The morning keynote sessions at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Nashville this week, good as they were, could only go into so much detail.
So it was left to the afternoon keynote sessions, which were much more topic specific, along with the breakout sessions, to take these important discussions down to the practitioners level and beyond.
On Wednesday afternoon, I sat in on one such session, and it just so happened to be around a topic that was one of the most talked about at this week’s event, omni channel sales and marketing.
Entitled “Solving the Challenge of the Customer Experience in An Omni Channel World,” the session was inaugurated by IBM vice president of B2B and Commerce Solutions.
Mesberg is responsible for bring value to IBM clients through an expanded suite of solutions including powerful e-commerce capabilities, market-leading order management products, and optimization, logistics, and B2B integration capabilities, so he was uniquely qualified to lead a robust roundtable discussion featuring several prominent IBM e-commerce clients.
Mesberg began his discussion by explaining that “There’s lots of places the e-commerce process can go wrong. We want to help you make it go right.”
Mesberg then explained a fictional scenario of a young lady named Lily who was in the market to buy a new tablet computer that was being launched by fictional company “VP Tech.”
Mesberg explained these days, Lily would likely launch her product investigation by reaching out and consuming social media mentions of the product through her social graph.
Utilizing IBM’s Social Media Analytics tool, then, VT Tech would be in a unique position to know what Lily and her cohorts were saying about the coming product, as well as information about the people saying it!
This would allow VT Tech to tune the positioning and go-to-market strategy for the product launch.
When Lily registered at VT Office’s Web site to “stay in touch” and learn more about the product, Lily could then receive a targeted email from VT Tech using IBM’s E-Message marketing tool providing Lily an offer with an aggressive price.
Lily, already inclined to this particular tablet, could now buy it at an aggressive promotion price, receive a pre-order statement and receipt, then decide to pick it up at a VT Tech retail outlet.
Mesberg summarized the scenario by suggesting that “engaged companies create systems of satisfaction with customers, partners, and suppliers,” and that to do so, marketers needed to do three basic things in a Smarter Commerce-oriented world.
One, understand your customer and their intentions.
Two, engage at the right time and place with the dbest action.
And three, connect with your customers and your value chain.
Mesberg walked the audience through a couple of other examples of IBM Smarter Commerce technology that could help with marketing optimization efforts, including Tealeaf, which helps clients get to the “why” with behavioral analysis of the online experience.
Tealeaf provides qualitative insight by “capturing, replaying, and analyzing individual user interactions,” thereby helping the marketer understand any obstacles or hiccups in the online commerce experience.
He also explained a fascinating new capability from IBM Research, a technology that interacts with shoppers while they are in stores using “presence zones,” which helps marketers and understand actual traffic flows (all done anonymously, of course, being sure to excise MAC addresses) and optimize them for future store plans.
Mesberg then brought his expert panel onstage, which included Constellation Research analyst Ray Wang; Adrienne Hartman with J.J. Keller & Associates; Angie Brown with Home Depot; and Vlad Kuznetsov with Men’s Wearhouse.
Ray explained he saw a lot of organizations faced just that, organizational challenges.
“E-commerce is dead,” Wang announced. “We’ve got e-commerce teams that won’t talk to the social teams, and vice versa. But we’ve got to look at it as a single order, a single customer,” and hereby hide the organizational complexity from the buyer.
Adrienne explained her challenge was to provide the “right content at right time to the right customer” via J.J. Keller’s Website, but also how to determine “what to give away versus what to charge for,” acknowledging some of her company’s great content (read: product) could serve as an effective loss/leader.
Angie’s key challenges with Home Depot was “inventory in transit,” and helping her teams gain a global inventory view in real time.
“If you’re looking for a project finisher [a key component for a specific project] and its out of stock in a store, we want to be able to allow you to get it from another store in 30 minutes!”
But as she went on to explain, “omni challel was not on anyone’s mind when we first started our e-commerce operations.”
Vlad with Men’s Wearhouse exlained that they had started a basic e-commerce store with analyzed search traffic in 2001, but that now “we have these Frankenstein verticals” and are using “Intelligent Offer,” which is a kind of recommendation engine based on clickstream data.
No matter the specific challenge of any of these retailers, the common theme was this: They have to come together inside their own organizations — “Tear down these walls,” if you will — if they’re going to present a common front and buying experience that masks that complexity from the end consumer.
A tall order, but one all these IBM clients seemed determined to fulfill.
Live @ IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit: The Dannon Company Uses IBM Big Data Analytics To Drive Yogurt Market Gains
You only need take one quick glance around the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit here at the Gaylord Opryland facility here in Nashville to recognize how busy the Smarter Commerce customer reference team has been these past few months in anticipation of the event.
Everywhere you turn — hanging from the ceilings, on the walls, on the floors — are customer testimonials announcing the value IBM customers are getting from their Smarter Commerce Solutions.
Today at the event, another such case study was announced by The Dannon Company, Inc., the leading selling yogurt company in the U.S., which is using IBM’s cloud-based predictive analytics capabilities to ensure it has the right product mix delivered at the right time to satisfy customers in the highly competitive $7 billion U.S. yogurt market.
