As IBM approaches the two-year anniversary of the launch of the IBM Smarter Commerce initiative, the company is in the process of revamping nearly $3 billion worth of acquisitions that currently make up most of the Smarter Commerce portfolio.
According to Craig Hayman, general manager for Industry Solutions at IBM, rather than collapse all those products into a single suite, IBM is reorganizing the portfolio into groups of products that address specific Buy, Market, Sell and Service functions that make up the overall commerce process.
Scheduled to be detailed at an upcoming IBM Smarter Commerce conference in Nashville, Hayman says the overall goal is to allow organizations to adopt specific sets of IBM technologies around a specific business process without necessarily having to commit to the entire IBM Smarter Commerce portfolio right away. As such, IBM is crafting suites of products and services aimed at, for example, a chief procurement officer or the chief marketing officer.
Hayman says that IBM is aware that it’s walking a fine line between selling directly to these types of individuals and the IT leadership within any company. The goal, says Hayman, is to sell cooperatively to both in a way that allows IBM to leverage its long-standing relationships with senior IT executives.
The challenge, of course, is that there is no shortage of competitors in each of these categories. In addition, many organizations have baked some of these processes into their ERP applications. Hayman contends, however, that given the fact that e-commerce by its very nature needs to span multiple ERP systems and organizations, customers are discovering with increasing frequency that these functions are best deployed outside of any single ERP application.
The degree to which IBM can transform a series of acquisitions into a broad initiative that transforms e-commerce remains to be seen. But what is certain is that IBM intends to force the conversation as part of an effort to address what IBM clearly sees as one of its next big multi-billion-dollar opportunities.