IT vendors ready partners for new tech

Beyond providing online and physical training facilities and support mechanisms, companies like IBM and HP, also subsidize training costs of their partners.
Written by Sol E. Solomon on

The onslaught of emerging technologies is pushing IT vendors to invest even more effort and money nurturing their business partners to manage these new fields.

Among these is the IBM Business Partner New Enterprise Data Center (NEDC) Specialty program, which is currently running in the Asean region. The initiative lets IBM's partners align their skills and capabilities with the vendor's NEDC model that is designed to help customers rapidly deploy business services.

According to IBM, the NEDC model comprises applications, infrastructure, people and processes. It is designed to address a customer's current operational challenges, while providing the company the flexibility to harness emerging technologies and drive business innovation.

J.K. Low, IBM's Asean director of business partners, said partners that qualify for the NEDC Speciality program gain access to marketing, sales and support benefits such as business development funds, education assistance, pre-sales technical assistance, and a specialty mark in recognition of their accreditation.

To qualify, they must fulfill a set of business and skills criteria focused on sales and the relevant technical certification for NEDC offerings that include environmentally friendly and virtualization products.

Low said in an e-mail: "In addition, those aspiring to participate in the program will have to be pre-qualified by IBM, to ensure they have the adequate level of investment and commitment to the program--an ingredient necessary to the success of the partner to support its customer."

Key to customer satisfaction
Partner enablement is also an important component at Hewlett-Packard Software & Solutions (HPSS).

David Ramsay, senior director of Asia-Pacific and Japan channels and alliances at HPSS, noted that partners are key to ensuring customer satisfaction. To grow the business for HPSS, partners are just as important as the company's internal sales team, Ramsay said in an e-mail interview.

"Today, HPSS serves more customers with more products in more markets than ever before, with an average of about half of our sales achieved through our partners and a large majority of our services delivered by them," he said. "As such, our reliance on partners is greater than before, in providing coverage of services implementations and maintaining support for customer satisfaction."

Such partnerships are crucial to enabling sales, he added. Therefore, HP involves its partners throughout the sales cycle--from planning and marketing, to implementation and support.

The IT giant operates an online portal that carries up-to-the-minute information about HP software, programs, marketing opportunities, initiatives, strategies and training. The site was created to provide partners access to the same content that is available to HPSS' internal sales and technical teams, Ramsay said. Also available at the portal is an array of services and resources including software demos, product manuals, white papers, discussion forums and 24 by 7 support, he said.

The tech giant also offers a sales and technical certification program to its partners through the HP Certified Professional Program. It gives the partners easy access to a set of learning instruments created to help them successfully sell, demonstrate and implement its software, Ramsay said. Training is delivered in a variety of formats including computer based-training, just-in-time learning, virtual instructor Web-based sessions and traditional classroom-based sessions.

The company also conducts training throughout the year, including hands-on training for newly released products, through its HPSS Partner Enablement initiative.

According to Ramsay, all computer- and Web-based training provided by HPSS is at no cost to its partners. Localized training is, however, partially or wholly funded by HP. Varying financial incentives and discounts are offered to certified partners that have achieved the required preference status in the partner program, categorized as Implementer, Silver, Gold and Platinum, he said.

At IBM, Low said, "program dollars" are offered to help partners defray their investment and training costs. Partners can also use this money for related business development.

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