightforward for Business Partners. IDC sees this as a significant area of opportunity for Business Partners to organically grow their business.
The challenges with Software Value Plus seem to be in two main areas. The first challenge would be size and complexity. The ability for Business Partners to consume the sheer volume of materials can be constrained by their bandwidth. This is one of the common issues for any Business Partner dealing with a large vendor and requires attention from the Business Partner as well as focus or prioritization. IDC suggests that Business Partners might need to allocate time to searching for the right elements and not miss opportunities because they are not engaged.
The second challenge would be processes and administration. For IBM, this is a challenge because reporting, administration, and effective business processes are required to enable IBM to measure and reinvest in its Business Partner business. In some instances, Business Partners told IDC that where the current level of administration becomes too high, they found ways to outsource the administration to specialist agencies.
C O N C L U S I O N
Based on this research, IDC believes that Software Value Plus is built on a strong framework, with key values and with comprehensive benefits. Business Partners consistently identified a core set of benefits that they value highly, and we also heard that different Business Partners had engaged in other areas and experienced good value, but these were more dependent on the specific business model and cycles of the Business Partner.
The following core benefits were valued the highest: Incentives, particularly SVI
Co-Marketing Support and Funding
Technical Support Training
IBM Global Financing
These core benefits were consistent across the group of Business Partners interviewed. They seem to form the foundation of the Business Partners' relationship with IBM.
In terms of guidance, IDC suggests that Business Partners take the time to understand the nuances of IBM Software Value Plus. Business Partners who had a more organized approach seemed to have more knowledge of the program and areas of opportunity and shared more examples of successes. We understand that for Business Partners, this time investment can sometimes be a challenge because it may not immediately feel like a revenue-generating activity. In the long run, however, allocating more time to leveraging what are very well-thought-out resources should lead to unrealized opportunities.
Other guidance would be to continue to build relationships with IBM that underpin, surround, and complement Software Value Plus. Among the secrets of dealing with large vendors are understanding what makes them tick and building multiple relationships in relevant parts of their business. Look at these relationships as your own IBM social network, and you'll be rewarded with the amount of value that will flow from them.
L I N K S T O K E Y B E N E F I T S IBM Co-Marketing
www.ibm.com/partnerworld/page/pw_com_cfm_index Ready to Execute Campaigns
www.ibm.com/partnerworld/page/swg_com_sfw_rte IBM Market Intelligence (Competitive and Market Insights)
http://www.ibm.com/partnerworld/partnerinfo/src/compdlib.nsf/ Web Content Syndication
www.ibm.com/partnerworld/syndication IBM Global Financing
Incentives: Software Value Incentive (SVI), Value Advantage Plus (VAP), Solution Accelerator Incentive (SAI)
Sales Plays and Sales Tools
www.ibm.com/partnerworld/page/swg_com_sfw_sw_qtrly_selmkt_plays Technical Support, Pre-Sales and Porting/Testing and Validation, etc.
www.ibm.com/partnerworld/page/pw_com_tsp_index IBM Value Package
C o p y r i g h t N o t i c e
External Publication of IDC Information and Data — Any IDC information that is to be used in advertising, press releases, or promotional materials requires prior written approval from the appropriate IDC Vice President or Country Manager. A draft of the proposed document should accompany any such request. IDC reserves the right to deny approval of external usage for any reason.