IBM, Cisco form European joint venture

IBM and Cisco Systems are rolling out a European joint venture as their first initiative since announcing a $US2 billion technology pact last August, the companies announced on Monday.

The European venture will focus on bringing internet-enabled CRM (customer relationship management) -- or e-CRM as IBM and Cisco billed it -- to its business customers in Europe, according to IBM spokeswoman Jo McKenna.

In August, IBM and Cisco will launch a joint European CRM facility in Weybridge, UK, McKenna said. She said she could not say how much was being invested in the Weybridge project or how many people will be employed.

Under the terms of the partnership, IBM Global Services and Cisco are jointly developing and marketing services and CRM products, with IBM offering full support of Cisco's networking system, including consulting, design, implementation and maintenance.

Furthermore, as part of the pact, IBM's Networking Hardware Division began licensing its routing and switching intellectual property to Cisco, with Cisco agreeing to purchase IBM technology until August 2004.

The UK CRM facility will demonstrate IBM and Cisco CRM products, including Cisco's AVVID (architecture for voice, video and integrated data) and IBM's CallPath and DirectTalk, which are voice technology products, McKenna said. Those products together allow businesses to build customer-contact centres based on IP (internet protocol) networks, according to McKenna.

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