IBM, Facebook Form Product Innovation Partnership

Everything is Fair Game, Says IBM GM Deepak Advani

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Partnership is part of IBM's new THINKLab.
Partnership is part of IBM's new THINKLab.

IBM and Facebook are teaming up in an effort to improve both of their products.

The partnership, part of the new IBM Commerce THINKLab, will ask IBM clients to bring forth business problems and will assign engineers from both companies to attempt to fix them. The effort does not have a concrete headcount, but Deepak Advani, GM of IBM commerce, said in an interview that the partnership will be robust.

"We're going to bring skills from across the IBM company based on the problem we're going to solve," Mr. Advani said. "If this demand really picks up, there's nothing I can think of within my portfolio that's more important than client-centric collaboration."

Facebook has been slowly edging into the enterprise software world, and this effort fits the pattern. The company recently announced plans to allow businesses to conduct customer service activities within its Messenger product and in January, introduced Facebook at Work, a product that allows workplaces to create private social networks.

Mr. Advani said the two companies have discussed the Messenger product and may indeed work on it. "The thinking that both of us have is in a true client-centric collaboration, everything is fair game," he said.

In a release, Facebook VP-partnerships Blake Chandlee said the company will "be working closely with IBM Commerce THINKLab to help deliver people-based marketing that's optimized to achieve each brand's business goals."

IBM, Mr. Advani said, is already working with clients to change its products based on their pain points and will enhance its efforts via this partnership. The product changes are critical given that IBM is locked in a still-developing battle with Oracle, Salesforce, Adobe and NetSuite for supremacy in the marketing automation and ecommerce clouds.

The two companies also announced they are connecting IBM's marketing automation tool, Silverpop, with Facebook's ad product, a move similar to one Salesforce announced in March.

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