IBM buys CRM SaaS firm – no, not Salesforce

Microsoft Dynamics UK Gov gateway

IBM has snapped up an as-a-service CRM expert and, no, it has nothing to do with Salesfore.

The giant has bought Microsoft Dynamics systems integrator partner Optevia for an undisclosed sum in a deal announced Friday morning.

UK-based Optevia will be folded into IBM Global Business Services, which is seeing staff axed as part of a global round of cuts.

A member of the UK government G-Cloud, Optevia’s big claim is its presence in the UK’s public sector, with customers spanning emergency services, Whitehall ministries and local government, regulators, transport authorities and health and housing bodies.

Past projects have included the Ministry of Justice’s National Taxing Team’s rollout of Dynamics CRM that handles $50m of payments annually.

Optevia has also developed a Community Risk Information System (CRIS) in 2014 for Surrey Fire and Rescue Services as part of its Dynamics rollout.

CRIS handles 27,000 organisations and 41,000 contact records.

IBM said the deal would help strengthen its position as a SaaS provider and global software integrator.

“By acquiring Optevia, IBM will be able to provide Public Sector clients and prospects with a range of unique, industry focused CRM-based solutions,” IBM’s public sector lead for Europe Joanna Davinson said in a statement.

It’s an interesting purchase. Consulting giant Accenture last year bought Salesforce partners Tquila and Cloud Sherpas, also on G-Cloud. Salesforce, of course, is the fastest-growing and best known of the CRM-as-a-service lot.

As CRM software goes, however, Microsoft’s Dynamics is almost invisible inside the world of Microsoft while – as a product – it has struggled to escape its label as serving the “mid-market” (define at will).

Dynamics has never bothered the Oracle or SAP giants while the arrival of SaaS saw its status as upstart challenger whipped away by Salesforce. The delivery of Dynamics as a service was hobbled by its owner’s unwillingness to compromise on-premise licence revenue.

That said, the UK’s public sector is renowned for its over-reliance on Microsoft software and it clearly has gone Microsoft CRM in the process of taking on more familiar staples such as Windows, Office, SQL Server. It’s a club IBM clearly felt was worth buying into for the sake of SaaS. ®

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