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IBM Plans To Double Cognos Sales In Under Three Years

Channel partners to get assurances, hear expansion plans at partner summit in Las Vegas on Monday.

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Cognos is holding its customer forum event in Las Vegas and Monday is devoted to the Cognos Partner Summit which an estimated 670 to 700 partners are expected to attend. Solution providers will hear how Cognos and its IBM parent intend to preserve and grow the Cognos ecosystem and leverage IBM resources to fuel that growth, said Mel Zeledon, Cognos senior vice president of global alliances, in an interview.

At the time of the acquisition Cognos had annual sales around $1 billion and Zeledon said IBM has set a target of growing sales to $2 billion by the end of 2010.

"It's a good opportunity to network," said Ray Pineda, who heads up the performance management technologies practice for Cognos partner Deloitte in Canada. While new initiatives are welcome, Pineda said solution partners will be looking for assurances that IBM won't compromise their ability to work with Cognos. "I think that will be important for people to hear," he said.

IBM intends to use a controlled distribution model to "preserve the Cognos ecosystem," Zeledon said. IBM will not automatically make Cognos products available to the 90,000 members of IBM's PartnerWorld channel partner program. Such a move could create "a dilution of the [Cognos] ecosystem" because many won't know the technology or add sufficient value, the Cognos executive said. PartnerWorld members that want to resell or work with Cognos products will have to apply to Cognos to do so.

To grow the Cognos market IBM wants to increase the amount of Cognos-related consulting services available in the marketplace. "This is actually a tremendous opportunity for our partners," Zeledon said, citing performance management and data integration as consulting service examples. That will help partners expand into emerging markets, vertical industries, mid-size companies and line-of-business applications, Zeledon said.

To leverage IBM resources, Zeledon said all Cognos partners will be encouraged to enlist in PartnerWorld: A few dozen were already in the IBM program prior to the acquisition and more have signed on since. Zeledon expects the rest to join by year's end. He says that will allow Cognos channel partners to take advantage of IBM's lead-generation efforts and its relationships with top executives at major companies.

Partners attending the conference will be treated to education sessions on the 8.3 release of the Cognos platform and will hear of opportunities for integrating their products with IBM technology.

Cognos has about 3,000 partners of which about 2,000 are active, Zeledon said. While Cognos is recruiting additional partners, he said there are no specific numerical goals.

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