B2B integration on the mind at IBM Smarter Commerce Summit #IBMSCGS

C-level and IT executives from around the world have descended on Orlando, Florida, this week to see what's on tap at this year's IBM Smarter Commerce Summit Global Summit. Customer engagement has already been an early point of emphasis, but companies know that the intelligence being gathered from their marketing outreach programs will be of little use if it is not effectively relayed across the supply chain.

New products

Much of the buzz has centered on what InformationWeek is calling the next "Swiss Army knife for ecommerce." The all-new IBM Marketing Center is a multipurpose, cloud-based software suite that encourages teams to work across the organization and gather fresh insights. Marketers can combine digital analytics with real-time execution in a seamlessly integrated and easily implemented offering that requires minimal input from the IT team.

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CMOs are not the only ones wearing smiles at the IBM Summit, however. In the era of empowered customers, it has become all the more important for procurement officers to root out needless spending and get things right the first time. With the debut of IBM's Emptoris Strategic Supply Management suite, these executives are provided with the comprehensive visibility they need to monitor contracts, govern suppliers and ensure faultless reporting to keep operations in compliance.

"Building a world-class procurement organization involves people, process and technology," explained BP chemical procurement manager Mark Edwards. "The [IBM] solution empowers us to realize the best value, not just the best price, from a supply base by factoring multiple performance drivers into decision-making."

New possibilities

Although supply chain logistics are far less visible than outward-facing sales and marketing transactions, they are becoming an increasingly important variable in the customer satisfaction equation. One way or another, according to IBM, end user expectations are starting to have a significant impact on everything from how materials are sourced to how quickly products are delivered.

With companies opening up an ever-expanding array of engagement channels to let customers behind the curtain, some are digging deeper than expected. Instead of advocating for simple discounts or superficial design changes, customers are taking a keen interest in everything from shortening supply chains to promoting ethical business practices.

Without effective B2B integration tying all collaborators together, companies won't have the visibility necessary to answer the questions their customers are posing - much less respond with fast, informed intervention.