IBM aims software, service packages at financial firms

As part of its push to tailor its products for vertical industry customers, IBM Corp. announced Monday more than a dozen software-and-services packages customized for finance-industry customers. The 15 new bundles — five each for the banking, insurance, and financial services markets — represent the first wave of IBM’s industry-focused campaign, announced in December.

The initiative is focused more on revamping IBM’s sales strategy than it is on new product development. In consulting projects over the last several years, the company has put together software solutions for many of the top IT problems facing customers; its focus now is to sell those product sets and IBM’s accompanying services expertise to other customers working on similar projects, according to Doug Brown, director of industry marketing for IBM’s software group.

The packages announced Monday include bundles such as Risk and Compliance Foundation for financial services companies, Branch Transformation for banks, and Integrated Claims Management for insurers. The specific software components in each bundle vary, but many include portal technology, WebSphere Business Integration, and DB2 Information Integrator, Brown said. Collaboration applications from Lotus, security and systems management software from Tivoli, and development tools from Rational appear in some packages.

Nearly every package also includes software from third-party developers in IBM’s ISV (independent software vendor) network. “Siebel (Systems Inc.) is heavily involved in a lot of them,” Brown said. IBM declined to discuss average prices for the bundles, citing their variability.

“We’ve made these solutions extremely modular. What we’ve packed here is our knowledge and our technology, but not in a shrink-wrapped take-it-or-leave-it bundle,” Brown said.

The bundles won’t offer customers a significant price break, though.

“The advantage to the solutions is that they really give a customer a head start in us having thought through the projects already,” Brown said. “There’s not a particular advantage from a pricing standpoint.”

Over the next six months IBM plans to introduce bundles for customers in nine more industries, including automotive, retail, consumer packaged goods, electronics, government and life sciences.

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