IBM Furthers E-Business Strategy

IBM Corp. used this week's annual Business Partner Executive Conference (BPEC) to hammer home its commitment to and vision of electronic business. The company revealed several products, packaged solutions, and marketing programs for both corporate users and those in smaller businesses.

On the content creation side, IBM demonstrated its HotMedia technology, packaged tools that let users and partners whip up Java-based multimedia Web applications that take advantage of streaming video and audio capabilities.

The toolset is centered on the HotVideo and HotAudio technologies that originated in IBM's labs.

Later this year, IBM is expected to add support for new data types, a so-called "mouse-over event" for manipulating on-screen objects, and better e-commerce application links. IBM's strategy also includes an emphasis on licensing deals with tools and catalog vendors.

In a demonstration at the event in New Orleans, Big Blue showed how HotMedia users can create applications including multimedia online catalogs or interactive banner ads. In the latter example, a banner ad can serve as a storefront through which users can access products and rotate them in 3-D or zoom in on any part.

HotMedia also enables users to add speech capabilities and links to product documentation.

"The nice thing about this is users can have this interaction and do it all within the banner ad,"said Armando Garcia, vice president of the IBM Internet Media group.

Separately, IBM next week is expected to unveil an online catalog tool for such tasks as content personalization, customer relationship management, and Web-based catalog information maintenance.

IBM has also introduced programs including Start Now for e-business, which is centered on IBM's Net.Commerce merchant server, that gives business partners bundled hardware, software, and services.

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