This week, IBM introduced new cloud-based software and services designed to allow companies to build personalized shopping experiences for customers, as well as tools for optimizing supply chain management.
The services are the latest step in a multi-year push by IBM to provide improved automation to external systems that engage with customers and suppliers, said Craig Hayman, general manager of industry solutions at IBM Software Group, at a press conference Wednesday.
Traditionally, that kind of automation has been provided for internal systems, such as finances and operations, but the balance is shifting. The analysis firm Gartner predicts that, in five years, CMOs will spend more on technology than CIOs.
New services introduced at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit include the IBM Marketing Center, which allows companies to provide personalized offers to customers based on analysis of their shopping patterns. For example, a customer who frequently visits a retailer's mobile Website and selects items of interest, but doesn't follow through with a purchase, might be offered a coupon for 10 percent off specific items and be presented with a personalized Website reflecting their unique interest. A bank CMO might analyze two campaigns simultaneously to determine the effectiveness of each, with a focus on specific groups and customer segments.
IBM's new Smarter Commerce Managed Services are designed to allow companies to combine multiple commerce channels, mixing automated processes with the human touch -- for example, chat support or live assistance. RadioShack, IBM announcend, is working with IBM's cloud-based merchandising analytics solutions to help improve pricing over a product's entire lifecycle.
IBM also introduced new supply chain management tools. The new Emptoris Strategic Supply Management service is designed to give Chief Purchasing Officers control over spending, contracts, service providers, and supplier intelligence and processes.
Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) uses IBM's cloud-based supply chain management capabilities, and according to IBM, signed a new five-year contract to extend its use of IBM Emptoris solutions in the cloud. The company has more than 200 beer brands, with the first or second market position in 19 countries. It needs to strategically manage its suppliers while also recognizing geographic differences.
Additionally, IBM introduced a new set of services designed to help businesses expand digital marketing. The services target CMOs and CIOs, and will assess a business's marketing needs by figuring out which future capabilities are currently supported, and then determine which processes and technology need to change to achieve marketing goals.
Using analytics to drive customer engagement, IBM will also apply social marketing, collaboration and marketing performance optimization. For example, IBM could help businesses, including retailers, banks, insurance companies, and communications providers set up product and service offers using real-time predictive analytics on structured and unstructured customer data. This would provide insights into customer preferences, and knowledge of what offers and actions have proven successful with other companies in similar situations.
According to a late 2011 IBM study of more than 1,700 chief marketing executives, most of them feel underprepared to manage the change in customer demands. While 82 percent said they plan to increase use of social media over the next three to five years, only 26 percent were currently tracking blogs. Fourty-two percent were tracking third-party reviews, and 48 percent were tracking customer reviews to help shape their marketing strategies.
The initiative includes IBM Interactive, the company's digital marketing agency.
What have you been doing to automate your marketing and supply chain? Let us know.
ó Mitch Wagner , Editor in Chief, Internet Evolution
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