The cloud is a US$20bn Smarter Commerce opportunity, IBM says

20 Sep 2011

IBM has unveiled its cloud computing vision which focuses on enabling e-commerce transactions among businesses and consumers rather than just shuffling data. It has launched new Commerce-as-a-Service (CaaS) and social media marketing technologies.

The IBM Smarter Commerce initiative is focused on helping companies more effectively market, sell and secure greater customer loyalty in the era of social networking, mobile computing and online buying.

The new Commerce-as-a-Service (CaaS) and social media marketing technologies are a combination of technology derived from acquisitions such as Unica, Coremetrics and Sterling Commerce and combining them with IBM R&D results.

The technology giant says the new software solutions are designed to help companies intelligently automate supplier and trading partner interactions, automatically turn marketplace insights into marketing and sales actions and connect online, mobile and social channels to physical stores.

In fact, 64pc of consumers make a first purchase based on a digital experience. It’s critical that companies detect rapid shifts in online behaviour and refine their marketing, sales, customer service and supply chain efforts accordingly.

IBM believes it is defining and leading a new market that it estimates to be worth US$20bn in software alone.

It says Smarter Commerce transforms how companies manage and adapt to customer and industry trends such as online, social and mobile shopping and purchasing.

“Smarter Commerce allows customers to shop or buy easily regardless of medium, channel or device,” said Craig Hayman, general manager, IBM Industry Solutions.

“Informed by deep customer insights, companies can provide a personalised customer experience that feels like a service to consumers,” Hayman said.

Global Centre of Competence for Smarter Commerce

To bolster this new cloud computing movement, IBM announced the launch of a new Global Centre of Competence for Smarter Commerce.

The new Centre of Competence will be part of IBM Global Business Services and is comprised of highly skilled Smarter Commerce consulting experts who will help clients worldwide solve their most complex buying, marketing, selling and servicing business problems.

In addition, IBM Global Business Services is introducing three new ‘quick-start’ Smarter Commerce accelerator offerings, including Business Analytics and Optimisation, Smarter Commerce Enterprise Marketing Management Assessment and Supply Chain Visibility Assessment.

IBM says it has already achieved considerable traction to support its new cloud strategy. Industry leaders working with IBM to transform commerce in their industries include, DBS Bank, GuideWell, McKesson, PETCO, Sears Holdings Corporation, SMA Solar Technology AG, Target Corporation, True Value Co, Whirlpool Corporation and Winn-Dixie, among others.

Leading European retailer Carrefour installed a new IBM merchandise planning and supply chain re-order system and connecting point-of-sale data to its customer loyalty coupons program. Carrefour used IBM technology to integrate more than 3,500 trading partners doing 3,000 interactions per month. As a result, Carrefour can improve customer satisfaction by ensuring suppliers efficiently deliver fresh product daily to its stores.

“IBM Smarter Commerce features a modular design with our solution that integrates more like LEGOS than jigsaw puzzle pieces,” said Herve Thoumyre, CIO at Carrefour Group. “A puzzle piece can only be used once and fits in only one space, but Smarter Commerce and our solution reuse pieces that solve multiple business pain points.”

When using IBM’s analytics-powered marketing technologies for Smarter Commerce, clients have achieved new levels of success:

L’Occitane en Provence achieved 17 times higher conversion rate and 25 times higher revenue per email using Coremetrics LIVEmail to create highly targeted messages.

Citrix optimised its marketing investments and cut conversion costs by nearly 80pc with Unica NetInsight., a leading Dutch online retailer, was able to drive 15 times better return on investment for targeted online advertising through Coremetrics Ad Target. The retailer also used Coremetrics Web analytics and Unica Campaign to remarket abandoned online shopping carts to the same customers, salvaging lost sales and potentially lost customers.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years