Through the use of integrated analytics planning, Dannon is able in real-time to improve forecasting abilities.
The Dannon Company
Headquartered in White Plains, NY, The Dannon Company is America’s founding national yogurt company, producing approximately 200 types of flavors, styles and sizes of cultured refrigerated and frozen dairy products and is the leading yogurt maker worldwide under the Dannon and Danone brands.
Dannon’s mission is to bring health through food to as many people as possible and is committed to Americans enjoying yogurt every day. To achieve this mission, Dannon needs to ensure product availability at the shelf at the right time and minimize waste through optimized forecasting.
Dannon works with food retailers and other partners to maintain its competitive advantage in the dynamic and growing yogurt category, in which segments such as Greek yogurt are rapidly increasing.
Through IBM’s trade and strategic trade planning solutions, The Dannon Company analyzes shopper behavior through the use of big data and predictive analytics, to improve trade investment decisions and make more precise and accurate predictions on product volume and profitability. IBM was instrumental in helping Dannon’s sales team to streamline the forecasting and planning process.
To meet continually changing consumer demand generated by promotions, Dannon must precisely anticipate how much additional yogurt is needed by its retailer customers, while also keeping in mind yogurt’s limited shelf life.
Empty shelves cannot be filled overnight and too much production can result in spoilage, both of which are losses for shoppers, retailers and Dannon.
By utilizing these tools and statistics, The Dannon Company is able to more accurately measure how much yogurt they will need through predictive analytics, which ensures enough yogurt is on the shelf, resulting in happier shoppers, less wasted product, and a more profitable business for retailers.
“Our goal was to eliminate the time our sales team was spending on forecasting and instead focus their attention on executing their promotional plans, allowing them to work more closely with our retailer customers,” said Timothy Weaver, Chief Information Officer, The Dannon Company. “Through IBM’s planning solutions, we not only streamlined the forecasting process for our sales team, but we increased our planning accuracy from 75 percent to 98 percent, helping us to further distinguish ourselves as the leading yogurt maker.”
IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative features software and services that help companies transform their business processes to more quickly respond to shifting customer demands in today’s digitally-transformed marketplace.
The initiative is driven by CMOs, CIOs, and other C-suite executives who are increasingly looking for ways to bring new levels of automation to marketing, sales and fulfillment to secure greater customer loyalty.
Current IBM cloud-based software and services being used by The Dannon Company include IBM Strategic Trade Planning and Customer Trade Planning solutions.
Live @ IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit: IBM Chief Procurement Officer Study Reveals Top-Performing Procurement Teams Drive 15% Higher Margins
For me, it’s always a good day when IBM announces one of its new studies.
Like any other modern marketer, I’m a big believer in data and market research, and of course, as a blogger, it’s always good to be able to deal in facts obtained via reliable market research.
Today, at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit here in Nashville, IBM announced what may well be the industry’s first ever market research study of Chief Procurement Officers.
Over the past two days, a key theme that has emerged here at Smarter Commerce is the idea that for organizations to deliver a truly customized, personalized experience — with marketing and social media often at the tip of that marketing spear — then you’d also better have your so-called “back office” synchronized through your entire value chain.
Which means, all the way through your purchasing and procurement functions.
And according to the study, good procurement practices pay. Companies with high-performing procurement organizations are driving better bottom line results, reporting profit margins of 7.12 percent compared to just 5.83 percent for companies with low-performing procurement organizations.
Moreover, companies with top performing procurement organizations report profit margins 15 percent higher than the average company — and 22 percent higher margins than companies with low-performing procurement organizations.
IBM’s Chief Procurement Officer Study
The 2013 Chief Procurement Officer Study was conducted by the IBM Institute of Business Value (IBV) and highlights the business impact that Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) can have on a company’s competitive advantage and profitability.
It explores how top-performing CPOs can increase their influence over strategic business imperatives by driving efficiency and performance, introducing innovative new processes and uncovering new insight into supplier networks that have a measurable effect on the bottom line.
The largest of its kind, the study surveyed 1,128 procurement executives in 22 countries across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. Of the respondents, 15 percent were found to be top performers, defined by their ability to exert influence and drive innovation across their companies, while also excelling at procurement fundamentals.
The study identified several common actions that enable top performing procurement organizations to achieve such impressive results. They:
- Gain Insight Through Big Data Analytics – By using analytics to tackle Big Data challenges, CPOs can gain new insights into internal business operations and their supplier networks to identify vulnerabilities. 83 percent of high performing CPOs excel at leveraging analytics compared to just 63 percent of the low performers.
- Collaborate Well Within and Beyond the Enterprise – Social Business technology helps global procurement organizations to connect with internal and external partners. According to the study, 80 percent of high-performing companies report that collaboration across departments, such as IT, marketing and sales, is both a key strength and an investment priority, compared to only approximately 45 percent of low performers. High performing procurement organizations see the benefit of close partner collaboration, and therefore are more likely to create strategic alliances. For example, top performers direct 38 percent more of their annual spend through strategic alliances than low-performing organizations.
