The concept that has influenced my thinking the most this year as an application architect is Smarter Commerce – one of the IBM Impact 2011 event themes. We have entered the era of empowered customers. Regardless of media, sales channel, or use case, customers are conscious, their expectations high, and their needs clear. Customers make use of the information provided by manufacturers, social media, forums, and reviews, and they expect to receive consistent information and expert service from product distributors. How can companies meet these increased demands and keep their own processes and systems up to date?
360 Degree Customer Experience – Smarter Commerce brings the customer to the very center of the process, from the supply chain to after-sales service. We must be able to create intelligent and adaptable acquisition processes that are based on customer needs. We must aim to create personalized marketing that catches customer interest in the multi-channel marketing environment. We must make buying easy and prepare for seamless customer service regardless of the sales channel. For example, a customer may order products online, change the order by phone, check its status on a mobile device, and pick it up from a store outlet.
The reign of the customer sets a challenge for application technologies as well as corporate processes. We must respond boldly by using new technologies that are suitable for each purpose, in the right places. We must leave all the doors open and monitor the course of development by choosing and implementing solutions that will work the best, even in the future.
As we approach Smarter Commerce from the viewpoint of online stores, we rise to the challenge of these interesting times.