IBM Study Finds Better Analytics Needed to Better Track Tech-Savvy Consumers

A new IBM global survey of over 32,000 consumers reveals that technology is givingconsumers a new source of power - pushing companies to engage them more directly via increased use of personalized promotions and offerings. However, companies need greater analytic tools to better understand the data flowing in from multiple channels.

To help retailers address these operational mandates, IBM has launched a new Center of Competency for Retail that will provide deep industry expertise in the areas of business analytics, customer insights and merchandising. By bringing together talent and technology assets, IBM hopes its new center will help companies make the best use of technology to streamline costs, reduce inefficiencies, aid product development and speed go-to-market activities, while also helping these companies build new capabilities to better understand, track and respond to consumer

The IBM study found customer data is likely to flow from a number of channels - and that consumers are more than willing to engage in two-way interactions via these channels. For example, 79% will use the web, 75% will use mobile phones, and 66% will use online channels to check on product availability.

In addition, the study found that 33% of respondents are somewhat or very likely to "follow" a company on a social networking site. But a value exchange is required. For instance, consumers want to follow retailers that will provide them with new samples to try, preferred customer status for special promotions or advanced sales, as well as allow them to influence product development and new service offerings. Younger consumers are even more likely to follow a company.

The survey also found that most consumers-whether or not they use social media - are more interested in providing constructive suggestions than they are in voicing criticism. Seventy-eight percent of respondents are willing to collaborate with companies to co-create new products and services that meet their needs. Traditional business intelligence and analysis solutions can help sift through this interactive data, but there are also text-mining tools available to measure sentiment.

"We are in a shopper's market today, because consumer access to technology and information gives them all the power," says Jill Puleri, IBM global industry retail executive for IBM Global Business Services. "Retailers cannot afford to sit still as this digital revolution happens. They must engage plugged-in consumers in new and different ways, on their terms, and with more bi-directional feedback and dialogue."

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