HMGS’ Domino Gambit

Ever since IBM Corp. rechristened most of its major product lines and service offerings with "e-business" tags, Big Blue has looked to position itself in terms of providing the informational underpinnings for business and commerce in the age of the Internet. A number of business partners have hitched their coat tails to IBM’s new e-business initiative, not the least of which is Hall-Mark Global Solutions (HMGS, HMGS is an IBM distributor and Lotus Notes business partner that is extensively leveraging the Lotus Domino framework as a means to help resellers and other business partners make the most of what e-business has to offer.

According to Mike Brannan, a program manager for IBM/Lotus Software at HMGS, e-business is a resource that should be a valuable strategic asset for resellers and business partners. "We know that e-business isn’t just a passing fad – it’s a strategic business strategy for companies trying to anticipate the needs of tomorrow’s customers," Brannan says. "But are resellers and partners truly prepared to effectively address this growing market opportunity?"

In the month of February alone, HMGS introduced three new Domino-related initiatives, beginning first and foremost with Net.New, an e-commerce marketing program that looks to leverage Domino as a platform for sales training and assistance. HMGS also announced a partnership with Precision System Concepts Inc. (PSC, that the company hopes will enhance its Lotus Notes/Domino portfolio through the addition of PSC’s own Lotus-based solutions. Finally, HMGS unveiled an expansion to its existing 'IBootcamp' SR series of instructional classes -- anchored by its 'IBootcamp for AS/400' SR training seminar -- to include a new series of 'IDomino for AS/400 Bootcamp' SR classes.

Insofar as putting the "e" in "e-business" is concerned, HMGS’ Net.New is a marketing program that purports to allow resellers and business partners to leverage the power of IBM’s e-business solutions, most notably Lotus Domino on the AS/400. "We have created the Net.New program to help resellers seize the huge opportunity that e-business offers," Brannan acknowledges.

Accordingly, Net.New provides resellers with a host of amenities, including training and education services. Perhaps most importantly, HMGS is also willing to pitch in financially, as the company indicates that cooperative marketing campaigns are also available to help resellers and business partners generate new business leads. As part of the Net.New program, HMGS will even provide funding for initiatives like "seminar-in-a-box," telemarketing or direct mail campaigns to generate additional business leads.

If Net.New looks to more fully leverage Domino and the AS/400, HMGS’ partnership with PSC looks to tie both platforms together to better manage a reseller’s business critical knowledge. PSC’s Enterprise Information System (EIS) is a knowledge management tool that leverages both Domino and IBM’s DB2/400 database to help organizations deal with the problem of information volume by providing data specific to resource performance, project statuses and invoicing information.

Finally, HMGS’ says that its 'IDomino for AS/400 Bootcamp' SR provides the core training services that help resellers and business partners stay abreast of the Lotus Domino e-business infrastructure. According to HMGS, while sales and technical certification is a prerequisite for all IBM midrange remarketers, Big Blue implemented several new certification criteria in April 1997 for which resellers and business partners must now be held responsible. In addition, IBM provided a two-year window, which expired on April 15, 1999, for reseller and business partner compliance with its revamped certification requirements.

With a number of seminars available at either its Mt. Laurel, N.J.- or Toronto, Canada-based campuses, HMGS hopes to be in a position to service training-starved business partners and resellers.