IBM and Intuit have collaborated to bring an all-in-one solution that delivers just about everything a small business needs in a single box, with no IT experience needed. The agreement combines IBM's Smart Business offering, which includes hardware, software and technical support, with Intuit's QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions financial management software in a pre-integrated, automated appliance.
The heart of the system is the IBM Smart Cube appliance, which includes all the fundamental technology required to run a business including the e-mail, calendaring, security, backup and recovery and Intuits financial software. IBM claims it can be set up in four easy steps, with no manuals required. The sweet spot IBM has targeted for the system is SMBs with between 50 and 500 employees, although the company says the value proposition and automation make Smart Business appealing for businesses with as few as a handful of workers.
We took our cue from the consumer products world, where things just work out of the box, said Matt Friedman, vice president of marketing for IBM Smart Business. We wanted to liberate business owners from IT complexity. Friedman also pointed out that the Smart Business system gives buyers a single point of contactone throat to choke, as he put itshould they need technical support. Instead of trying to determine whether a problem lies with the hardware, operating system or application software, customers can contact IBM with any issues that crop up.
Other parts of the Smart Business equation include Smart Market, an online marketplace where Smart Business customers can browse, rate and download applications; and Smart Desk, a Web-enabled dashboard that customers can use for Smart Business maintenance, such as updating applications automatically and subscribing to remote application services. IBM offers managed security, hosted off-site back up and recovery services and more.
In addition to Intuit, Smart Market currently has 16 other software developers selling 48 business applications across a range of industries including healthcare, telecommunications and manufacturing. All of the available solutions are intended to be easy to deploy, with no CDs to load or manuals to wade through to get the software to work with the operating system.
The pre-loaded QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions is the first financial management application available for the Smart Business platform. It lets business owners manage finances, inventory, sales, purchasing and payroll. An entrepreneur should be in the business of business, not the business of IT, said Gary Wiessinger, director of product management at Intuit. Working with IBM, we have delivered a turnkey accounting appliance that provides all the functionality clients need, without the IT cost and complexity of competitive solutions. Its ideal for companies that are switching from another platform, or for growing companies upgrading to QuickBooks Enterprise that also need to upgrade to a new server.
IBM piloted the Smart Business solution in India last year, and the new offering marks its debut here in the U.S. The combined IBM and Intuit appliance is available from select IBM and Intuit Business Partners starting at $7,745.
Jamie Bsales is an award-winning technology writer and editor with nearly 14 years of experience covering the latest hardware, software and Internet products and services.
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