IBM Exec: IGS Needs To Partner More With SMB Solution Providers


IBM's channel chief wants IBM Global Services to partner more with SMB solution providers.

Frank Vitagliano, vice president of distribution channels management at IBM, told attendees at Ingram Micro's VentureTech Network Invitational here that partnering with SMB solution providers is the right strategy, but it can't be accomplished overnight.

"Let's face it, IGS has not been the most channel-friendly company in the world for SMB because they've been playing in the high end.. There is opportunity for outsourcing at certain levels. Changes have recently been made. Our new executives understand the channel. The view has been to tightly control the list of partners that IGS deals with. It's not an extensive list, but it needs to be extended," Vitagliano said.

Vitagliano promised to continue to push the cause on behalf of the channel.

"I want to go back to [IBM executives and get them to recognize our method of transactions. I can't promise that will happen because I want it, but that's the plan I want to focus on," Vitagliano said.

Part of the problem, Vitagliano said, is that IBM has not been as engaged with groups like VentureTech to develop SMB partnerships.

"Quite frankly, we didn't have the best of relationships [with Ingram Micro. We had problems with processing, claims, inventory management, but we decided we are mutually too important to each other and we've concentrated efforts to fix the relationship. We ought to participate more in VentureTech," Vitagliano said.

Ingram Micro also needs to be more proactive in engaging IGS, said Bob Stegner, vice president of channel development at the distributor.

"I'll go to IGS and say give me your scraps. Remember, scraps to them is $100,000 or $250,000 services opportunities," Stegner said. "That's one thing we need to drive; we can't sit and wait for business to come to us. We'll sit down with IBM and Frank and he'll get us in with IGS. That's not something we've done in the past."

IBM has an opportunity to gain SMB market share because of the merger between Hewlett-Packard and Compaq Computer, said Brian Okun, vice president of marketing for Computer Professionals USA, a New York-based solution provider.

"They'd be foolish not to look at it. Compaq is my primary vendor, but it will be impossible for them to keep all their businesses [after the merger, and there is probably going to be some fallout. I've had some clients switch vendors the last six months. IBM is in position to take advantage of that," Okun said.