Channel Partners Must Band Together to Survive – IBM EMEA Channel Exec

IBM’s David Stokes says complex customer challenges mean the channel must form a network of partners working together.

Christine Horton, Contributing Editor

June 17, 2022

3 Min Read
Working together


IBM’s David Stokes

The days of lone channel partners winning business are over, according to IBM EMEA channel exec David Stokes. He said the challenges facing customers are now so complex, the only channel model that can exist is “a multilateral network of partners working together.”

Stokes explained: “That still requires us to be very good at what we say we’re going to do. It also requires all of us to have a core set of muscles and to collaborate to innovate. That will become core to success.

“We all know that coopetition is one of the key models for our businesses: one day competing, the other day working together. That will be core, and clients will expect us to do that with integrity. Any ecosystem of value will be built upon trust.”

A Cause for Optimism

The IBM ecosystem leader in EMEA was speaking at this week’s Channel Partners Europe conference in London. He said despite the current economic and political volatility, he wanted to “make the case for optimism.”

“We have an opportunity to drive this next stage of digitalization. Not just to do things that IT has traditionally done: efficiency gains, productivity. But to help to solve some of the most profound problems that society, government and industries face in our world today. We should look forward as individual organisations, but more importantly as an ecosystem, with great optimism about what we can achieve together as agents of change.”

Stokes cited the opportunities for channel partners around hybrid IT.

“First, the ability to build applications once and run them anywhere [with] massive amounts of productivity and flexibility. Second, being able to manage once and host applications anywhere. Third, being able to develop one set of application development skills, and then use those skills across multiple platforms. [That means] massive amounts of productivity for us in the IT industry as well as our clients. Then finally, the ability for us to have an open platform where we can innovate anywhere with anyone.”

AI Opportunities

He also pointed to artificial intelligence (AI) as a “massive opportunity” in the next stage of digitization.

“Our surveys show that AI is now starting to be adopted around 28% of business workflows. We think that will jump to 48% in three years. There’s already evidence that organisations are taking AI seriously and putting it to real work inside the enterprise.

“However, around 70% of data available to corporates, whether structured or unstructured, is currently not being analysed at all. We all know that data is the fuel for AI – that’s a lot of wasted fuel. On the other hand, over 80% of data is either siloed or is of insufficient quality to be of any use to AI. I

“From the consulting side, those of you with strong industry skills, helping organisations get over that 50%. Where are the opportunities in corporate workflows for them to deploy AI? Both to address the productivity challenges that exist in the UK across Europe, but also drive automation across the enterprise?

“On the other side, there are opportunities around helping businesses build a data fabric. Data fabric is just a simple term for being able to integrate data across different silos but doing so in a way that you can provide transparency of how the data has been used, and appropriate governance around that data. So two massive opportunities for us to be able to leverage to help businesses drive automation and productivity.”


Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Christine Horton or connect with her on LinkedIn.



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About the Author(s)

Christine Horton

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Christine Horton writes about all kinds of technology from a business perspective. Specializing in the IT sales channel, she is a former editor and now regular contributor to leading channel and business publications. She has a particular focus on EMEA for Channel Futures.

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