IBM, Agillion to Offer Small-Business Service

IBM and Agillion announced Monday that they are joining forces to deliver IBM's Small Business WebConnections solutions and Agillion's CustomerPages hosted customer relationship management (CRM) services in a single offering to small businesses.

Agillion's CustomerPages are interactive and personalized Web pages, intended to help small business sell, service and retain customers. The Agillion CustomerPages allow customers to place and check on the status of orders, create alerts for problems and retrieve documents for collaboration, said Agillion officials. Customer information can be captured in real-time and stored in a central database.

"Small business are trying to focus on ways to get up and running with the Web," said Steve Papermaster, chief executive officer and founder of Agillion, based in Austin, Texas. "It brings to a small business a tighter connection to the customer, email and Web hosting, and 7x24 service," he said.

The IBM WebConnections monthly subscription service offers shared Internet access, e-mail for up to 100 employees, secure remote access, firewall security, Web site blocking, and Web site creation, said IBM officials.

Each company will co-market and sell the other's offerings, and the "the combination of packaged, monthly solutions will be as little as $100 per month," Papermaster said. "It really breaks down to cost [for the small business markets] ... This has previously been out of their reach."

The agreement offers Agillion access to IBM's global marketing and selling channels into a strong base among small businesses, Papermaster said. The WebConnections service is "a leader in its class," and reliable, he said. "The distribution component is key... Our primary route to market is through partnerships [with companies that have complementary technology]," he said. "This is a partnership that has been in the works for nearly a year."

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