Optevia Acquisition Demonstrates IBM's Happy To Sell Cloud Products From Rivals

Friday's acquisition of English solution provider Optevia illustrates IBM's strategy of expanding its services capabilities around cloud technology partnerships with vendors it also sometimes competes with.

The tech giant based in Armonk, N.Y. paid an undisclosed sum for the U.K.-based consulting firm, founded in 2001, that has carved out a niche in delivering solutions -- specifically Microsoft Dynamics -- to government entities.

IBM's been selling Microsoft's CRM solutions in Europe for a decade, with a good deal of success building the practice in various sectors like banking and distribution, but never was able to crack the public sector in that country.

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"There was a gap in public sector where we saw a tremendous amount of demand, especially around CRM and especially where cloud solutions were concerned," Hitesh Amin, executive partner for IBM's services arm, Global Business Services, told CRN.

Governments constitute a wide and diverse spectrum of customers, and Optevia, based in Kent, led the charge in winning those types of accounts, Amin said.

Microsoft has done a good job developing Dynamics to serve the SMB market, Amin said. But the CRM, especially when it hit the market 13 years ago, came as a generic solution.

Systems integrators jumped on the opportunity to customize the product to target niche verticals. That continued when Dynamics became available as a cloud offering.

Optevia was one such partner, building unique IP on top of Dynamics to serve a market it knew well, and succeeding in making inroads selling to local authorities.

"Having people with unique skill and capability is really important to us," Amin said. "It's about synergy as well as the solution."

IBM has partnered with several CRM vendors, delivering integrations and consulting for products from Salesforce, Oracle and SAP.

IBM GBS focuses on delivering the customer their preferred product, Amin told CRN.

"That can be with IBM or Microsoft cloud," he said. "It doesn't matter."