New Survey Says IBM Business Partners Expect Social Media To Drive Sales
IBM has long been a proponent of having its employees around the world participate in social media.
The company released its Blogging Guidelines (now aptly referred to as the IBM Social Computing Guidelines) back in 2005, when social media was nascent and only a few short years after Doc Searls, Christopher Locke, and others told companies and organizations everywhere they needed to get on the cluetrain.
Flash forward a few short years, when today we announce that IBM Business Partners around the globe are wanting to get in on the action, and in a big way. But, as with so many organizations I come across, they’re looking for some guidance.
IBM recently conducted a survey of its partners and found that three quarters of them are still uncertain how to apply social media as an effective sales tool, and the same number are seeking education on social media and computing technologies and approaches.
The report also indicated that proliferation of social media outlets and the potential to capitalize on social networking trends may help boost sales in a challenging economy.
In response to these IBM Business Partner Social Media Survey results, IBM today launched a new skills initiative designed to provide its business partners — resellers, distributors, ISVs and system integrators — with education on effective use of social media to support their growth.
This initiative will include the availability of new IBM resources for its partners including:
- Training sessions and a social media guide available via the IBM PartnerWorld website;
- A webcast and podcast series on Web 2.0 social media opportunities and successful strategy implementations;
- A live session on “Leveraging Social Media for your Business” scheduled for partners at the October 2010 IBM Information On Demand Conference in Las Vegas, NV; and,
- Virtual and in-person workshops at the IBM Virtual Innovation Center and 40 IBM Innovation Centers worldwide on LotusLive, IBM’s online collaboration and social networking services in the cloud.
The survey also indicated that there’s simply been too much social media too quickly for many of our Business Partners, with many indicating that they’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of social media outlets available, which is why the desire for more education on how to utilize them.
Partners also are asking for training on specific social media tools like RSS, Facebook, Twitter, wikis, videos and setting-up networking communities for engaging with other partners and customers.
“Many of our partners are recognizing this shift in how businesses communicate with their customers, potential customers, and each other, and yet they have not created a strategy for embracing social media,” said Sandy Carter, vice president, IBM Software Business Partners. “Through this new skills initiative, we’re arming our partners with the skills they need to elevate their sales and marketing teams with social media strategies to establish smarter business practices in the Web 2.0 world.”
(Blogger’s Note: developerWorks’ Scott Laningham and I interviewed Sandy about the Business Partner survey and interest in social media just yesterday and you can listen to the podcast here.)
Finally, the survey showed that 97 percent of respondents described IBM’s social computing capabilities as moderately to much better than other competing large IT vendors.
Partners cited the expertise of IBM employees, support and responsiveness, and “ease of use” as reasons IBM is ahead of other technology and services companies.
So, kudos to my own colleagues who are out there everyday fighting the good fight in the social media universe, as your efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.
But more importantly, to our Business Partners, we look forward to continuing to share our knowledge and capabilities in the social media realm to help you better communicate and do business with your customers.
As an FYI, all IBM PartnerWorld members are eligible for a no charge, one-year Business Partner demonstration account for LotusLive Engage, LotusLive Meeting, and now LotusLive iNotes. For more details, click here.
For those Business Partners ready to get started with social media, please go here.
IBM Business Partners on LinkedIn can join networking groups “IBM Software Business Partners” and “IBM Business Partners,” and IBM Business Partner updates can be followed on Twitter using the following ID: @ibmpartners.