IBM’s social business journey – are Partners on the same train?


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image from wrote a good post at the IBM Software Blog to celebrate Social Media Day. It’s full of impressive statistics which show how far IBM has come as a social business and the impressive number of employees who are part of this transformation. All the more need for Partners to get up to speed and to leverage and take advantage of that massive IBM investment. I see Partners being the ones dragging the chain.

I had a minor twitch when I read that IBM has been using social software for 15 years. I think that a lot of firms have been using traditional collaborative tools, but they have not transformed into social businesses – so in that sense IBM is devaluing it’s own achievements in social business by claiming to have been doing it for so long.

That’s a pity because they are one of the most social media savvy organisations on the planet, at the same level of social business development as Microsoft, and the very astute EMC, and the highly invested Cisco. Even though Microsoft has topped IBM in a couple of polls of social business (Microsoft tops social media savvy companies – survey), these businesses are all clustered up in the high achievers.

Social business is about reinventing customer relationships, and this also means with Partners and the channel. I consistently see that the channel is the tortoise in this race to social business, and that they fail to really and fundamentally pick up on the assets which the vendors are providing them through the social business transformation. Microsoft is focusing on partner enablement through social business as a competitive edge, and also to help move their channel partners to better understand the customer buying process.

IBM is also directing many initiatves towards Partners, to help them grow their social media skills, social media marketing skills, and social business transformation. The IBM post outlines many of these, and there’s been great work done by @sandy_carter – see IBM’s social media skills initiative for partners.

There are so many reasons why channel partners should connect with vendors and current customers in social media, yet, as I said, on the whole they seem slow to take advantage. I think that the push to cloud is going to accelerate the pressure on the channel to change, and especially when offers like Microsoft’s Office365 start to gain critical mass. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

To do that, to transform, they need a good strategy. And to develop a good social business strategy Partners need time (and resources). But luckily they have great examples in their vendors, and the smart partners will work that for everything that it is worth – and the vendors will pleased to help, it’s their future at stake as well!

What’s the partner maturity level in social business that you see? – please comment below.

Walter @adamson

Related post: Office365 and Partners – crisis = danger plus opportunity

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Walter Adamson
I help firms create optimal customer experiences by integrating social data, teams & processes with enterprise systems. The much vaunted 360-view of the customer can be a bottomless pit without a clear data strategy. I help you deliver a greatly improved customer experience starting with a "45-degree" view of the customer, fully utilising social data analytics. I clarify your objectives and what data you need to service them, and guide you to operationalise "social at scale" to consistently deliver valuable customer experience at every social touch point.


  1. As an IBM BP (or chain dragging tortoise) I had to respond to this. Generalisations are tricky, particularly those that refer to an organisation the size of IBM. Sure, some BP will be behind the curve but no more than some IBM (or for that matter Cisco or EMC) staffers. Other BP’s, like ours, are already out in the market place with social propositions. In our case, it is collaborative decision making that is, in many ways, as innovative as anything that IBM are doing in this area. IBM and their rich partner network has facilitated this by allowing us to collaborate with a Social partner (Digirati) but the innovation, thought leadership and hard work (meeting after meeting up and down the country) is all down to Artesian and Digirati as business partners with a shared vision.

    Innovation and thought leadership is as likely to come from a smaller, agile organisation as it is a well-funded mega vendors which is why one keeps acquiring the other. Are BP on the train? Most are, many are not far behind and some are on the footplate along with IBM.


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