IBM Set To Unleash Wireless And SMB Market Initiatives

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IBM is readying a new wireless certification program for solution providers and beefing up incentives for sales into the SMB market.

The new Wireless Solution Provider certification, slated to be rolled out late this month or in early May, will elevate participating solution providers to the highest priority to receive leads for wireless engagements in the SMB market, said Frank Vitagliano, vice president of distribution channels management for IBM's Personal Computing Division.

What's more, the wireless certification would put solution providers on a priority list to partner with IBM Global Services (IGS) in midmarket opportunities and tertiary markets where IGS lacks resources, Vitagliano said.

"We're trying to provide end-to-end solutions to the customer instead of commodity price and products," he said. "The new certification will make the solution strategy come alive in the SMB space."

Vitagliano said the wireless certification would be followed by new data-migration and security certifications in the second half of the year.

To earn the wireless certification, solution providers must have one employee take a free five- to six-hour Web-based course. The course includes instruction in consulting, deployment and troubleshooting for wireless networks.

In addition, IBM has launched a new rebate program that pays solution providers up to eight points on ThinkPads sold to SMB accounts. Solution providers can earn two points for each SMB sale, an additional four points if the sale is to an account new to IBM, and two points for five or more ThinkPad sales per month. Vitagliano said IBM defines an SMB account as anything below the Fortune 1000.

"The rebate program interests us, but IBM's Achilles heel has always been availability," said John DeRocker, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Nexus Information Systems, Plymouth, Minn. "But our big profit opportunities are in security and storage. If you're not in those two areas, you're in trouble."

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