IBM`s New Cloud Offering Bolsters Smarter Commerce Strategy


IBM’s new cloud-based offering is aimed at chief marketing officers and marketing departments that focus on business-to-consumer services

IBM has announced new software designed to improve data sharing and automate marketing and supply chain processes in the cloud, part of an ongoing effort to build on its cloud computing strategy.

At its Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Madrid, IBM announced new cloud software to help marketers improve customer service, increase marketing effectiveness and reduce operational costs. The new offerings leverage IBM’s cloud expertise and cloud collaboration networks to accelerate the flow of business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions by automating and synchronising supply and demand engines.

Commerce on Cloud

IBM manages massive amounts of data and client transactions in cloud environments, including more than $100 billion (£64bn) in commerce transactions a year and 4.5 million daily client transactions.

IBM unveiled IBM Commerce on Cloud, which Big Blue calls an integrated enterprise class e-commerce solution in the cloud that spans marketing, selling and fulfillment. Designed to help chief marketing officers (CMOs) and e-commerce executives easily set up and maintain an on-line storefront, it also helps companies of all sizes deploy the same customer digital buying experience as the most advanced retail brands in the world, IBM said.

IBM Commerce on Cloud is essentially a platform for generating customer interest and then offering, selling, transacting and fulfilling orders in the cloud. It offers companies the benefits of cloud economies, such as low up front capital investment, pay-for-use models, and instant and ongoing scalability, to businesses of all sizes.

“Accelerating commerce on the cloud is a dramatic step forward in enabling companies to transform their business operations,” said Craig Hayman, general manager of IBM Industry Solutions, in a statement. “Companies of all sizes can now deliver a better client experience by providing personalised marketing, selling the way customers want to buy, and delivering products through a supply chain that’s prepared for the unpredictable.”

Smarter Commerce helps organisations that are struggling to meet the rising consumer demands brought upon by rapidly changing digital marketplace, automate their buying, marketing, selling and service processes.

Collaboration networks

In addition to IBM Commerce on Cloud, IBM also has enhanced several of its on-cloud collaboration networks to accelerate collaboration and digital information sharing across demand and supply processes to offset the unpredictable nature of commerce, IBM said.

For instance, to improve retailer-consumer packaged goods collaboration and execution, IBM is introducing new pricing and trade promotion collaboration capabilities for DemandTec. This will allow a network of more than 15,000 members such as ConAgra Foods and PETCO to share information to improve merchandising and marketing plans, enabling better sales forecasts, lowering process inefficiencies and costs.

Also, to help companies more effectively collaborate on marketing activities, IBM is offering a new certified Digital Data Exchange Partner programme which allows marketers to better manage their marketing, promotions and customer behavioral analytics.

Marketers can gain an integrated view of information being developed across ad networks, survey vendors, testing vendors, and email service providers to gain insights and better execute their marketing programmes and services. The exchange also includes a “gold tag” approach designed to ensure that analytics and marketing partners are all operating off of the same, relevant data.

With the Digital Data Exchange partner programme, IBM is allowing retailers and third party digital marketing providers to relay behavioral data to analyse and enhance specific processes and improve the customer experience. The programme supports new categories for visitor experience management, digital marketing, retargeting, voice of the consumer surveys and search marketing.

Digital marketing ecosystem

For example, a major financial services firm could extend their digital marketing ecosystem of tools and solutions within minutes instead of days or weeks by adding online surveys to better understand their site visitors or their retargeting capabilities for a second chance at converting prospects, among other benefits, IBM said.

Meanwhile, to expedite supply chain processes, IBM is making it easier and faster to access, share and process information in real time, especially in emerging markets where growth rates are highest. IBM B2B Cloud Services is currently available across a community of 300,000 trading entities and more than 90 public and private networks. It also is now available in 34 new countries, including Australia, Brazil, India, New Zealand and all the Central and Eastern European countries.

IBM says stronger supply chain collaboration brings a host of benefits. For instance, via secure connections to IBM B2B Cloud Services, China-based Lenovo built a unified foundation to connect and collaborate with a broad ecosystem of customers and partners.

This capability enabled the company to cut annual costs by improving freight and inventory management, reduce time to onboard a partner and increase visibility into complex supply chain relationships, IBM said.

IBM is not alone among major players in going after the lucrative digital marketing space with concerted efforts. Last year, Adobe restructured its business to focus on two key areas: digital media and digital marketing. The company’s digital marketing unit has delivered several products and services, including analytics software and services, aimed at CMOs and marketing professionals.

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