- Adapt to Changing Market Conditions – By using big data insights and collaboration, high performing CPOs are in a better position to quickly respond to changing internal and external conditions, from demand changes to supply disruptions and product redesigns. The study showed that 73 percent of top performing procurement organizations are effective at gathering insights from the supplier community, compared to only 16 percent of lower performing counterparts.
By Way Of Back-Office Background
As companies re-align their organizations to take a more customer-centric approach, the role of procurement professionals is changing from a traditional back-office, transaction oriented role to one with more visibility and influence among C-suite executives, who are keen to manage risk that can undermine profitability.
CPOs are well positioned to help identify and mitigate supply-related vulnerabilities because they serve as the bridge between suppliers and internal consumers. Similarly, procurement teams can utilize data analytics to help improve demand forecasts and identify additional savings opportunities within spend categories.
To be influential and secure a seat among C-suite executives, procurement professionals must exploit their unique position as a conduit between the enterprise and the outside world to improve their company’s responsiveness to dynamic market conditions, while minimizing risk, volatility and price fluctuations that can compromise profit margins.
In reviewing the survey findings, key capabilities to achieve these objectives include employing best practices with procurement technologies and talent development. There is a strong correlation between being a top performing procurement organization and effectively using procurement technologies.
For example, in regards to Supplier Relationship Management, the study found that 94 percent of top performing companies are highly effective in their use of procurement technologies, compared to 44 percent of all surveyed companies are average or below average in their technology effectiveness.
The study also found that CPOs think that supplier intelligence solutions, including 360-degree global view of supplier relationships and procurement performance dashboards, will be the most important area of investment over the next three years.
Top performing organizations also are turning to social business for innovative ways to manage their global teams and collaborate with their suppliers. The study found that high performers are more likely to use social tactics such as crowd sourcing (81 percent) and collaborating on product development with suppliers (88 percent), versus their low-performing counterparts (38 and 47 percent respectively).
CPOs of top performing procurement organizations know that success depends on getting skills and expertise needed to execute the mission they have been given. By percent, twice as many top performers as low performers view recruiting and talent development retention as a key strength.
Top performers also extend these human capital advantages because they are equally aggressive in their investment plans for retention, recruiting and talent development.
You can get more information about the IBM Chief Procurement Officer Study and download the full report here.
In this morning’s general session here at the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Nashville, our emcee Jay Baer said what I’ve been thinking for the past several days: We’re in a giant terrarium.
Yes, Jay, we are, but we should think about it as though we’re in a giant terrarium incubator, one in which brilliant new ideas around the conduct and best practices of Smarter Commerce around the globe are able to grow large, prosper, and spread to our customers like wildfire.
Which is about the time Jay appropriately introduced our old friend Paul Pappas, the global leader for IBM’s Smarter Commerce practice at IBM Global Business Services.
At first, I thought Paul had transmogrified into a comedian he had me laughing so hard, but he quickly got down to business.
He observed that this entire conference is about delivering a more effective customer experience, and that day two would be focused on how to deliver more personalized, immersive experiences for clients.
“The key to doing that,” Pappas explained, “is understanding customers as individuals. And that can be a little tricky, as we’re not unidimensional.” (Well, not most of us, anyways).
He walked us through an example, a fictional young woman in her 30s who wears many hats: mom, executive at work, coach on the softball field, family shopper…personalizing to such a complex woman is also a complex task, because she doesn’t have a single identity, she has many, and they’re often fluid and in motion, segue-ing quickly rom one to another.
And herein lies the challenge, Pappas explained, because 90% of customers expect personalization…they want to be known in their brand interactions.
But only 32% of organizations claim to be highly effective at engaging individual consumers.
So this is where the best practices part of the morning entered the picture. Pappas explained there are three key ways his team has discovered as to how best to engage customers more as individuals.
First, harness big data to personalize at scale. He mentioned a particular customer, TelerX — a contact center outsourcing firm — which processes over 10 million customer contacts a year, and which has 30 years of customer history (very structured data). They’re able to go back and do automated call and voice recording transcription, along with advanced realtime social analytics, and this has allowed them new and revealing insights.
One example, a packaged foods vendor discovered through such analysis that their customers really wanted a family-sized packaging of their individually-marketed snacks.
Second, Pappas suggested, clients need to maximize and own the moment.
As one client explained to him “I can’t own the relationship with my customer, but I CAN own those individual moments of interaction.”
Focus on making the most of those individual moments, and you’ll get more of your customer’s money.
And third, exploit the convergence of physical and digital. “Bring the two together,” Pappas instructed. “Go beyond. Go beyond traditional thinking about the customer experience and create new experiences.”
Enter Nathan Summers, digital director for Jaguar Land Rover and an IBM client.
Summers partnered with Pappas and team to bring a new virtual view of the Jaguar Land Rover experience to its customers (one that’s being featured right here on the Solutions Expo floor here at IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit).
“We’re quite competent in designing and engineering physical vehicles,” Summers explained, “but a digital supply chain was a new arena for us and required us to forge a new way of working.”
A new way of working that required some new capabilities.
“The more portable the experience,” Summers related, “the more accessible it was to our customers.”
