Cognos will protect its partners, says executive

Monday, May 12, 2008

With the US$5 billion acquisition of Cognos by IBM (NYSE: IBM), Cognos partners needn't worry about being swamped by the over 90,000 members of IBM's PartnerWorld program. Cognos partners will be protected, and IBM partners wanting to sell Cognos will need to apply to join the Cognos program like any other partner.

As IBM integrates Ottawa-based Cognos into its information management business, opportunities for synergies are being created both ways. However Mel Zeledon, senior vice-president of global alliances at Cognos, says Cognos partners will be protected.
The integration is being driven by three guiding principles: preserving the partner ecosystem, growing the ecosystem, and leveraging the broader ecosystem.
On the first point, Zeledon says no partner will be left behind. It's a lesson he says IBM has learned from previous acquisitions, when the new company's products would be opened-up to the entire IBM partner-base. The old partner eco-system of the acquired company would be swamped, diluting its investment and expertise.
“That was a lesson learned,” said Zeldon. “When IBM acquired FileNet they applied a controlled-distribution model, and now we're going to do the same with Cognos.”
The Cognos program will sit as a separate, value-based program on-top of PartnerWorld. While all Cognos partners will be automatic members of the IBM program, any PartnerWorld partner that wants to have access to, sell or implement Cognos software will need to join and qualify for the Cognos program, just like any other prospective partner.
“This is the plan going-forward,” said Zeldon. “It not only protects the partners initially, but also establishes and rewards partners for providing value to customers. We're going to provide support and incentives to the partners that provide more value.”
While protecting Cognos partners, Zeldon says they will be looking to grow the ecosystem by selectively adding partners, both IBM and non-IBM, that can add value in the mid-market, emerging markets, and around creating point-solutions.
Cognos has also set a goal to double its revenue from US$1 billion to US$2 billion by the end of 2010, so partner enablement will be a key priority going forward.
“That means there's a tremendous opportunity for the partner ecosystem to seize that growth,” said Zeldon.

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