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IBM Expands Social Business Initiative To Improve Education Among Partner Base

Social networking sites are coming to the forefront as key channels for OEMs to communicate with partners and prospects. While sites including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are helpful avenues for OEMs to market to partner networks, they also are vital for marketing throughVARs and ISVs to reach end-users effectively.

Addressing this developing trend, IBM has introduced an array of new programs, services and partnerships to help organizations deepen social business skills among its client partner base. With adoption of these tools and tactics, businesses can accelerate lead generation and boost revenue, Sandy Carter, VP of Social Business and Collaboration Solutions Sales and Evangelism for IBM, told Channel Marketer Report.

“An organization’s social business success can be stunted without proper focus on engagement, culture change, and policy,” Carter said. “Too often, organizations are solely focused on the technology. IBM recognizes that social business technologies, when combined with the right skills and culture, can truly unlock the potential of people within the organization to collaborate, innovate, make smarter business decisions and ultimately drive their bottom line. To help our clients and business partners overcome the barriers of engagement, culture and policy and to develop and deepen the skills needed to accelerate social business adoption, IBM has introduced new programs, services and partnerships for our clients and business partners.”

With the new social business initiative, IBM delivers a turnkey toolkit of social business skills, technical support, development resources and industry expertise. The resources were provided in an effort to empower clients and business partners to expand social capabilities and overall adoption.

The suite of resources includes:

· Strategic consulting: IBM Global Business Services are on-hand to help organizations better understand their current adoption of social business tools for both internal and external benefits.

· Global educational/mentorship programs: Clients and business partners will learn how to become effective community managers and increase employee engagement among top, line-of-business communities on the social software platform.

· Technical certification programs: These resources help customers and business partners validate and demonstrate their skills through assessment exams and training resources. In turn, partners can plan and perform the installation and day-to-day tasks associated with optimizing efficient operation of social software solutions.

· Social Business Agenda workshops: Accessed through IBM PartnerWorld, users receive immediate access to discussion forums that provide case study examples of successful social businesses, as well as resources into how to create an effective social business with high adoption rates.

During 2011, the concept of Social Business was in an era of exploration and experimentation, according to Carter. While many marketers and executives began to recognize the positive impact of social media on business culture and processes, risk management, leadership development, and overall corporate strategy, companies must look beyond developing a Facebook and Twitter page for success during 2012 and beyond.

“A Social Business means that every department, from HR to marketing to product development to customer service to sales, uses social networking the way it uses any other tool and channel to do its job,” Carter explained. “It’s an organization that integrates social networking tools into its traditional business processes to fundamentally impact how work gets done and to create business value. A Social Business utilizes social software technology to communicate with its constituents and rich ecosystem of clients, business partners and employees. It’s a strategic approach to shaping a business culture, highly dependent upon transparency and trust from executive leadership and corporate strategy.”

By making the transition into social business operations, companies can formulate deeper customer relationships, generate new ideas faster, identify expertise, and enable a more effective workforce, according to Carter. IBM is providing its clients and business partners with the necessary resources to optimize social initiatives and in turn, boost their bottom line.

“IBM is working to support of its ecosystem of clients, business partners through these new programs and services that support the skills and education necessary for social business adoption and enablement,” Carter said. “The goal is to help more organizations become social businesses and to accelerate the adoption process from technology implementation to engagement, culture and policy. We’re confident these new resources will be a welcome opportunity for both our business partners and customers.”