IBM's 'click to buy' consulting services look beyond just IT

The services also give IBM a low-cost way to expand the reach of its sales arm, according to one analyst

IBM hopes to expand its customer base and sell to executives outside of IT, including marketers, with a new set of consulting services that can be bought online with a credit card.

IBM introduced five offerings as part of its new Global Business Services Online. Just one of this initial group is targeted at non-IT users, but IBM says it will offer more services in future that are aimed at workers in other areas of the business.

The first service that looks beyond IT is called Social Media Analytics and Customer Insights, for analyzing what's being said about a company's brands, products and competitors on social media.

The other four services cover an analysis of a customer's software development environment; migrating mobile applications to IBM's Worklight platform; a "technical healthcheck" for SAP applications; and a "performance roadmap" for Oracle applications.

In February, Forrester Research predicted that the percentage of IT purchases made "primarily or exclusively" by CIOs and their staff will fall from 55 percent this year to 47 percent next year.

IBM will take advantage of the trend by adding more services aimed at line of business executives outside of IT, according to Sarah Diamond, general manager of IBM global consulting services.

"We've just started with this first grouping to test the way our current clients respond," Diamond said. "By design, this is very much just a first wave. While the CIO remains central to buying decisions, it's no longer the CIO alone."

The notion of business executives making their own IT buying decisions isn't really new, said analyst Frank Scavo, managing partner of IT consulting firm Strativa, via email. "It started back in the early 1980s, when they started buying PCs and Lotus 1-2-3," he said.

But the rise of cloud services and mobile applications has increased the trend, he said.

Cloud software providers like Salesforce.com "have been making hay for years" selling directly to sales executives, Scavo added. "This creates a problem not only for the CIO but also for service providers like IBM, who historically have only dealt with the IT department."

It's no wonder, then, that IBM wants to broaden its audience outside of IT. "Otherwise, it's going to lose influence," Scavo said.

Beyond reaching new types of customers, the online services give IBM a low-cost way to extend the reach of its sales force, according to IDC analyst Gard Little. "There's a limit to how many salespeople you want to hire," he said. "This is a way to soak up demand for services without additional armies of salespeople."

The packages also represent vendors' long-standing goal of "productizing services -- making them as tangible as possible, so salespeople who aren't services experts can sell them," Little said.

IBM sees the online services as a way to start building a broader relationship with new customers, Diamond said. "You don't always need to start with a face-to-face call."

The services are fixed-price, although the actual cost will depend on the options customers select. Availability is limited for now to the U.S. and U.K., although IBM has plans to offer them globally, Diamond said.

Some prerequisites apply. For example, customers interested in the social media analysis service will need to have a subscription to IBM's Social Media Analytics Software as a Service. In other cases, like the SAP health check, customers will have to supply some historical data, provide access to subject matter experts, and install tools from IBM or its partners.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

Are you sure they wont start a platform that the cheese is white, pretty sure that is racist

Hite

New brand name for Coon Cheese revealed

Read more

Real digital transformation requires reshaping the way the business create value for customers. Achieving this requires that organization...

ravi H

10 lessons Telstra has learnt through its T22 transformation

Read more

thanks

Lillian Juliet

How Winedirect has lifted customer recency, frequency and value with a digital overhaul

Read more

Having an effective Point of Sale system implemented in your retail store can streamline the transactions and data management activities....

Sheetal Kamble

​Jurlique’s move to mobile POS set to enhance customer experience

Read more

I too am regularly surprised at how little care a large swathe of consumers take over the sharing and use of their personal data. As a m...

Catherine Stenson

Have customers really changed? - Marketing edge - CMO Australia

Read more

Blog Posts

Brand storytelling lessons from Singapore’s iconic Fullerton hotel

In early 2020, I had the pleasure of staying at the newly opened Fullerton Hotel in Sydney. It was on this trip I first became aware of the Fullerton’s commitment to brand storytelling.

Gabrielle Dolan

Business storytelling leader

You’re doing it wrong: Emotion doesn’t mean emotional

If you’ve been around advertising long enough, you’ve probably seen (or written) a slide which says: “They won’t remember what you say, they’ll remember how you made them feel.” But it’s wrong. Our understanding of how emotion is used in advertising has been ill informed and poorly applied.

Zac Martin

Senior planner, Ogilvy Melbourne

Why does brand execution often kill creativity?

The launch of a new brand, or indeed a rebrand, is a transformation to be greeted with fanfare. So why is it that once the brand has launched, the brand execution phase can also be the moment at which you kill its creativity?

Rich Curtis

CEO, FutureBrand A/NZ

Sign in