Despite IBM CEO Sam Palmisano's vow to make SMBs the company's the largest customer segment within five years, IBM sales partners seem less than satisfied with the company.
According to a CRN poll, the number of resellers certified to sell IBM products fell from 25 percent to 16 percent during the past year. Nineteen of 25 resellers interviewed by CRN reported that their sales are flat and declining. A recent ChannelWeb.com survey of resellers told a similarly dismal story.
Several resellers say that IBM tends to focus on mid-size rather than small companies and that its communications with partners are not as clear as those of rival HP, which has been making gains with resellers. One anonymous partner interviewed by CRN calls IBM's management structure "a disorganized, ugly mess" with "zero leadership."
Big Blue's recently announced sweeping reorganization of its Systems and Technology Group appears designed to address at least some of those concerns. Such moves will be necessary if IBM hopes to withstand competition from HP, which also recently reorganized its SMB team and has introduced a slew of products geared toward SMBs, including a low-priced ProLiant server.
In addition, Dell offers a newly attractive option for resellers, now that it is moving beyond its strictly direct sales model and has introduced a line of PCs, printers and other gear for SMBs.