IBM launches digital customer experience consultancy

New arm launched off the back of revelation that technology is still a big barrier for decision makers.

Customers ahead sign

IBM today announced it has created a special arm dedicated to improving the customer experience through technology in a way that blends attractive and intuitive design with ease of use.

Dubbed IBM Interactive Experience, it will bring together design gurus and UI experts to help organisations blend strategy and analytics to make the cultural and technological changes needed to embrace a world that moves away from group relationships to 1:1 interaction and engagement.

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"This is a quest for our clients and we are pouring investment into this area. R&D, discovery and hypothesis will be everyone's job [in the future]. Five years ago, we saw the imperative for fact-based, data-driven enterprises and we started a business analytics practice which has grown and become market-leading. Today, we're launching another practice (IBM Interactive Experience). It's a first-of-its-kind consulting practice, not just for IBM but for this industry, and will anticipate the premium our clients will place on new models of engagement to all relevant audiences,"  Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, IBM Global Business Services, told the audience during a keynote session at the IBM Connect conference in Orlando this week.

"We are incredibly excited about this. It's a simple formula for something that's not so simple to address. We're very excited about the potential that this world of engagement and data is bringing. Great organisations are going to be born and great organisations are going to evolve. This practice will help our clients move towards that."

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Trying to address a smaller segment an audience of one rather than many actually increases data requirements, van Kralingen said. "We have combine large sets of data to get to the origin of action, belief and motivation. If you're really going to crack the code of individual marketing and engagement, you have to crack the social genome," she added.

The natural laws of attraction that is irresistible design  will dominate in this new world of more targeted, personalised relationships where we move from analysing what's in someone's shopping basket to trying to understand what motivated them to pick up each item, according to van Kralingen.

Furthermore, she believes social networks will become the engines of trust in this new world of enhanced personalisation.

"We just completed a survey of CEOs around the world and, for the first time in the eight years we have conducted this, we found their number one strategic issue was technology," van Kralingen said.

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"The reason for this is three very simple points: 1) If I don't build engaging, interactive digital business models with my customers and clients, I'm out of business. They will allow me to either take share of be disintermediated 2) They're concerned about security, trust and reputation 3) I have to find a way of getting my people in the organisation to behave in a way that inspires my customers and how can I use technologies of engagement to do so?"

Mobile, social and digital are intersecting forces that are resulting in a massive shift organisations must respond to, van Kralingen said. Such a shift is underpinned by large volumes of data, she added.

"Like all big shifts it's changing our world in ways that at first might seem paradoxical," van Kralingen said. "Our world is becoming simultaneously massively larger and massively smaller. The context for action enlarges, but the arena within which you actually act shrinks. We're moving from markets, categories, segments of people to seven billion tiny market segments [markets of one]."

We have entered an era of hyper-humanity, where intense personalisation reigns, according to van Kralingen. This means companies must morph from being customer-centric to customer-activated. It's about moving beyond listening and talking to customers to having them influence entire strategy and work ethic. 

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