IBM Getting Channel Partners Gen AI-Ready

IBM and NTT Data will open a Center Of Excellence to bridge the gap around gen AI hype and current reality for partners.

Christine Horton, Contributing Editor

January 23, 2024

2 Min Read
IBM enlists partners for Gen AI

IBM is creating a Center of Excellence for generative AI (gen AI) to help partners bridge the gap between the promise of the technology and their current skills.

The Center is a joint initiative with NTT Data, said David Stokes, IBM general manager, partner ecosystem, EMEA. It will develop solutions for application modernization, finance, hospitality and the public sector.

“We’ve heard a lot from our partners over the last 12 months, that there’s a massive opportunity to help businesses take advantage of generative AI. But there’s still a big gap between the opportunity and the capability in many organizations to get there,” said Stokes.

“So we are working with our partners to build that expertise in watsonx, in data, in governance," he added. "Then, combining that with their technical skills with their industry knowhow to bridge [those] skills … between the reality of AI and the promise of AI.”

IBM's David Stokes

Stokes said IBM has spent time with NTT creating a platform that will allow organizations to implement gen AI “in an ethical and responsible way.”

He said the companies are “taking into concern the purpose of how AI was to be used and then governing that purpose, as well as making sure that concerns around data privacy and data security [are] also taken into account.”

The exec said they had a platform “that we could build trust around,” particularly in line with EU regulations around data use.

IBM Gen AI Opportunity Attracting New Partners

IBM launched its Partner Plus program a year ago. Stokes said the simplification of the program has helped partners.

“It’s a rich program as well in terms of being able to learn benefits, but also margins around our technology, particularly partners selling to new clients. We’ve got good feedback on that. But we continue to enhance the program,” he said.

He echoed IBM Ecosystem GM Kate Woolley’s comments that “thousands” of new partners have since signed up to the program. He added that one of the biggest differences is IBM cutting the time between partners joining the program to stating to do business.

“It’s a matter of days versus what used to be, candidly speaking, months,” he said. “So I can’t say I’ve been surprised by the demand. But I’ve been very pleased by the demand from a lot of new partners who may have previously not seen IBM as a potential partner for them.

“I’ve also been happy with the fact that some partners who were trading with us, opportunistically … maybe once a year, couple of times a year, have now started to look towards IBM as a more strategic partner," added Stokes. "Particularly with watsonx and the opportunity to build a strategic platform … to go after the AI business opportunity.”

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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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