As part of the deal, which will focus on the telecommunications and financial services markets, E.piphany's entire suite of products will be integrated on the IBM e-business infrastructure, according to an E.piphany spokeswoman.
The deal is IBM's way of casting a vote of support to the CRM vendor that has done the most work to support Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE), said Gareth Herschel, a research director at Gartner who has been briefed on the deal.
"By making this announcement it puts a stake in the ground and says, 'E.piphany is our partner here,'" Herschel said. "It gives IBM a strong partner on the marketing side of CRM."
The deal could indicate IBM's lack of confidence in its high-profile CRM partner, Siebel Systems, according to Herschel. Siebel is strong in call centre and field sales channel applications rather than marketing and analytics.
"It's a vote of no confidence in Siebel's current solution. Part of it is Siebel isn't J2EE. You could either view it as a vote of no confidence in Siebel's marketing and analytics strategy that IBM has found the need to go looking for another partner, or IBM is looking for a strong partner today and Siebel doesn't have it," Herschel said.
In addition, IBM may view this partnership as protection from losing out on deals where an enterprise isn't keen on Siebel's solutions, said Herschel.
"Siebel has been struggling particularly in business-to-consumer industries," he said. "If Siebel gets knocked out of the deal, then IBM risks getting knocked out of the deal."
For E.piphany, which has been struggling to increase revenue, the deal could provide a valuable boost to its credibility.