Thousands of IBM's customers and business partners gathered for IBM IMPACT 2007, IBM's inaugural worldwide customer event focused on advancing the $160 billion opportunity for service-oriented architecture (SOA) through education and demonstrable business results. More than 4,500 IBM customers have modeled their businesses around SOA, a business strategy that helps a company reuse existing technology to more closely align it with business goals, helping to result in greater efficiencies, cost savings and productivity.

A recent study found that 56 percent of IBM customers cited lack of skills, mainly individuals with a blending of IT technical understanding and business process acumen, as the leading inhibitor to SOA. To address the SOA skills shortage, IBM is announcing new tools and certification programs to help organizations develop teams of individuals with so-called "T-shaped" skills, which encompass both deep business skills, represented by the horizontal line of the "T," and technical understanding, represented by the vertical line.

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