XChange: IBM Outlines 'Smarter' Approach To Midmarket


Not too long ago, IBM discovered it had a big hole in its business: the midmarket.

"We weren't happy with our performance in the midmarket business," said Rich Hume, general manager of IBM Global Business Partners, during his keynote at XChange Americas 2011. Big Blue's go-to-market approach for customers with between 100 and 1,000 employees was just too complex, he said.

So the IT giant began to simplify its midmarket approach for partners and push more business through solution providers. Hume said IBM identified the global midmarket as a $143 billion opportunity with approximately 1 million businesses.

In addition, Hume presented IBM research that showed 50 percent of midmarket companies surveyed said their IT budgets are expected to be bigger this year than in 2010. And even better, 65 percent of businesses are pursuing projects in the areas of analytics, collaboration and cloud computing – three of IBM's key focus areas.

Hume said business intelligence and analytics, cornerstones of IBM's "Smarter Planet" initiative, have risen to the top of midmarket CIOs' priority lists, according to IBM's research. Mobility was second on the priority list, while cloud and virtualization were third.

Business intelligence and analytics, Hume said, are key because they allow businesses to run more efficiently and effectively with their existing infrastructure. IBM's growth strategy to 2015 projects analytics as a $205 billion opportunity, with cloud computing representing $181 billion.

"IBM is making significant investments in cloud. It's one of our strategic focus areas," Hume said.

For partners looking to leverage cloud computing, Hume said the easiest point of entry is to resell IBM cloud services, followed by building their own private clouds. He also promoted IBM products like SmartCloud Managed Backup and SmartCloud Enterprise.

Hume closed by highlighting new financing programs for midmarket solution provider partners, which offer financing as low as 0 percent for some software products. "We're making significant investments in the partner channel," Hume said.