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4/19/2004
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IBM Unveils More Industry-Specific Software

It debuted packages for the consumer-products, energy and utilities, and government markets.

IBM on Monday enhanced its strategy of delivering products and services tailored for specific industries, unveiling software packages aimed at the consumer-products, energy and utilities, and government markets.

Steve Mills, senior VP for IBM's software group, says the initiatives are aimed at helping customers overcome challenges that have more to do with their businesses than their technology infrastructures. "I've never met a customer who didn't want to talk about IT within the context of their own business," Mills said Monday.

For energy and utility companies, IBM released software designed to help them better manage customer contact centers, comply with government regulations, and manage mobile workforces. For consumer-products companies, IBM unveiled item-management, brand-management, and risk-and-compliance tools. For users in the public sector, IBM introduced middleware that helps government agencies improve management of public records and better coordinate emergency-services efforts between agencies.

Most of the software introduced by IBM is based on its WebSphere middleware, which uses Web-services standards to achieve integration of data across multiple applications and operating systems. Monday's initiatives bring to 12 the number of industries IBM is targeting on a companywide basis. Beyond its software organization, the company has realigned much of its sales, services, and consulting operations around the same vertical industries. "More and more we see line-of-business executives signing off on technology decisions, so we need to better understand the issues they are facing," Doug Brown, VP at IBM's Industry Solutions Group, says in explaining the strategy.

Brown also said IBM won't widen its sites beyond the 12 industries it's already targeting anytime soon. "We thinking we've identified our most important customer sets," he says, "Now we'll focus on building our presence in each of those."

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