IBM Invests $300 Million In Services Push For Smaller Businesses - InformationWeek

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IBM Invests $300 Million In Services Push For Smaller Businesses

Plan calls for working with regional systems integrators to deliver IT services to small and midsize customers.

IBM on Tuesday said it will spend $300 million in the coming months to boost its ability to deliver IT services to small and midsize businesses through regional system integrators in the United States and Europe.

Part of the funds will be used to assign existing IBM business consultants to work with third-party system integrators in various regions, said Jim Corgel, general manager of IBM Global Services' SMB group. Corgel, speaking at IBM's PartnerWorld conference in Las Vegas, said other portions of the funds could be used to acquire companies possessing technologies that would help IBM automate service delivery to SMBs.

"Corio is a great example" of the type of company IBM would consider acquiring to aid in service delivery, Corgel said. IBM bought Corio, an application service provider, in January for $182 million.

Corio's technology and expertise will be enlisted in IBM's new SMB services push, called project Infusion, Corgel said. The plan envisions scenarios under which IT users within SMBs would get access to IBM Global Services' tools and knowledge through their local system integrator. One possible plan calls for the creation of Web portals that would combine offerings--such as training modules--from the systems integrator and IBM Global Services. As an ASP, Corio specializes in delivering software and other tools over the Web.

IBM also is launching IBM Express Managed Services, which includes packaged offerings of application and infrastructure managed services tailored for smaller companies and sold through IBM business partners. Resellers will also be able to sell IBM-based, all-in-one mySAP application packages and related services to SMBs using preconfigured components from IBM.

According to a study released last year by Access Markets International Partners, spending on business software by U.S. SMBs in 2004 grew 14.3%, compared with 4.9% by large companies. IBM is clearly hoping smaller companies' surging interest in IT will carry over to IT services.

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