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IBM puts a bundle on the finance industry

Big Blue releases packages of software and services tailored to financial services companies, part of a push to tune its sales efforts to the needs of specific industries.

IBM has put together packages of software and services tailored to financial services companies, part of a push to tune its sales efforts to the needs of specific industries.

On Monday, Big Blue released 15 packages under the heading of Middleware Solutions--five each for the banking, insurance and finance markets--that are designed to tackle problems common to those sectors. The software and consulting services in the bundles, drawn from IBM's existing portfolio, were chosen in response to customer feedback from the past two years, according to Big Blue.

By better matching its technology to pressing business issues in particular industries, IBM expects that its sales people will become more effective in selling to corporations.

The bundled technology approach "represents the capabilities of all IBM's technologies in a way that the customer understands, because it maps right into a project that an IT executive has likely already been asked to deploy," said Doug Brown, the company's director of industry marketing.

The Armonk, N.Y., tech giant will follow up the release with similar bundles for other industries, Brown said.

Industry-specific offerings that draw on IBM's software, hardware and consulting services are central to the company's corporate strategy. In December, it said it would alter the training for its sales force this year to give employees more industry-specific expertise.

IBM's plan to tailor its software for vertical industries mirrors the efforts of other large software providers. Oracle, SAP and PeopleSoft and others sell versions of their enterprise applications that address processes in industries such as manufacturing and health care, and which incorporate support for industry data-exchange formats.

The first 15 IBM Middleware Solutions for Financial Markets bundles include guidance on how to deal with technology-related problems typical to the financial services sector, such as how to revamp a retail banking Web site. IBM also provides prebuilt connections from its software and recommendations to application providers writing for specific industries.

IBM spent the past four months putting together the product packages, which can be implemented in a piecemeal fashion, Brown said. Pricing will depend on the extent and make-up of the bundle, according to the company.