“We can‘t be essential unless our partners are skilled in our products and confident in going to their clients with our products and selling them with us and for IBM,” IBM channel chief Kate Woolley said.
IBM has started giving registered members of its PartnerWorld program access to the training, badges and enablement IBM sales employees get along with a new learning hub for accessing materials.
The expansion is part of the Armonk, N.Y.-based tech giant’s investment in its partner program, IBM channel chief Kate Woolley told CRN in an interview.
“We can‘t be essential unless our partners are skilled in our products and confident in going to their clients with our products and selling them with us and for IBM,” said Woolley (pictured), general manager of the IBM ecosystem.
[RELATED: Channel Chief Kate Woolley: ‘No Better Time To Be An IBM Partner’]
Partners now have access to sales and technical badges showing industry expertise, according to a blog post Tuesday. Badges are shareable on LinkedIn and other professional social platforms. IBM sales representatives and partners will receive new content at the same time as it becomes available.
“This is the next step in that journey in terms of making sure that all of our registered partners have access to all of the same training, all of the same enablement materials as IBMers,” Woolley told CRN. “That’s the big message that we want people to hear. And then also in line with continuing to make it easier to do business with IBM, this has all been done through a much improved digital experience in terms of how our partners are able to access and consume.”
Among the materials available to IBM partners are scripts for sales demonstrations, templates for sales presentations and positioning offerings compared to competitors, white papers, analyst reports and solution briefs. Skilling and enablement materials are available through a new learning hub IBM has launched.
“The partners are telling us they want more expertise on their teams in terms of the IBM products that they‘re able to sell and how equipped they are to sell them,” Woolley said. “And as we look at what we’re hearing from clients as well, clients want that. … Our clients are saying, ‘We want more technical expertise. We want more experiential selling. We want IBM’ – and that means the IBM ecosystem as well – ‘to have all of that expertise and to have access to all the right enablement material to be able to engage with us as clients.’”
The company has doubled the number of brand-specialized partner sellers in the ecosystem and increased the number of technical partner sellers by more than 35 percent, according to IBM.
The company’s exact program changes have led to improved deal registration and introduced to partners more than 7,000 potential deals valued at more than $500 million globally, according to IBM. Those numbers are based on IBM sales data from January 2022 to August.
Along with the expanded access to training and enablement resources, Woolley told CRN that another example of aligning the IBM sales force and partners was a single sales kickoff event for employees and partners. A year ago, two separate events were held.
“I want our partners to continue to feel and see this as a big investment in them and representative of how focused we are on the ecosystem and how invested we are,” she said.
A four-year bachelor’s degree has long been the first rung to climbing America’s corporate ladder.
But the move to prioritize skills over a college education is sweeping through some of America’s largest companies, including Google, EY, Microsoft, and Apple. Strong proponents say the shift helps circumvent a needless barrier to workplace diversity.
“I really do believe an inclusive diverse workforce is better for your company, it’s good for the business,” Ginni Rometty, former IBM CEO, told Fortune Media CEO Alan Murray during a panel last month for Connect, Fortune’s executive education community. “That’s not just altruistic.”
Under Rometty’s leadership in 2016, tech giant IBM coined the term “new collar jobs” in reference to roles that require a specific set of skills rather than a four-year degree. It’s a personal commitment for Rometty, one that hits close to home for the 40-year IBM veteran.
When Rometty was 16, her father left the family, leaving her mother, who’d never worked outside the home, suddenly in the position to provide.
“She had four children and nothing past high school, and she had to get a job to…get us out of this downward spiral,” Rometty recalled to Murray. “What I saw in that was that my mother had aptitude; she wasn’t dumb, she just didn’t have access, and that forever stayed in my mind.”
When Rometty became CEO in 2012 following the Great Recession, the U.S. unemployment rate hovered around 8%. Despite the influx of applicants, she struggled to find employees who were trained in the particular cybersecurity area she was looking for.
“I realized I couldn’t hire them, so I had to start building them,” she said.
