IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced two new partnerships today for its LotusLive email, Web conferencing, social networking and collaboration cloud service.
The partnerships with Ariba and SugarCRM add social commerce and customer relationship management (CRM) to IBM's cloud collaboration offering.
SugarCRM, which has turned open source CRM into a nearly $100 million business, is integrating LotusLive into its customer relationship management application.
IBM said the combined offering "will help sales more effectively collaborate with prospects and customers during lead generation, lead-to-cash and issue resolution processes." For example, a sales agent will be able to launch a LotusLive online meeting with prospects right from the Sugar application and share files and information with just a few clicks.
Big Blue said the combined offering provides a more streamlined experience for the prospect, allows for greater visibility into account activity, and increases CRM user productivity.
An IBM spokesperson said the integration is a co-selling model, where the customer buys separate subscriptions to LotusLive and SugarCRM and the services integrate "on the glass."
Martin Schneider, senior director of communications at SugarCRM, said marketers could also use the service "to launch meetings with hot leads once that lead performs a trigger event such as filling out a form" that's captured in Sugar or accessing a free trial offer.
"The idea here is to shorten sales cycles and foster a collaborative approach to sales and marketing," Schneider told eCRM Guide. "From a support perspective, this is a no-brainer: allowing support reps to quickly launch Web meetings with customers having an issue: sharing screens to resolve issues and sharing documents that can help troubleshoot issues and improve first-call resolution rates."
Schneider said the LotusLive integration "is just the first of several deliverables now that SugarCRM is a member of IBM's Global Alliance Portfolio of partners, so the future is very bright in our minds in terms of working even more closely with IBM in 2011 and beyond."
Schneider said the pairing of LotusLive with SugarCRM isn't aimed at Salesforce.com's (NYSE: CRM) Chatter collaboration service, noting that SugarCRM offers its own Sugar Feeds enterprise social networking service.
Ariba, meanwhile, is integrating LotusLive into its Ariba Discovery service. Ariba Discovery is a free service that provides access to more than 325,000 sellers in more than 400 business categories. Ariba Discovery for LotusLive lets buyers and sellers collaborate through online meetings, Web conferences, online chats and sharing documents.
Both services are expected to be available during the first half of 2011.