Interview: Exec talks up Big Blue's e-biz ability

Iggy Pintado drives all aspects of business marketing strategies for IBM's local subsidiary, responsibilities that span market and competitive intelligence, brand and demand-generation campaign planning, and all other marketing operations. Since stepping into the role of Big Blue's Australian director of marketing in April 2000, he has focused on building the company's e-business infrastructure campaign, formed in February. Pintado talked to Helen Han about the challenges, corporate relevance and outlook of IBM's e-business infrastructure offerings.

Computerworld: What are the key market challenges faced by IBM Australia during the coming fiscal year?

IP: Regardless of the economic climate, IBM is focused on helping its customers place the importance of long-term strategic IT planning and investment on their business agendas. Specifically, IBM will help customers to focus on three areas. Firstly, a return on investment (ROI) in the short term for their IT investment.

Secondly, technology as a revenue-generating tool for business. For example, the implementation of e-commerce solutions offer customers the ability to utilise customer Web self-service facilities. Also, business intelligence solutions help companies to identify the most profitable opportunities from their customer base.

And thirdly, using technology to reduce the costs of running their business; for example, internal integration and external integration can save on manual input and human errors.

CW: How is the company positioned to meet these challenges?

IP: IBM and its business partners' range of hardware, software and services capabilities offer our customers choice according to their needs and implementation and support requirements. With our experience across many industries and a network of around 90,000 business partners worldwide like Aspect Computing, Avnet-Hallmark, Intentia Australia, KAZ Computers and Synergy Plus, we give clients customised IT solutions, specialised services, and components specific to their business needs.

CW: What is the relevance and market potential of IBM's current e-business infrastructure focus to the corporate IT sector?

IP: E-business infrastructure is underpinned by the hardware, software and services that customers need to run their business and technical applications. Through extensive research, IBM has found that most IT environments are having to cope with an ever-increasing level of complexity during unpredictable times.

With the need to become more competitive, to streamline operations, and to generate more profitable revenue, many businesses are now maximising their e-business investment. This is being achieved by moving from static brochureware sites to transacting over the Web, to integrating their core business processes using technology.

Therefore, mission-critical IT environments become increasingly important, which means if the infrastructure is down, their businesses will [suffer].

Furthermore, IBM's challenge is to help our customers with the right infrastructure. That is, e-business infrastructure that is reliable 99.9 per cent of the time, and is interoperable, scalable, secure, and allows for easier integration.

CW: What returns and potential risks can investors expect when backing your company?

IP: IBM works closely with all businesses to align their individual business needs and strategy with their IT requirements.

CW: What are your main customer segments?

IP: We're very focused on the industry sectors and the small-to-medium business market.

CW: What key trends have you observed in IT spending in these sectors?

IP: Based on industry research from IDC, we know that services represent around 44 per cent of the Australian IT spend with forecasted growth of 15.3 per cent in 2001. From a technology perspective, forecasts indicate that by 2004 technology will growing at 16.2 per cent per annum. The fastest growing segment of technology is storage, which is growing at 15.3 per cent CAGR.

The fastest growing industries include the public sector, which accounts for 22.5 per cent of Australian IT spend in 2001, followed by the financial sector with 20.8 per cent and the communications sector with 15.6 per cent.

CW: What are the key technology trends in the e-business infrastructure competitive space?

IP: IBM is not the best-positioned to talk about the competitive side of the space [as opposed to analyst firms], but we feel we've been a leader in e-business since its introduction to the market in the mid-1990s.

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