IBM and Singapore’s EDB launch e-commerce centre
By Keith Liu September 2, 2015
- APAC estimated to be the world’s largest e-commerce region
- ‘Smarter commerce is now much more than just a storefront’
IBM Corp and the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) have jointly announced the establishment of the IBM Smarter Commerce Centre of Competency (SCCOC), which aims to develop new products and solutions for running online shopping and customer engagement sites.
Thanks to the rise of online transactions in Asia Pacific, which according to research firm yStats is poised to see an annual growth rate of 20% between 2013 and 2018, the region is now – according to some estimates – the largest e-commerce market in the world at US$567.3 billion.
“With the advent of social and mobile technologies, smarter commerce is now much more than just a storefront, it’s involving the way we engage the client in all facets, putting the client in the centre of the experience of the business,” IBM Singapore managing director Tim Greisinger said at the launch event earlier today (Sept 2).
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When asked about the timing of this initiative, considering the maturing e-commerce and online shopping space spearheaded by the likes of Amazon and Alibaba, Greisinger told Digital News Asia (DNA) in an interview that the time is right because of the numerous challenges that such sites have to deal with today.
“Do you know what people are doing on your website? Are they leaving or dropping out because it’s not architected very well? Do they abandon the site?
“How do you drive people to the site, how do you fulfill it after they buy something, or do you upset them with bad experiences?” he said.
Specifically, the SCCOC hopes to enhance the four key competencies of smart commerce: Buying, selling, marketing and servicing clients – using commerce solutions that leverage the cloud, data analytics, social media outreach and security platforms.
Examples would be software tools that help to plan the customer journey, and analytics that help determine how to accelerate the buying process within the journey, or remove customer doubts from the making the final purchase.
The end goal is to connect the different silos of procurement, marketing, selling and fulfilment to enhance the overall commerce flow.
IBM’s director of Software Service Yeo Hwee Lee told DNA that the company’s investment will involve hiring 30 new research scientists and engineers for the centre within Singapore by the end of 2017, supported by IBM’s current staff.
“We will be infusing capabilities from our global team, hiring and training up these people in the next few years, to make sure we bring the global skills and capabilities to this region – and then we start a series of collaborative efforts,” she said.
Part of the investment in this headcount will be supported by Singapore’s EDB, although no dollar amount was disclosed.
During her speech at the event, EDB assistant managing director Thien Kwee Eng said, “EDB will support companies to build up digital capabilities that will capitalise on innovation.
“The establishment of IBM Smarter Commerce Centre of Competency is reflective of this effort, for the centre will improve the sophistication of digital services made available from Singapore.
“This is in line with Singapore’s goals to develop ICT (information and communications technology) talent to equip locals with the relevant capabilities to address the new digital economy,” she added.
Together, IBM and EDB are hoping to team up with industry associations such as the Singapore infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF) and the Marketing Institute of Singapore (MIS) to reach out to marketing professionals on how they can leverage technology.
It is also currently in talks with local telecommunications firm StarHub as well as banking group OCBC.
“As a start we’ve chosen four industry areas – financial, telco, retail and manufacturing,” said Thien.
“We have a collaboration with OCBC – we are interested in coming together to explore interesting challenge statements from a financial marketplace perspective and work on proof of concepts, and spearhead how technology can be applied,” she added.
In a statement, IBM said the SCCOC is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2015 and will be based within the IBM Singapore Technology Park in Tampines.
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