Armonk, New York – (PRESS RELEASE – August 31, 2010) – Forty-five percent of IBM (NYSE: IBM) Business Partners are experimenting with a social media business strategy to generate new revenue streams; However, three quarters say they still are uncertain how to apply it as an effective sales tool, according to survey results from 1,000 IBM worldwide partners released today.
The proliferation of social media outlets and the potential to capitalize on social networking trends may help boost sales in a challenging economy, the IBM Business Partners report. In response to the 2010 IBM Business Partner Social Media Survey results, IBM today launched a new skills initiative designed to provide its business partners — resellers, distributors, ISVs and system integrators — with education on effective use of social media to support their growth. This initiative will include the availability of new IBM resources for its partners including:
- training sessions and a social media guide available via the IBM PartnerWorld website;
- a webcast and podcast series on Web 2.0 social media opportunities and successful strategy implementations;
- a live session on “Leveraging Social Media for your Business” scheduled for partners at the October 2010 IBM Information On Demand Conference in Las Vegas, NV; and
- virtual and in-person workshops at the IBM Virtual Innovation Center and 40 IBM Innovation Centers worldwide on LotusLive, IBM’s online collaboration and social networking services in the cloud.
According to the survey, 74 percent of IBM partners are seeking education on social computing. Many indicated being overwhelmed by the amount of social media outlets available and are seeking education on how to utilize them. They also are asking for training on specific social media tools like RSS, Facebook, Twitter, wikis, videos and setting-up networking communities for engaging with other partners and customers.
“Many of our partners are recognizing this shift in how businesses communicate with their customers, potential customers, and each other, and yet they have not created a strategy for embracing social media,” said Sandy Carter, vice president, IBM Software Business Partners. “Through this new skills initiative, we’re arming our partners with the skills they need to elevate their sales and marketing teams with social media strategies to establish smarter business practices in the Web 2.0 world.”
The survey also showed that 97 percent of respondents described IBM’s social computing capabilities as moderately to much better than other competing large IT vendors. Partners cited the expertise of IBM employees, support and responsiveness, and “ease of use” as reasons IBM is ahead of other technology and services companies.
IBM Social Networking Opportunities for Business Partners
The new social media skills initiative for partners begins in August with a series of web events to provide partners with education on Internet marketing and social media. For example, IBM will present “Internet Marketing: Your 24/7 money machine” with IBM Business Partner Black Diamond Software and other industry leaders to share with IBM partners how to develop a cost effective, targeted Internet campaign using social media.
Additionally, a September 1, 2010, webcast from IBM and digital marketing experts Mason Zimbler, a Harte-Hanks company, will provide education on how to leverage multi-channel strategies for business partner success. Harte-Hanks works with IBM to help its partners make the most of their marketing investment and build stronger sales pipelines by leveraging data analytics, social media, automated lead nurturing, and closely aligned sales support to grow new business. Additional IBM web training programs will run throughout the year.
Through IBM’s PartnerWorld Communities, launched in June 2009, IBM also has created a collection of social networking community spaces specifically designed to help its partners more easily connect and collaborate online. The community, with members in 30 countries, extends beyond PartnerWorld with 10,000 partners tapping into 250 Linked In groups, 400 Facebook groups, and over 500 blogs on industry-specific topics ranging from SOA implementations and green IT to virtualization and cloud computing. PartnerWorld Communities also feature several blogs devoted to raising partner awareness of new sales resources, marketing incentives and technology trends.
IBM today provides partners with several Web 2.0 Internet marketing benefits such as access to online virtual summits, search engine optimization, and web content syndication that brings the latest IBM product information direct to partner websites.
IBM Business Partners also have been quick to adopt and promote IBM’s public cloud offering for collaboration, LotusLive. Partners of all types worldwide, such as FreshTL, Ingram Micro Inc., Insight and Lighthouse Computer Services, are demonstrating the value of LotusLive’s integrated email, web conferencing, social networking and collaboration services.