IBM Launches Customer Experience Lab

Betting on the growing wave of customer experience adoption, IBM has created the IBM Customer Experience Lab.

Jade Nguyen Strattner, vice president of the IBM Customer Experience Lab, says that many of the company's clients were asking how they could refine business models and take advantage of customer experience management technologies.

"We very clearly saw an opportunity as well as a challenge that out clients, particularly in the C-suite, have around the space of customer experience," she says. "Clients shared with us that while they knew they needed to take advantage of this and it was a huge opportunity, many of them were challenged in how to get started and have the right skills in core competencies to execute this. It was really out of our learning that we launched the Customer Experience Lab. IBM has many years of experience in social [media], mobile, analytics, and cloud. It was a matter of us bringing together all these capabilities under one umbrella and having the right structure and process."

The lab has been working with clients on what it calls Innovation Discovery Workshops, which focus on areas such as smarter commerce, big data, analytics, and mobile first products.

"We already have an inventory of solutions and assets related to the front office," Strattner says. "We are also looking ahead to see what hasn't been invented yet and that's what we'll be working on with clients in the lab. Some of our clients have access to some of this innovation for their customer experience solutions even in some of the early stages."

The lab is focusing on three primary areas:

  • Customer insight: Applying advanced capabilities, including learning and visual analytics, to predict differences in individual customer behavior across multiple channels.
  • Customer engagement: Using deep customer engagement to uncover insight and personalize engagement versus transactional experiences.
  • Employee engagement: Embedding semantic, collaborative, and multimedia technologies for employee engagement and insight both in person and online.

"One of the things that we see many of our clients wrestling with is how to really get to know their customers, not as a segment, but as [individuals], really understanding them so that they can meet their needs...based on where they are in that moment and what they're thinking about," Strattner says. "Our research is also looking at how you actually get to know someone's personality in addition to other information you have about them [such as purchasing history], so that you can tailor your offering to them at a deeper level than what you're able to do today."

One of the projects that the lab is working is analyzing tweets to generate personality profiles that then enable researchers to uncover user values and personalities.

Another project uses IBM's Presence Zone technology, which determines cell phone locations. An airline, for instance, might use this technology to know where a passenger is in an airport at any given moment, and can push useful information to them. For example, if they're en route to their gate and the gate has changed, the technology will know exactly where the customer is in the airport relative to the gate, send information, and allow them to adjust their plans.

With the launch of the lab, IBM is bullish on the future of customer experience solutions.

"To us, it's as big a change as ERP (enterprise resource planning) was for business twenty years ago," Strattner says. "This is a huge shift that we're seeing and we very much believe that we're just at the beginning of what is possible when you leverage these technologies. This is exactly why we're investing in this Customer Experience Lab."