But in the end, the virtual Jaguar Land Rover experience has been a big hit, and one they’ve been able to take, quite literally, on the road.
Ushering in a new era of cognitive computing systems, IBM announced today the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor, a technology breakthrough that allows brands to crunch big data in record time to transform the way they engage clients in key functions such as customer service, marketing and sales.
Two years after its triumph on “Jeopardy!,” the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor is a first of a kind system designed to help customer-facing personnel assist consumers with deeper insights more quickly than previously possible. Delivered through cloud-delivered services and online chat sessions, IBM Watson will empower a brand’s customer service agents to provide fast, data-driven answers, or sit directly in the hands of consumers via mobile device.
Now businesses can better serve consumers with a cognitive computing assistant that learns, adapts and understands a company’s data quickly and easily, enabling users to have IBM Watson at work quickly, while increasing its knowledge and value over time.
In one simple click, the solution’s “Ask Watson” feature will quickly help address customers’ questions, offer feedback to guide their purchase decisions, and troubleshoot their problems.
IBM Watson Making Friends Across Numerous Industries
Leading brands from a variety of industries are exploring how the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor can help them engage with their customers, including ANZ, Celcom, IHS, Nielsen and Royal Bank of Canada.
“We envision Watson to serve as cognitive assistant, adept and quick at making sense of Big Data, that can empower our regional bank advisors to better serve our two million wealth management clients across the region,” said Joyce Phillips, CEO Global Wealth and Group Managing Director, Marketing, Innovation and Digital, ANZ Banking Group. “We are pleased to explore with IBM how Watson can enable smarter, faster financial recommendations – yielding a customer experience that is simple, personalized and steeped in data-informed insights.”
“Around the globe and across platforms, Nielsen provides insights into what consumers watch and buy—helping marketers engage with their customers in the smartest possible way,” said Randall Beard, Global Head, Advertiser Solutions for Nielsen. “Our work with IBM’s Watson is the latest from the Nielsen Innovation Lab, founded to advance research in advertising effectiveness. Watson’s unique capacity to uncover insights from Big Data by simply posing a question in natural language is incredibly powerful. Using Watson, we will explore the ways we can help agencies and their client brands more effectively engage with consumers across devices and improve the impact of their advertising and media plans.”
Part of IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, the newest capabilities of IBM Watson are a natural fit for customer engagement, based on its ability to understand the nuances of human language, process questions akin to the way people think, and quickly cull through vast amounts of big data for relevant, evidence-based responses to its human users’ needs.
Digital Media Driving Brand Loyalty, Smarter Commerce Opportunity
The rise of the digital consumer has spawned a range of online, mobile and social media commerce trends that require businesses to deepen their interactions with customers and transform the way they provide marketing, sales and service.
Consumers expect brands to know them individually, deliver personalized interactions and self service options. Business leaders — such as chief marketing officers, customer experience leaders and heads of sales — must transform the way they interact with consumers to build brand loyalty and improve customer service.
The key to success: IBM Watson, via cognitive computing intellect, can proactively engage with a business’ customers, and continuously learn from interactions, anytime and anywhere, providing fast, more accurate and personalized interactions.
The IBM Watson Engagement Advisor will help companies make their interactions count by knowing, delivering and learning what each customer wants — in the context of their preferences and actions — sometimes before even the customer knows it themselves. Consider these findings:
Millennial consumers will comprise nearly half of the workforce by 2020 — using paychecks for major purchases that require top-flight customer service — from cars to insurance policies. There will be more than 10 billion mobile devices by 2016, outpacing the human population.
An IBM study of 1,700 chief marketing officers (CMOs) reveals that 65 percent of CMOs feel under prepared for the growth of choices that today’s empowered consumers have for communications channels, such as smart phones and tablets.
These disruptive forces are empowering consumers and raising their expectations of the entire customer experience. This power shift from the seller to the buyer is redefining the term “commerce.” Retailers were the first to face the rising power of consumers, but now companies across a wide array of industries such as telecommunications, financial services and others have begun adapting to these changes.
With the latest IBM Watson debut, IBM is enabling clients to better respond to market shifts in real-time, automate marketing, and transform the way they service their clients, while improving their global brand presence.
This is IBM Watson; How Can I Help You?
For the first time, consumers will be able to tap into the power of IBM Watson for their everyday needs.
The IBM Watson Engagement Advisor “Ask Watson” feature greets, and offers help to, customers via any channel, be it through a website chat window or a mobile push alert, saving consumers the hassle of performing searches, combing through websites and forums, or waiting endlessly for a response about the information they need.
Calling upon IBM’s Big Data Analytics technologies, IBM Watson retrieves data about customers to help ensure interactions are tailored to their needs, and search its corpus of stored information for the best solutions.
Since its television debut, IBM Watson is smarter, faster and smaller — having gained a 240 percent improvement in system performance, and a reduction in physical requirements by 75 percent.
The cognitive computing system can now be run on a single Power 750 server using Linux, transitioning from its original size of a master bedroom to that of four pizza boxes. Businesses that use IBM Watson can have the solution up and running quickly using a cloud computing environment, or deploy the technology on-premise.
