There's real money to be made in electronic commerce, according to Software Spectrum Asia-Pacific managing director David Colvin.

"e-business is causing us to grow our IBM/Lotus practice for our consulting business beyond any of our expectations."

Software Spectrum is an IBM "Premier BESTeam" partner and certified "Lotus Premium Business Partner", and Colvin told ARN it has doubled its number of consultants in Australia and New Zealand in the last year. "But in certain circumstances, we will partner with other IBM partners."

IBM has chosen Software Spectrum to develop and deploy training workshops for IBM Suites for Windows NT. Joining Colvin to discuss the opportunities that e-business represents to the channel were Ian Bonner, vice president of marketing, IBM Software Group, Roger King, executive vice president of sales and marketing, Software Spectrum, and Andrew Dutton, GM AustraliaÐ New Zealand, IBM Software.

Bonner said that worldwide, IBM will spend in excess of $700 million this year on the creation of e-business brands. He claimed customers are now asking questions about what e-business means for their future, and what they need to be doing to embrace it so it allows them to provide better customer service as well as access to their customers.

"What we're putting on the table through our partner initiatives in Australia and around the world is the recognition that, in order to solve the problems of a multitude of business partners, we need to develop trained and skilled people. Our focus is on finding, identifying and working with partners that are prepared - like Software Spectrum - to invest in becoming skilled on the deployment of our technologies to solve customer business problems."

According to King: "the opportunity we're (Software Spectrum) trying to leverage is a successful services practice. There is a higher margin in services than product supply - hardware or software.

"There's an opportunity for other IBM partners to partner with us, especially AS/400 shops that don't have Domino expertise or the ability to scale as quickly as their customers want them to."

Having the products and the expertise to deploy them is one thing, but it's the momentum generated by the "e-business revolution" that has even Andrew Dutton scratching his head. Dutton told ARN that the potential value of e-business is so big that he doesn't know. "We haven't done the dollar figure estimates, but it's bigger than any other single element we can focus on," he said.

Valuable opportunity

The way Colvin sees it: "IBM is offering us and other business partners a valuable opportunity. Software Spectrum is interested in partnering with other IBM partners where there is mutual value in addressing those customers' needs."

Colvin added that this may be especially appropriate where they are in the AS/400 space and in need of Notes expertise. "One of our core focus areas is Notes on AS/400, so there are AS/400 partners who would do well to contact us if they have customers in the Notes space."

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