Just what kind of effect does the consolidation of vendors have on resellers? In an IT industry characterised by significant merger and acquisition activity in recent years, that’s a question which many resellers have had to face up to. In the case of Cognos partner Synergy BI, when IBM took over Cognos in 2008, it was necessary to make several investments in order to maintain its position as a certified Service and Support Partner. These investments, says managing director Christo Bredenkamp, have left Synergy BI better equipped to address the needs of the market.
“As a partner of what is now a far bigger organisation, Synergy BI had to comply with IBM standards and processes. Far from a hindrance, however, we have found the necessary changes a positive experience which has improved our skills capability as well as client engagement processes,” Bredenkamp explains.
While Synergy has been a Cognos partner for over 20 years, and acquired Premier Partner status in 2001, Senior Consultant Philip Lautenbach explains that “In order to satisfy IBM of our capability, the principal additional criterion was further technical and sales certification. Since we are now a partner to a different company, we also submitted a new business plan and implemented an internal system for improved technical support case tracking.”
In addition to these requirements, Lautenbach continues, further training on IBM internal support processes was necessary.
“The result of these activities is that Synergy BI is now certified as an IBM Advanced partner, fully capable of addressing all first line support and service queries. IBM stands behind us as a second-level support structure and knowledge-base. With IBM approved processes in place, Synergy BI is therefore able to own the customer relationship while the backing of IBM in a best-practice structure provides for easy handover of any issues to the second line, ensuring optimal customer satisfaction,” he says.
Malcolm Stewart, IBM Business Analytics Channel Manager – Sub Saharan Africa, says the re-certification process is an exercise to ensure that joint customers receive quality support and service from channel partners. “Synergy BI has come into IBM with a strong history of providing Business Analytic solutions for many years with Cognos and has continued that momentum with IBM. To recognise these high standards, Synergy BI was named the IBM ‘Top Business Partner in General Business’ award winner just one year after the Cognos acquisition.”
Picking up the story, Bredenkamp says that the investment Synergy BI has made and the association with a vendor with the reach and breadth of solutions that IBM has to offer has left Synergy BI stronger. “This is a good demonstration of a properly-functioning channel structure in which the roles and responsibilities of each player are clear. We’ve always believed in the power of intellectual capital to achieve results for our clients, so additional training and certification were most welcome.”