IBM Partners with SugarCRM and Ariba

As it looks to improve companies’ daily business interactions and effectiveness, IBM has announced new partnerships with SugarCRM and Ariba, as well as increased adoption of LotusLive public cloud services.

IBM also announced that the Australian Bureau of Statistics, C&D Foods, Crawford & Co., the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, General Milling, General Motors Components Holdings, and the Zoo and Aquarium Association of Australia will benefit from its cloud initiatives.

The announcements come as research shows cloud computing is on the rise. According to the IDC, worldwide spending on cloud services will grow almost threefold and reach $44.2 billion by 2013. In addition, a recent IBM survey of more than 2,000 companies revealed growing adoption of cloud computing among midsize firms. Two-thirds were either planning on or currently using cloud-based technologies.

“There is no dispute that the cloud is a very high gross area and a total game changer for the software space,” says Beverly DeWitt, director of LotusLive Partner Programs and Solutions at IBM. “All different parts of IBM are focused on a cloud-based delivery model. It’s a key strategic initiative not only for us but also for our competitors.”

Ariba is integrating LotusLive into Ariba Discovery, a free service that provides access to more than 350,000 sellers in more than 400 business categories. Ariba Discovery for LotusLive is expected to debut during the first half of this year and will enable buyers and sellers to hold Web conferences, participate in online conversations, and share documents.

SugarCRM, a provider of open-source CRM software, is integrating LotusLive into its customer relationship management application. The goal is to effectively collaborate with prospective and current customers during lead generation, lead-to-cash, and issue resolution processes. LotusLive provides integrated email, Web conferencing, social networking services, and collaboration tools through the IBM cloud.

“For both [IBM and SugarCRM], it enables us to alter a very powerful solution for sales organizations, marketing teams, and support organizations, whether that is a call center or non-traditional support through things like Twitter,” said Martin Schneider, senior director of communications at SugarCRM. “It’s really valuable, cost-effective, and will meet the changing needs of an individual or a team over time.”

Denis Pombriant, founder and principal analyst at Beagle Research Group, says the partnership is an “extension of IBM’s commitment to open source” that will benefit a wide range of companies.

“There seems to be a lot of synergy these days between IBM and the open-source movement,” Pombriant says. “For the first time it gives IBM a native CRM application that some of its older clients with older technology can take advantage of.”

Laurie McCabe, a partner at SMB Group, believes this collaboration is a “win-win” for businesses and customers. “IBM is definitely broadening the footprint,” she says. “This opens up the platform, making it easy for people to partner and integrate with LotusLive. It’s a big plus for the customers because they have more opportunities to integrate, as well.”

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