IBM this week will announce a shift in its strategy for small and midsize businesses that includes more IBM-developed solution sets and an upgrade to the companys Express Portfolio offerings for SMBs. The change also looks to provide more tools for partners developing software under the Built on IBM Express certification.
The rationale behind the strategy shift is that rather than count solely on partners to develop software based on IBM technology, which they then disseminate to customers, IBM is taking the lead on packaging more of its own solutions for SMBs, which resellers can more quickly get out to customers.
IBM is creating industry-specific offerings that package existing functionality with, in some cases, third-party applications. The solution sets will be handed over to partners that can put on a private label and start selling into the SMB market, according to IBM officials in Armonk, N.Y.
Chris Mancuso, director of channel and program sales at Digital Union Ltd., a Verticalnet company and a Built on IBM Express partner, said he believes IBMs strategy is essential to his success in the SMB market.
"The average IT budget for a midmarket customer is $160,000 to $870,000 in the Americas, and 70 percent of the implementations take under four months," said Steve Solazzo, general manager of IBMs global small and medium business sales. "We realize that one way to address the needs of the SMB customers is to invest in the IBM Express Portfolio and deliver solutions designed and priced for midsized customers through our business partners."
As part of this effort, IBM this week is releasing several new Express Portfolio packages centered on security, supply chain management, backup and recovery, and ERP (enterprise resource planning).
The offerings include Life Sciences Solution and Express SCM, both MySAP All-in-One modules for the SAP AG platform; RFID Services, a managed service for the retail sector; Storage Platform for Medical Imaging, for the health care sector; Supply Chain Diagnostic Solution; and Product Lifecycle Management Express, for business integration and for machining.
New Express application service packages include those for Siebel Systems Inc., PeopleSoft Inc., Oracle Corp. and SAP development.
IBM also is introducing new infrastructure offerings for its partners with Built on IBM Express certification, including four pSeries systems designed to offer enterprise capabilities to SMBs. Other offerings include the Express E-mail Recovery Service and Online Backup for Distributed Servers.
"For me, Express is critical," said Mancuso in Buffalo, N.Y. "I wouldnt be able to go after SMBs without it. We develop on several platforms, but Express has become our mantra for SMB."