March '05 - March '09

Business Partner Technical Enablement

One of IBM's strong points is that it produces solid middle ware. This is not necessarily software that end users use directly, but it is the foundation which other people build end user software on. These business partners form an entire ecosystem. They add value to our products and make money selling that to our users. It is mutually beneficial: the more they sell, the greater the value proposition of our products and the more we make overall.

Supporting business partners is not always easy. They do not fall into the normal category of end user support and we cannot always send them to the development team, who are busy writing new versions of our products. So the role of the Business Partner Technical Enablement team was to work with these people. Technically knowledgeable people who can speak their language and who are also subject matter experts on the product that can help and advise them about how to best take advantage of the software to develop valuable products. The team is also a conduit for feature requests and bug reports for use in planning and development. By making our business partners part of the process we ensure they get what they need to keep making money by selling our software.

One of my skills is that I am a "quick study." I can work with something and develop a high level understanding of the uses and potential of a product very quickly. This allows me to "ramp up" to the point of being able to give productive advice rapidly, and over time, provides the foundation for diving past the abstract into specific capabilities. This made me a very good choice for technical enablement. Even with just a brief description from a partner on what their business model is, or their application plans are, I could derive what direction might suit them best and what aspects of our solution set could benefit them the most. And, since I am not in sales or commission driven, if we could not solve their problems, I am free to say that as well.

The downside of being good at this sort of thing was that I was frequently moved from product to product, as staffing and business needs changed. In my time in BPTE I covered:

  • Workplace Managed Client
  • Workplace Forms
  • Sametime
  • Symphony
  • Lotus Notes (Composite Applications)
  • Lotus Notes (XPages)

I attended Lotusphere for each year I was in the group, presented on a variety of topics there, and ran tutorials and Q&A sessions in the lab. I was very prolific at producing collateral for business partners and was widely publish on IBM's Developer Works, as well as doing a number of YouTube instructional videos, sample code on OpenNTF, and in the industry magazine The View.