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By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2004-03-29 Print this article Print

Sanford said IBM is about two steps ahead of its customers in terms of implementing an on-demand effort, in which customers participate as well. "We are constantly learning from each other," she said. "And my whole point on collaboration is that collaboration exists not only within IBM but also with other constituencies like customers and business partners and suppliers."

IBMs year-old acquisition of Rational Software Corp. has paid off handsomely. Click here to read more.
IBM customers such as Donald Doane, CEO of OpenDemand Systems Inc., are "seeing a benefit in terms of IBM becoming more responsive to our needs, which is especially critical to our customers in the midmarket. As an example, the turnaround time for us to find the right client representative within IBM is down to just hours," said Doane, in Newark, N.J. "Often, youll see companies come out with a strategy that they want their customers and partners to execute, but they do not execute it themselves. It speaks volumes that IBM is not just talking about on demand, they are leveraging it to make their business processes run more efficiently."

In implementing the changes, the company focused on four initiatives—Total Buyer Experience, Integrated Supply Chain, On Demand Workplace and IT Enablement, Sanford said.

On Demand Workplace is a critical element in driving collaboration within IBM, Sanford said. "We went to our customers and asked what they were most unhappy with us about, and they said, Im tired of being the integrator. Whether its your products with all your other products or your products with other peoples products, Im not the integrator. Im the banker or Im a medical facility or Im an educational institution; I dont want to do the integration. Deliver the solution to me."

Frank Squillante is vice president in charge of IBMs On Demand Workplace, an upgrade of IBMs internal portal, known as W3. On Demand Workplace is a window into IBMs 320,000 employees, he said. IBM estimates that each employee saves from 1 to 3 hours per month in looking for information and other things related to the portal upgrade, he said.

Kyle Hilligoss, an IBM salesman for the On Demand e-business team and one of the early users of the new system, said the system has saved him time searching for information for customers. "Thats critical for being responsive back to a client," Hilligoss said.

Mark Slocum, IBMs vice president of operations and strategy, who heads the companys Integrated Supply Chain, said ISC is IBMs competitive weapon. Prior to 2002, IBM had 30 supply chains. Today the company has only ISC. Slocum said the effort saved the company $5.6 billion in 2002 and more than $7 billion last year. "If we can raise customer satisfaction by one point, it means between $2 billion and $3 billion to us," Slocum said.

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Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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