IBM Goes With the B2B Flow

By Scot Petersen  |  Posted 2001-08-20

We knew the Internet was going to change everything. We just didnt know by how much. Its not exactly what we had in mind, but the future is here, now. So we might as well deal with it and make the most of it.

Some technology companies already are. Whereas a company like Microsoft is trying to make the Internet and the economy at large bend to its considerable will, others are taking what is being offered to them and going with the pitch.

IBM, for instance, is sowing more seeds in the B2B arena, hoping they will take root and become part of AMR Researchs optimistic market projections: By 2005, the market for e-marketplace software will be $7.9 billion, while the services side, from consultants and integrators alone, will be $16.7 billion.

Perhaps the steps IBM is taking will be fertilizer to help those numbers become reality. As Renee Boucher Ferguson reported on Page 18 in last weeks issue, the company will work more closely with six leading enterprise and B2B software companies—Ariba, i2, SAP, Siebel Systems, PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards.

The logic of the deals is such that, on their own, none of those companies stand much chance of succeeding in the B2B market. IBM already has an alliance with Ariba and i2, but it has been fraught with trouble. Despite what the trio accomplished, there are countless other companies running other business software systems that need integration with public and private marketplaces.

IBM can be the glue, an octopus, if you will, extending to and from trading hubs, supplying tools and middleware, such as its WebSphere Business Integrator product, to connect it all.

Additional relationships are sure to follow. If you want to think about Microsofts .Net, Passport and HailStorm becoming the glue for the future of the consumer-focused Net, then IBM is quietly becoming the glue for the rest.

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