IBM has introduced a new suite of social, mobile and big data offerings to help businesses gain deeper insight into their customers' needs and desires.
The new technologies, which come out of IBM's Customer Experience Lab--based in IBM Research--help transform the way customers experience their products, services and brands through the use of mobile, social, cloud and advanced analytics technologies, IBM said. The Customer Research Lab is a partnership between IBM Research and IBM Global Business Services, where a dedicated team of researchers and consultants work with clients on customer insights, customer engagement and employee engagement.
Since the Lab's launch in March 2013, IBM Research scientists and business consultants have worked together with more than 100 clients from across the world to co-create a variety of new technologies and services to transform the front office, revolutionizing how companies interact and engage with customers. In this new age of the digital customer, organizations are reassessing how to drive brand loyalty and accelerate business growth by moving away from addressing their customers as mass audiences toward cultivating and creating new value from personalized customer relationships.
To help address these challenges, the IBM Customer Experience Lab team in India has introduced three new technologies to help organizations capture and act on deeper customer insights. These technologies build on the work the team has completed around the Watson Engagement Advisor.
The first new technology from the India lab is IBM Edge Analytics, which connects people with contextual information. Once a user has opted in for the service, the tool cross-references the user's location with the user's activity to provide useful insights. As users conduct daily transactions, such as buying airline tickets or shopping at the mall, the system sends relevant promotions by email and mobile alerts, per the user's preferences. An early adopter of the technology, IndusInd Bank in India, has embedded IBM Edge Analytics within its customer channels, such as Internet Banking, ATM, SMS (Short Message Service) Alerts, Phone Banking and Branch Offices. In addition to helping the bank better understand its own customers, the technology is helping it reach noncustomers.
Vibes, the second technology, is an enterprise software solution to help chief marketing officers (CMOs) target consumers and communities that care about and participate in their industry. Individuals are identified by analyzing their interaction on social networks, and then cross-referenced with their purchase history with the company, or information about their interests based on other social networking activity. For example, a retailer can research past purchases of its Facebook fans to better determine what special offers to make to them. Several leading telecommunications providers in India are currently piloting Vibes to identify the right set of candidates for promoting specific products to increase penetration.
The third technology is the Social Media Event Tracker Tool (SMETT), which leverages natural language processing, text mining technology and analytics to comb through millions of public social network messages to derive meaningful insights. The tool was used recently by ABS CBN, a television news network in the Philippines, to analyze Twitter chatter in both English and the local language (Tagalog) about candidates in the country's recent mid-term senatorial elections.
ABS CBN used the analysis, which filtered to them in near real time, to generate new articles for their Website as part of their election coverage. Retailers are also turning to SMETT to find out what people think about their products. The tool's ability to quickly derive insight about numerous related topics in any language could help a retailer find out why a product is popular or improve its online customer service.
"Customers across the world are using innumerable channels—from social networks to online product review sites—to express their individual experience with products and services. This is fueling an explosion of data and driving a radical shift in how companies must engage with their customers to thrive and stay competitive," Ramesh Gopinath, director of IBM Research India, said in a statement. "The innovations we are developing with clients in the Customer Experience Lab are enabling companies to transform their front office with speed and at scale, reshaping strategy, operations and offerings to attract, retain and exceed the expectations of an increasingly powerful customer."
The IBM Customer Experience Lab is headquartered at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., and supported by researchers at IBM's 12 global labs, including Africa, Brazil, California, China, India, Israel, Japan, Switzerland and Texas. The lab brings together skills across disciplines, including service science, industries research, mathematics and business optimization, social, mobile, Smarter Commerce, data mining, cloud computing, security and privacy, cognitive computing and systems management.