IBM to VARs: We Can Change the World Together

"You really have an opportunity to make a difference," Samson said.

He quoted Gothe: "Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius power and magic in it. Begin it now."

His advice to solution providers looking to be successful in the government and public sector market was to think huge, and get started.

About 40 percent of IBM's public sector business comes through its channel partners, Samson said, and the company relies on the channel to reach the expansive market. "You cannot cover the public sector without a rich, capable compliment of business partners. You can't do it. Government is ubiquitous," he said. "If you don't work with IBM we'd love to have you join us."

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What's IBM doing to help its partners in the channel? IBM is innovating and pushing the boundaries of technology and the ways it can be used whether it be to save lives in a medical facility, to educate students in an elementary school or to help manage traffic in a major city, he said.

"Making money is a good thing. Let's join together. Let's change the world, and along the way get rich," he said.

IBM's Public Sector Edge program can help solution providers, he said, as they try and tap into the areas of innovation in IT. What challenges will they face? Solution providers will have to learn how to create greener data centers, how to deal with aging populations and how to be competitive in an increasingly international economy.

"The challenges in front of public sector government education and healthcare are enormous," Samson said. In addition to dealing with strict budgets, "governments don't do well with discontinuities." As technology moves at its rapid-fire pace, institutions need help adapting their IT environments to accommodate emerging technologies like virtualization and blade servers.

While the public sector may not be able to grasp how technology works and evolves, it's the job of the solution provider to make it work for them. "What's going to capture this isn't' the technology. It's your ability to use it creatively," he said.

IBM is leading the way in innovation with 170,000 researchers, engineers and scientists developing new technologies. IBM was granted 3,700 patents last year, the most of any company in any industry. "We're creating a capability that the market can take advantage of," he said.

"Who is inventing? Who is leading the world in invention? We sell a lot of stuff to our competitors. We give away to the open source community," Samson said. "I use this as an illustration for the kind of partner we can be. "