IBM Smarter Commerce: How to Create Moments That Matter

TAMPA—"Experience is the new North Star. It guides everything that we do today," said Paul Papas, global leader of the IBM Interactive Experience. He urged the 4,400 attendees at this year's Smarter Commerce Global Summit to "go beyond customer-centric thinking to human-centric thinking." That means not only understanding customer preferences, but how "we're all people living lives with needs that change minute to minute day to day."

Market-leading companies are "going beyond channel thinking. They're thinking about experiences, and all those experiences being shaped by data being put into action," Papas elaborated. Celcom, a wireless provider in Malaysia that serves 1.6 billion people in nine countries, or one-fifth of the world's population, knew it "needed to communicate at a more human level using data," Papas said. It created offers that used context to connect with customers, such as telling them their weekend usage was low and offering them extra points if they used their data to download a song. This human-centric approach led to a 70 percent increase in campaign effectiveness.

For Allstate, the challenge was connecting with people more frequently than when they paid a bill every six months or had to file a claim. Allstate tried to provide extra value to customers' daily lives by "using technology to advance the experience," said Sanjay Gupta, executive vice president of marketing, innovation, and corporate relations for Allstate. One way was with Drivewise, a device customers installed which provided discounts for good driving, but no penalties if a driver didn't meet those expectations. That technology was recently rolled out in mobile app form. Allstate also created a different version of the concept for teen drivers. The app has a gamified experience that rewards teens for good driving behaviors. Worried parents can also monitor their teens' driving behavior through the app.

For Intercontinental Hotels Group's director of CRM technology, Bill Turchin, the focus on customer experience reflects what his company is already working on. "We're on this journey from CRM to CXM," he said. "Like a lot of companies, we started by focusing on marketing automation, utilizing IBM EMM products. We used that data with a marketing focus." Now, that data is being used to impact the entire customer experience.

Market-leading companies "are going beyond thinking about digital as something separate," Papas observed. "Digital and physical are merging together."

Papas' words rang true to Turchin. "The convergence of physical and digital is very real to us in the hotel industry. In a hotel, you can impact the physical experience the same way you would in a digital channel...with hundreds of millions of guests, it's about how do you use that to do something at the front desk to make people feel special." That focus on creating moments that matter, not just in marketing but across the entire customer engagement, is what IBM Smarter Commerce is forwarding as the future of a customer-centric business.

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