IBM study finds more than half of midmarket companies lack an integrated digital strategy

Date: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 13:55 Source: IBM press department

Small and midsize businesses outperform competitors by fusing the physical with Big Data, mobile and the cloud
IBM study finds more than half of midmarket companies lack an integrated digital strategy

65% of the midmarket C-Suite business executives recognized that the lack of a cohesive social media plan is the biggest barrier to doing more in the digital space 

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An IBM global study of C-Suite leaders uncovers a surprising fact about small and midsize companies: they may not be as digitally savvy as they'd like.

The survey's top findings include:
• More than half of midmarket companies lack an integrated digital strategy.
• 65% of the midmarket C-Suite business executives recognized that the lack of a cohesive social media plan is the biggest barrier to doing more in the digital space.
• More than half of respondents also cite the need to better understand how social media fits with other operational priorities, and how to measure its return on investment.

Specifically, midmarket CMOs want to put all the components of a strong digital strategy in place. These components include an increased focus on integrating cross channel touchpoints, analytics to capture customer insights, social networks to foster collaboration, and mobile and cloud to achieve advanced operational efficiencies and attract and market to new customers.
Midmarket CMOs aren’t alone in their desire to create an integrated digital strategy. The majority of midmarket CIOs surveyed say they aim to digitize their front offices within the next few years as part of an overall effort to focus more on the customer experience. This digitization includes analyzing data generated from customer interactions via social channels and mobile devices, and identifying emerging trends.  
IBM surveyed more than 300 midmarket C-Suite business executives worldwide on a variety of business issues, including the expanding role of customer engagement, organizational management, marketing and economic priorities, and future strategic growth plans.
The study revealed an environment where technology has become the dominant driver of business change, and leaders are moving quickly to open up their organizations. As a result, business leaders are confronting an urgent need for deeper and more meaningful types of collaboration.

Successfully fusing the digital and physical
The survey indicated companies which have successfully fused the digital and physical, including Big Data analytics, mobile and cloud, to achieve transformation were 26% more likely to outperform their rivals.
For instance, Music Mastermind, a Calabasas, CA-based tech startup wanted to provide a way for consumers to create their own digital music content and share it with the world. While many industries have been impacted by the digital age, the music industry in particular has been redefined, with social media and mobile technologies shifting the power from manufacturers, content providers and retailers to the individual music fan.  Music fans want to listen to and experience music in their own way, whether via MP3 download, streaming services or videos - anytime and anywhere. To accomplish these goals, the company teamed with an IBM Business Partner, Micro Strategies, to deploy IBM cloud technology to address this business challenge.
Together with IBM Global Financing and Micro Strategies, Music Mastermind built a robust cloud infrastructure capable of meeting their evolving service needs at scale. Music Mastermind's patented music technology and intuitive user interface, coupled with IBM's cloud delivery solution, enables every consumer to make great music from anywhere -- a game-changing movement in global entertainment. 
Another example of a successful company fusing digital and physical is Coriell Life Sciences, which is helping to reshape how medicine and analytics interact. With IBM cloud technology, Coriell researchers can now collaborate and analyze a patient's DNA and gene sequencing data – 3.2 billion data points – and generate reports that model how well a given drug could work based on an individual’s DNA. This is an example of the new types of workloads that smaller organizations can pursue, enabled by tapping into the cloud, to innovate and create competitive advantage.
“Providing doctors with access to a patient’s genomic data in order to tailor their medical care promises a whole new level of personalized treatment. The key is that it needs to be done securely with a strong emphasis placed on protecting patient information," said Scott Megill, CEO, Coriell Life Sciences. “Our work with IBM is facilitating the doctor-patient exchange of genetic information and providing necessary, easy-to-understand clinical interpretations, which will help revolutionize the way doctors treat disease.”
Analytics, mobile and cloud technologies allow small and midsize businesses (SMBs) to tap into the social channels of influential customers who have a deep interest in their products and services.  Engaging these digital influencers helps brands connect on a deeper level with current and future customers. The future of brand strategy will include an ability to demonstrate authenticity to those who actually help define an SMB's markets, and then turn customers into influencers.
"Understanding what resonates well with these customers can bring valuable insights to the development of new products, services and promotions, enabling smaller businesses to break through in this challenging and influential segment," said John Mason, General Manager, IBM Midmarket Business. "Smaller companies which use their agility to place customers front and center in their ecosystem, embrace cloud, social and engagement marketing strategies could end up huge winners."



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