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

Blog Posts

Building a human-curated brand

If the FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) sector and their measured worth are the final argument for the successful 21st Century model, then they are beyond reproach. Fine-tuning masses of algorithms to reduce human touchpoints and deliver wild returns to investors—all with workforces infinitesimally small compared to the giants of the 20th Century—has been proven out.

Will Smith

Co-founder and head of new markets, The Plum Guide

Sustainability trends brands can expect in 2020

​Marketers have made strides this year in sustainability with the number of brands rallying behind the Not Business As Usual alliance for action against climate change being a sign of the times. While sustainability efforts have gained momentum this year, 2020 is shaping up to be the year brands are really held accountable for their work in this area.

Ben King

CSR manager & sustainability expert, Finder

The trouble with Scotty from Marketing

As a Marketer, the ‘Scotty from Marketing’ meme troubles me.

Natalie Robinson

Director of marketing and communications, Melbourne Polytechnic

If you think it can benefit both consumer and seller then it would be great

Simon Bird

Why Ford is counting on the Internet of Things to drive customer engagement

Read more

It's a good idea. Customers really should control their data. Now I understand why it's important.

Elvin Huntsberry

Salesforce CMO: Modern marketers have an obligation to give customers control of their data

Read more

Instagram changes algorithms every time you get used to them. It really pisses me off. What else pisses me off? The fact that Instagram d...

Nickwood

Instagram loses the like in Australia; industry reacts positively

Read more

I tried www.analisa.io to see my Instagram Insight

Dina Rahmawati

7 marketing technology predictions for 2016

Read more

The saying is pretty tongue in cheek. It's not saying that marketers are bad people, nor that they don't take themselves seriously. There...

LYF Solutions

The trouble with Scotty from Marketing - The CMO view - CMO Australia

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in