IBM Delivers E-Business Consulting For Small/Medium Companies

In most cases, small- and medium-size companies don't have the luxury of paying for personalized consulting to assist in their e-business efforts. IBM believes it has found a solution with its e-business Accelerator offering.

IBM's e-business Accelerator is an online consulting tool designed to help customers make timely, well-informed, critical business decisions about harnessing the Web for business advantage.

Delivered by IBM Global Services via the Internet, IBM e-business Accelerator provides reliable information, unbiased consulting advice and customized assessments. Early pilots of the offering provided customers information that helped to streamline operations, increase productivity and reduce total operational costs.

The IBM e-business Accelerator is comprised of resources divided into three areas:

  • A collection of reading materials by IBM consultants and others;
  • Business analysis applications;
  • And online access to IBM e-business consultants.
"We've found a close match between the types of customers using an AS/400 and those that can benefit most from the e-business Accelerator offerings," says Tom Vassos, senior e-business advisor for IBM's e-business Accelerator. "For smaller companies that can't necessarily afford face-to-face consulting fees, they can get the same level of expertise using the e-business accelerator. For the cost of less than a secretary, customers can have several consultants at their disposal to answer very specific questions. People really see the value in this service.

"The main questions and concerns that clients currently have are how to market on the Internet, security issues and how to convince senior executives on the validity of implementing an e-business solution," Vassos adds.

"For the small- to medium-size business, the full scale of traditional consulting services may not be the type of services they're looking for, or they might be out of their price range," says Susan Cournoyer, industry analyst for IT Services at Dataquest (San Jose, Calif.), a Gartner Group company. "As a subscription service or as a per-project basis, IBM is tapping in to a potentially broader market for businesses looking for advice on how to bring their business online. IBM is supported by the knowledge of their consultants in the field who have gained direct experience in the e-commerce and e-business environments."

The solution includes a set of services--Explore, Investigate, Engage, Assess and Plan packages--that coincide with the different stages of e-business development. The packages include a range of customized services--from assistance in exploring new e-business market opportunities to help in designing an e-business strategy.

Other key services include:

  • Up-to-date research on e-business trends, case studies and best-practices checklists
  • Interactive online question-and-answer sessions
  • Phone consultations with an e-business advisor
  • Links to Web-based resources that have proven useful to IBM professionals
  • e-Business Case Checklist, a "roadmap" that outlines critical tasks for customers in the early planning stages
  • Articles covering e-business issues and opportunities
  • Competitive Snapshot, a consultant's evaluation of a client's competitive opportunities and the challenges that may influence any e-business initiative
  • Competitive Watch, a tool that sends notification whenever a competitor's Web site changes
  • Trend Tracker, which puts e-business initiatives, achievements and goals into a competitive context
  • Security Analyzer, which creates a security profile of a Web site and online business
  • Web Marketing Evaluator, which is designed to evaluate the likely success of an online marketing effort for a given product
  • Competitive Assessment, a detailed report on the most effective parts of a competitors' Web sites--and yours. It includes an analysis and specific strategic recommendations.
IBM e-business Accelerator is now available in the United States and Canada at Prices range from $300 to $15,000, based on level of services and can be purchased for an annual subscription fee or on a project-by-project basis.