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A Meeting Of The (Top) Minds

The best way to understand where partnering is heading this year is to hear about it directly from the source. Make that "sources." For this year's annual Partner Programs Guide, we invited three of the biggest channel honchos--IBM's Mike Borman, CA's George Kafkarkou and Sun's Gary Grimes--for a roundtable in January at New York City's famed 21 Club. We held the sit-down luncheon in the restaurant's wine cellar, where the trio of channel vets had a lot of good things to say about each other, all doused with respect and humor. You could literally see the chemistry come alive.

Together, the three embody close to a century of experience. They spoke candidly with our editors about the challenges facing their organizations, how they measure channel performance and satisfaction, and whether they see the fabled turnaround in our industry taking hold.

The Players

Mike Borman: Borman is general manager of IBM Global Business Partners, a position he assumed 14 months ago. Since that time, he has overseen a major restructuring and consolidation of the company's SMB programs and product offerings. He is responsible for 90,000 Business Partners worldwide. A longtime IBMer, Borman began his career at Big Blue in the role of a programmer, then went on to hold a variety of systems engineering, sales, marketing and management positions.
George Kafkarkou: Kafkarkou is senior vice president of world channel operations, sales and marketing at CA, and was brought over from Europe, where he was general manager for indirect sales, to create programs and policies that would improve partner satisfaction. A 20-year CA veteran, Kafkarkou helped to create the "channel-preferred sales model," which aims to eliminate channel conflict. "CA needs to step up and do a better job helping VARs," he told us in an interview last year.
Gary Grimes: Grimes, vice president of U.S. partner management and sales, has played a leading role in rearchitecting Sun Microsystems' channel. That includes combining its various channel programs under the iForce Partner Program umbrella, changing the way Sun rewards its partners and upgrading the quality of its partner base by cutting ties to underperformers. Grimes has been with Sun since 1987, starting as a district manager.

VB: How are you making it easier for your partners to do business with you?

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