IBM Focuses On 'Make It Work Better Or Cost Less'

More than 8,000 customers, partners and others have joined IBM for the Impact 2011 conference, where announcements included more than 50 new products, enhancements and services centered on the company's software-as-a-service (SaaS) portfolio. The annual event focuses on Big Blue's SaaS offerings, which span from business process management (BPM) to collaboration, social business, Web analytics, B2B commerce, supply chain management, marketing and enterprise systems management.

April 13, 2011

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More than 8,000 customers, partners and others have joined IBM for the Impact 2011 conference, where announcements included more than 50 new products, enhancements and services centered on the company's software-as-a-service (SaaS) portfolio. The annual event focuses on Big Blue's SaaS offerings, which span from business process management (BPM) to collaboration, social business, Web analytics, B2B commerce, supply chain management, marketing and enterprise systems management.

The company says more than 20 million end user customers have adopted its cloud computing software and services, including 80 percent of the Fortune 500. According to IDC, $17 billion was spent on cloud-related technologies, hardware and software in 2009, and this spending will grow to $45 billion by 2013.

The announcements included the revamped and rebranded Workload Deployer V3.0, previously known as IBM WebSphere Cloudburst Appliance version 2.0, and WebSphere Application Server (WAS) 8, which increases a client's security and control, and delivers automated enhancements for the installation, maintenance, testing and problem resolution of business applications.

IBM also announced new consulting and services practices for business process management, as well as two pricing and financing programs to help business partners and start-up companies more easily build their own cloud applications and infrastructures with IBM technology.

What struck Janelle Hill, VP, business process management research, Gartner, as most significant at the kickoff to Impact 2011 was IBM's emphasis on helping business transformations, to position companies for growth and optimization of performance results with a much lower amount of emphasis on IBM technologies and product brands. "There is a significant amount of emphasis on the need for leadership and cultural change, not just technology," she says.From a product perspective, she says, the most significant announcements were the ones around Big Blue's BPM strategy and products: "Essentially, IBM is going from three BPM suites to one--IBM Business Process Manager--largely based on the Lombardi acquisition. Many WebSphere BPM technologies are taking a back seat and supporting role to Lombardi's Teamworks BPMS. With its new BPM Mamager, IBM is rationalizing and unifying its many BPM technologies, putting greater emphasis on enabling businesses to transform how they operate using BPM approaches (such as modeling, process analysis, process measurement and empowered process participants)."

In essence, Hill says, Lombardi won over WebSphere Dynamic Process Edition largely because Lombardi has a "business first" vision for BPM, whereas IBM's vision had been largely a technology-led vision. "Interest in BPM is driven by a desire to improve the bottom and top lines of every company and government agency ... BPM can help organizations reduce costs, increase productivity, increase quality, streamline cycle time, increase capacity. Every organization is perpetually interested in improving operational processes and, these days, the pressures to improve keep increasing. Economic-related market turmoil, accelerating pressure to do more with less, unexpected changes, regulatory and stakeholder requirements for operational transparency are all factors driving interest in BPM as a way to better manage operations."

Analyst Charles King, Pund-IT, also noted IBM's BPM initiatives. "What really struck me here was the degree to which IBM is unifying/integrating its WebSphere both in new combined platforms and in cloud-enabled services." He said investing in the tools/education to support/enable improved business processes is a "no-brainer."

It's all about the need for improved business efficiency and cost-effectiveness--make it work better or make it cost less, says King. "The result is a focus on, and for IBM, market opportunities around solutions that enable very literal business value."

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