March 21, 2011, 10:45 AM — On March 14, IBM announced "Smarter Commerce," a strategic initiative that addresses the surging market for ecommerce solutions that take advantage of the convergence of a number of disruptive software and hardware technologies -- disruptive because of their combined effect in altering the way end users enable commerce and consumers to interact, both B2C and B2B. IBM is looking to help clients harness the power of these technologies through the creation of new dedicated service resources in IBM Global Business Services (GBS) together with integrated organic and acquired software assets now in IBM's Software Solutions Group. The Smarter Commerce offering spans the buy-market-sell-service aspects of the commerce life cycle and, as Craig Hayman, General Manager of Industry Solutions within IBM's Software Solutions Group describes it, places "the customer at the center of decisions and actions leading to greater customer loyalty, revenue and margin growth, and agility."
The specifics include a new services practice with 1,000+ dedicated members and access to $2.5 billion in commerce-related acquisitions and new software investments since 2010, including the acquisitions of Coremetrics, Sterling Commerce in August, and Unica in October 2010. The combined offering includes:
- New cloud analytics including an IBM-Coremetrics offering to measure and optimize social presence in such social media properties as Facebook and Twitter.
- Software solutions that allow companies to deliver relevant and consistent messages across all sales and marketing channels -- from the Web to email to stores to call centers.
- A newly launched Smarter Commerce University to help build the skills needed for both sellers and partners.
Retailers Take Note
This is the largest integration of acquired and organic assets IBM has undertaken in quite some time, and more complex in many ways than the integration of Cognos and PwC. IBM's goal is to redefine the value chain, helping clients become more connected with their customers. Indeed, IBM sees this convergence of software and hardware technologies as heralding in "the age of the customer." Every retailer I have ever talked with would certainly agree that this is the case.