In 2011, IBM launched a corporate social responsibility effort called the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in Brooklyn. It’s since expanded to 11 states in the U.S. and 28 countries.
Through P-TECH, Rometty visited “a very poor high school in a bad neighborhood” that received the company’s support, as well as a community college where IBM was offering help with a technology-based curriculum and internships.
“Voilà! These kids could do the work. I didn’t have [applicants with] college degrees, so I learned that propensity to learn is way more important than just having a degree,” Rometty said.
Realizing the students were fully capable of the tasks that IBM needed moved Rometty to return to the drawing board when it came to IBM’s own application process and whom it was reaching. She said that at the time, 95% of job openings at IBM required a four-year degree. As of January 2021, less than half do, and the company is continuously reevaluating its roles.
For the jobs that now no longer require degrees and instead rely on skills and willingness to learn, IBM had always hired Ph.D. holders from the very best Ivy League schools, Rometty told Murray. But data shows that the degree-less hires for the same jobs performed just as well. “They were more loyal, higher retention, and many went on to get college degrees,” she said.
Rometty has since become cochair of OneTen, a civic organization committed to hiring, promoting, and advancing 1 million Black individuals without four-year degrees within the next 10 years.
If college degrees no longer become compulsory for white-collar jobs, many other qualifications—skills that couldn’t be easily taught in a boot camp, apprenticeship program, or in the first month on the job—could die off, too, University of Virginia Darden School of Business professor Sean Martin told Fortune last year.
“The companies themselves miss out on people that research suggests…might be less entitled, more culturally savvy, more desirous of being there,” Martin said. Rather than pedigree, he added, hiring managers should look for motivation.
That’s certainly the case at IBM. Once the company widened its scope, Rometty said, the propensity to learn quickly became more of an important hiring factor than just a degree.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com
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Not long after I joined Creative Strategies in 1981, I received a call from IBM looking for forecasts on the PC market. At that time, the PC market was in its infancy, and it was anyone's guess then as to its future growth.
However, they had seen a quote I made to a major tech publication stating that I thought PCs could be a significant growth market and be transformational for the business market. I based that theory on my familiarity with the first spreadsheet product on the Apple II called VisiCalc. I saw how large companies bought Apple IIs and VisiCalc for their accounting departments. (Full disclosure- my wife worked for VisiCorp, the company that made VisiCalc; thus, my familiarity with the product was firsthand.)
That led to a set of research assignments from IBM, and for many years I worked with them on various projects related to the growth of the PC market at the product and channel level.
One of the most interesting programs I was asked to help with was the design of their original laptop in late 1985. At that time, IBM only made large PCs with separate monitors, mostly in battleship grey.
Earlier that year, at CEBIT, a major technology show in Hannover, Germany, Toshiba introduced what became the first genuine commercial clamshell laptop design called the T100.
I was at that CEBIT show and the launch of the T100, and I asked to "borrow" it to help me cover the show. Of course, Toshiba denied this request, although they did get me one to test once I was back in the U.S.
IBM was deeply interested in the Toshiba T100 design, and the IBM design group in Austin, TX asked me to consult on the project. So for about a year, I would go between Austin and Atlanta, where part of IBM's technical design was developed, and Boca Raton, where the marketing strategy was developed.
This led to IBM introducing the 5140 in 1986.
This first product was still in the luggable category of personal computers, but soon after it was released, IBM launched its first series of clamshell-based laptops. IBM's first clamshell
was the IBM PS/2 Model L40 SX.
Most of IBM's earliest models had only minor success until 1992, when IBM introduced its first line of ThinkPad models.
In 1988, the father of the ThinkPad, Arimasa Naitoh, a Lenovo Fellow located in Japan, received a call about the need to spearhead a new portable computing venture in IBM's research center in Yokohama, Japan. At the time, he was based in White Plains, NY but moved back to Japan to develop what has become the iconic ThinkPad line of portable computers.
I got to watch the development of the ThinkPad from the beginning. Mr Naitoh's leadership, assisted by David Hill, who was instrumental in creating the unique ThinkPad design, made IBM at that time one of the most important portable computer companies in the market.
