IBM has announced a series of deals that build on its recent cloud investments, including a new, five-year multimillion dollar cloud agreement with Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA), which operates in the Asia-Pacific region.
The cloud project will streamline CCA’s operations and processes across the South Pacific region and is expected to drive significant operational costs out of the business, IBM said.
As the bottler and distributor of one of the world’s most iconic brands, CCA operates in six countries including Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and Samoa. Australia and Indonesia will be the first countries to use the IBM cloud platform to optimize and streamline CCA’s order management and distribution processes, and increase operational efficiencies across the two geographies.
“We have a complex distribution network which requires our systems to be very efficient,” said CCA’s CIO Barry Simpson, in a statement. “Indonesia is a vastly different market to Australia, as it has a more diverse trade to support across both modern and traditional channels. By using a common cloud platform across Australia and Indonesia, we will be able standardize and automate our operations and bring a consistent level of efficiency to our Indonesian business. This will enable us to focus on growing our market share in Indonesia — which is a major opportunity for us in 2014.”
Under the agreement, IBM will manage CCA’s SAP infrastructure in a cloud environment hosted in IBM’s data center in Sydney, Australia, which will eventually act as a cloud hub for the rest of CCA’s South Pacific operations.
“CCA’s plans to have Sydney serve as a cloud hub for its entire South Pacific footprint via IBM’s cloud platform will bring enhanced operational efficiency to its entire organization,” said Grant Thomson, cloud business leader at IBM, in a statement. “CCA will be able to leverage best-practice processes from its Australian operation and apply them to the rest of the South Pacific region.”
The partnership with Coca-Cola is among the latest developments in IBM’s cloud momentum, which also includes the company’s $1 billion to launch a new business unit for Watson that will deliver cognitive computing through the cloud—running on SoftLayer, as well as $1.2 billion to expand IBM’s global cloud computing footprint to 40 datacenters worldwide offering SoftLayer capabilities, starting with the recent addition of a datacenter in Hong Kong.
IBM also announced a $1 billion investment to transform IBM software into cloud services and launch a new Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) called IBM BlueMix, which Pitney Bowes and GameStop are leveraging to innovate cloud services to engage with their customers in new ways via mobile and social channels and drive new revenue streams.
In addition, IBM said SoftLayer has reached more than 3,500 clients in its nine months since IBM acquired the Dallas-based company for $2 billion last June—growing twice as fast as it had been before. SoftLayer now has more than 20,000 clients to date, IBM officials said.
At the end of March, Pitney Bowes announced a collaboration on IBM’s “BlueMix” PaaS to develop new hybrid cloud location services to help businesses find deeper connections between their customers, their geography, and their networks to deliver more personalized services and contextually relevant experiences.
IBM’s BlueMix helps developers speed the adoption of hybrid clouds. The initiative combines the strength of IBM software, third-party and open technologies. BlueMix provides DevOps in the cloud. Pitney Bowes was among the first third-party solutions available to developers and companies on the IBM BlueMix PaaS.
More than 1.2 billion people use Pitney Bowes’ location intelligence solutions when they check in or use location-sharing features on major social media platforms. Pitney Bowes’ location intelligence suite of products enables businesses to visualize spatial data and understand relationships between specific locations. Using the location data, insurers can improve underwriting decisions, telecommunications providers can better analyze network coverage and retailers can deliver more targeted promotions to consumers, based on when and where they are most likely to buy, IBM said.
IBM Builds Cloud Base on New Deals, Investments
“Companies need tools and expertise to manage and integrate APIs, leverage location intelligence and customer data, and then seamlessly extend their services to reach their customers via the cloud and mobile devices,” said Roger Pilc, chief innovation officer for Pitney Bowes, in a statement. “We look forward to delivering Pitney Bowes digital commerce solutions on IBM’s BlueMix.”
Indeed, for Pitney Bowes, the partnership provides the opportunity to expose some of its key solutions, such as location-based services, e-commerce fulfillment, Internet postage, and parcel management, through IBM’s API management to an extended ecosystem of innovators and developers. It also speeds the availability of new services from Pitney Bowes to vast new markets globally.
“Together, IBM and Pitney Bowes are developing a powerful lineup of cloud services around mobile application development and location intelligence,” said Steve Robinson, General Manager of IBM Cloud Platform Services, in a statement. “This open-platform collaboration will inspire development that accelerates innovation and fosters growth.”
Meanwhile, also at the end of March, GameStop announced the launch of the GameStop Technology Institute (GTI), a business unit focused on creating affiliations with leading technology corporations and academic institutions to discover and deliver business innovation and technology solutions for the empowered consumer. Joining GameStop as founding partners of GTI were IBM and the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School.
“Now more than ever, the delivery of unique and sophisticated technologies are needed to help accelerate growth in the retail space and meet the increasing demands of customers,” said Paul Raines, CEO of GameStop, in a statement. “The launch of GTI represents GameStop’s commitment to cultivate innovation within the retail industry, as well as lead the charge in discovering new technology advancements to drive positive customer experiences.”
IBM will bring to GTI its cloud development experience, and design expertise from the IBM Design Lab. GameStop will leverage IBM’s BlueMix to build new mobile and cloud applications that integrate with GameStop’s existing systems, creating a hybrid cloud environment that will allow GameStop to add greater context around both in-store and online customer interactions.
“This cloud partnership will integrate existing systems into a new class of applications to build even deeper relationships for GameStop with their clients and will help GameStop lead the next phase of retailing by restoring the balance between physical and digital commerce platforms,” IBM’s Robinson said.
Texas A&M brings to GTI a specific focus on retail research, consumer technology and the evolving consumer experience at the intersection of the two. The Center for Retailing Studies has a 30-year history of serving retailers, and is one of the only retail education institutions housed in a business school.
GameStop’s CIO Jeff Donaldson will chair the direction and efforts of the new institution, serving in the role of senior vice president of GTI.
“As GameStop continues to transform its business beyond video gaming and into the technology space, we formed GTI to address our growing needs for new innovation as a specialty retailer,” Donaldson said in a statement. “As we begin our partnership with IBM and Texas A&M University, GTI’s initial focus will be on the digitization of the physical retail space which would allow customers to interact with the brick-and-mortar store environment in ways that mimic interaction with digital platforms.”
IBM said executives from every retail sector are trying to anticipate what next innovative technology, mobile app, or virtual store experience will win over today’s empowered consumer. According to the global ‘Understanding Leading Merchants’ survey conducted by IBM’s Center for Applied Insights, 83 percent of the 325 senior-level retail merchants who responded indicated they were concerned about how to respond to the shifts in the way customers engage with retailers. In the same survey, 78 percent said they worried about being able to provide a holistic, cross-channel experience.
The GTI R&D portfolio will include a focus on enhancing consumer interaction technologies and developing business solutions that help drive traffic to all retail channels.