How Customer Experience Management Benefits the Channel

By Michael Vizard  |  Print this article Print

Need to unify marketing and sales efforts across multiple channels is driving raft of new IT project opportunities

Solution providers are always looking out for a business trend that is dependent on the successful implementation of multiple IT projects to reach fruition. One of the biggest such trends to come down the pike in recent memory is customer experience management, which describes the process of unifying the multiple channels that most companies use today to interact with their customers.

This business trend came about because as companies explored new channels for interacting with customers they wound up having a disjointed relationship with the customer in terms of not only how they communicate with the customer, but actually knowing what the customer is looking to purchase at any given time.

While the number of products and technologies that customers need to heal this divide is diverse; the challenge solution providers face is finding someone in the customer’s organizations to champion the effort. Most often, it’s the chief marketing officer who has been assigned this task. But it becomes apparent that such efforts cut across most of the lines that define the organizations. In order to be successful solution providers are going to need to be adept at keeping all the stakeholders involved invested in the ultimate success of the project.

The good is that Joel Reed, IBM product line executive director for B2B and commerce, says there will be a lot more IT work in this area because a lot of companies are starting to move to take direct control over the Web customer experience, as opposed to relying on massive etailers on the web such as Amazon. For example, IBM has been helping retailers such as Target and C&A to build out a massive Web presence that will in time replace the Amazon systems that Target, for example, previously relied on to sell products in the Web. The reason for this, says Reed, is that companies have come to realize that customer data is actually valuable proprietary information.

Reed says that for this reason IBM keeps investing in marketing systems that leverage social media and mobile computing technologies. In addition, IBM is now extending those technology investments all the way out to a supply chain via a new IBM Commerce on Cloud offering that is designed to allow an organization to set up and maintain an on-line storefront that can be integrated with any number of backend suppliers via the cloud.

Clearly, a major transformation in terms of the way businesses manage their customer relationships is under way. That’s good news from an IT perspective because it’s also clear that IT is going to be central to making that transformation possible. But it’s not likely to happen unless solution providers can put the value of the IT investments into terms that the average business executive can both understand and appreciate. Otherwise, customer experience management becomes too amorphous a project, which means that business executive will be wary of investing both the political and economic capital that such an ambitious effort will require in order to succeed.

Of course, the answer to such concerns is to start with a series of small initiatives that demonstrate value early. But it’s important to remember that even those projects have to be in line with a long term goal that could wind up driving related IT projects for multiple years to come.