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Bridge Solutions was excited to attend IBM’s North American Industry Solutions Fast Start 2012 in Atlanta this past week. The four-day conference gathered over 1800 IBM sales and technical professionals and a limited number of business partners in an unprecedented internal session to provide insight into the IBM business and product strategy.

The event focused on IBM’s Smarter Commerce and Smarter Cities solutions and their plans for success in 2012, as well as their initiatives for Smarter Commerce in the cloud. The week kicked off with an in-depth overview of IBM’s Smart Commerce and Smarter Cities solutions detailing their 2012 road map, the business capabilities offered across their entire Industry Solutions portfolio, and how we as business partners can leverage the skills and knowledge made available by IBM to uncover new business opportunities.

The IBM Smarter Commerce platform revolves around the notion of an integrated value chain from Buying to Marketing and Selling to Servicing. This integration across various vertical channels provides increased visibility throughout the entire supply chain, precise cross-channel target marking and analysis, functionality enabling customers to “order anywhere, pick up anywhere,” and a streamlined customer service experience.

IBM Smarter Commerce


Through research, IBM has perfectly positioned its “Smarter” solutions in line with key market and consumer trends. Firstly, IBM realized the buying power has shifted to the consumers and this strength is evolving. Secondly, 52% of these changing consumers are cross-channel shoppers; having the ability to provide a true multi-channel selling and fulfillment solution is crucial in today’s B2C space.

Their recent acquisition of Sterling Multi-Channel Selling and Fulfillment Suite from AT&T will better position IBM to provide the cross-channel selling capabilities they see as a crucial B2C offering. Shifting from the consumers buying methods to their buying habits is another key market for IBM’s smarter commerce solution. Customer-centricity has become an increasing priority for companies, and IBM’S Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Enterprise Marketing Management (EMM) solutions leverage these capabilities to predict customer wants.

The week progressed, and the focus shifted from the strategic top-down approach to a more detailed, descriptive look at the individual components of the Smarter Commerce solutions. As B2B / Commerce business partners, we attended the smaller breakout sessions surrounding the Sterling and Websphere Commerce solutions. IBM’s Client Technical Professionals (CTP) demoed the key differentiators within each solution and related these competitive advantages back to the over-reaching theme of an “integrated value chain.”

We were also engaged with IBM’s sales team to share in the collaborative effort of improving the sales activities and execution. IBM also provided business partners with all the tools and resources available to their sales team to ensure customers receive a seamless sales process from any channel.