This chart shows the design history of the Thinkpad and why it is still a big part of Lenovo's success in portable computing:
Under IBM's leadership, the ThinkPad became one of the best-selling laptops in the enterprise. Still, from its introduction to when Lenovo bought IBM's PC business in 2005, they had only sold 25 million ThinkPads.
However, the ThinkPad's growth under Lenovo's leadership has been remarkable. Today, Lenovo has sold over 200 million ThinkPads, and the company continues to innovate around the ThinkPad design to Boost it. Although many key players inside Lenovo had a significant impact on ThinkPad's growth, its most considerable thrust and success came under the leadership of Dilip Bhatia, Vice President of Global Marketing, User and Customer Experience, and former Vice President and General Manager of ThinkPad.
A great example of their innovative design and thinking comes with their new line of foldable ThinkPads called the ThinkPad X1 Fold.
Although foldable technology is still in its infancy, Lenovo's willingness to blaze new trails with new and innovative designs has been the trademark of Lenovo's design teams since they first introduced the line of ThinkPads in 1992.
Watching the overall growth of the mobile computing market, especially the birth and evolution of the ThinkPad, has given me a deeper appreciation for the men and women who worked so hard to make portable computing the largest PC market today. And the Lenovo team has played a major role in helping the mobile computing industry grow exponentially over that last few decades.
For those interested in the history of the ThinkPad, I recommend Mr. Naitoh's book on the subject-
How the ThinkPad Changed the World and Is Shaping the Future."
Investors this year increasingly turned away from dividend stocks in favor of the rising yields being offered on bonds. Given that investors can now earn a 4.3% return on a 2-year Treasury note, many prefer that guaranteed return to the risks of putting money into the stock market.
International Business Machines (IBM 1.59%) offers a dividend yield that exceeds that bond return. But with a bear market in progress, are investors better served to take a chance on the cloud stock or to take the 4.3% return at virtually zero risk?
IBM didn't participate in the bull market of the 2010s. The stock dropped as its tech businesses suffered a considerable growth slowdown. In an effort to change that, IBM pivoted into the cloud computing sector aggressively, in part via its $34 billion purchase of Red Hat in 2019. Grand View Research forecasts a compound annual growth rate of 16% through 2030 for the cloud industry. Growth like that could certainly help both IBM and its stock.
Also, IBM spun off its managed infrastructure business into a new public company, Kyndryl. This business was less of a fit with the parent company amid its pivot to the cloud. Separating it off should make it easier for IBM to grow its revenue.
Time will tell if these moves can help the stock price recover. Nonetheless, IBM currently pays its shareholders $1.65 per share every quarter, or $6.60 per share annually. At the current stock price, that adds up to a yield of 5.6% per year. Moreover, depending on your financial situation, the IRS may tax your dividends at a lower capital gains rate, which can offer an added advantage.
Additionally, IBM hiked its payout annually for 27 consecutive years, making it a Dividend Aristocrat. That status carries some importance as many income investors will be more inclined to buy and hold IBM stock because of this status. Also, since abandoning Dividend Aristocrat status tends to hurt a stock, management will probably prioritize maintaining it by continuing to raise those payouts.
Investors also can also reinvest their dividend payments into more IBM stock. However, such newly purchased shares will pay you the dividend yield at that time. The return will rise if the stock falls since investors can buy the exact cash return at a lower price. Conversely, cash yields will drop if the stock rises, but those investors still benefit since the stock has increased in value.
U.S. Treasury notes offer more stability than stocks such as IBM. Investors who purchase the 2-year Treasury note receive semiannual interest payments. At the current interest rate of 4.3%, investors will receive a 2.15% cash return on their invested amount in each of the subsequent three six-month periods. In the fourth period, when the note matures, investors receive the final 2.15% payment along with the return of their principal.
Investors should also be aware that bond values can fluctuate. If interest rates drop, the value of the bond will fall; the opposite will happen if rates rise. This affects investors if they decide to sell the bond early. Upon maturity, the note will return to its par (or nominal) value.
