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IBM Master Academy: A new standard for Business Partner enablement

A vital element of the IBM PartnerWorld program is ensuring our Business Partners derive the maximum value from their relationship with IBM. The competition for market share in strategic technologies such as analytics and cognitive, security and cloud has never been more fierce.

In late 2016, the IBM Italy Channel team held a design thinking workshop to develop winning ideas for helping transform the Italian Business Partner ecosystem. Out of 10 candidates, the team selected a new education program as the most likely to have a significant impact on Business Partners’ ability to gain competitive advantage, and it’s called the IBM Master Academy program.

IBM has partnered with the Politecnico di Milano to build a series of curricula designed to give Business Partners access not only to the best IBM solutions enablement, but also to the latest academic teaching styles from one of Italy’s leading business schools.

IBM Master Academy program manager Alessandra Patriarca explains, “Partnering with the Politecnico di Milano enables us to bring a high level of academic expertise to Master Academy. In addition to specific solution-based training from IBM experts, we are able to incorporate the Politecnico’s consultative selling techniques. That means that delegates not only become experts in IBM’s solutions but that they also are able to develop deep insights into their clients’ business needs and how those solutions can add real value.”

The Politecnico’s lecturers work closely with IBM to understand our market approach and tailor their content accordingly. Each nine-day Academy is held at the IBM Client Centre in Milan and delegates pay a tuition fee of €1,500 to take part. “The investment that each partner makes in the program,” says Patriarca, “is a key part of its success. The Academy is a nine-day program, so there is a commitment which is both financial and physical.”

Academies are held in three-day bursts over a three-month period with a curriculum of online pre-work, education in the fundamental concepts of the technology and professional skills development. There are exams at the end of each module and to complete the program, students prepare a case study, selling the technology to a prospective CxO. Successful participants earn an IBM Master Academy badge that is recognised by the IBM PartnerWorld program. To ensure the best level of interaction between students and teachers, academies accommodate between 10 and 12 partners.

To date, three Master Academies have taken place, focused on Security, Cognitive and Analytics and, most recently, Cloud. The response, says Patriarca, has been overwhelmingly positive:

“What I got from the course is a higher confidence in IBM leadership and better credibility in bringing solid sales and architectural propositions to clients, together with a clear IBM vision on the evolution of the market in these areas.”—Enrico Bellinzona, DEDAGROUP – Analytics & Cognitive session

“It is very positive that IBM has developed an initiative to improve partner skills and face new market challenges. The IBM value proposition in Security is very strong and can help us address very crucial requests from our clients.”—Giancarlo Pighin, DEDAGROUP – Security session

“I got a lot of value-add to be used in everyday business, and I now feel more confident in proposing migrations to hybrid cloud architecture to my clients. Hands-on experience with Bluemix, understanding the costs of the solution and studying the different sales strategies have been fundamental, together with the opportunity to interact with very prepared and dedicated experts.”—Christian Romano, MAUDEN – Cloud session

“We are planning further Academies in 2018 and beyond,” says Patriarca, “focused on the technologies we have already covered this year, but also broadening our curriculum into areas like blockchain.”

If you are interested in finding out more about IBM Master Academy, I encourage you to contact your IBM Italy channel marketing team.

Andrew Davidson
Channel Communications, Europe



Andrew Davidson leads communications for IBM's One Channel business in Europe. With over 20 years experience in telling stories about technology innovation and the way it shapes our world, Andrew helps IBM and its Business Partners to share how they are working together to increase client value.

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