IBM just launched another huge partnership: with Facebook

Ginni Rometty IBMIBMIBM CEO Ginni Rometty

IBM is reeling in partnerships with major tech companies like a champion bass fisherman on a stocked pond.

On Wednesday, IBM announced its latest partner: Facebook.

The two companies are teaming up to sell more Facebook ads to IBM’s huge roster of Fortune 500 companies, while simultaneously selling IBM’s marketing cloud services to them, powered by IBM’s sophisticated big-data/analytics engine.

The companies say this partnership will help marketers — particularly retailers — analyse what people are doing on Facebook in order to locate potential customers, send them better targeted ads on Facebook, and craft better marketing campaigns to be used on other mediums as well.

In addition, Facebook is joining IBM’s brand new advertising R&D think tank, dubbed IBM Commerce THINKLab. The think tank combines researchers, designers, other experts to help companies craft experimental marketing campaigns and then test those experiments.

Marketing clouds are a huge battleground, with big IT players like Oracle, Adobe, and Salesforce duking it out to grab their share. Chief marketing officers’ budgets are rising so fast that by 2017, CMOs are expected to spend more on tech than a company’s top IT person, the CIO, Gartner has predicted.

IBM says that this business unit, IBM Commerce, already has more than 35,000 customers.

That said, IBM is in the midst of a major and painful transition right now as customers have stopped buying software the old fashioned way, by licensing it and installing it in their own data centres, and have instead started renting it, using cloud services.

The company’s revenues in its traditional businesses have been shrinking and it’s trying to ramp up competitive cloud products as fast it can.

So IBM CEO, Ginni Rometty, is remaking the company by lining up an assortment of huge new partnerships, trading its stronghold with huge enterprise customers (something its partners want) with their help to jump start its cloud.

In the past couple of years, IBM’s new partnerships include: one with Apple to sell custom cloud apps running on the iPad or iPhone to various industries; teaming up with Twitter to write business apps that analyse tweets; a huge partnership to push into China with one that nation’s biggest internet companies, Tencent; even a renewed partnership with long-time competitor SAP to sell SAP’s popular HANA database as a cloud service and more.

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