IBM and eLance Build AS/400 Services E-Marketplace

No one knows better than an AS/400 IT manager the kinds of problems the booming economy has created in terms of staffing shortages. With the launch of their new Web portal, IBM’s AS/400 division hopes to relieve some of the day-to-day hassle of finding qualified IT professionals in a tight labor market.

“What is unique in the AS/400 world, and why we built this, is if you go out there, you can’t always find AS/400-specific skills,” says Bridget Spellman, AS/400 brand enablement executive for IBM. “There’s tons of UNIX skills and tons of NT skills, but AS/400 is a very unique set of skills and our customers didn’t know where to look.”


“ELance is an up-and-coming e-business company, and they already had an established Web presence,” IBM's Bridget Spellman says. “We wanted to partner with someone with a little pizzazz, to give AS/400 a new image, rather than the same-old same-old.”

Responding to this demand, IBM recently announced they have teamed up with eLance.com, an online services marketplace, to provide an AS/400-exclusive services network for IT managers looking for skilled professionals. Users log on to www.as400.ibm.com/services (new window) and submit a request for a particular service, which is then matched up with relevant service providers who are members of the network. Then customers can access the eLance online marketplace through an AS/400 specific link, where they can also submit bids for the project or service being requested.

IBM selected eLance to help launch the site because they viewed it as is both a proven success and a progressive start-up. The company, Spellman says, had a reputation as an established e-marketplace services provider, however, she added, eLance’s innovative design and technology is beneficial to IBM in promoting AS/400’s image.

“ELance is an up-and-coming e-business company, and they already had an established Web presence,” she says. “We wanted to partner with someone with a little pizzazz, to give AS/400 a new image, rather than the same-old same-old.”

Spellman emphasizes that although the visitors to the site can receive individual recommendations based on their inquiry, IBM does not claim to endorse any specific service or vendor. The goal, she says, is simply to demonstrate that IBM is keeping up with customers’ needs and providing a convenient means to meet them.

“In order to make it easier to search, we’ve categorized certain providers so that they don’t get a laundry list with no relevance to their question,” she says. “We’re just trying to make it easy for customers to find folks. ...Although we don’t specifically give endorsements to the vendors on our site, it kind of still shows our customers that IBM has a clue about what’s happening out there. They’re very thankful that we have a site like this and that we recognize the services are a big part of the AS/400 market demand.”

According to Spellman, this model has been popular not only with customers, but also with vendors. Spellman says IBM views the site as simply a reference point for customers, not a vehicle for vendor advertising, therefore, unlike many such industry-specific portals, the AS/400 Services Network does not require a fee to be included in the listing.

“We have had tremendous success in lining up service providers who want to be included in the general list. We have about 200 at this point,” she says. “We were just trying to set up something unique that nobody has to pay to be featured on our site.”

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    Related Information:

  • eLance.com (new window)