ADOTAS – “A year ago, most CMOs would never thought of talking to IBM,” comments Yuchun Lee, vice president and general manager of IBM’s Enterprise Marketing Management Group. “I’m convinced that if you ask a CMO two years from now who is their most important technology partner, he’ll say IBM.”
But what can a veteran giant like IBM bring to the young and rapidly shifting world of online marketing? Standards, Lee says, something that will be quite beneficial for an ever-fluctuating space.
With numerous acquisitions over the last year — including Coremetrics and Unica, the company Lee founded — IBM has dived headfirst into the online marketing and e-commerce technology deep end with its Smarter Commerce initiative. After rolling out numerous SaaS products over the last several months including social analytics, IBM is dropping the big one today: a comprehensive, cloud-based web analytics and digital marketing suite that handles every channel you can imagine (and is ready for those that you haven’t yet).
The holistic marketing suite is pretty much the “blue-washed” — i.e., harmonized to IBM’s level of quality — synchronization of Unica and Coremetrics’ technologies. Though it’s being announced today, Lee says IBM is actually flipping the switch on Monday to avoid any hangups with a major retail client’s big summer sale this weekend. Lee apologized for being unable to share the company’s name and I said it was for the best because I don’t have any money to spend.
And IBM is literally flipping the switch — no data migration or installing is necessary for IBM’s 800 major retailer and media company clients to start tying their offline and online consumer data together to better understand their customer base and enhance their various marketing initiatives.
“With a lot of major retailers and media companies, the front looks great, but out back there are people shoveling coal, operating a bunch of cobbled-together programs and services,” Lee says. “It’s not sustainable — there are just too many devices and channels.”
While the suite works end-to-end, clients can also pick and choose the pieces they need to complement homegrown or third-party technology. An open architecture allows for ease in plugging in third-party solutions as well as leaving room for future channels and devices — Lee notes that 18 months ago there wasn’t really a tablet segment to reach.
Which is one of the chief reasons IBM wants to establish standards in digital marketing: the ever-increasing number of marketing channels and the proliferation of end-user devices. Oh yeah — there’s also the fact that it’s a multi-billion dollar marketing space where a great amount of spend is wasted and the siloed buying system is incredibly inefficient. There’s gold in thar hills.
Nine months after joining IBM through the acquisition of Unica, Lee says he’s quite satisfied with how Smarter Commerce pieces have pulled together.
“During the first three months, there was a lot of nervous chatter about the big company stifling innovation,” he admits. “But after nine months inside, it’s clear the IBM execs understand they are entering a new market and the CMO is a different kind of buyer.”
Enjoy some screenshots: