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IBM South Africa drives Smarter Commerce

April 15, 2011 • Enterprise IT

IBM Headquarters (Image: File photo)

With its Smarter Commerce initiative, IBM is defining a new market that it estimates will grow to $20 billion in software alone by 2015. IBM South Africa is to support the global introduction of new software and services offerings dedicated to helping businesses swiftly adapt to rising customer demand in today’s digitally transformed B2B and B2C marketplaces.

A recent IBM Institute for Business Value survey of more than 500 economists worldwide estimated that much of the $15 trillion in system inefficiencies on the planet comes from waste in inventory backlogs, failed product launches, wasted materials and ineffective marketing campaigns.

Termed “Smarter Commerce “these offerings are flexible and integrated solutions spanning the spectrum of commerce phases that include buying activities such as sourcing, controlling and procuring of goods and materials; targeted and personalized marketing capabilities across all customer interactions; sales and fulfilment of products and service across all channels; and service, responding to all customer needs throughout the relationship.

“Customers use social networks, mobile devices, Web sites and influencers to make buying decisions today,” said Gerrit Bus, Smarter Commerce Lead for IBM South Africa.”These businesses must connect to these customers where and how they prefer to buy to be successful. At the same time, they need to make sure they have the means of effectively managing their supplier and trading partner network to ensure they have the products at the right time and place to meet this new customer demand.”

The new commerce imperatives are bringing non-traditional IT buyers such as marketing officers and procurement executives into pivotal roles that are supported by Smarter Commerce.   And the challenges of commerce today create new opportunities for clients to use Smarter Commerce in serving their customers by:

·         Better integrating marketing campaigns across multiple channels: Advanced advertising capabilities allow customers to optimize search results and search engine marketing associated with a specific marketing tagline as well as enhance awareness of marketing campaigns through customized landing pages with specific online product promotions.

·         Increasing supply chain intelligence and inventory-shifting promotional opportunities: Using supply chain and inventory management capabilities, businesses can react to an unseasonably warm winter in one part of the country simultaneous with an unusually cold spell in another geography by offering a discount on excess coat inventory in the warm area while moving some of that excess inventory to be sold in the colder area where demand is higher.

·         Ensuring brand loyalty by providing a consistent and unified cross-channel consumer shopping experience: The process for buying a new television involves multiple steps. A social networking site presents an advertisement that has been targeted for a specific shopping behavior and profile using analytics software. This ad links to a Web site where consumers can make the purchase as well as check on order status from multiple channels such as a smart phone.   When the buyer picks up the TV, the clerk uses commerce software to provide recommendations on the best DVD player to go with the television purchased.

From a services perspective IBM ‘s offerings are intended to help clients deal with these new challenges related to commerce.

Including  Customer value strategy accelerator – IBM’s industry and strategy specialists will work with clients to envision, evaluate and prioritize a set of fresh and exciting new business value possibilities.  Clients receive a roadmap and prioritized recommendations for new business models that address the changing needs of the social, digital and mobile consumer.

Cross-channel experience assessment – IBM’s industry and channel specialists will analyze current customer experience by channel, identify pain points and limitations, and map customer expectations and behaviors (based on voice of the customer information). In addition, through a customer experience workshop, IBM explores cross-industry leading practices and creates design principles for the target customer experience across channels.

IBM’s Smarter Commerce software offerings will include :

·         Advanced Analytics — WebSphere Commerce and Coremetrics web analytics enables customers to gain faster insight from statistics, charts and dashboards to determine the effectiveness of their marketing programs, call center performance and cross-selling initiatives,  making it easy to manage and enhance the customer experience.

·         Cloud Computing —  The new Coremetrics Lifecycle offering is a cloud-delivered product that helps IBM clients track key customer advancement milestones, allowing them to better  target investments in marketing programs, content and products to improve results.

·         Cross-Channel Commerce —  Through the integration of Coremetrics Intelligent Offer and WebSphere Commerce, organizations gain immediate insight into online buying trends, while Sterling Configure, Price, Quote with embedded business intelligence by Cognos helps companies streamline the quote-to-cash process.

·         Social Business — The integration of Coremetrics Social Analytics with WebSphere Commerce  allows enterprises to measure the impact of social activity on their commerce website including social referrals and the usage of social features such as product reviews, enabling them to make better investment decisions in social programs.

·         Supply Chain Planning & Execution — Through the integration of WebSphere Commerce and Sterling Order Management, IBM’s Smarter Commerce enables businesses to better optimize inventory investments by providing enhanced visibility and intelligence around current inventory positions and sourcing options, resulting in improved fulfillment rates at a lower cost.

Bringing all these elements together to help better manage commerce is a priority for businesses.  Smarter Commerce transforms how companies manage and swiftly adapt to customer and industry trends across marketing, selling and service processes that span the entire commerce cycle, putting the customer at the centre of their decisions and actions.

By Staff

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