IBM to market directly in the cloud

ORLANDO – IBM Corp. has announced a new consolidated marketing platform that will form a part of its SmartCloud e-commerce portfolio.

Aimed at mid-sized firms of roughly 100-1,000 employees, IBM Marketing Centre is designed to allow businesses “to run marketing campaigns directly in the cloud,” Craig Hayman, general manager for IBM software industry solutions said Wednesday in announcing the service at what the company calls its Smart Commerce Global Summit. Chief marketing officers can get closer to their customer base with the service, IBM said, that weaves together analytics and customer relationship management capabilities into a single platform.

C-level executives can use the software to automatically track marketing campaigns and use feedback and statistics on user behaviour to improve the delivery of their products and services. For example, they could gauge the effectiveness of certain campaigns against certain user demographics, or particular mobile devicexs.

Pricing for the product includes a startup fee of roughly $5,000 – $10,000, an annual subscription cost based on number of server calls and fees for add-ons such as e-mail capability, according to Christopher Benedetto, a product marketing leader in IBM’s industry solutions group. The total cost to companies will be around $125,000 a year to run the platform, he said.

The Emptoris Strategic Supply Management software, meanwhile, developed by a company IBM acquired in the last few months, can help businesses make more intelligent procurement decisions.For example, it could automatically grade current suppliers based on criteria such as poor working conditions at their factories, then suggest alternatives. Hayman said the platform can be deployed in public or private cloud environments as well as on-premise using standard commodity servers.

Several major companies around the world are already using IBM e-commerce software, including Anheuser-Busch InBev, Radio Shack and in Canada,, the largest online shopping Web site in the country, which uses Coremetrics for Web analytics.

Charlie Cole, vice-president of e-commerce at Schiff Nutrition, a California-based supplement supplier and another user of the IBM cloud-based e-commerce products, said with the ability to perform analytics on customer data, the concept of CRM is being redefined.

“What people bought- I think that’s what CRM used to be,” he said. “Now it’s what people looked at, what people clicked on, what people didn’t click on, why didn’t they click on them, when they clicked on them, how many pages of content did they consume?”

“Understanding the amount of variables, you have to appreciate that it’s a totally fluid world. And that consumer, once they bought one thing, the hardest thing as a marketer or as an e-commerce operator… is to understand: what is that next thing?”

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