IBM and Avaya agree CRM deal

IBM has announced a four-year marketing and development deal with Avaya, to help boost its CRM strategy, at its annual...

IBM has announced a four-year marketing and development deal with Avaya, to help boost its CRM strategy, at its annual PartnerWorld conference.

The deal calls for the two companies to jointly piece together CRM solutions to be anchored by IBM's middleware products and that will be tailored to work with Avaya's series of CRM solutions.

Avaya will further optimise its line of products to take better advantage of IBM's Websphere application server, the AIX version of DB2, and Windows NT. Avaya will also standardise on and actively promote IBM's pSeries and xSeries of servers to its customers as part of the agreement. "I think this [deal] will extend the reach and scope of our CRM solutions, and in combining our best strengths, customers should get solutions they can trust and that reach the market faster and that help them to do more with their existing e-business infrastructures," said Don Peterson, president and chief executive officer of Avaya.

The deal is intended to complement IBM's existing CRM deal with market leader Siebel Systems announced last year. According to Bob Timpson, IBM's general manager of developer relations, Siebel's CRM product will still serve as the primary platform upon which Avaya's products and solutions will sit and serve to integrate key functions.

Timpson reiterated what IBM has said over the past year, that it will not get into the business of itself developing CRM applications. The development work it will do as part of the Avaya deal will be contained to assisting in porting Avaya's products over to its middleware products.

"If you aren't going to deliver CRM products, then you have to make sure you partner with those who know how to do it well. I think we have done that with this deal," Timpson said.

Although officials from both companies refused to put a price on the agreement, they said sales potential goes well beyond any niche market opportunity. IDC recently projected that the CRM applications and infrastructure market was worth $6.2bn (£4.3bn) in 2000 and expects it to zoom to $14bn (£9.8bn) by 2005.

Despite the economic slowdown, the CRM space remains a good place to be, where people continue to spend money on fixing real business problems, said Dave Johnson, senior vice-president of sales and marketing for Avaya.

Both companies announced their first deal in September last year where IBM's Global Services group agreed to develop consulting and implementation services such as unified communications, CRM solutions, and Web-based e-commerce applications.

At that time both companies also agreed to jointly develop a Lotus Notes-compatible version of Avaya's Unified Messenger, a message management product, that is still expected to be delivered sometime during the second quarter of 2002.

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