Better Living (& Business) Through Data

September 11, 2012

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Last week, Heather traveled to Orlando to create visual recordings of several sessions at IBM’s Smarter Commerce Global Summit. The summit brought together over 2500 attendees across a range of industries. The focus of the Smarter Commerce event is just that: empowering businesses to use better information so they can make smarter choices about their products, customers and everything in between the two. In 2011, IBM researchers surveyed more than 500 economists worldwide and concluded that ineffeciencies in our collective systems total close to a shocking $15 trillion. According to IBM, systems of commerce are responsible for much of it — in the form of “inventory backlogs, failed product launches, wasted materials and ineffective marketing campaigns.” IBM is out to make commerce smarter, and to stop that $15 trillion dollar leak, by helping businesses deliver “intelligence-guided customer experiences.” It’s no small task, but in our increasingly connected world, it may just be more possible than ever before. Below are some of the themes and insights that emerged at this year’s summit.

It’s the Customer’s Party

Heather noticed that a major theme emerged from those sessions she recorded, even though they were just a handful of the dozens of presentations, and that was: we are now in the age of the consumer. All of the technology and innovation around ecommerce, procurement, marketing — it all comes down to getting as much data as you can about who and where your customers are. At the Marketing Re-imagined panel, industry experts urged the audience to remember that this is the customer’s party, and you must be invited to it. Much of the conversation revolved around building trust and loyalty by being authentic, and how to use data to be where the customers are.

Intelligent milk?

The Vision For eCommerce panel focused on innovation and the how data will work in the future. Gene Alvarez, an analyst at Gartner Research, talked about an “Internet of things” in which our milk will be able to tell us when it’s expired, and we can nap in our cars because they’ll know where to go. One favorite quip from this panel is: “now we can go longer without water than we can go without Internet.” So true!

Guess what? Teenagers are the hardest workers.

Mark Roberts at Anheuser-Busch thinks so. He made the point at the Driving Sustainable Savings panel that teenagers, the new generation of consumers, are actually willing to work at a problem for eight hours straight until they get it right. They will fail until they succeed. Just another surprising insight from this year’s Smarter Commerce Global Summit! View all six boards from the event on Facebook.
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