Companies understand that there is a critical shift happening in customer Relevant Products/Services engagement, but many are unprepared. To address this need, IBM announced Friday that it is launching a new set of data Relevant Products/Services-driven services that boost engagement efforts.

The services are targeted at chief marketing officers and chief information officers. A 2001 IBM study of 1,700 CMOs found that, while 82 percent were planning to increase their use of social media over the next several years, most felt they were unprepared.

'Customer-Centric Journey'

The new integrated services are intended to address new customer engagement opportunities made possible by the rise of social media, mobile Relevant Products/Services devices, Big Data, and the cloud Relevant Products/Services. IBM will assess a company's current situation, see where it wants its marketing to be, conduct a gap analysis, and then provide customized roadmaps that specify which processes, data, technology, skills or governance Relevant Products/Services are needed.

We asked Adam Klaber, managing partner for IBM Global Industries and Growth Initiatives, what were the key new aspects of this initiative.

He pointed to industry-specific roadmaps for "customer-centric journeys" to increase customer engagement, and to IBM's enhanced design and implementation services, which are now consolidated in its Global Business Services.

The design and implementation services, Klaber said, are focused around "the four I's"-- interaction, information, integration and innovation for the customer. As an example, he noted that IBM is providing a multi-channel, integrated customer experience for the U.S. Open.

'Global Breadth,' Tools

In that project, the company said its work is featuring "a strong social element so that technology can be used to connect offsite users with the spectators who are sitting in the stands."

The experiences include a new iPad app with point-by-point scores, news, live video highlights, and a TweetDeck-like interface that supports social interaction as one is watching the televised events. A "My U.S. Open" Court Curator Experience, for American Express card members, allows fans to access content on their mobile devices based on personal preferences, like favorite players or preferred match.

While these techniques are featured in the approaches by many integrated digital marketing agencies these days, Klaber said that IBM's "special sauces" consisted of three components unique to Big Blue.

One is the use of Big Data to create predictive analytics Relevant Products/Services that can help deliver a particular customer experience to a given customer at the right time. For the U.S. Open, for instance, predictive analytics are used to aggregate and mine over five years of Grand Slam Tennis data to determine and display each player's "keys" -- that is, strengths -- and to create a "momentum meter" showing which player has the statistical edge.

Klaber also pointed to the other two ingredients in IBM's unique sauce -- its "global breadth," and the fact that "many of the technological tools we use have been invented, and are being sold, by IBM."