IBM provides US$3bn for smart economy stimulus plans


27 May 2009

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The technology giant affectionately known as Big Blue ought to be renamed ‘Big Green’ after making US$3bn available to finance IT initiatives for key economic stimulus projects in European and Asia-Pacific countries.

IBM said that its Global Financing division will provide US$ 3bn on top of the US$2bn announced two weeks ago to help jump-start US economic stimulus programmes.

IBM will make available up to US$2bn in financing in Europe, and up to approximately US$1bn in the Asia-Pacific region.

IBM Global Financing also will extend its North American coverage to include financing for smart technology projects in Canada.

The financing will help organisations move ahead with IT projects in 2009, while awaiting government funding, in order to build the technological and environmental infrastructure of the 21st century.

“There is a great connectivity among nations,” said John Callies, general manager of IBM Global Financing.

“While the various stimulus packages in different countries were designed to keep their own economies on track, it is as joined economies that we can rise from this global downturn together. In this context, IBM Global Financing is extending its stimulus financing programme to countries in Europe and Asia-Pacific to help global recovery.”

IBM has already been helping enterprises and local governments in these areas build their infrastructures to spur growth in key IT projects such as smart grid, health information technology and smart transportation.

The financing will be targeted to companies and organisations in countries where government funding has been committed to help economic stimulus, create new industries and enable infrastructure improvements.

The bulk of the US$5bn will offer financing for smart technology projects for credit-qualified clients in the form of low rates and flexible financing options, deferred payment plans, enterprise financing facilities that offer structured lines of credit, and specialised project financing packages that allow clients to align payment streams to anticipated benefits throughout the project.

“The recession is going to drive many organisations, public and private, to make transformational changes in their IT environment,” explained David Mitchell, senior vice president of IT Research at Ovum.

“However, without access to the correct financing offerings, a significant set of opportunities will be lost and society-wide projects, such as SmartGrid, will be substantially delayed.

“This is a bold move by IBM to help accelerate stimulus benefits into the current time frame,” Mitchell added.

To give an example of how the financing will be put to action, IBM is teaming with DONG Energy in Denmark to implement an Intelligent Utility Network, installing remote monitoring and control devices that give the company an unprecedented amount of information about the current state of the grid. The new solution also involves extensive analysis of the data provided by the remote devices, as well as reengineering DONG energy’s business processes.

In terms of smart transport, IBM is working with leading rail networks to improve the speed, safety and efficiency of both passenger and freight trains. IBM recently announced new rail projects in China, Taiwan and the Netherlands. These projects can make the global economy stronger, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce road congestion.

Last month, IBM China Research launched a new industry solution lab in China focusing on the development of healthcare IT solutions, and released four software packages that could help hospitals establish electronic patient records at reduced costs.

The Government of China has also announced a plan to invest 850bn Chinese Yen over the next three years to provide every village in the country with a medical clinic and at least one hospital for every county by 2011. The plan includes funding for electronic patient records systems that can be shared by different hospitals across China.

“The launch of the IBM Global Financing stimulus programme in Australia comes at the right time,” said Jean-Marc Annonier, IDC Australia program manager for IT Spending.

“While many businesses could potentially benefit from these new Federal Budget policy measures, some are still having difficulties obtaining financing in a tight credit market. IBM Global Financing’s stimulus financing offer will be certainly welcomed by organisations willing to modernise their IT infrastructure in order to prepare for the increased activity generated by heavy public investment programs,” Annonier added.

By John Kennedy