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Affecting IBM:IBM had contracted PeopleSoft for HR, then Oracle (Major Competitor) bought them. Oracle now buys Siebel. Does this put IBM in a precarious situation?Affecting Customers:I totally agree that the Skype integration will change the online experience as we know it. Ebay is good at that. This goes way beyond ecommerce, but to enhanced communications and integral customer service [b][i]On Demand[/i][/b].Affecting Me:As a Metrics Guy, This will make my life easier by tying the stream of communications through one medium instead of disparate threads of telephones, emails, and web. I expect cable via IP any minute now. Then we can measure almost all media and integrate the results into a clearer picture.

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Ray,I'm not really privy to the strategy behind the HR applications at IBM, so hard to say if it puts us in a "precarious" position.As to the head nodding you did on Skype/eBay, I'm right there with ya -- and, by the way, I like the term you used: "customer service on demand." I think that's a good characterization of where an integrated Web-VOIP experience could take us. Regarding metrics, I think I understand the integration thought, but am not sure what you meant regarding "cable via IP." Could you please elaborate? If I think I understand, the idea is that all the assets are IP-enabled and will facilitate a common tracking capability?While I would not comment on that from a technical capability, as someone who has a vested interest in tracking Web metrics at IBM, anything that can give us a more holistic view of what's going on with our customers via the Web experience is goodness. However, in this case, you would want to look beyond the quantitative experience and also concentrate on the quality of that experience. That is to say, are the online customer service reps promptly responding to customers, can customers get ahold of someone via VOIP, are the right expectations being set on how this new experience works, etc.

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Todd: impact of the Oracle buy of Siebel on IBM here at http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB112708573663744417,00.html (subscription required). The gyst: basically, IBM got out of the big application market in the 1990s (I vaguely remember Workflow and something called Application System (no, not AS/400), relying on external companies to build applications atop the O/S and systems like DB2, TPF, etc.