IBM Commits $1 Billion To SMB Financing

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IBM has developed a line of cloud computing, security and business analytics packages and it's committing $1 billion in financing over the next 18 months to help SMBs purchase them.

The new system offerings and financing will be delivered through channel partners, which IBM now exclusively relies on to service SMB customers.

Noting that lack of financing is seen as holding back economic growth, IBM put the announcement in the context of the ongoing debate -- including president Obama's Thursday night speech to Congress -- on the best way to stimulate the economy.

"We recognize the contribution the growth of these small and mid-size businesses can make to the economic recovery," said Ed Abrams, marketing vice president for IBM's midmarket business, in an interview. In addition to the financing, Abrams said that adopting the new cloud and business analytics technologies also should boost SMBs' growth prospects.

Sixty-five percent of global GDP is generated by SMBs, he said.

The packages, more than 30 altogether, are built around IBM's Cognos and SPSS business analytics software, Netezza data warehouse appliance, Cast Iron cloud integration software, and BigFix security management tools, among other products. Those will be bundled with IBM server hardware, system software such as IBM WebSphere, and services, Abrams said.

IBM will offer flexible lease and loan packages, some as low as zero-percent financing for 12 months. Abrams said IBM's Rapid Online Financing tools would help partners quickly generate sales proposals and get credit approvals for customer prospects.

The new effort builds on initiatives IBM launched earlier this year, including one specifically targeting cloud computing and another developed around IBM's Smarter Commerce product line.

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