IBM Smarter Commerce: A Recap

Hannah Gierosky

smarter_commerceThe 2014 IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit recently wrapped up in Tampa, Florida, and this year’s theme, Moments Matter, was woven throughout. The conference illustrated ways that industries such as Marketing, eCommerce, Customer Service, and IT are leveraging Smarter Commerce to create value in every interaction.

Engaging with customers, partners and suppliers was the focus of the opening general session, which featured guest speaker Ron Howard, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker. Another notable guest speaker was Sally Hogshead, an advertising and personal branding expert. She spoke at the general session on day two, titled Innovating at the Speed of Life, which focused on the innovation and design being used to enhance customer experience.

In addition to the general sessions, the conference was broken into tracks to allow attendees access to specific resources. The tracks at this year’s conference were Marketing and Merchandising, Commerce and Supply Chain, Integration and File Transfer, Customer Experience and Analytics, and Procurement and Legal. Each of these tracks focused on optimizing the specific service to create an exceptional experience for customers and partners alike.

Our team members Mark Kucalaba and Mike Cesen attended the conference and they have insight to share concerning the WebSphere Commerce community. Read about their experience at the conference below and see what other attendees had to say by checking out #SmarterCommerce on Twitter.

What was your favorite part of the conference?

Mark: I enjoyed the networking. I was able to meet up with people in the industry that I had previously worked with before I came to Briteskies. It was nice to just catch up and see what clients they have worked for and accomplishments that they have made. Some of these discussions will lead to us partnering with their companies in a sharing of benches or subcontracting and may even lead to new clients for Briteskies.

Mike: The SWAG! Just kidding- kind of. I really enjoyed the keynote speakers that were scheduled. They were very entertaining and inspirational. Specifically, I think I took the most from Sally Hogshead who is a Marketing guru specializing in growing business relationships through personal connections. Sally presented on the idea that it is just as important to understand how people (i.e. clients) see you, as it is to understand how you see the world. Often people rely on tests, such as Myers Briggs, to understand what their outlook on life is, when in a client-facing position it is critical to understand how the client sees you. She elaborated on how to find out what your natural talents are and rather than try to be decent in a wide variety of talents, focus on the two that you excel in and focus on being great in those. In growing the talents you are already good at, you can build a strong client/consultant relationship.

What was the most interesting thing you learned?

Mark: I learned more about the newly purchased IBM TeaLeaf product and the features and benefits that it provides. This tool allows WebSphere customers the ability to reply customer experiences. TeaLeaf can be used as a customer support tool to find issues that are normally hard to be recreated. It can also be used to see where customers are clicking and hovering on the screen for marketing purposes. It was interesting to see how they purchased the company and packaged it into the WebSphere Suite. TeaLeaf is available for their customers to try for no additional charge in the offline environments to see if the product will work for them. If customers can fully utilize the product, they can proceed to purchase a production license.

Mike: The most interesting thing I learned was how other companies are using different WebSphere Commerce tools. For instance, the one that stuck out the most was the store Kate Spade Saturday. Per the presentation, Kate Spade Saturday had purchased a store and instead of opening it as a standard retail store, they painted their branding very bright on the store, put up a window with very few products and then placed a large touch screen application on the wall. The touch screen application offered 24-hour service and, because of integration with Ebay Now, the store was able to offer one-hour delivery to anywhere within the region (greater New York City). This was very interesting because it was a real life example of businesses capturing the capabilities of WebSphere Commerce and innovating their business plan for the modern, tech-savvy customer on the go.



Why should someone attend the IBM Smarter Commerce conference?

Mark: It is always nice to see what competitors are doing in the industry and to hear the vision of the IBM product line. For example, Zobrist has produced a very nice implementation of a Smart Merchandiser to help their clients manage their products in their category pages. This could become very popular with other clients as well, but they would just make some changes that would allow it to be more flexible. Although it is somewhat limited right now, as it is only compatible with IBM Search and Coremetrics and does not work for clients who have not upgraded to Attribute dictionaries, this tool could potentially expand to a much larger audience.

Mike: Three reasons: networking, ideas and refreshing views of how other companies are utilizing the tools available.

  • Networking: being able to meet individuals with likeminded goals leads to making connections that could potentially be mutually beneficial in future efforts.
  • Ideas: being able to understand and digest the information that is being provided to you in the presentation in the hopes that you can apply some of the ideas to your client.
  • Refreshing Views: there is a bad habit of being isolated with one’s client to the point where you might forget about all of the cool things Commerce can offer. Although it might not always make sense for your particular business model, it is entertaining to see how other companies have utilized the tools provided by IBM WebSphere Commerce to connect with their clients.

What was your biggest takeaway?

Mark: The biggest takeaway that I had was in the number of clients and business partners using the IBM product line. Many business partners helped to sponsor the event and were displaying their success stories and it was nice to see how Briteskies compared to them. I was able also to walk away with a certification that I just never got around to completing.

Mike: With the over-saturation of Internet in our modern lives, we only have seconds to capture a potential customer’s attention and try to convert a sale. We need to continue to innovate and grow with this industry and be able to consult our clients to do so as well or else we are destined to fail.

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