IBM Watson: A Whole New Level Of Customer Service
The state of today’s customer engagement leaves much room for improvement. 270 billion customer service calls are handled annually, with roughly 50 percent unresolved, which for businesses means an increase in cost per escalated call by three times. In hindsight, 61 percent of those calls could have been resolved with better access to information.
It is no surprise that Forrester’s 2012 Customer Experience Index revealed only 37 percent of brands received good or excellent customer experience index scores, while 64 percent received a rating of “OK,” “poor” or “very poor” from their customers.
Making matters more urgent for brands is the imminent spike in Millennial consumers who are expanding their footprint in today’s economy, using paychecks for insurance, bank accounts and telecom plans. Their expectations for brands: fast and personalized service on the go, via mobile device.
The IBM Watson Engagement Advisor will also help brands manage their existing customer engagement functions, by reducing burdens faced by call and e-service centers that struggle to keep up with skyrocketing demand.
The move of IBM Watson into customer engagement positions it within IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, which provides a range of solutions and services to better connect more than 2,000 brands to their increasingly digital customers, accelerating business to the speed of life through intelligent automation.
For more information visit IBM Watson.
It’s time for the annual IBM State of the State of Marketing, that time of the year when IBM reveals the results of its global survey of marketers.
And it’s no mere coincidence that this year’s results are being announced while I’m here in Nashville for the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit.
Before I get to some of this year’s headlines, however, let me provide a wee bit of background.
First, the when. The survey was conducted this past February, and had respondents from around the globe.
Twenty percent came from Asia Pacific, 28% from Europe, and 52% from North America.
Eighty-two percent came from organizations with 1,000 or more employees, and respondent business types were 31% B2B, 33% B2C, and 36% from either/or.
In terms of the respondents’ job responsibilities, the survey focused on marketing practitioners who are primarily directors to executive-level marketers holding different functional responsibilities.
The top five responses by functional area were social media analytics (34%), brand advertising (36%), direct/database marketing (37%), promotion management (41%), and digital marketing (47%).
So, as you can see, a healthy and diverse mix in terms of both geography, market focus, and job function.
Now, let’s get to some of the key lessons learned. First, the analysis of this year’s data suggests that chief marketing officers (CMOs) are differentiating their brands by crunching big data in real-time and automating personalized marketing campaigns.
The price tag for NOT meeting the “omni-channel” shopper needs: $83 billion in lost sales in the U.S. alone due to poor and inconsistent customer experiences!
Mr. Customer Service Meet Ms. Social Media
The data also indicates that leading marketers are taking greater responsibility over customer service interactions as they become the official brand stewards company-wide. Concurrently, leading marketers are capitalizing on big data to better personalize their marketing communications.
They are looking beyond segments and demographics to provide the right offers, services, and information at exactly the right moment in the customer relationship. Marketers are also looking to use location-based services to target more digitally-savvy, on-the-move customers and deliver seamless, intuitive customer interactions.
On the customer experience front, the survey results found that 39 percent of leading marketers are adjusting real-time offers based on customer wants, needs, and preferences. In comparison, only 15 percent of remaining marketers surveyed do so.
Seventy-one percent of leading marketers are delivering personalized messages in real-time through social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and reviews sites. But only 62 percent of leading marketers are delivering those same personalized messages through mobile channels.
Somebody Forgot To Cross The Channel!
But, it’s also apparent from the data there is some bad news: That cross-channel integration is still lacking. Only 35 percent of leading marketers currently integrate their campaigns across all channels, with eight percent indicating they are not currently integrated at all.
In comparison, only 12 percent of remaining marketers surveyed currently integrate their campaigns across all channels, with 39 percent indicating they are not currently integrated at all.
Additional results from the survey include:
- Leading marketers increase responsibility over customer service interactions. As customer service seekss to keep the promises made by marketers, leading marketers are taking greater responsibility for customer interactions. The survey found 76% of top marketers contract their customers to gauge satisfaction, and 75% of those same marketers monitor and track delivery commitments to ensure customers are receiving their orders accurately and on time. Seventy-one percent of leading marketers are training sales and customer facing staff on product and service lines, to improve customer engagements and identify cross and upsell opportunities, leading to stronger consumer connections.
- Leading marketers capitalize on big data. Access to and adoption of an ever-expanding array of technology has given rise to the empowered customer, making flawless experience is a “must” for every brand, every time. As such, the survey found that leading marketers are harnessing big data to do just that. By leveraging individual behavior and context, marketers are delivering personalized messages in real-time by channel. The highest percentage of leading marketers, 85%, are delivering these personalized messages through customer service and call centers, as well as through their respective websites. This strategy is also leading to automated decisioning processes, with 70% of leading marketers coordinating and automating the decisioning process through social media, while 63% do so through mobile apps.
- Leading marketers become cross company brand stewards. Leading marketers continue to assume greater brand stewardship, taking responsibility for the customer experience enterprise-wide, with 83% of leading marketers collaborating with the various business functions to ensure a consistent delivery of the brand message. Further, the survey found 82% of leading marketers are creating and delivering brand messages at every point of customer interaction, resulting in a consistent and coordinated brand experience. Marketers are also measuring the impact of a consistent brand experience, with 84% of leading marketers systematically measuring brand awareness and reputation.
