IBM Interactive Unveils New Services for CMOs, CIOs

At its Smarter Commerce Summit, IBM announced that its IBM Interactive unit is offering new services for CMOs and CIOs to better engage with customers in the digital era.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Knowing the value of a handshake in closing a deal, IBM established a world record for the longest handshake as it announced new services to help its C-level customers win new business for themselves in the digital era.

At the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit 2012 here, IBM called on the 2,380 attendees of its opening keynote session to link hands for a massive one-minute handshake, smashing a Guinness World Record – the previous record was 600 people. Meanwhile, IBM also announced a new set of services targeting chief marketing officers (CMOs) and CIOs to boost engagement efforts among the digitally empowered customers of today.

In an interview with eWEEK, Craig Hayman, general manager of Industry Solutions at IBM Software Group, said IBM Interactive, which is IBM's digital marketing agency, will play a key role in guiding businesses through their digital transformation journeys.

IBM announced a new set of integrated services to help businesses build and expand their digital marketing presence. IBM said it will help businesses use technology as a tool to build more meaningful, personalized interactions across mobile, social and online touch points.

Last year, IBM conducted a study of more than 1,700 CMOs that showed that the majority of top marketing officers recognized the shift in customer engagement but felt unprepared to manage it. The 2011 IBM study also found that while 82 percent of CMOs say they plan to increase their use of social media over the next three to five years, only 26 percent said they are tracking blogs, 42 percent are tracking third party reviews and 48 percent are tracking consumer reviews to help shape their marketing strategies.

IBM said it will offer services to assess a business's current needs against their future marketing vision, conduct a gap analysis to evaluate which of the future capabilities are currently supported through existing business architecture and then determine new processes, technology, data, skills and governance required for the transformation strategy. IBM also will design customized roadmaps for customers based on techniques and methodologies developed in worldwide customer engagements.

IBM said it also will use analytic techniques to drive customer engagement, social marketing and collaboration, and marketing performance optimization efforts. For example, retailers, banks, insurance companies and communications providers all challenged to deliver the right offers for their products and services to their customers at the right time. IBM officials said real-time predictive analytics can ease this task by analyzing the growing volumes of customer information – across structured and unstructured data sources – to provide insights into customer preferences. Combined with business rules based on knowledge of what offers and actions have proven successful with other customers in similar situations, the analytics can provide recommended actions for that customer on a personalized basis, IBM said.

"Today, businesses have a unique opportunity to rebrand themselves to become more customer-centric and relevant," said Adam Klaber, managing partner of new markets at IBM Global Services, in a statement. "As part of IBM's broader Smarter Commerce efforts, IBM works with businesses to deepen customer relationships and turn prospects into brand advocates. IBM helps CMOs and CIOs to engage with consumer audiences in a more personalized and authentic manner, to in turn, boost brand loyalty."

As an example of what IBM Interactive has done to help businesses advance their digital experience, IBM is helping a major beverage provider to introduce functionality to the customer engagement experience such as the ability to create personal drink recipes, assign and enable customers to access their mobile devices to communicate the personal recipes to the vending machine. IBM also designed a new mobile website for the company's loyalty rewards program, providing access to more than 16.5 million registered members.

IBM also has worked with a global luxury goods retailer to improve the customer shopping experience for its online channel. To reduce barriers in the checkout process, IBM created a streamlined process for browsing and checkout. In addition, IBM worked with the company to create targeted customer experiences for mobile smartphone and tablet users, as well as helped the company devise a strategy to expand its online presence to more countries.

In the sports world, IBM has designed, developed and implemented new customer-facing web sites for leading tennis and golf organizations including the United States Tennis Association, United States Golf Association and Wimbledon. Designed to enhance fan experience, the sites bring together live scores, live streaming video, on demand clips, and provide a way to view scores, news event activities and photos in real-time and delivered to an array of devices including the iPad, iPhone and Android devices.