IT professionals are facing a new breed of customer these days. Today's customers are truly in the driver's seat, thanks to mobile commerce and social networking -- which calls for a strategy that puts the customer at the center of business operations.
Enter Smarter Commerce -- a top IT trend and the subject of Internet Evolution's latest Web Wise World Tutorial.
According to our tutor, John Squire, chief strategy officer of IBM Coremetrics:
Smarter commerce analyzes critical customer and operational data, from multichannel buying behaviors to social media content, and enables the business processes that help companies buy, market, sell, and service their products and services accordingly. It reaches deep within the business-to-business supply chain, integrating business partners, suppliers, and vendors, enabling the entire value chain to anticipate customer needs, not just to react to them.
Smarter commerce is crucial, Squire says, in a world where customers no longer tolerate inventory backlogs, failed product launches, wasted materials, ineffective marketing campaigns, and the rest of the supply-chain demons that companies once could shove under a rug of excuses. All it takes is one online complaint to create viral bad feeling for your product or service, eroding profits.
While few IT pros would argue with the basics of smarter commerce, it will take most enterprises some work and study to get there. A firm must ask difficult questions about how it is delivering products and services, how business partners and suppliers are interacting along the value chain, and what customers are experiencing.
So a smarter commerce journey involves not just IT leaders but the rest of the company's management. And it requires change. Initial assessments could reveal flaws in business models. IT might be called on to oversee changes in systems, applications, and operations as a result.
The key tool that enables this process? Business analytics. The insights gathered from monitoring all points in the value chain can be leveraged to build systems that increase profits. Where inventory exceeds demand, for instance, adjustments can be made without having to hold onto goods until they must be sold at a loss.
Yes, there's a lot to it. But the tutorial breaks topics down into digestible bites. Best of all, you can use our "Ask the Tutor a Question" link to get answers to your specific queries. We encourage you to do so, as we'd love to keep the Smarter Commerce discussion going.
Check it out. And let us know what you think on the message boards.
— Mary Jander , Managing Editor, Internet Evolution