By Jay Henderson
With another peak holiday shopping season upon us, retailers and marketers across the country have high hopes for another record-breaking weekend of online sales.
They may very well get their wish.
Based on early data from the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, Thanksgiving Day online sales grew 19.7 percent over 2012, led by department stores, which increased 60 percent using the same comparison. As expected, mobile was once again a key driver of that overall growth, increasing 49 percent year over year as a component of all online sales.
As holiday shoppers become more diverse, connected and digitally savvy, retailers are looking to cloud, mobile and big data analytics to deliver personalized experiences for millions of consumers. The winners this year will be those that rely on real-time insight to adapt their mix of in-store, online and mobile promotions to make the sale whenever and wherever their customers choose. For retailers like Moosejaw, that means building a connected physical and digital shopping experience that is integrated, from the ground up, across the entire commerce cycle. Continue Reading »
By Brian Ng
As businesses mature and scale, cohesive digital and social integration becomes ever more critical to maintaining a competitive advantage, especially in today’s customer-centric world. Every customer and, increasingly, every interaction matters even more. The pressure is tremendous to deliver consistent, high quality customer experiences tailored to everyone, in whatever context imaginable.
Just as we build relationships with new friends or interested partners, we similarly become invested in the products or services that work well and delight us. We grow connected to the things we use and interact with on a daily basis. But unlike friendships, often one misstep with a product or service could mean the end of the relationship.
One company that prioritizes superior customer service in all of its channels is Bonobos, a leading online apparel company. They started off selling one pair of perfectly fitting khakis and have since grown their product line to include dress shirts, suits, and outerwear. The differentiator for them is the customer experience team, which it calls the Bonobos Ninjas. Continue Reading »
By Mozhi Habibi
Cloud computing and the scalable, number-crunching power it affords, is being combined with analytics to help energy companies make sense of the mounting volumes of data coming in every day.
Consider Bharat Light and Power (BLP), one of India’s largest clean energy generators producing energy from such renewable resources as solar, wind, bio-mass, and hydro. With plants in Bangalore and Delhi, BLP is tapping into cloud and analytics through IBM and IBM Softlayer to improve efficiencies and data management, both of which will ultimately help the company produce more clean energy for an increasingly power-hungry customer base. Continue Reading »
By John Mason
It takes a lot more than a good idea and a solid investment to succeed as a small or medium-size business today. It takes what psychologist, Urie Bronfenbrenner, described as a network of systems.
Bronfenbrenner introduced the idea of the microsystem, mesosystem, and exosystem, in his ground-breaking theory, The Ecology of Human Development, in 1979, and explained how each of these interconnected systems helps shape the individual.
As in society, the various parts of this ecology can be applied to SMBs to better understand their growth and development. Continue Reading »
By Kyu Rhee, MD
While emerging economies across the world are exploding, the sad fact is that chronic disease is taking its toll.
As the middle class grows across Africa, Asia and South America, people are living longer and also suffering from obesity and the effects of a more sedentary lifestyle. That translates into growing death rates from chronic disease.
In most African countries, cardiovascular disease is now the second leading cause of death after infectious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. It has been estimated that between 1990-2020, the burden of heart disease will double. Diabetes across the Middle East and North Africa has jumped 87 percent between 1990-2012, and stroke by 35 percent.
Approximately 70 percent of all cancer deaths occur in developing nations, according to the World Health Organization. That number is rising: for example, cancer is expected to increase in Sub-Saharan Africa by 85 percent by 2030. But that figure is only an estimate, since less than 1 percent of the region’s population is covered by cancer registries. Continue Reading »
By Michael Karasick
As a computer scientist and director of one of IBM’s global research laboratories, I find it fascinating to trace the repeated patterns in the history of computing. Typically, the Next Big Thing spends years in incubation, either as military initiatives (the first electronic computers), consumer phenomena (the PC) or science projects (the World Wide Web). But, ultimately, these advances are adopted by business enterprises, where they’re deployed at massive scale to make organizations more efficient and effective—and, ultimately, to drive growth and dynamism in the global economy. Continue Reading »
By Nataraj Nagaratnam
With IDC predicting that by 2017, the U.S. Federal Government will quadruple from $2 billion next year to nearly $9 billion in what it spends on cloud computing (mostly on private cloud), the topic of cloud security is going to quickly become the center of attention in Washington D.C.
Though the government has established some early security certifications like the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA) and the Federal Risk and Authorization management Program (FedRAMP) to give agencies guidance on security, there will be a heightened need to go even further as agencies move mission critical workloads to the cloud. Continue Reading »
By Steve Hamm
Picture yourself entering a popular e-commerce Web site or opening a mobile shopping app and being greeted immediately by a virtual shopping assistant that’s every bit as helpful as the best clerk you ever met in a brick-and-mortar store. Actually, better. This assistant knows everything there is to know about the store’s merchandise and the situations in which it’s used. But it’s also the ultimate personal shopper. It knows who you are and what you like, and it learns more from interacting with you and presents you choices in a visually engaging way.
That’s just the kind of experience that Fluid Inc., a San Francisco-based digital commerce company, plans on offering through its many e-commerce clients, starting with TheNorthFace.com.The technology underlying the service is IBM Watson, which created a splash two years ago when it defeated two grand-champions on the TV quiz show Jeopardy! Embedded within e-commerce Web sites, Watson has the potential to transform the online shopping experience.“Watson is a turning point in technology,” says Brooke Aguilar, vice-president for Fluid’s Watson application strategy. “It shows how consumers will engage with computers in the future.” Continue Reading »
By Mohamad Makhzoumi
I’ve spent much of my life surrounded by doctors. Literally. Both of my parents are physicians. One of my sisters is a doctor; the other is studying to become one. So it’s no wonder that I was bitten by the medical bug. I, however, gravitated toward the business and company-building side of healthcare, where I have spent my entire career.
Today, I co-head the healthcare IT and healthcare services investment practice at global venture capital firm NEA (New Enterprise Associates), which has been investing in healthcare companies for 35 years. We back companies with the goal of transforming the healthcare system by improving access, increasing quality, and reducing costs. We currently have more than 10 active companies in the healthcare IT and services space with more than $250 million of committed capital. I work directly with these innovative companies. Continue Reading »
By Steve Hamm
Charity Wayua grew up in rural Kenya and did not use a computer till she was 17. Through hard work, Charity excelled academically and landed a scholarship from the Zawadi Africa Education Fund, which provides support for disadvantaged African women pursuing university educations. She got her undergraduate degree from Xavier University and a PhD in chemistry from Purdue University, both in the United States. Now she’s back in Africa—a fresh hire at the newly opened IBM Research lab in Nairobi.
She always planned on returning home after completing her studies. “I wanted to come back to be part of creating solutions for the continent, doing work that would make a difference for people here,” she says. Continue Reading »