IBM Equips VARs For Solutions

The urging came at an IBM event last week during CMP Media&s XChange conference in Orlando, Fla., where Debra Thompson, IBM&s vice president of channel management and marketing, Global Business Partners, said the move toward IT solutions is behind the new push.

“The shift to solutions is changing the industry landscape,” Thompson said. “Solutions make up 62 percent of IT spending today, and that will grow to 70 percent by 2008.”

Thompson said Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM&s SystemSeller initiative is a product-oriented program designed to help Business Partners avoid special-bid red tape. The program offers aggressively priced, in-stock Intel server SKUs that match or beat Dell&s prices while undercutting Dell&s delivery times.

IBM executives said that SystemSeller would soon be expanded to include SKUs across all IBM brands including software, financing and services.

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Initially launched in Europe, SystemSeller was rolled out earlier this year in the United States and IBM has seen its U.S. volumes double since the beginning of the year. The program now accounts for 12 percent of its total U.S. product sales.

Howard Holme, president of Bandwidth Market Limited, a Denver-based telecommunications solution provider, said he is considering adding hardware to his mix after learning of the SystemSeller initiative. “IBM has made it simple enough that we might want to sell blades,” he said. “It makes it so we don&t have to shop and negotiate for months on end.”

Thompson cited a Blade Center SystemSeller price of $7,289, a $499 savings over the same piece-part system, which sells for $7,788. In addition, she said solution providers get a 2 percent SystemSeller rebate, 4 percent for new customers and 1 percent if the solution provider is a Premier IBM Business Partner.

Meanwhile, Nancy Toda, director of worldwide channel marketing, IBM Software Group, said IBM is enhancing its Campaign Designer tool by allowing Business Partners to take advantage of IBM&s low advertising rates. Campaign Designer is a free Web-based tool that allows Business Partners to design their own advertising and marketing campaigns using standard building blocks to create professional-looking marketing materials.

“We are looking at leveraging some of the discounted negotiated advertising rates that we have available in the marketplace and extending them to Business Partners,” she said.