IBM lends an e-hand to small businesses

IBM lends an e-hand to small businesses

Continuing its emphasis on pursuing opportunities in the small business market, IBM at Partnerworld 2000 here this week announced the formation of a business unit dedicated to promoting e-business solutions in concert with its business partners.

The Global Small Business unit will offer incentives to business partners in order to promote IBM's new Small Business WebConnections service. The incentives will mean added earnings opportunities for both existing and new business partners who agree to join the WebConnections Lead Referral Members program, according to IBM officials.

As part of the program, partners will identify and refer small businesses that are ready to put up an e-business for the first time or significantly expand an existing one.

The Small Business WebConnections for Whistle Interjet program will offer smaller businesses a range of different services all aimed at better positioning them for e-business including high-speed Internet access, shared business-to-business e-mail, their own domain name, a firewall for security, and Web hosting.

The entry-level offering starts at $US99.

IBM also announced it is sweetening its existing Small Business WebConnections program by offering referral members 7 per cent residual monthly income based on their customers' Small Business WebConnections billing.

The new Service Integrator Program provides customers with support through its network of Business Partners. Through this program IBM will offer Small Business WebConnection customers the names of local service integrator members that can arrange for InterJet installation and training, LAN consulting and integration, and a number of custom network solutions.

Users and partners can get more information at

IBM also announced the creation of a Global Midmarket Business unit, which will focus on delivering e-business solutions to medium-sized accounts, those accounts with between 100 and 1000 employees.

Offerings from this unit will include those built around the AS/400 and RS/6000 lines, along with a Web-based self-service solution and several new alliances, including one with NetVendor, a provider of business-to-business solutions for mid-market suppliers.

The Web Self-Service solution is called the IBM e-business StartNow program and offers customer relationship management solutions including software, hardware, financing, and various partner services.

The program allows business partners to deliver pretested, customised e-business solutions to users in about 45 days.

The StartNow program comprises a range of middleware products including Websphere, DB2 Universal DataBase, IBM Communications Server, IBM Directory, and Lotus Domino R5.

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