Additionally, bond interest payments are subject to federal income tax but exempt from state and local taxes. In some cases, this is higher than taxes on dividends. Still, bond issuers are obligated to make such payments. In contrast, IBM faces no legal obligation to continue its dividend.
Also, like with a stock, investors can reinvest their interest payments into more notes or other forms of Treasury bonds. However, those purchases will be subject to the prevailing interest rates at that time.
Investors who lack much risk tolerance should choose the Treasury note. Given its guaranteed return, they will not have to worry about volatility.
Nonetheless, for investors comfortable with buying stocks, IBM is a surprisingly strong buy. The cloud industry is in growth mode, which should propel IBM stock to a long-awaited turnaround. Moreover, IBM has repeatedly shown it wants to hold on to its Dividend Aristocrat status. This should deliver its income investors returns that are not only larger than the bonds offer, but also likely to increase in size.
IBM, which three years ago acquired Red Hat, is now moving Red Hat OpenShift Data Foundation and Red Hat Ceph, along with their development teams, into IBM Storage as part of a move to make a bigger play in the software-defined and open-source storage worlds.
IBM Tuesday said it has absorbed storage technology and teams from its Red Hat business to combine them with IBM’s own storage business unit as a way to help clients take advantage of the two without requiring extra integration or having to deal with multiple sales teams.
IBM is integrating Red Hat OpenShift Data Foundation with its IBM Spectrum Fusion and will offer Red Hat Ceph-based storage technologies to its clients in a move to continue Big Blue’s software-defined storage leadership, said Brent Compton, senior director of Data Foundation for Red Hat’s hybrid cloud business.
For IBM, which in mid-2019 acquired Red Hat in a $34-billion deal, the move ensures maximum support for Red Hat OpenShift Data Foundation and Ceph, Compton told CRN.
[Related: 2022 Storage 100: Who’s Got Your Backup?]
“OpenShift Data Foundation and Ceph will become a big part of IBM Storage,” he said. “IBM has been looking for a way to take advantage of Ceph and ODF, and now it can.”
Ceph is an open-source software-defined object storage technology with interfaces for object, block and file storage. Red Hat OpenShift Data Foundation is a software-defined container-native storage that provides cluster data management capabilities as part of the OpenShift container platform.
Scott Baker, chief marketing officer and vice president of IBM hybrid cloud portfolio and product marketing, told CRN the move to combine Red Hat and IBM storage technologies sets the stage for growth in the combined software-defined storage portfolio.
“Customers not only get a choice of where storage runs—at the edge, in the cloud, or on-prem—but will find storage software releases will no longer be tied to the timing of storage hardware releases,” Baker said. “For instance, IBM normally enhances its Spectrum Virtualize or Spectrum Scale with new versions of the IBM FlashSystem. But with software-defined storage, we can drive changes quicker if they’re not tied to hardware releases.”
By bringing Red Hat OpenShift Data Foundation and Ceph into IBM, customers get the opportunity to access unified block, file, and object storage without regard to the genuine underlying hardware, Baker said.
“They can use Ceph to add the right type of storage depending on the protocol they need,” he said. “Ceph and ODF also simplifies how IBM provides data storage and protection. To do all that with IBM’s storage portfolio takes time. With CEF and ODF as part of IBM Storage, this can get done immediately.”
It really is the best of both worlds, as Red Hat customers will also see strong benefits from IBM Storage, Compton said.
“It’s important to note that IBM will continue to offer OpenShift Data Foundation inside the Red Hat OpenShift Platform Plus hybrid cloud platform,” he said. “So if a customer gets pre-integrated OpenShift Data Foundation inside Red Hat OpenShift Platform Plus, it accelerates their time to market. There’s no need to integrate the storage. This will not change.”
Also, Red Hat OpenShift customers have used Ceph to accelerate their time to scale for years, and Red Hat will continue to sell Ceph, Compton said.
