Hoping to grab some of the $70 billion yearly worldwide market of electronic commerce software and services, IBM has launched an e-commerce practice focused on retail operation integration and analytics.
"Through technology, consumers have gotten much more empowered than they have ever been before," for the retail industry, said Craig Hayman, the general manager of IBM Software Industry Solutions and head of the new practice.
As a result, retail companies need more information about how well their products and services are faring in this fiercely competitive marketplace, he said.
IBM's "Smarter Commerce" initiative ties together a number of customized IBM software products and associated services that should help retailers better engage with customers and potential customers.
For this initiative, the company has dedicated 1,200 personnel for e-commerce consulting services. It has also assembled a training program for clients and business partners.
On the software side, IBM is integrating software from a number of e-commerce tool vendors it has acquired over the past few years. In 2010 alone, IBM spent over $2 billion acquiring e-commerce software vendors. It paid $1.4 billion for Sterling Commerce, which provides software for integrating back-end retail systems. Also last year, IBM acquired Coremetrics, which offered a set of cloud services that analyze how well marketing campaigns worked. Finally, IBM acquired Unica, which provided marketing campaign automation software.
IBM also plans to use its own IBM's WebSphere Commerce platform for its e-commerce packages.
The combined services and software packages will address e-commerce aspects such as customer tracking, automated marketing, selling and fulfillment, and managing brands.