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IBM Readies 'Social Business' Authorization For Channel Partners

Initiative offers training and other benefits to partners who help businesses adopt IBM Connections and other social networking products.

The effort is part of a larger social business initiative IBM is launching next week at IBM Connect, a new two-day conference the company is running in parallel with the long-running Lotusphere conference in Orlando.

The overall initiative targets the adoption of social networking by businesses, a market opportunity that's expected to grow from $600 million in 2011 to $6.4 billion, according to Forrester Research.

Through the social business solution authorization IBM will provide training and technical certification for channel partners working with IBM Connections and other related products, said Sandy Carter, IBM vice president, social business evangelism and sales, in an interview.

The program also includes training that helps partners work with their customers to develop a social business agenda, Carter said.

Partners that carry the "Authorized" designation can earn margins 15 to 20 percent above standard margins, Carter said, as well as being eligible for additional marketing and training benefits.

IBM offers authorizations in a number of product areas including business analytics and "smarter commerce." But authorization isn't required to sell the social business applications, Carter said.

The social business effort includes a number of programs and services to help IBM customers adopt social networking including IBM Global Business Services consulting, social business agenda workshops and discussion forums through IBM's Virtual Innovation Center, and other training and certification programs.

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