Partnering on CRM for SMEs

IBM, Clear Technologies offer customer relationship management solution to small, midsize enterprises

Tempe, AZ  September 26, 2002  IBM this week partnered with Clear Technologies to offer a customer relationship management (CRM) solution targeted at North American mid-market customers in the wholesale distribution, industrial and services industries, a market the two companies said is currently underserved by CRM solutions.

Under the terms of the agreement, financial details of which were not disclosed, the two companies will jointly market Clear's C2 CRM running on several IBM hardware platforms and related operating systems, storage devices and IBM middleware technologies.

Technology analysts have predicted that the U.S. small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) will spend more than $40 billion on CRM software over the next 10 years. At the same time, some analysts suggest that CRM applications targeted at large enterprises may be overly complex for the mid-market. Midsize companies that outgrow PC-based contact managers cannot necessarily digest an all-encompassing enterprise resource planning (ERP)-style CRM solution, these analysts said.

Technology consultancy Gartner, for one, has suggested that SMEs don't want large enterprise solutions at discount prices or with minor modifications, but would prefer to have products and services designed to meet their needs and priced accordingly.

Clear said its C2 CRM is designed with mid-market companies in mind. Accessible to all users in the organization via the Web, C2 offers access to customer and prospect information. "We based C2's design on a decade's worth of direct feedback from small and medium-sized customers," said Greg Colley, president and CEO of Clear Technologies.

IBM and Clear said their joint offering is designed for rapid implementation and minimal training to accelerate user adoption across an organization, while also being scalable to meet a company's future needs as it grows.

Hoon-Meng Ong, vice president of marketing for global small and medium business at IBM, said that the partnership with Clear to serve the SME market was "an important cornerstone" in the IBM's strategy to provide applications to the mid-market. "Clear is an ideal mid-market CRM partner because their C2 product is specifically designed for the segment," Ong said.

Clear has had a working relationship with IBM for more than 10 years. Its C2 solution is also offered through IBM's Start Now Solutions Proven initiative, a program that helps IBM solution provider business partners reach SME customers.