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Sirius, like many IBM hardware partners, is bringing on more IBM software solutions. Sirius earlier this year received a certification to become an authorized seller of all IBM software products.
Anthony Bongiovanni, president of Micro Strategies, a $60 million Denville, N.J.-based IBM premier partner, credited the company with helping him grow his sales and profits considerably over the past decade with a strong channel offering that emphasizes technical training and education.
"We are a very solutions-oriented organization," he said. "We are focused on architecting solutions for customers--not commodity products. IBM gives us everything we need to be successful. The IBM program has helped us become more solutions focused, more consultative and skilled." That IBM solutions focus has allowed Micro Strategies to make big gains in finance, legal and the insurance markets, added Bongiovanni.
"Our IBM profitability has remained strong and allowed us to continue to invest the dollars we need to grow and develop our technical skills," he said. "We reinvest about 75 percent or more of what we make back into the company to support new initiatives." That includes the opening of Micro Strategies' second Business Innovation Center in the next two months, which will enable it to show off more complex Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and virtualization solutions.
Micro Strategies is also seeing sales and profits from its IBM middleware practice including IBM's Tivoli network management software as part of a stepped-up effort to automate data centers, said Bongiovanni. "We're doing a lot more helping customers take out data center costs with more automation," he said.
That ability to take out costs for customers is critical for solution providers to succeed as they partner with any of the Big Three.
MSI Systems Integrators, an Omaha, Neb., solution provider with $350 million in annual sales, for example, has succeeded by partnering closely with HP, IBM and Cisco and sharply focusing on lowering costs, customer risk and reducing cycle time on IT projects, said MSI President and CEO Jim Simpson.
Simpson says the Big Three are all "great companies committed to their partnerships with the channel in a very visible way." MSI Systems Integrators is working with all three now to build out cloud computing solutions.
The key to being successful going forward is to be "innovative and understand where the future lies," Simpson said. "We have to forget how we have done business in the last three or four years. We have to look at what customers are asking for and how we can add value for vendors.
"IBM, Cisco and HP are going to be very different companies in the next three years in terms of what they offer our mutual clients," said Simpson. "Our role is going to change. I've been in the channel for the last 10 years and the velocity of change has never been greater."
That ability to keep up with the fast-changing technology/channel environment will almost certainly be critical for solution providers partnering with Channel Champions in the future.
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