“But by moving Ceph to IBM Storage, IBM will accelerate development of the storage-specific features,” he said. “Red Hat is not a storage company. So this will accelerate development of unified capabilities.”
IBM’s storage move makes good on the potential many saw with the company’s acquisition of Red Hat, said John Teltsch, chief revenue officer at Converge Technology Solutions, a Gatineau, Quebec-based solution provider and channel partner to both IBM and Red Hat that ranked No. 36 on CRN’s 2022 Solution Provider 500.
“This is something the channel has been waiting for ever since IBM acquired Red Hat,” Teltsch told CRN. “IBM has been doing a lot around software-defined storage. And when you add in Red Hat, it gives us an integrated solutions play. It lets us build an integrated sales team. We don’t have to first talk about IBM storage capabilities, and then bring in our Red Hat team to talk about Red Hat.”
Converge Technology Partners’ IBM and Red Hat sales teams are currently two separate teams, said Teltsch, who joined the company in March from IBM, where he held numerous sales leadership roles, including two years as Big Blue’s channel chief.
“Once IBM and Red Hat storage are together, it gets more simple to sell,” he said. “And it simplifies our training while IBM will have one integrated set of offerings for its clients. This lets us bring the best of Red Hat open-source capabilities with IBM storage. We’re living in a data-driven world. This move simplifies our go-to-market, as well as simplifies the client experience, client engagement, and client adoption.”
IBM is on a mission to double its revenue via its partner ecosystem in the next three to five years, making some significant updates to its PartnerWorld program along the way.
As part of its efforts to re-position ecosystem partners at the center of the company’s go-to-market strategy, partners will now have access to the same badges and selling enablement materials as IBM sellers.
This is part of IBM’s ongoing commitment to growing its ecosystem.
“We will continue to make investments in the partner experience so that together, as a single team, we can achieve our goal of doubling revenue through the IBM ecosystem in the next 3–5 years,” said Kate Woolley, IBM’s ecosystem general manager.
The badges and additional materials are available through a new learning hub, designed to Boost the digital experience for partners.
“Users will notice a more modernised and consistent experience on the IBM training site, making it easier to find resources,” Woolley said.
All registered partners have access to these resources at the same time as IBM sellers, and at no cost.
“Partners have told us that the more expertise they attain in the IBM products they sell, the better equipped they are to win with clients,” Woolley said. “With this in mind, and with the goal of helping them win more, we have extended access to the same trainings, badges and enablement materials that our own sellers enjoy.”
New sales and technical badges aim to demonstrate a partner’s expertise, including the ability to position and differentiate an IBM solution to clients. The badges are also sharable on professional social platforms including LinkedIn.
Additional materials available to partners include sales demos, seller presentations, client presentations, and digital prospecting.
“I want to be clear – partners and IBMers are considered a single team,” Woolley said. “The investments we continue to make in the partner experience are a part of our ongoing commitment to be more essential to their businesses.”
According to Woolley, over the past year IBM have doubled brand-specialised partner sellers in the IBM ecosystem, increased technical partner sellers by more than 35 per cent and have launched its Partner Portal.
In April newly minted IBM APAC general manager, Paul Burton revealed two-thirds of IBM's revenue in APAC comes from the channel and had goals in place to make the overall pie even bigger.
To aid this, IBM APAC increased its channel account team by 20 per cent. Unlike previous teams, this new channel line-up will be unable to claim any commissions based on direct sales and will only be rewarded for channel deals. This, Burton hopes, will prevent any disintermediation of partners.
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POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (AP) — President Joe Biden predicted Thursday a $20 billion investment by IBM in New York's Hudson River Valley will help deliver the United States a technological edge against China, hailing the expansion during an appearance with two House Democrats in competitive races in next month's critical elections.
The president cited IBM's commitment as part of a larger manufacturing boom, spurred by this summer's passage of a $280 billion measure intended to boost the semiconductor industry and scientific research. That legislation was needed for national and economic security, Biden said in Poughkeepsie, adding that “the Chinese Communist Party actively lobbied against” it.