IBM Offers Partner Incentives Through Expanded 'Smarter Commerce' Initiative


The move is IBM's latest step to capitalize on the $2.5 billion it spent last year to acquire several e-commerce technology companies and grow sales in what IBM estimates to be a $20-billion software market.

"It's a sign of how committed we are to this space," said Craig Hayman, general manager of IBM industry solutions, in a phone interview. And the incentives "fit within the broader IBM PartnerWorld program," he said.

Last year IBM spent a combined $2.5 billion to acquire ecommerce software vendor Sterling Commerce, interactive marketing application developer Unica, and Web analytics software vendor Coremetrics.

In March IBM debuted what it called its "Smarter Commerce" initiative, developing services around the acquired software and IBM WebSphere Commerce. IBM also began offering training and certification for channel partners who wanted to build a practice around the IBM ecommerce software.

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IBM estimates the worldwide market for ecommerce software to be $20 billion and the sales opportunity with added hardware and services to be as much as $70 billion.

This week's announcement takes the Smarter Commerce effort a step further by offering resellers up to 50 points of margin for selling Smarter Commerce software to mid-market customers under the IBM Software Value Plus program. They also can get 12-month, zero-percent financing for customer deals, according to IBM.

Resellers have to be authorized IBM software providers with certifications in sales and technical support to participate.

IBM partner Cincom Systems is already working with IBM under the Smarter Commerce channel initiative, reselling IBM software along with its own Cincom Synchrony contact center and customer experience solution.

"These components IBM is bringing to Smarter Commerce just fits hand-and-glove with the solution we're bringing to market," said Dave Wood, managing director of customer experience management solutions at the Cincinnati-based Cincom. He also praised the services IBM is bringing to the Smarter Commerce effort through its IBM Global Services operations.

IBM is also offering what it calls the Smarter Commerce Solution Development Initiative under which ISVs and solution providers gain access to such resources as workshops, industry-specific sales and technical support, and IBM's global innovation centers. Partners must have IBM software and industry-specific certifications in retail, telecommunications, banking and consumer product industries participate.

In recent months IBM has launched similar initiatives for channel partners around cloud computing and business analytics.