10 June 2002 Systems giant IBM has announced tighter integration of its core software products at its European Software Symposium in Vienna, Austria.
IBM will radically change its sales strategy so that its WebSphere application server, Tivoli systems management software, Lotus collaboration tool and DB2 database can be sold as a unified software product rather than four separate lines.
The idea is that users will be able to use WebSphere, for example, to handle customer transactions. That transaction data will then automatically be stored in the DB2 database, while the Tivoli systems management tool will ensure the customer-facing application performs to requirements. Corporate users can then share information about these transactions using the Lotus knowledge management tool.
“We know from independent research that this is how clients buy software – as ‘solutions’ rather than individual products,” said Maurizio Carli, IBM’s vice president for software for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. However, for IBM’s sales teams, the transition from product-specific sales to this broader agenda will prove challenging, said analysts.
IBM has gradually been subsuming elements of its software portfolio into one another for several quarters. For example, its Lotus collaboration software platform was integrated into IBM’s WebSphere application development and deployment suite in November 2001.
From a sales and marketing perspective, the move to integrate these individual products will afford IBM some much needed economies. In the first quarter of 2002, its software division experienced a 1% year-on-year downturn in revenue compared with a 6% year-on-year increase in sales for the fourth quarter of 2001.
For users, Carli claims a more integrated product will allow them greater operational efficiencies since they will be able to integrate their business processes horizontally, rather than having to reset processes for each IBM software application. However, whether the software is as deeply integrated at a technical level as IBM’s marketing message is unclear.