One of the biggest things standing in the way of a new technology investment isn't confusion over the technology or even an interest in trying a new approach, it is paying for the solution. That's why IBM has created a $1 billion series of financing packages specifically for helping small and midsize businesses.
The money is specifically intended to drive IBM's data analytics and cloud services offerings, but it could also cover other software, services, hardware or networking equipment needed to get those things up and running from one of IBM's ecosystem partners, said Andy Monshaw, general manager of the IBM midmarket business. The program is initially slated to run for 18 months, on a worldwide basis.
"The time is right," Monshaw said. "We see an increasing demand for the ability to consume leading-edge technologies in a new kind of way."
Mind you, SMBs will need to undergo a credit qualification process by IBM Global Financing in order to be considered for financing. Monshaw wouldn't share the details of what will qualify -- or disqualify -- a small or midsize business. The leases and loans included as part of the program will range from 0 percent to 12 percent over a period of 12 months, although that depends entirely on the business. Monshaw said a business could be qualified within a minute through an IBM Business Partner via an online financing tool. So, if you use an IT services company to help with your technology needs, their services could actually be covered under the program. The minimum deal size to be covered by financing is $5,000, and the amount that an SMB can get will depend on the technology that is involved and on a country-by-country basis.
You won't find it so surprising that the financing supports a series of new midmarket solutions focused on cloud, analytics, collaboration and security. These solutions have been sized specifically for companies with less than 1,000 employees, and they include products from IBM's recent acquisitions of Cast Iron, BigFix, SPSS, Netezza and Cognos. The fact that are packaged as cloud technologies is also a selling point that IBM is hoping to emphasize, because that will allows small businesses to get some of these applications up and running in a matter of three days for as little as $5 per user per month (for a "best credit" customer who commits to a three-year financing term).
One of the companies that has already benefitted from IBM"s midmarket offerings is SkyMall, the company that is behind those catalogs you get on an airplane. Said SkyMall COO Jay Scannell:
"Reaching people on the go is core to our business. The opportunity lies behind the ability to tie online buying to offline activity. This will drive expansion and innovation in the way we conduct commerce and will require continued investment and advanced technologies to keep pace. As a long-time IBM customers, we have used analytics to make key decisions about our business."