- Leading marketers turn to customers where they are. Nearly 66% of leading marketers are using location-based targeting to market to their customers, indicating a greater use of big data, analytics, and real-time marketing through mobile and social channels. Sixty-one percent of leading marketers are using mobile messaging campaigns to deliver relevant offers to customers. For instance, retailers might remind customers of a sale or send customers a coupon as they walked past a specific store location. Marketers are also looking to user-generated content working more efficiently, with 63% leading marketers relying on customer input, reviews, blogs, and posts.
At this morning’s opening general session of the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit, there was clearly a consistent and pervasive theme: The Chief Executive Customer has arrived and expects to be treated as such.
With over 3,000 people gathered in the sweeping Delta Ballroom here at the Gaylord Opryland, the morning session inaugurated with a short but directive-punched video: For companies to make sense of this new world, they need to understand it all from different contexts: Time, place, channel. Putting the business in context of the customer means they’ll better understand their clients, and be in a position to better serve them.
After the video, we had some quick singing entertainment by a bright young Nashville singed before Youtility author and social media strategist Jay Baer took to the stage to set up the coming three days.
Jay reaffirmed the messages in the video, explaining that “if you know so much about your customers, you can have a relationship with them that transcends the transaction.” He joked that “the difference between helping and selling is just two letters.”
“Sell something and you make a customer today,” Baer went on to explain. “Help someone and you create a customer for life.”
“Youtility is marketing so useful, people would pay for it,” echoing the theme from his book, and going on to explain several examples, including the @HiltonSuggests Twitter account that monitors the Twittersphere for customer vacation and business travel questions even if they weren’t geared towards Hilton hotels.
“Our personal and professional relationships have converged,” Baer explained, “and you are now competing for attention with your customers’ family and friends. But if you create utility your customers will keep you close.”
Baer then introduced Craig Hayman, general manager for IBM Industry Solutions, who picked up the customer experience theme by relating a story about his own family, and their experience with an eatery in Ludlow, Vermont, during ski season who always seem to remember he and his family when they visit, which is infrequently.
“Our challenge is how do we consistently build a customer relationship and personalize it in a way that is possible at scale. How can we do it in the here and now, with purpose?” Hayman asked the audience. “Leaving this to chance is not something we can afford to do, to have our customers find us on their own. These customers expect more from us, to engage and listen, to get back to them.”
“Meet the customer’s needs,” Hayman went on to explain “in the context of the moment.”
To do that, more organizations must pull all their customer-facing and -enabling functions more into harmony. They need adaptive and responsive supply chain linked up with showrooming clients who expect to be able to browse in the store and order online, and vice versa.
Hayman then walked through several powerful IBM client examples, including Caterpillar, who had been used to a legacy of closing “one large deal at a time on a handshake” but whose clients are now coming of age Milennials, who expect more information in cyberspace.
Hayman also mentioned ING Direct, who are using the power of mobile accounts and small transactions to encourage deferred gratification and savings through their “Small Sacrifices” program.
Or Costco, who recently “replatformed” their e-commerce engine on to an IBM WebSphere Commerce Solution.
Hayman summarized the customer focused accounts by explaining that “Brands that are not focused on customer experience are falling behind. Customers who are engaging with customers are seeing great results.”
Hayman wrapped it up with one last powerful soun byte: “For every $1 our clients spend on Smarter Commerce technology, $12 were generated in return.”
And with that, it was time to talk about Watson, “the most interesting supercomputer in the world” explained Baer. “Not just a supercomputer. Lindsay Lohan uses Watson for relationship advice!”
The audience got a big chuckle out of that one as Watson General Manager Manoj Saxena took the stage, and explained that over the past year “We have been hard at work putting Watson to work.”
“We’ve also made Watson a lot smaller, faster, and more scalable,” Saxena related, indicating Watson went from being a Texas master-bedroom-sized box to a small utility appliance.
But it’s not the size that matters, it’s the smarts. “What makes Watson so special is it’s the embodiment of the third generaton of computing, cognitive computing.”
In the early 1900s we had the “tabulation” era, in the 1950s the advent of “programmable” computing, and now in 2011 the “cognitive” era.
The key difference?
The cognitive systems gain value over time because they keep learning, whereas these traditional IT paradigms lose value over time.
Saxena then gave a quick primer on how Watson works:
1. Watson understands natural language and human communication at scale.
2. Watson generates and evaluates evidence-based hypothesis
3. Watson adapts and learns from user selections and responses.
Though IBM has been putting Watson hard at work in the healthcare industries these past few years, in 2012, “Watson became smarter, faster and more scalable” and now “90% of nurses follow Watson’s recommendations.”
“Fully engaged customers spend 3X more with you,” Saxena explained, “aand 2X more to recommend you. We also see with a one percent increase in customer satisfaction an additional 4.6 percent of market value.”
So Watson’s newest job is as the “IBM Watson Engagement Advisor,” which helps clients engage their clients either directly or through an agent assisteed model.
