Technology and creativity are fusing to drive a new interdependence between two seemingly diverse business disciplines, the CIO and the CMO.
According to Gartner, by 2017 the head of marketing — not the head of technology — will have greater influence on technology purchases. Gartner predicted earlier this year that chief marketing officers would soon spend more on technology than chief information officers.
Anticipating that shift, IBM has just launched a new set of services targeting CMO’s and CIO’s to augment engagement with increasingly savvy and empowered customers. CMOs can now target customers as individuals instead of clustering them within vague demographic categories — a vital approach, as social media has also made the CMO responsible for building an internal employee culture that represents the company's brand in online interactions.
IBM will rapidly assess a business's current needs against future marketing vision, conduct a gap analysis to evaluate which of the future capabilities are currently supported through existing business architecture and then determine the new processes, technology, data, skills, and governance required for the transformation strategy. IBM will design customized roadmaps for clients built on industry-leading techniques and methodologies developed in worldwide client engagements.
Highlighted at its just-wrapped Smarter Commerce Global Summit, IBM's new suite of cloud-based services enables organizations to outsource online marketing efforts, select target customers for a product campaign, design an email solicitation or Web page and analyze the results.
Dubbed a "Swiss Army Knife For E-Commerce" by Information Week, “IBM's new cloud-based suite eyes cross-functional teams that don't want or can't buy multiple specialized systems for each aspect of digital marketing.”
"Customers ... have to wire together a whole disparate set of systems," commented Craig Hayman, general manager of IBM Industry Solutions and the architect of IBM's Smarter Commerce initiative. "We have pulled that together into one service that runs in the cloud. Users just pay for what they consume. There are no upfront capital costs."
The new offering leverages earlier tech acquisitions by IBM including Coremetrics, a commerce-focused Web analytics service and Unica, online marketing software provider and more recently DemandTec and TeaLeaf, whose combined bandwidth serves cross-functional teams at smaller organizations or divisions and subsidiaries of larger companies.
IBM's 2011 study of more than 1,700 CMO’s revealed that the majority recognized a critical shift occurring in customer engagement but felt underprepared to manage the change. While 82% plan to increase their use of social media over the next three to five years, just 26% are currently tracking blogs, 42% are tracking third party reviews and 48% are tracking consumer reviews.
CRM-focused competitors Oracle and Salesforce.com have also augmented their digital marketing through acquisitions, but IBM’s goal is analytics-driven and eschews a CRM system as the company's Global Business Services team performs that function in third-party CRM systems.
At the conference — see video highlights here — IBM also announced BPO, a new line of business process outsourcing, the IBM Smarter Commerce Workbench, tools for best practices documentation and Emptoris Strategic Supply Management giving chief procurement officers a window on spending, contracts and service providers as well as supplier reliability and purchasing process efficiency.
IBM's client roster includes Anheuser-Busch InBev, Bank of America, ConocoPhillips, Expedia.com, Office Depot, Radio Shack, and Virgin Atlantic, and estimates its software and services are used to analyze related data from more than $100 billion in commerce transactions a year.
The American Marketing Association (AMA) plans to use the new software “to sift through the data deluge and “pinpoint the needs of individual members” to “help deliver marketing resources and information that feels like a welcomed service,” according to Yuchun Lee, VP of IBM Enterprise Marketing Management.
Responding to the shift toward greater personalization in interactions across mobile, social and online touch points in both B2B and B2C, “It's no different than any other business looking to turn their messaging, and all their communications, into service-based marketing. The only way to be relevant to members is to know a lot more about their wants and their needs,” said Lee.
IBM forecasting trends include the prevalence of intelligent-guided customer experiences, mobile-first business strategies and the growth of hybrid cloud computing, as well as the continuing rise of clients as their new chief executives.
"The old adage 'the customer is always right' has evolved. The customer is dictating the terms under which commerce is conducted," said Hayman. "The new 'chief executive customer' expect companies to respect their time, preferences, values and privacy. Meeting these expectations requires insight, innovation and a system of engagement that delivers an intelligent guided customer experience at every touchpoint."