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IBM and partners provide on-demand BPO

IBM is linking up with a pair of partners to provide business process outsourcing services to two joint clients. In both instances, it will provide technology hosting and its partners will provide business software and services.

The partnerships, for providing procurement and accounting services, are being announced at IBM's PartnerWorld 2003 conference in New Orleans today and served up as an example of IBM's growing emphasis on its partners for delivering on-demand computing services, in particular of the business process outsourcing (BPO) type.

In the increasingly popular BPO engagements, a client outsources not just a set of IT tasks but rather complete business processes, such as payroll processing or inventory management.

In one deal, IBM is partnering with Ketera Technologies to provide procurement services to CNF, a provider of shipping, logistics and supply chain management services. IBM will host Ketera's Spend Analysis software for CNF, which will use the software to reduce and control its purchasing costs. The procurement system will be used internally by CNF employees and externally by its suppliers.

In the other deal, IBM is joining up with Intacct to provide accounting services for shipping company Transmarine Navigation, which will use the Web-based accounting system to improve the way it manages the financial operations of its ports.

The accounting functions will be centralised in the system, with the goal of improving security and making data available in real time. IBM will host the system, while Intacct will provide the accounting software and service.

"The partners bring specific expertise to the table, and IBM is always seeking to partner with best-of-breed companies to deliver" services integrated with IBM technologies, such as grid computing, said James Larkin, a spokesman at IBM's Global Services division.

The business process services will be provided in an on-demand basis, an approach IBM claimed was generally more flexible than traditional outsourcing engagements in which the service terms and fees are more rigid and more difficult to modify as client needs change.

"This is one of the ways we're working with partners in the era of e-business on demand. Our partners are just getting started with this, so we want to show them how fruitful this effort can be," Larkin said.


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