IBM Puts AI to Work for Partner Lead Sharing
(Pictured above: IBM’s European Digital Sales Center in Dublin.)
IBM continues to explore where to put cognitive to work for partners in order to create more targeted opportunities while improving outcomes for customers. The company’s latest efforts: using AI to speed partner lead sharing.
In late 2017, IBM started working with its chief analytics office — that’s where company data scientists know how to leverage cognitive and AI for business applications. These experts were tasked with mimicking the human lead-generation process. They built an engine called SCORE and paired it with human IBM lead passers to replicate the lead-passing process. SCORE went live last year.
Used to accelerate the lead-passing process with partners last year, IBM is taking the project a step further this year based on feedback from partners. The goal is to help partners improve their standing within the algorithm or get a better understanding of what they need to do to get better leads.
“This year, we’re beginning with the business partner score card; that will allow me as a partner to log in and see how I rank against my peer group,” Mike Fino, chief operating officer, IBM partner ecosystem, told Channel Futures. “Then there will be recommendations — either competencies I could take, or maybe, I wasn’t reacting to all of the opportunities that were passed to me fast enough. This is designed to help partners change their behavior and maximize their score within the SCORE engine.”
The beauty of this latest cognitive initiative is that it changes the partner’s behavior.
“To me, if it doesn’t change the partner’s behavior and get them excited about it, then it’s just another way to do what we’ve always done,” he said.
Getting partners to improve their position means better skilled partners with better quality leads getting passed to them more quickly.
“Everybody wins because partners are happier getting leads that are better suited to them versus getting more general leads. It also helps the partner be more productive because if they get leads that are more apt for their specialty, they’re not wasting time taking leads only to put them back into the system to IBM,” added Fino.
Earlier this year, at IBM Think, the company announced IBM Business Partner Connect, its first AI initiative to help the channel. IBM Business Partner Connect uses a Watson AI-powered engine to help partners tap into IBM’s global ecosystem to find partners with complementary capabilities.
This latest AI-powered effort targets demand generation and lead passing because quality and velocity are the No. 1 and 2 secret points to success — and AI tools promote quality and velocity.
Prior to this latest AI initiative for lead passing, IBM made several attempts to improve the human process with automation; however, they were system and program types of tools.
“Like anything else, if you don’t constantly change and update the tool, they can quickly fall out of currency,” said Fino.
The elegance of a cognitive tool is that …