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IBM samples its own cooking with CRM services

IBM Global Services has announced managed CRM services for applications from some of the biggest names in CRM-related technology. To prove the value of the services, Big Blue is rolling them out in 26 of its own customer centers worldwide.

LOS ANGELES -- It's always comforting for a diner to see a chef sampling his own culinary creation. When the dish is CRM services, IBM Global Services is happy to eat its own cooking.

IBM said it has developed a managed CRM service that it deployed at 26 of its customer centers worldwide before offering it to other companies. At the DCI CRM Conference & Expo, IBM released details of its CRM Management Services, which targets mid-size and large companies.

"It's an end-to-end offering that addresses really the full lifecycle (of a CRM implementation)," said Joe Ragusa, IBM's vice president of transformational outsourcing. He said IBM starts by helping a client assess "what needs to get built," then it offers Web hosting of the CRM applications the client chooses to implement, as well as application management support and services at the back end of the system.

Big Blue has partnered with a number of high-tech's biggest names to offer their applications on a hosted basis, including packaged CRM applications from Siebel Systems, PeopleSoft and Kana, business intelligence components from SAS Institute and telephony-related technology from Cisco Systems and Nortel Networks.

Nancy Green, IBM's vice president of CRM consulting services, said in the case of the Siebel partnership, IBM can offer clients expertise in rolling out a broad-based CRM system such as Siebel 7 on a global basis.

"And so with that, you need a service provider like IBM who can set that environment up, and the Siebel company alone can't do that," Green said.

The move two years ago to forge ties with CRM industry leader Siebel was a wise one for IBM, according to one expert.

"You focus on what you do best and you partner to do the rest," said Don Tapscott, a technology author and chairman of the Ontario-based research and consulting group Digital 4Sight.

Tapscott said IBM "mothballed" its CRM product two years ago in favor of an alliance with San Mateo, Calif.-based Siebel after determining that was the most profitable approach.

Ragusa said IBM's managed CRM services are now available in the United States and will be available in Europe in the second quarter of 2002. Other markets will follow depending on demand, he said.

The price of the services depends largely on this size of the enterprise and how many CRM application modules a company wants to implement, Ragusa said. To help a company gauge its return on investment, IBM said it has built into the business intelligence component of the service key performance indicators (KPI) that measure things such as customer contact value, customer behavior and operator performances.


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