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IBM To Make Midmarket Channel Push

IBM is planning a major channel effort in the midmarket and is looking to use IBM Business Partners to reach clients in what it sees as an $84 billion opportunity.

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IBM's Andy Monshaw

Big Blue is planning a big push into the midmarket.

Andy Monshaw, IBM general manager of Global Business Partners and Midmarket, told an audience of solutions providers at CRN's Fast Growth awards event in Boston Thursday that his company needs to do a better job leveraging the opportunities in the midmarket, and that the key to success will be IBM business partners.

"We believe it's an underserved market," Monshow said, "and the market opportunity is huge."

Monshaw said IBM defines a midmarket client as a company with fewer than 1,000 employees. In addition, he characterized those clients as companies that rarely have a proper IT budget, aren't as attuned to vendor brands, and have very little internal technology expertise. As a result, those customers have tremendous potential for IBM.

Wilfredo Sotolongo, IBM's vice president of Business Partners & Midmarket for North America, told the audience that IBM sees the total North American midmarket representing $84 billion in 2010, and expects that number to grow to $88 billion next year.

"The dark days are over," Sotolongo said. "Things aren't great but they are getting better. And we're optimistic about the future."

Next:IBM Eyes Cloud Computing, Virtualization and Business Analytics

Sotolongo said IBM is changing the way it approaches the midmarket opportunity, specifically by shifting resources to capitalize better on channel partners and simplifying the IBM partner program to make it easier for solution providers to do business with IBM. He added that he has a mandate to build IBM's midmarket revenue for services and software through the channel.

Beyond software and services, IBM sees its cloud computing net growth in the midmarket reaching $3 billion in five years. Sotolongo added that IBM's branded Smarter Planet solutions will jump to $10 billion by 2015, while business analytics products will grow to more than $16 billion for IBM by that time.

Monshaw also touched on the virtualization opportunity for IBM business partners, stating that desktop virtualization in particular represented a valuable new area of growth for midmarket solution providers. "It's coming, no question about it," he said, "and it's coming fast."

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