IBM (news, site) has been all over the news this week with a number of new product/solution announcements. A review of what's new in its Smarter Commerce portfolio demonstrates the importance of social channels in the buying experience.

IBM's Smarter Commerce Initiative

Like everything else we do on the Web, our buying habits have changed and become much more reliant on social networks and across different channels. IBM recognized this and have adapted its commerce solutions to support these growing trends.

IBM defines Smarter Commerce as:

a smarter way for companies to buy, sell and market their products by integrating operations and enhancing interactions through community, collaboration, process and analytics -- all within an industry context."

IBM's Smarter Commerce initiative is about more than integrating social media into the buying experience (although that is a key element). It's also about integrating the back office for a more seamless commerce experience. Here's a quick look at the products in the portfolio:

  • WebSphere Commerce Server
  • Coremetrics Web Analytics
  • Coremetrics Lifecycle (a cloud-based solution)
  • Coremetrics Intelligent Offer
  • Coremetrics Social Analytics
  • Sterling Order Management & Sterling Configure, Price, Quote

The various packaging of these products together offers everything from advanced analytics to cross-channel commerce to supply chain planning and execution and more. And the primary focus is on the customer at the center of it all.


Smarter Commerce is Social Commerce

Smarter Commerce is very much about Social Commerce, which is defined as:

a subset of electronic commerce that involves using social media, online media that supports social interaction and user contributions, to assist in the online buying and selling of products and services."

Social commerce is a key element of many B2B and B2C web engagement strategies. It's a big topic for 2011 as social and mobile capabilities expand and increase in demand and usage. Gareth Mee, CEO, nToklo says,

As the use of social networks continues to become part of our everyday lifestyle, the e-commerce industry increasingly looks to this channel and how it can effectively capitalise on this opportunity. However, with increasing usage comes increasing noise so enabling social discovery with improved content relevance will be important to cut through the clutter."

And IBM certainly has both the technology and understanding of how to do this. The Smarter Commerce initiative includes both technology and consulting services designed to deal with the challenge of social commerce this year.