This new Watson capability “automates the entire process through which customers engage and obtain self-service support.”
Saxena walked the audience through a fascinating financial institution case study where a young fictional woman named “Melissa” was able to start planning for her infant’s college costs through an automated Q&A session using the Watson Engagement Advisor.
If you thought talking to a computer was strange, you’d better think again — we’re all going to be doing a lot more of it and soon!
Sometimes business travel can be a royal pain in the you-know-what, and sometimes, all things go well with the planes, trains, and automobiles.
Today, everything for my journey from Austin to Nashville to attend and cover the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit went perfectly according to plan, and the only trouble came when I arrived at the gargantuan city-within-a-city that is called the Gaylord Opryland and wished I had a smartphone with GPS to help me locate my room.
According to our airport shuttle bus driver, the Gaylord Opryland is the world’s largest freestanding hotel complex sans a casino.
But since we didn’t come here to gamble, that’s just fine, and I’m sure we’ll all know our way well enough around to find the sessions we’re attending.
I mentioned in another recent post the last time I was in Nashville was while on a Jack Kerouac-style Volkswagen bus trip between college stints back in 1987. I was getting to know this great country of ours up close and personal, but I zoomed through Nashville so quickly I didn’t even hear a hint of good country music emanating from the renowned Ryman Auditorium.
When I think of Tennessee these days, I think of Jack Daniels, mostly — along with the Grand Ol’ Opry — but you know what they say about that: You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.
But they can’t also take away the fact that your father’s Grand Ol’ Opry…err, Nashville…probably looked a little bit different than this newer, improved Nashville, one that has recuperated from the 2010 floods three years ago around this time.
Those torrential rains totaled more than 19 inches over two days, and the Cumberland River crested at 51.86 feet, a level last seen in 1937. I’m told even the common areas here at the Gaylord saw their fair share of rainwater.
But the only torrents arriving this week in Nashville are the several thousand attendees arriving for the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit.
Over the next several days, you attendees are going to have the opportunity to meet with your industry peers and IBM experts, and hear about the products and services that can help your organization thrive in today’s digital and social landscape.
You’ll also hear about the impact that IBM Smarter Commerce solutions are already making in organizations, and how you can deliver the right experience at the right moment, resulting in delighted customers and the profits to match.
Tomorrow morning’s opening general session will be held in the Delta Ballroom starting promptly at 8:30 A.M., and of course after that, there will be a garden variety of session tracks across the Smarter Commerce “Buy, Market, Sell, and Service” spectrum (also keep an eye out for some important and relevant press announcements).
Don’t forget to make and check your schedule on the SummitSmartSite website, and to attend the Welcome Reception tomorrow evening from 6:15-8:00 PM in Ryman Hall C2 (where food and beverages will be served).
As you’re strolling around between sessions, be sure to keep an eye out for the Social Media Command Center, where IBM social “doctors” will be offering free social media consultations and expert guidance — just look for the folks in the white lab coats!
Also keep an eye out for the “SmileBooth” where you can get a fresh picture captured to use in your own social media presence.
And, of course, stay tuned to hashtag #smartercommerce to follow all the Smarter Commerce Global Summit tidings via Twitter.
It’s been 17 years since I’ve visited the city of Dublin, but I still have some very distinct impressions from my one and only visit.
I remember taking the ferry over to Dublin from the English coast. The waves were huge but the Guiness Stout I had on the ride over was the freshest I’d ever tasted.
I remember my 1st train ride from Dalkey, where I was staying, into the city center of Dublin, and I remember visiting Trinity University and checking out the “Book of Kells” (An illustrated manuscript gospel in Latin which contains the four gospels of the New Testament and was believed to have been created around 800 AD!).
But what I won’t soon forget was the traffic jam I encountered on the way to the airport when I was trying to leave that lovely country.
So I was glad to see this announcement today: That IBM is helping the City of Dublin use big data to identify and solve the root causes of traffic congestion in its public transport network throughout the city, which will ultimately mean improved traffic flow and better mobility for commuters.
The Dublin City Council (DCC) delivers housing, water and transport services to 1.2 million citizens across the Irish capital. To keep the city moving, the council’s traffic control center works together with local transport operators to manage an extensive network of roads, tramways and bus lanes.
In a collaboration with IBM researchers, its road and traffic department is now able to combine Big Data streaming in from an array of sources – bus timetables, inductive-loop traffic detectors, and closed-circuit television cameras, GPS updates that each of the city’s 1,000 buses transmits every 20 seconds – and build a digital map of the city overlaid with the real-time positions of Dublin’s buses using stream computing and geospatial data.
Traffic controllers can now see the current status of the entire bus network at a glance and rapidly spot and drill down into a detailed visualization of areas of the network that are experiencing delay. These insights and the interface allow visualization of the data give them an opportunity to identify the cause of the delay as it is emerging and before it moves further downstream. This approach can accelerate the decision-making process to clear congestion more swiftly.
With improved reporting now in place, the data can help the city identify the optimal traffic-calming measures to reduce congestion. It can also help answer questions such as whether the bus line start times are correct or the best place to add additional bus lanes and bus-only traffic systems.
