Listening to solution providers tends to pay off, especially when it comes to CRN's Annual Report Card survey. This year was no different for IBM, as it handily won the Volume Mainstream Business Servers category. IBM swept the Support and Partnership categories and scored well enough in Product Innovation to win.
For IBM, the key to its convincing wins in the Support and Partnership categories stems from the time executives spend listening to their solution providers, according to Bob Galush, vice president, high-volume servers, System X.
"[Solution providers] want a product that is priced right, can be quickly shipped to their clients, is high quality, is easy to implement and, finally, they want to make a profit," said Galush. "We have a very high-quality, competitive offering with a clear partner-based strategy and value proposition."
The fact that IBM took top honors for Partnership and Support wasn't surprising to Jeff Wohlfarht, president and CEO of Advanced Concepts Inc., Milwaukee, who noted the personalized attention he receives.
"IBM makes us feel like we're the most important customer," he said. "They really treat us as if we're a top earner, when in reality, we're molecule-size."
Interestingly, IBM found its stiffest competition in an area where it traditionally is known to be an industry leader: Product Innovation, where Hewlett-Packard came out on top.
Still, Galush wasn't deterred, pointing out that IBM's server solutions are designed for specific applications, rather than being designed as a cookie-cutter-like product.
"We have also taken an aggressive approach to designing volume servers that are not one-size-fits-all offerings, but that respond to specific client and partner requests," he said. "Similarly, we have refocused our internal efforts to better emphasize the value we bring with our volume offerings and to help enable partner sales."