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IBM Debuts More Middleware Packages For Vertical Industries

The offerings for health care, life sciences, retail, and telecom continue the company's efforts to move away from producing generic software and toward middleware for specific industries.
Taking the next step in its vertical-market strategy, IBM on Monday debuted middleware packages tailored for companies in the health-care, life-sciences, retail, and telecommunications industries. It unveiled the software at its PartnerWorld 2004 conference in Las Vegas.

In December, IBM signaled its intention to move away from producing generic software and switching instead to configuring its middleware for specific industries. The packages combine software from IBM's WebSphere, DB2, Tivoli, Lotus, and Rational product lines. Early last month, IBM debuted systems designed for banking, insurance, and financial-service companies.

The six new retail systems include packages for retail merchandising, item management, inventory management, multichannel management, store operations, and managing advertising, marketing, and promotions. The inventory-management package, for example, helps retailers automate inventory and shipment tracking by integrating data generated by radio-frequency identification technology with data from other sources.

Ritz Interactive Inc., which operates a network of E-commerce sites, including RitzCamera.com and BoatersWorld.com, is using IBM WebSphere and the multichannel management package to link its 20 Web sites and integrate them with back-office inventory and fulfillment systems. CEO Fred Lerner says IBM has steadily been integrating WebSphere and the other middleware Ritz uses to run its operations, leaving less integration work for Ritz to do on its own. "It was a little more painful to do before," he says. Ritz still has to integrate third-party search software into its system, but Lerner hopes IBM will add that to its vertical-industry packages in the future.

For the health-care industry IBM is debuting a patient-centric health-care portal, a payer services portal, software to aggregate data for making clinical decisions, tools for administering health-care plans, and software for creating a collaborative network for transmitting health-care data

Middleware packages for life-sciences companies include corporate information asset-management software, clinical trial-management tools, clinical genomics software, and software for annotating and saving reports, documents, and articles. New middleware for the telecom industry helps companies integrate operational and business support systems, improve contact-center operations, deliver support and services to mobile-device customers, manage third-party content, and manage next-generation network services.

Next month, IBM is expected to unveil middleware packages for the automotive, electronics, government, energy and utilities, and consumer packaged-goods markets.

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