ReThink your Business – Make Customer Relationships Suit Individual Needs

Big Data and Analytics, Cloud, Mobile, and Social Media lay the foundations/Fraunhofer IAIS and IBM Research Haifa present latest trends and findings

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CeBIT Hannover - 04 Mär 2013: The technological basis for shaping customer relationships to suit individual needs is available and companies should make use of it. That is the message of IBM’s CeBIT Press conference. “Business-to-Person is the future. The customer with his individual wishes must be at the center of all communication and interaction,” said Martina Koederitz, General Manager, IBM Germany. “It opens up entirely new opportunities for both companies and customers.” Dr. Michael May of the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems (IAIS), St. Augustin, dealt with the potential and expectations of Big Data in German companies. “Mass individualization of service provision,” he said, “will bring about enormous changes in retail in Germany in the years ahead.” Amnon Ribak, a research scientist at the IBM Lab in Haifa, Israel, gave IBM Research insights into the ‘era of the empowered customer’ and the latest research projects. His conclusion was that “boundaries are blurring and the real and the digital world are growing together.”

Martina Koederitz was in no doubt that “today nearly every customer is a digital customer too, and he expects a response to his individual wishes anytime, anywhere. That is what we mean by our ReThink your Business CeBIT motto this year. What companies aim to achieve is to identify each and every customer’s wishes and ideas more clearly and to respond to them faster.”

The technologies that this requires are available. Big Data and analytics, Cloud, mobile solutions, and social media help with the implementation, provide new growth opportunities, and make it easier to open up new markets. The entire value chain—Procurement, Marketing, Sales, and Services—must be adapted accordingly. In view of these developments Rethink your Business is the supreme corporate discipline, and that is why the above-mentioned IT trend topics and practical examples of value chain transformation are the focal point of the IBM display at CeBIT 2013.

Against this backdrop Dr. Michael May of the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems (IAIS) assessed the latest IAIS study on Big Data. It was, he said, the first to take a closer look at industry-specific aspects of the use of Big Data in Germany and to discuss the potentials in workshops with industry experts. The generally agreed credo was internal standardization and external individualization. “Big Data is seen less as a mere technology and above all as a strategic issue,” he said. The Fraunhofer researcher sees another new trend in the creation of communities around a brand or a product, with F-(Facebook) Commerce as a case in point. There are business startups offering support for procurement on Facebook. They claim already to have more than 250,000 customers.

Amnon Ribak, a research scientist at the IBM Research Lab in Haifa, Israel, gave insights into current research projects on Smarter Commerce, the main topic at the IBM booth. He sees augmented reality as an important technology for in-store product presentation, for example. “Companies need a permanent, individually adjustable digital customer interface,” he said. “Emotions also play a major part. That is why it is also important for companies to carry out social sentiment analyses in the future in order to feel their customers’ pulses.”

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