When it comes to
e-business and the way in which it is going to change the world, clearly IBM intends to make an effort to practice what it preaches.
Despite 'fessing up to its intentions of migrating large amounts of business to the Internet, IBM insists such a move does not spell doom and gloom for its channel partners in Australia and elsewhere.
Speaking to journalists and analysts at an IBM e-business conference in Singapore, Greg Corgan, (global) general manager e-business solutions, explained that since being introduced early in 1998, IBM's e-commerce facilitator (ibm.com) generated "nearly $US15 billion" worth of revenues in 1999.
Additionally, Corgan stated that after three failed attempts, IBM was now making no further efforts to market itself as a total solutions provider. That, he said, is a side of the "$300 billion (by 2003)" e-commerce business which the vendor hopes to partner with ISVs and other channels.
While Corgan claims that www.ibm.
com is aimed at expanding Big Blue's market and not cannabilising existing channels, clearly the business benefits of dealing direct over the Web is demanding further attention.
"We are trying to eat our own
cookie," Corgan said of how IBM is migrating itself to business-to-business and business-to-consumer e-commerce, in the same way it is trying to hold the high ground in the sale of technologies at the core of such solutions for its customers.
"And it is saving us billions of dollars," he added. "We are using our own migration experiences [to an e-business-centric business model] as the basis of what we sell to customers," he added.
In answering a question on what impact this may have on the relevance of channel partners, Corgan insisted IBM was responding to the needs and wants of its customers.
"We are trying to approach this from a customer-centric point of view," he said. "It is the customers who are deciding how they want to deal with us. So far we are very comfortable with what is happening and so are our customers.
While IBM's online revenues soar in line with the sort of predictions analysts have been making about the exponential growth of e-commerce, Corgan conceded that this would be partly at the expense of some smaller channel partners. Those who are resisting the emergence of the Internet as a platform for commercial interaction are at risk of becoming "irrelevant", he said.
"Our dealers and ISVs have been mostly positive," Corgan said, before insisting that resellers are not elimi-nated from the equation altogether. In fact, transactions with partners represent a significant portion of IBM's soaring online B2B revenues, the company claimed.
"[E-commerce] is where the whole market is going, so [resellers] have to deal with it," Corgan said.
"In many cases they are still ful-
filling for us and they have the oppor-tunity to add value. If we can expand the whole market then it is a win/win situation for all.
"Our biggest problem is that we can't get to all the opportunity there is out there at the moment, so we need to continue partnering."l Gerard Norsa travelled to Singapore as a guest of IBM