IBM Opens More Innovation Shops

IBM has invested more than $150 million in the centers, which allow solution providers to configure demo equipment to customer specifications and showcase it before purchase.

The newest BPIC, launched by Agilysys&' Enterprise Solutions Group in New York, is the 56th center in North America, said Donn Atkins, IBM&'s general manager of Global Business partners.

>> IBM Business Partners with innovation centers have seen higher ROI and close rates, Atkins said.

“It has proven to be a very effective [model]. It is a single point for education, enablement, what I call kicking the tires,” Atkins said. “We see our partners and partner centers as a natural hub [for] our innovation agenda to get out to the market. It has become a critical part of our strategy.”

Agilysys has more than $1 million in IBM equipment in its BPIC, said Lou Sciacchetano, vice president of sales for the IBM technology solutions unit of Agilysys&' Enterprise Solutions Group.

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“This center is designed to meet IBM specifications. They coached us along the way and helped with incentives on leases to provide best-of-breed equipment,” Sciacchetano said. “The other advantage it provides is it allows us to replicate multivendor [environments] and integrate non-IBM products.”

IBM Business Partners with BPICs have seen higher yields on their investments and higher close rates, Atkins said, but he could not provide specific numbers.

“It is a way to shorten the sales cycle and really provide a natural anchor,” he said. “One of the areas we see these centers have a good effect in is with SMB prospects. Our experience has been a doubling and tripling of revenue growth in the SMB space.”

Bob Venable, manager of enterprise systems for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, attended the opening of the Agilysys event Tuesday and said he liked the concept of seeing a solution before buying it.

“Being able to benchmark different configurations in one environment takes a lot of expensive guesswork out of it. It gives the customer confidence to know exactly what they&'re getting,” Venable said.