IBM Launches Universal Behavior Exchange for Marketers

IBM yesterday released the Universal Behavior Exchange (UBX) on its Marketing Cloud, a new tool designed to offer marketers a more detailed understanding of their customers' behavior and preferences. According to Kevin Dunn, product strategy leader at IBM Commerce, UBX gives marketers the ability to unify data from all their disparate systems. "We want to provide marketers with a way to innovate and quickly execute, not only using marketing tools, but also the analytics tools we've [added to our ecosystem] over the last five years," Dunn says.

Independent of a company's size or industry, marketing departments typically rely on an average of 30 different tools to gather customer information, Dunn says. Whether information comes from emails, Web pages, call centers, or store environments, the struggle for many has been tying those sources together to produce complete profiles that can be accessed when needed. If marketers wish to understand how someone wants to be contacted at a particular moment, they must allow her tendencies in different channels to inform one another, Dunn says.

UBX aims to improve the communication between these different data sources with quick and simple integrations.  Using a "click and connect technology," customers can activate solutions alongside one another without having to undergo the custom IT work that it usually requires to get them up and running, Dunn says. This process, which can often take weeks, is completed immediately through UBX.

Depending on the outcome the brand is aiming for, the ecosystem can be used to boost conversion or registration rates or lower the cost of customer acquisition, Dunn says. When information is accessible through a single hub, marketers can better assess the needs of each customer. For instance, if a customer is known to open emails but doesn't generally engage with them for a while, it would be helpful to know what content he would prefer to receive and where. It might be the case that a prospect would prefer to read a blog post about the benefits of exercise before he wishes to commit to a pair of running shoes.

Some companies have begun to apply the segmentation and analytics tools to better determine who's interested in attending an event, Dunn says.

One customer, Georgia Aquarium, lauds UBX for its potential to simplify its operations. "On a daily basis, our marketing systems process countless customer data points, including visitor preferences on exhibits and special events," Rosie Judd, director of digital media at Georgia Aquarium, said in a statement.  With the launch, IBM is "helping small marketing teams such as Georgia Aquarium's be more efficient and stay focused on customer-centric campaigns that deliver memorable experiences," she added.

To start, the ecosystem consists of 15 certified partners who offer social, mobile, analytics, and CRM solutions; among them are MutualMind, Spredfast, and SugarCRM. IBM has configured the solution to make it easy for other interested partners to join the ecosystem, Dunn says. He envisions the ecosystem growing to accommodate point-of-sale and i-beacon tools, for instance.

IBM will also be adding a journey analytics layer to give companies a visual aide in understanding their customers' optimal journeys, Dunn says.

UBX is available for free for customers of the IBM Marketing Cloud and other IBM marketing products.

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