IBM's not in the business applications business, but that doesn't stop it from expanding relationships with business applications providers.
The company announced March 17 an expanded relationship with CRM (customer relationship management) software provider Kana Software that will have the two companies jointly developing new software, and Kana implementing IBM's software in its existing products.
As part of their extended agreement Kana and IBM plan to jointly develop new Service Experience Management software that will enable companies to better drive customer loyalty and retention by creating a more seamless service experience across their various channels, company officials said.
The new software will be built on IBM's SOA Foundation and will include Kana's customer service functionality. The IBM SOA Foundation is a set of software (from IBM's software portfolio), best practices and patterns that help companies get started with SOA. Kana's CRM software falls into three separate categories: E-Service, Call Center Service, and Web Self-Service. E-Service helps companies manage inbound e-mail, Web collaboration, chat and outbound communications.
The Call Center Service suite automates call center best practices and helps to guide customer service agents through the process of finding the right answer for customers, according to the company's Web site. The Web Self-Service software does pretty much what it says by providing self-service capabilities to a company's customers. Kana also offers vertically-specific software for the banking, telecommunications, insurance, high tech, retail and other industries.
The other part of the expanded agreement between IBM and Kana will have Kana OEMing IBM's hardware and software. As part of the deal Kana will embed IBM's WebSphere and DB2 into its next generation customer service software, officials said.
"Customer service organizations are transitioning from cost centers to loyalty centers, charged with the strategic mission of enhancing the value of each customer relationship," said Michael Fields, CEO of Kana, in a statement. "By combining the open technologies from IBM and Kana into a single enhanced solution for end-to-end service experience management, we will deliver the technology that companies need to be successful. Embedding IBM's open technology is helping us deliver higher value solutions for our customers at a better cost."
Kana brings a pretty hefty client base to the table, including companies like American Express, AT&T, Bank of America, Citibank, Daimler-Chrysler, Dell, eBay, Sony, Sears and Xerox.
Not long ago, another CRM software provider, Siebel Systems, had its software integrated with IBM's WebSphere line. However, when Siebel was acquired by Oracle in 2005, Oracle quickly swapped out IBM's infrastructure-and data center-for its own.