IBM Adds Cloud Apps To Its 'Smarter Commerce' Effort

"Smarter Commerce" initiative

The new pilot program is IBM's first channel effort that rewards partners for "influencing" sales of IBM-hosted Software-as-a-Service applications. The company already has programs that help channel partners build public and private cloud systems for customers.

The move aims to expand the Smarter Commerce for Business Partners effort to more IBM partners and help bring the acquired companies' partners into the IBM fold, said Melinda Matthews, IBM director of industry solutions partnering, in an interview.

IBM spent some $2.5 billion last year to acquire Sterling Commerce (business software integration), Coremetrics (Web analytics) and Unica (marketing planning). Those companies, combined with the IBM WebSphere Commerce software, form the core of IBM's Smarter Commerce initiative.

IBM puts the smarter commerce market opportunity for software alone at $20 billion and growing 14 percent annually. This week the company is holding its Smarter Commerce conference for partners and customers in San Diego, with more than 400 partners attending.

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In March IBM developed a Smarter Commerce "authorization" for channel partners, allowing partners certified in sales and technical support to resell the software products under the IBM Software Value Plus program.

In May IBM added fuel to the Smarter Commerce effort by offering resellers up to 50-percent margins on resold products and zero-percent financing for customers.

But until now the IBM Software Value Plus Smarter Commerce Capability Authorization only covered the on-premise commerce applications. "Now we're going to complement that with the SaaS model," Matthews said.

"I think this is going to be an absolute killer advantage," said Leila Ashley, marketing vice president at CrossView, a Goldens Bridge, N.Y.-based IBM channel partner, speaking about the expanded range of applications the IBM initiative provides for partners. "It really allows us to expand the conversation with our existing customers."

CrossView has been an IBM partner since 1997, selling WebSphere Commerce, and was a Coremetrics partner prior to the acquisition.

CrossView is one of a handful of newly authorized Smarter Commerce resellers. Others in the program include Zobrist Consulting Group, Rosetta Marketing Group, 20:20 Technology, Ascendant, Sirius Computing Solutions, Trifecta Technologies and Perficient.

The pilot program for the SaaS Smarter Commerce applications will launch in the fourth quarter and Matthews said IBM will decide by the middle of next year how to expand it.