For example, using advanced analytics on data collected on each bus’ journey showed that some buses were being passed on route by buses that departed at a later time during rush hour. Now, IBM researchers, the DCC and city bus operators are working to pinpoint why the distance or time between busses, also know as headways, are diverging in this manner and what measures can be quickly put into action that will improve traffic flow at these specific peak times.
Based on the success of the use of data from the city’s bus fleet, DCC and IBM Research are engaged in additional projects to look at how traffic control can be assisted and congestion eased in the city.
These projects include: integrating meteorological data into the traffic control centre so operators can take prescriptive actions to reduce extreme weather conditions impact on commuters and a predictive analytics solution combining data from the city’s tram network with electronic docks for the city’s free bicycle scheme.
This effort is part of a unique collaboration between IBM and Dublin City Council that began in 2010. As a part of Dublin’s effort to becoming a leading Smarter City through its embrace of technology to stimulate economic activity and meet the challenges of a globally competitive city for the future, it shares data generated by city services, such as transportation and its operational expertise running the city with IBM researchers.
The IBM Research lab in Dublin focuses on cities and advancing science and technology for intelligent urban and environmental systems through Big Data, analytics and optimization.
Using Big Data analytics techniques, the new Vehicle Awareness and Prediction feature, which is based on IBM InfoSphere Streams and developed by IBM Research, is now part of IBM Intelligent Operation Center’s Intelligent Transportation solution. IBM’s software solutions for cities draw on experience gained from Smarter Cities projects with cities around the world. IBM InfoSphere Streams software, part of IBM’s Big Data platform, can analyze and share data in motion, providing real-time decision making in environments where thousands of decisions can be made every second.
Go here to get more information on IBM Smarter Cities, and follow @IBMTransport and @IBMSmartCities to keep pace of some of the latest trends in smarter cities and transportation.
Mother’s Day 2013 is a thing of the past.
I hope you did the right thing and at least sent Mom a card.
If you did that, or more, you clearly were not alone, as IBM just did a bit of analysis via its Digital Analytics Benchmark and, according to the data, Mother’s Day online shopping grew 15 percent in the week leading up to Mother’s Day compared to the same time period last year.
And yes, mobile commerce played a role in the uptick, with the mobile percentage of sales reaching 17 percent in 2013!
The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimated that Mother’s Day sales reached $20 billion this year, and clearly, retailers made it easier for consumers to buy for mom through their smartphones and tablets.
In fact, according to IBM’s Benchmark, mobile commerce led the way this Mother’s Day.
In the week leading up to Mother’s Day, consumers flocked to their mobile devices, with mobile traffic reaching 25 percent, an increase of 43 percent year over year, with the Apple iPhone and iPad the consumer shopping devices of choice.
As retailers are making it easier for mobile shoppers to browse and buy with a tap of a finger by customizing mobile apps and web sites for on-the-go consumers, the mobile customer experience has become a top priority for retailers looking to streamline the buying process.
In the week leading up to Mother’s Day, mobile shoppers browsed and completed purchases in three-and-a-half minutes, while desktop users took twice as long, more than six minutes, to complete their shopping session.
As merchants continue to invest in upgrading support for digital shopping channels, retailers are designing for a MobileFirst market by simplifying the client experience and deepening connections to consumers.
Key findings from the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark:
- In the week leading up to Mother’s Day, online shopping grew by 15 percent, with average order value reaching $209, representing a four percent increase compared to the same period last year.
- Department store sales grew by more than 20 percent in the week leading up to Mother’s Day compared to the same period last year. Retailers simplified the digital buying experience for customers, with iPad conversions increasing dramatically by more than 315 percent, with iPhone conversions increasing 184 percent.
- In the three weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, online jewelry sales steadily increased, nearly tripling with a 180.6 percent increase in that same period. In the week leading up to Mother’s Day, mobile traffic reached 42 percent, up almost 59 percent over 2012. Mobile sales reached 48 percent, an increase of 38 percent compared to 2012.
- Online sales of gifts including flowers and chocolates more than doubled the week just before Mother’s Day compared to the week before, an increase of 140.8 percent. Mobile percentage of sales was up 109 percent, reaching 28 percent and mobile site traffic was up 95 percent, reaching 34 percent, in the week leading up to Mother’s Day, compared to the same period last year.
- In the week leading up to Mother’s Day, health and beauty sales were up 40 percent compared to the same time last year, with similar mobile commerce gains. Mobile percentage of sales reached 18 percent, a gain of 16.4 percent, with mobile traffic reaching 27 percent, up 33 percent over last year.
By analyzing these trends, Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs), sales, e-commerce and customer loyalty executives can better understand and respond to the needs of customers in terms what and how they prefer to buy.
Today’s news is based on findings from the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, the industry’s only cloud-based Web analytics platform that tracks more than a million e-commerce transactions a day, analyzing terabytes of raw data from 500 retailers nationwide.
The IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark uses anonymous data to provide the most accurate and immediate snap shot online shopping trends.
Go here for more information about IBM Smarter Commerce.