IBM, Genesys enter alliance

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IBM Corp. and Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Alcatel, last month announced a strategic alliance to provide integrated customer contact centers and customer relationship management services to vertical industries. Initially, the companies are targeting prospects in financial services and telecommunications, but they plan to expand into other industries.

The agreement will pair IBM’s e-business infrastructure—including servers, IBM WebSphere and DB2 database software—with Genesys’ contact center solutions for phone, e-mail and Web-based interaction management. The result will be fully integrated contact centers that link telephone calls with Web-based data, allowing companies to deliver more sophisticated customer relationship services to their clients, IBM said.

"Just about everybody has a contact center, and everyone has a horror story to tell," said Rob Saultz, director of strategy and business development for CRM solutions at IBM. "Genesys makes the contact center a lot more intelligent. If you call the contact center, you get the feeling you are dealing with a firm that really understands you."

For example, a banking customer who calls with a question about mortgage interest rates would be transferred to a customer support rep who would have that customer’s information available on the computer, eliminating redundancies such as entering an account number and other account information on a touch-tone pad.

In addition to CRM, the companies will also provide sales-force automation, directory assistance and other services.

By targeting financial services and telecommunications companies, IBM and Genesys are going after two of the leading spenders on CRM technology. According to a February report by Jupiter Media Metrix Inc., financial services firms spent $3.1 billion on CRM technology in 2001, a figure that is expected to grow to $5.4 billion in 2006. Telecommunications firms spent $1.9 billion on CRM technology in 2001, and that is expected to grow to $2.9 billion in 2006.

Customer contact centers account for 54% of all CRM spending, the report found.

Relationship expands

The agreement expands the existing relationship between IBM and Genesys, under which the companies are developing joint services using IBM voice technology for the CRM market. Genesys is also a systems integration and reseller partner of IBM.

As for IBM, the agreement is just one of dozens of strategic alliances the computer giant has in the booming CRM market.

"We focus on CRM from an enterprise perspective," Saultz said. "It’s one of our key elements."

In January, for example, IBM signed a $1.2 billion outsourcing deal with Nextel Communications Inc. to manage Nextel’s customer care centers. For that deal, IBM is partnering with TeleTech, a provider of CRM services.

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