Sam Palmisano – “Reaffirming our commitment [to business partners]”

An interesting mail in my Inbox this morning, especially given the news on resource changes coming from IBM over the past two months (emphasis mine):

PW newsflash

Sam Palmisano – Reaffirming our commitment


I am pleased to send you the updated IBM Business Partner Charter. It represents a continuing commitment to our relationship – which is more important today, I believe, than ever before.


The reason I believe that is because of the major shift now underway across the global economy. This is not simply a cyclical downturn. On the other side of the present turmoil, a very different world is taking shape.
And together we are uniquely positioned to lead it.

The world is not just becoming smaller and “flatter.” It’s also becoming smarter. Through pervasive instrumentation and interconnection, almost anything – any person, any object, any process or any service, for any organisation, large or small – can become digitally aware, networked and intelligent. And these new capabilities could not be more timely. Even in today’s difficult environment, businesses are willing to invest in IT solutions – if they cut costs, drive efficiency and productivity, preserve capital and create competitive advantage.
And that’s exactly what “smarter” solutions do.

The skills, technologies and solutions that you and IBM have built together put us in a unique position to help our clients give their organisations a smart upgrade. This comes together in our Smarter Planet vision and solutions, which we’ve begun rolling out around the world. They can help you provide immediate answers to your clients’ most urgent questions – and then open up a profoundly different long-term conversation with them. I urge you to take advantage of this moment, and this vision. And you can expect to see much more from us in the months and years ahead.


In this world undergoing such rapid and profound change, the IBM Business Partner Charter represents our commitment to what never changes about our relationship, while renewing it for a very different world. Together, I believe, we can shape a new era of leadership and growth.


Sincerely,

Sam Sig

The BP Charter mentioned here is a 3-page PDF document that describes the “six guiding principles” that determine how IBM works with its business partners:

1.        IBM Business Partners are vital to IBM’s business.
2.        Our relationship is a collaboration of equals.
3.        We invest in IBM Business Partners’ success.
4.        We strive to provide the industry’s best Business Partner experience, in all respects.
5.        We work with our Business Partners to seize the opportunities to presented by a smarter planet.
6.        We ground our relationships in the core values of IBMers.

Interesting stuff…  Sam’s viewpoint on the change in the World economy is a challenging one – is it really going to be a fundamentally different business climate when the economy does recover?

Regarding the BP charter – this version certainly has a different flavour to older versions I’ve seen, and if the words were fully born out in reality then life would be much easier for sure.  The IBM BP program is a good one – thats why IBM wins so many channel awards for Partnerworld (whatever one can say about the website, software downloads etc – the program itself is very comprehensive and easy to understand), and certainly IBM does “invest in IBM Business Partners’ success” in many areas.    I do applaud them for the efforts they make in this area.

However, in my opinion, the area where IBM has most distance to go is on point 2 – “a collaboration of equals”.  I have never felt at any stage in my 15 year career as an IBM BP that we were equals, either at an organisation or individual level.  IBM runs the relationship, the customer accounts, the way we transact business, how we compete and so on.  

Now, if that were to change over the next 12 months, what a difference it would make to the vitality of business partners over these challenging times…

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!