Cloud

How IBM's cloud and cognitive computing tools help deliver personalized customer experiences

The IBM Marketing cloud recently got a boost with two new products that will help organizations get a better view of their business and drive customer engagement.

Image: iStockphoto/BsWei

For many organizations, the "digital customer journey" is the latest and greatest in terms of applying real data analytics to effect change in the business. IBM is hoping that its cloud and cognitive computing technologies can help users better understand the journey and capture it for value in the business.

On Tuesday, IBM announced that it was expanding its portfolio of products that deal with customer engagement. These updated tools help marketers and business leaders capture value at each stage in a customer's journey and as their relationship with the brand grows and evolves.

SEE: Seven ways to build brand awareness into your digital strategy (Tech Pro Research)

"Every customer is unique and has little tolerance for businesses that fail to recognize their specific interests, wants, and needs," said Harriet Green, general manager of Watson for IoT, commerce, and education. "Today we continue to invest in building our portfolio which includes new cognitive solutions that will completely transform how companies serve each customer."

Green added that the goal was for businesses to be able to more quickly and more fully learn from customer experiences and adjust their strategy accordingly. These updates fall under the banner of IBM's Marketing Cloud.

The first of the two new solutions is IBM Real Time Personalization, which uses a tool known as the Cognitive Rule Adviser to scan data for suspected changes in user preference, among other things. Self-learning algorithms then personalize a message based on how certain segments of an audience are responding to it and what their personal preferences are.

One example given by IBM was a shopper at a sporting goods store showing an interest in taking up cycling. The store's website understands that she isn't experienced and tailors the results to show her beginner deals and packages. Then, as her interest in the sport grows or it starts to notice her preferences change toward more advanced gear, it may offer information on local races or nutrition items for long-distance cycling.

The second of the two updates from IBM was Commerce Insights, which gives merchandisers access to real-time performance data on products and product categories. As variables like demand and inventory around a product change, the cognitive capabilities of the tool will re-prioritize products on the company's website to reflect that.

Commerce Insights also uses cognitive capabilities to analyze anomalies like spikes and dips in sales on a particular product, going as far as to present potential contributing factors such as a promotional event that happened around the same time, competitive pricing, or sentiment on social media (which will be coming soon). For example, if a video game site begins to see sales of its top console slowing down, it could identify a pricing change from a competitor and allow the user to adjust their own pricing.

SEE: IBM Watson takes on cybercrime with new cloud-based cybersecurity technology (TechRepublic)

So far, IBM's newly expanded portfolio of products for the customer journey is being used in the following companies: abof.com for online shopping, Standard Life for financial planning, and ING Direct Australia for banking.

Watson, IBM's cognitive computing platform, has become almost a household name. While that's done much for the brand and its capabilities, it has the potential to leave Watson labeled as a simple marketing scheme. However, with the recent updates to provide real results for businesses and consumers, IBM is making it clear that Watson is an enterprise tool and that it wants it to be taken seriously.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. IBM recently announced two new products that help businesses capture insights on their customers at different stages along the digital customer journey.
  2. IBM Real Time Personalization and Commerce Insights use cognitive capabilities to analyze customer behavior and move them closer to a brand or product.
  3. These updates prove that IBM is serious about monetizing its cognitive capabilities in the enterprise, and will likely be the first in a serious of business tools that are built with cognitive and cloud computing at the foundation.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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