New IBM Ecosystem Chief Vows to Double Revenue from Partners, Expand Reach

Kate Woolley makes first public appearance in new role, promising expanded managed services opportunities.

Jeffrey Schwartz

April 12, 2022

4 Min Read
BM Keynote at CPLV 22

CHANNEL PARTNERS CONFERENCE & EXPO, LAS VEGAS — Making her debut appearance as general manager of the IBM Ecosystem, Kate Woolley (second from right in photo above) pledged that Big Blue will be easier for partners to do business with. Speaking at the Channel Partners Conference on Monday, Woolley re-affirmed her ambition of doubling revenues generated by IBM’s ecosystem.

Woolley, who revealed that goal with Channel Futures last week, aspires to hit that milestone within three to five years. Growing revenues from an expanded partner ecosystem is a top priority for IBM chairman and CEO Arvind Krishna, Woolley emphasized.

Until beginning her role to the newly created position, Woolley, a former Bain partner, was Krishna’s chief of staff. In January, Krishna tapped her to lead the new effort, which includes overseeing all of IBM’s partner organizations.

“There is a mandate up and down IBM that the ecosystem is a priority,” Woolley said during the keynote session. “This is a renewed focus. The amount of time and energy and focus that IBM is spending on the ecosystem, it feels different. And it’s our job to go and bring that to life.”

New Portal Launches in US

IBM partners in the United States will start experiencing those improvements on Tuesday when the company launches its new portal. Already live throughout the rest of the world, the new Salesforce-based portal provides simplified deal registration, among other improved capabilities. “We’ve taken, I hate to say it, 45 tools into one,” Woolley said.

“When opportunities get shared with our partners, they get automatically registered” she added. “It gives them a lot more visibility.” Woolley acknowledged IBM is still developing new capabilities that will roll out over time. Among those upgrades planned include enabling improved onboarding, certification and training recommendations and how partners can earn more, she said.

Hybrid Cloud Opportunity

Also appearing with Woolley was Inhi Cho Suh (second from left in photo above), GM of IBM’s Global Strategic Partnerships. A key opportunity for partners lies in hybrid cloud solutions based on Red Hat OpenShift running in AWS and Microsoft Azure, Cho Suh said.

“When we acquired Red Hat, I would say that was a really pivotal moment for us to be open,” she said. “And in a hybrid cloud environment, open truly means at all layers of the stack.”

Cho Suh added that partners stand to benefit many times over the amount IBM gains for expanding its footprint. “For every dollar we’re thinking about that’s generated on the platform, we want every infrastructure partner to get $2,” she said. “We want every software partner to get an additional $3. We want every services partner that’s participating in these platforms to get $5. Our desire is to build and grow an ecosystem that actually grows the aggregate pie.”

Addressing All MSPs

Among the biggest challenges facing Woolley is convincing the many MSPs worldwide that IBM isn’t just courting the largest players. During the Q&A, one representative of an MSP said whenever he mentions IBM to his SMB clients, they respond by saying that it sounds expensive. When he investigates, that has proven true, he said.

“We tried to use your infrastructure as a service [and] platform as a service, you weren’t even in the ballpark when it came to pricing compared to other solutions,” he said. “What’s IBM going to do about making themselves attractive to the SMB space, and more importantly, to the MSPs selling into that space?”

Cho Suh responded that was once true because IBM only offered products directly or from its distributors.

“That’s not the case anymore,” she said. “We’ve expanded it so you can actually consume from multiple marketplaces. One of the recent acquisitions that we did is Turbonomic, [which offers] application performance monitoring. It’s probably one of the hottest areas for every MSP to go think about and adopt very quickly. We’re also seeing elements of very discrete security services.”

Cho Suh said there are many opportunities for new partners to work with IBM in a variety of growing areas. “A lot of the partners I have, especially in the managed services, strategic consulting and systems integration space are all building out practices in new areas,” such as data analytics, application modeling and security, she said. “There is just tremendous, tremendous growth.”

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

Free Newsletters for the Channel
Register for Your Free Newsletter Now

You May Also Like