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IBM launches PartnerWorld programme in Middle East

IBM has launched PartnerWorld, its global partner programme, in the Middle East. The regional scheme aims to deepen Big Blue’s relationship with second tier partners across the region.

IBM has just started the gradual rollout of its PartnerWorld channel programme across the Middle East to build closer engagement with its second tier partners and resellers. The low-key rollout will be backed up by IBM's first regional Business Partner Executive Conference to be held on March 10th.

Big Blue will reach out to resellers already buying IBM kit from distributors, as well as recruiting newcomers to IBM. With major vendors fighting hard to increase their reach into the SMB market segment, direct touch with partners beyond the distributor has become vital as part of a successful channel strategy.

“The PartnerWorld programme has existed in IBM for many years,” says Mourad Zohny, channel sales manager Middle East at IBM. “Now we are implementing the programme in the Middle East. We have just sent letters out to partners and resellers buying IBM product from distributors in the region, and we will hold an event in March to present PartnerWorld to the channel.”

“Many of these second tier partners may have been afraid of touching IBM in the past, thinking that the company is a big monster that is difficult to do business with,” continues Zohny. “The programme will make it easier for these resellers to develop a relationship with IBM and become a valued business partner.”

IBM has had a limited view of its channel of second-tier partners in the region to date. PartnerWorld aims to build relationships with these partners and also encourage new partners to start reselling IBM products. “New partners can submit an application through a simple web-based interface and, if it makes sense, we will appoint them as a business partner and connect them to one of our distributors. We are working closely with distributors on the PartnerWorld rollout and hope it will provide IBM with even better market coverage in the Middle East.”

Deeper focus on the SMB market is a major factor behind PartnerWorld’s launch. “The Middle East is very much an SMB market,” explains Zohny. “We realised that our presence in this market could be enhanced. With our partner driven go-to-market model in the volume product space, it made sense to try and expand our network of partners in the Middle East. PartnerWorld is a cornerstone of this growth strategy.”

“PartnerWorld will enable us to establish incentives and reward programmes for partners,” continues Zohny. “To do that certain reporting tools and mechanisms are being put in place at IBM’s distribution partners to provide us with sell out data to each reseller to help calculate rewards.”

IBM’s decision to launch its PartnerWorld programme across the Middle East is further evidence of the rapid evolution in regional channel dynamics. For major vendors, establishing a distribution channel — whilst still vital — is just the first step in channel management. Now it is just as important for vendors to build close links with the very best second tier partners, offer them support, education and compelling incentives. All the global vendors are keen to build strong links with second tier partners to successfully tap into IT spending growth in the Middle East.

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