IBM Pushes Smarter Commerce With New Products, Services

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2012-09-05
 
 
 

IBM Pushes Smarter Commerce With New Products, Services


ORLANDO, Fla. - IBM is trying to make it easier for the marketing department and IT to play better together to help organizations better reach their customers and constituents through more direct interaction, among other things.

At its IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit here, Big Blue announced new software and services designed to help chief marketing officers (CMOs), chief procurement officers (CPOs) and other key line-of-business executives realize quicker business results by delivering intelligence-guided customer experiences across all digital channels, aligned to the buying and shopping preferences of each individual.

IBM announced the expansion of its Smarter Commerce initiative with new cloud-based software and services that enable businesses to immediately put the customer at the center of their operations in order to drive revenue and ensure sustainable brand loyalty.

The new initiatives include the IBM Marketing Center, an IBM SmartCloud Solution that integrates digital analytics with real-time marketing execution capabilities into a single solution that allows CMOs to better meet customer needs by quickly analyzing customer shopping patterns and turning these insights into intelligent offers that are personalized to each person. IBM also announced a new Smarter Commerce Managed Services offering that helps clients more rapidly and effectively deploy and manage their e-commerce environments, as well as a new offering for Strategic Supply Management, available on-premises and as a SmartCloud solution, that speeds and improves supplier governance, risk and compliance.

With the new offerings introduced Sept. 5, IBM provides customers with automation and intelligence while accelerating and improving marketing, sales, customer service, procurement and supply chain management. IBM currently analyzes more than $100 billion in commerce transactions per year in the cloud, said Craig Hayman, general manager of IBM Industry Solutions. Current IBM customers that have embraced its cloud-based Smarter Commerce offerings include RadioShack, Bank of Montreal and Urban Outfitters.

Customers Interact Increasingly With Brands Through Many Channels


According to IBM's State of Marketing survey, 48 percent of marketers said they believe that improved technology infrastructure will enable them to better meet the needs of customers, who are increasingly interacting with brands via multiple channels. For example, during the recent back-to-school shopping season, 15.7 percent of online sales took place via a mobile device in July and 15.4 percent in August.

IBM's new Marketing Center combines digital analytics and real-time marketing execution in a single integrated offering that can easily be deployed without taxing the resources of the CIO. Once live, marketers can turn data provided by customers into personalized offers via email or Website personalization (including the mobile Web), all with just a few clicks.

Through these capabilities, CMOs consistently deliver exceptional experiences that are in line with the wants and needs of each individual. To ensure ongoing success, the application provides automated marketing tracking, digital and campaign analytics that measure the effectiveness of marketing efforts, which can be adjusted in real time if necessary.

For example, while an individual might frequently visit a retailer's mobile Website and identify items of interest, he or she may consistently fail to complete the purchase, IBM said. Through its automated capabilities, a CMO and their team can quickly identify this trend and with just a few clicks re-engage the customer by sending a coupon for 10 percent off specific items and also presenting them with a personalized Website that reflects their unique interests. 

"Given today's empowered customers that are digitally connected 24/7, we see it as top priority to provide our customers with the best possible experience in every interaction," Laura Sympson-Cornelius, director of Web analytics at Office Depot, said in a statement, "The idea behind the new IBM Marketing Center to combine digital analytics and real-time marketing execution in a single application is very compelling for making that task easier."

In another instance, a CMO of a bank can analyze two campaigns simultaneously to determine the effectiveness of each overall and with specific groups and customer segments. With this information, the marketing team can determine in real time which campaign best meets the needs of each customer in order to ensure the best experience possible.

"Customers today are connecting with brands on multiple fronts, including mobile devices, social media sites and in the store. Regardless of channel, these individuals expect each experience to be flawless and relevant," said Yuchun Lee, general manager of IBM Enterprise Marketing Management, in a statement. "With the IBM Marketing Center, we expand our SaaS [software as a service] portfolio with an all-in-one solution that provides CMOs and their teams with the intelligence required to consistently meet the unique needs of each individual customer-the ultimate goal of all marketers."

To further enhance the shopping experience, IBM also introduced Smarter Commerce Managed Services, business process outsourcing (BPO) services from its Global Process Services (GPS) group. Now companies can outsource the means by which they deploy and enable multiple commerce channels such as in-store, online and mobile to flawlessly interconnect. This uninterrupted flow of commercial transactions speeds business results. 

In addition to the CMO, the demands of the empowered customer have put additional pressure on CPOs to further reduce spend with suppliers and improve risk management, IBM said. In an environment where an average 50 percent of the value of a product comes from suppliers, managing supply costs and risks plays a critical role in meeting the needs of the empowered customer.

With IBM's new Emptoris Strategic Supply Management, CPOs are given visibility and control over spending, contracts, service providers and supplier intelligence and processes. The new version also improves supplier governance, risk and compliance with enhanced information management and workflow capabilities. In addition, IBM has enhanced procurement analytics for contract compliance and improved program accountability for suppliers, categories and regions.

"Building a world-class procurement organization involves people, process and technology," said Mark Edwards, chemicals procurement manager at BP Lubricants, in a statement. "BP Lubricants has built its procurement operations with high-quality people and processes. The use of advanced sourcing technology from IBM has enabled our Lubricants procurement team to gain greater control over global spend and market data. The solution empowers us to realize the best value, not just the best price, from a supply base by factoring multiple performance drivers into decision making."

Streamlining the supply chain, from materials sourcing to product delivery, are as critical to meeting customer expectations as the outward-facing marketing and sales departments.  For example, IBM is helping global brewer Anheuser-Busch streamline supplier sourcing and contract management in the cloud with IBM Emptoris solutions. This will enable the company to achieve significant breakthroughs in supply chain visibility that reduce risk, lower costs and accelerate business results.

Meanwhile, the IBM Smarter Commerce Workbench is an asset repository that helps IBM accelerate the adoption of solutions for Smarter Commerce, IBM said. The workbench captures implementation best practices, assets and knowledge that can be shared globally with other project teams to help improve the speed and quality of solution building. This enables clients to get faster business results from their solutions.

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