Bob Evans interviews Kate Woolley, General Manager, IBM Ecosystem, as part of the Partners Ecosystem Innovation series, in which he speaks with top executives responsible for the ecosystem businesses of the Cloud Wars Top 10 companies. This exclusive series leads up to the Partners Ecosystem Digital Summit, taking place on April 20. Click here to register for the event.
In this interview, Bob and Woolley discuss the ways that the IBM ecosystem is helping the company move into new ways of the world, the rise and influence of artificial intelligence (AI), and IBM’s Partner Plus program.
Register here for your on-demand pass to view all content from Partners Ecosystem Digital Summit. The digital event, which took place on April 20, focused on analyzing the business and IT imperatives around cloud, AI, automation, data modernization, and cybersecurity that define the future of partnerships.
00:39 — Despite economic uncertainty and disruption, many businesses — including IBM — are eager to become the digital businesses they need to be in order to flourish in the future, explains Bob, before asking Woolley how IBM works with its partners ecosystem to help clients move into this new, exciting world.
01:27 — IBM’s ecosystem is becoming increasingly important, and the company continues to expand its ecosystem to continue playing a larger role. Woolley explains that this notion is driven by the needs of IBM clients — all of which are on a digital transformation journey. The IBM ecosystem includes thousands of partners, ranging from system integrators to ISVs, hyperscalers, and everything in between. A critical focus of the IBM ecosystem is finding ways to leverage the strengths of partners that drive digital business.
03:23 — Bob asks Woolley about IBM’s involvement with hyperscalers, which represents an entirely new direction that IBM has taken toward its ecosystem. Woolley agrees this is a new direction, suggesting that “it’s all about how do we create exponentially more connections across different types of partners.” By bringing in a strategic partner, IBM is able to move much quicker and deliver that value at scale.
05:20 — How does the IBM ecosystem play into the rise of digital business? There are many ways that partners can engage with IBM technology:
- Build on IBM technology
- Embed IBM technology
- Build services on top of IBM technology
- Be a seller of IBM technology
IBM is seeking ways to leverage its partners ecosystem for the purpose of digitization and simplification.
07:41 — Bob notes how, in the past, a critical focus of partnerships was fulfillment. Now, that role has evolved and partners are responsible for innovation, business outcomes, and business value. Woolley agrees. “It’s [now] ‘how do we actually drive to that business value for our clients and unlock that using our ecosystem?’ So unlocking that using co-creation, unlocking that using the programs we have in place.” She explains how at the start of this year, IBM launched its Partner Plus program, which focuses on driving value with partners and giving them the means to deliver that value faster.
09:34 — Driving co-creation is another important aspect of IBM’s Partner Plus program. Currently, IBM is working with Ernst & Young to co-create sustainability services and tools.
10:39 — Traditionally, IBM clients were consumers of enterprise technology. Increasingly, the clients want to become creators of that technology. What is the role of the IBM ecosystem in this level of co-creation? “We have to do it together,” states Woolley. At its core, Partner Plus is about making partners an extension of IBM.
12:06 — What opportunities does IBM’s ecosystem see around artificial intelligence (AI)? There are huge opportunities for the ecosystem around AI, explains Woolley. It is critical for IBM to find ways to make this technology available, so it can be embedded into other products.
13:52 — In closing, Woolley notes that there is no one vendor that can deliver everything a client needs. “So it’s about bringing the strengths of IBM and the strengths of our partners to be able to drive that innovation and drive more value for our clients… we’re just getting started. I would say for the IBM ecosystem, I think there’s no better time to be an IBM partner.”
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