IBM has bolstered its SME-tailored Express software suite with 10 new products.
The Express portfolio, launched in October 2002, consists of almost 40 software suites, priced and designed specifically for the SME market.
Bob Betts, SMB managing director at IBM, told CRN: "It was a slow take-up at the start, mainly because it took time to introduce the Express products to our clients. SMEs don't want point products any more. They're buying Express solutions.
"I don't think vendors have been hot on the delivery of products, particularly for SMEs. This is exciting stuff for us. For the first time there is take-up in the marketplace, and we've rolled service products into the Express portfolio."
IBM announced at its PartnerWorld event in Las Vegas earlier this year that it will invest $300m in new services, programmes, consulting and education to help Business Partners increase revenue opportunities in the SME marketplace (CRN, 7 March).
Paddy Lawton, managing director of IBM Business Partner Digital Union, said: "We build all our software on top of the Express solutions. Express has allowed us to go head to head with Microsoft ISVs."
Lawton did not agree that Express has been slow to take-off. "Maybe in IBM's eyes, but for us, no," he said.
"Before Express, we were finding it difficult to sell WebSphere into the market. When it was introduced it enabled us to operate properly in the SME space."
Andrew Dewhurst, sales and marketing director at ISV Frontline Consultancy, said: "We like the Express range because it's focused on SMEs. The pricing is particularly good as it takes into account the low user numbers within SMEs, and on a technical front, the installation has been simplified."
Phil Payne, principal at Isham Research, said: "I see the Express announcements as part of a co-ordinated attempt to streamline the part of IBM that gets in the way of moving high-technology products to customers.
"Lower down the market, fulfilment comes via web purchasing and further up it's On Demand. There was an unaddressed gap and Express seems designed to plug it. It reduces time-to-market and increases responsiveness."
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