IBM Buys UK-Based SaaS CRM Integrator Optevia

IBM announced its acquisition of Optevia, a provider of SaaS CRM solutions for the UK public sector.

IBM acquires Optevia

IBM today announced that it has acquired Optevia, a U.K.-based Software as a Service (SaaS) systems integrator specializing in Microsoft Dynamics CRM solutions for public sector organizations.

IBM officials said Optevia will join IBM Global Business Services (GBS) and will enhance Big Blue's CRM SaaS capabilities in serving the public sector in Europe as well as other areas. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

"As a part of our ongoing strategy to establish IBM GBS as a premier global digital consultancy and accelerate GBS leadership in the next generation cloud CRM solutions space, Microsoft solution implementations will increasingly require transformational consulting services based on unique client industry insight," said Peter Rousseau, associate partner in the IBM GBS U.K. public sector practice. "IBM GBS has been successful in this area and needs to continue the expansion of its position with global reach, deep industry expertise, and industry-specific assets. Optevia's expertise and assets deliver this step change for IBM GBS."

Rousseau said Optevia primarily focuses on U.K. emergency services, central government, local government, health authorities and housing authorities. The company's client base includes ministries, councils, regulators, licensing and grant management organizations, transport authorities and social housing organizations.

"IBM has a strong presence in the U.K. public sector market and in key European public sector markets," Rousseau said. "Public sector, as a market for IBM in Europe is a significant and important one."

IBM estimates that the global CRM opportunity is in excess of $23 billion, with cloud-based CRM solutions expected to surpass 50 percent of that total.

"The worldwide Customer Relationship Management (CRM) market is continuing to expand with accelerated focus on cloud-based solutions," Rousseau said. "The acquisition of Optevia is central to IBM GBS' strategy to establish a premier, global consultancy in next generation Microsoft CRM solutions."

The U.K. public sector is facing an unprecedented challenge in having to meet a rising demand for its services while facing the tightest financial squeeze in decades—and technology can play an unprecedented role in helping to meet this challenge, Optevia said in a white paper.

"One of the priorities is to make the back office more efficient, providing large savings in internal operations while raising the quality of service for internal and external customers," the white paper said. "It requires a widespread transformation, and a customer relationship management (CRM) system can provide one of the foundations to make it possible. In this paper, we explore how a correspondence management system built on Dynamics CRM can expedite an organization's need to change and transform."

Moreover, Rousseau said Optevia's strong reputation in the U.K. public sector will provide IBM with immediate access to a pool of specialty sales and delivery experts in the rapidly evolving cloud CRM space. Optevia will increase the GBS Dynamics practice in Europe. It also provides IBM with immediate access to "differentiating code-based assets that are scalable into the broader Europe and North America regions—to help drive increased win rates and accelerated time to value for our clients," he said.

The Optevia deal should benefit IBM in three essential ways, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

"First, the company specializes in Microsoft Dynamics CRM solutions so it will provide IBM the means to both pursue new business with customers that prefer the Dynamics CRM platform and be more effective in going head to head with Microsoft in those deals," King said. "Second, it specializes in solutions/services for public sector organizations, including government agencies, emergency services and transportation authorities, meaning it will complement IBM's longstanding efforts in public sector markets. Finally, Optevia has enjoyed solid success in the U.K., a key market for IBM that could also serve as a launching pad for other IBM efforts in the Euro zone. Overall, this looks like a solid deal that should benefit both companies and their existing and potential customers."

IBM does not produce any commercial CRM solutions of its own, but the company partners with several key CRM vendors including SAP, and SugarCRM, among others.

"We have a broad portfolio of CRM vendors we partner with and support," Rousseau said.

At its PartnerWorld Leadership Conference last month, IBM named SugarCRM as an IBM Beacon Award winner. SugarCRM won the award for its integrated "IBM Marketing Cloud and SugarCRM" solution.