IBM has announced a set of new cloud solutions designed to meet the needs of C-suite executives while reducing tension between line-of-business leaders and the IT department.
Announced at IBM’s Smarter Commerce Global Summit 2013 in Monaco, the new IBM cloud solutions include a big data and social analytics solution that chief marketing officers (CMOs) can use to get an emotional reading on how customers view their brand.
IBM said that although technology decisions have been made historically by CIOs and IT department heads, the C-suite is adopting cloud computing because they see its ability to transform their front-office processes—marketing, procurement, supplier management, human resources and legal. In fact, Gartner estimates that by 2017, CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs.
“The cloud opportunity is helping C-suite leaders reshape customer experience,” said Paul Papas, global leader for Smarter Commerce at IBM Global Business Services, in a statement. “As part of IBM’s digital front office strategy, we see these 100 cloud applications as a way for business leaders to improve customer experience, reach new customers, generate new revenue streams and become more competitive in their industry.”
IBM’s new cloud solutions add to Big Blue’s growing portfolio of cloud capabilities for business as the company continues to beef up its cloud infrastructure—most recently with its intent to acquire SoftLayer Technologies.
The IBM SmartCloud Solutions portfolio now includes more than 100 business functions delivered as a service to help professionals make better decisions, differentiate customer experience, go to market and grow their business, company officials said. These innovations are currently being deployed in the IBM Customer Experience Lab, which is dedicated to helping CEOs and members of the C-suite transform their front-office experience.
IBM’s cloud suites for the C-level executives are aimed at chief marketing officers, sales and e-commerce leaders, customer care and support executives, chief procurement officers, chief supply chain officers, general counsels, chief financial officers and chief human resources officers, as well as chief information officers.
“We’re bringing a set of SaaS [software-as-a-service] solutions that meet the needs of the entire C-suite—from the supply chain to HR to finance and beyond, we’re bringing SaaS to them and working in concert with the CIO,” Marc Dietz, director of IBM SmartCloud Solutions, told eWEEK in an interview.
“I believe this is the first time any company has offered an entire C-suite level-specific cloud suite for every role—not just sales or CRM,” Dietz added. “We focus on every major role.”
IBM Delivers New Cloud Solutions for the C-Suite
IBM’s latest addition to the cloud for CMOs, IBM Social Media Analytics, provides marketers with deeper insights to understand consumer sentiments in social media such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and forums and then to refine products, service levels and targeted offers accordingly. This service allows companies to gain a view of consumer perception that is uniquely their own, not industrywide or owned by a third party, IBM said. Social Media Analytics works to identify, capture and report on millions of pieces of social data to provide instant feedback on a particular item.
“Business leaders are measured on results,” said Craig Hayman, general manager of IBM Industry Solutions, in a statement. “Tapping into the cloud for quick access to innovative solutions makes running a department much easier and allows busy executives more time to focus on serving their customers and driving results.”
IBM customers have begun to deploy the company’s cloud solutions. For instance, London-based Speedo, the popular swimwear brand, is using cloud-based digital analytics software from IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative and is recognizing the business benefits of IBM’s role-based cloud suites. Speedo is improving the shopping experience, resulting in cross-selling revenue increasing by more than 10 percent in online sales—generating six times more revenue per average order, IBM said.
“Speedo is a brand, not a retailer,” said Gareth Beer, e-commerce manager at Speedo, in a statement. “By personalizing every client interaction, Speedo has improved the brand experience as shoppers research products online and buy in-store. By better understanding our customers, we are able to automate and improve the individual shopping experience.”
For its part, Nielsen Media uses the cloud-based IBM Watson Engagement Advisor to crunch big data and transform the way it engages clients in key functions such as customer service, marketing and sales. With the Watson advisor, businesses can better serve consumers with a cognitive computing assistant that learns, adapts and understands a company’s data quickly and easily while increasing its knowledge and value over time.
Also, Rent-a-Center is working with procurement solutions from IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative with business partner Coupa Software to achieve millions in savings by optimizing and centralizing its purchasing process in the cloud, IBM said.
IBM has invested $4 billion in SaaS acquisitions, such as Coremetrics for Web analytics, Unica for marketing operations, Sterling Commerce for B2B commerce, DemandTec for price optimization, Emptoris for strategic spend management and Kenexa for human capital management. Big Blue officials said the company’s cloud computing revenue grew by 80 percent in 2012, continuing to focus on higher-value cloud offerings.