Meeting customers on their own terms requires providing immediacy of response, individualized marketing offers and self-service capabilities. Organizations are developing new systems and applications to give customers the features they relish. What businesses may not yet realize is the importance of connecting the new systems that support customer engagement with back-end systems of record. Forrester Research recently surveyed IT and marketing decision-makers in four countries for a study commissioned by IBM and found that although deep integration with back-end systems "is the biggest barrier to consumer-facing systems of engagement," it was not a top-priority investment of the respondents' organizations.1
Mobile, social and cloud technologies quicken the pace of change and bring unprecedented levels of information from decentralized endpoints to the business, taxing the systems of record that control business processes and data. A new type of system is needed to make both ends of the spectrum work in unison and to help businesses create value from new opportunities. Where systems of engagement, together with the Internet of Things, intersect with systems of record - that's where IBM sees the new systems of interaction coming into play, tying front-office mobile engagements to back-office process innovation.
A system of interaction provides flexibility and scale in back-office systems to keep pace with the rate of change, and connects them to all of the new endpoints of front-office engagements. Organizations can make the most of customer engagements and take advantage of every interaction, while managing the growing decentralization of IT across cloud, mobile, social and web channels. Developers can create and deploy applications for these technologies more quickly. Decision-makers can improve business outcomes by uncovering insights from data through the integration of mobile interactions and analytics. Forrester Research concluded from their survey that spending on systems of interaction is increasing, and that increase will continue for the next few years.
What is the best approach for building a system of interaction? At the IBM Impact 2013 global conference, IBM speakers outlined the key imperatives.
Five keys to building systems of interaction
1. Put mobile first
Mobile is becoming the first and the primary means of interaction between organizations and clients, employees, partners and citizens. Ninety-one percent of mobile users keep their device within arm's reach 100 percent of the time.2 According to IMS Research, there will be more than 22 billion web-connected devices by 2020.3 Taking advantage of the new information from mobile devices and the Internet of Things requires extreme scalability and the capacity to continuously listen to these inputs.
At Impact 2013, IBM announced a new messaging appliance that supports over 1 million simultaneous connected devices and 13 million messages per second. IBM MessageSight is engineered to handle the massive scale of the Internet of Things, from connected cars to machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, and integrated health care and mobile applications. MessageSight builds on Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) standards.
The city region of Eindhoven (SRE), Netherlands, is using IBM mobile software capabilities and services to pilot a traffic management solution that collects and analyzes data in near-real time from the sensors embedded in today's cars and roads. This city region set out to improve traffic conditions and the driving experience for its road users. Traffic authorities, armed with critical information from the solution, can quickly resolve traffic issues.
A sophisticated analytics engine monitors and analyzes incoming data. Commuters equipped with a smartphone app can be alerted to incidents in near-real time, and find alternate routes. The solution is meeting SRE goals by providing visibility into traffic and road conditions without an expensive infrastructure investment. Traffic issues are resolved more quickly, and traffic can resume its normal flow faster, improving the driving experience. Learn more.
2. Reinvent your business design and processes
Process reinvention enables organizations to meet new expectations for instant, seamless and insightful interactions. Read the IBM Software blog, "Reinvent processes for mobile and innovate with cloud" from The Navigator newsletter at http://www.ibm.com/navigator.
To help clients infuse processes and operational decision-making into mobile apps, IBM has extended Business Process Manager and Operational Decision Manager to integrate with the IBM MobileFirst portfolio. IBM is also making its BPM and ODM solutions available on the IBM SmartCloud as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering. These advances complement the new release of IBM BlueWorks Live,™ an SaaS-based cloud offering. In addition, new IBM BPM Industry Solutions combine IBM Global Business Services' deep industry and process expertise with IBM software to enable clients to be proactive and respond rapidly.
As you determine your unique processes and services, you have an opportunity to participate in the emerging API economy by opening up your services to others. This can provide a new means of engagement and a new revenue stream. IBM announced IBM API Management, a single, comprehensive solution to create, socialize and manage APIs. IBM already provides SaaS-based capabilities for API management with IBM WebSphere® Cast Iron® Live. And, IBM recently announced an effort with AT&T to expose their API services for the cellular network as a set of IBM Worklight adapters.
Read more about these announcements.
3. Adopt a flexible and secure integration model
This is the key to ensuring that back-office systems can keep pace with rapid change. New business models require seamless integration of people, processes and information.
At Impact 2013, IBM introduced a new consolidated enterprise service bus offering, IBM Integration Bus, bringing together the best of IBM WebSphere Message Broker and WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus.
A robust IT infrastructure was essential to Post-n-Track Corporation, which serves extremely large and complex health plans. Post-n-Track wanted to enhance its cloud-based collaboration capabilities with greater speed and scalability, while also controlling and reducing cost for itself and its customers. IBM Business Partner Prolifics helped the company design and implement a fully developed, deployed and managed cloud communications platform that enables healthcare entities to connect, communicate and collaborate securely and reliably in real time.
The platform is based on IBM WebSphere MQ, IBM WebSphere Message Broker and IBM Tivoli® software. Built using service-oriented architecture (SOA), the IBM platform allows Post-n-Track to provide disparate healthcare entities with the speed and agility to comply with healthcare-sector requirements. The new platform also scales easily, while enhancing control over development and infrastructure costs. Read more about this solution.
4. Be Insight- and Data-Driven
Gaining insight from data enables you to uncover opportunities, build efficiencies and make informed decisions. Businesses are gathering more information than ever before, including transactional and application data, enterprise content, social media, and mobile and sensor data. Making sense of it and using it to improve operations or uncover new insights is a big challenge.
To help enterprises find insights from big data, IBM announced at Impact 2013 the newest member of the IBM PureData family, IBM PureData System for Hadoop. It leverages IBM InfoSphere® BigInsights® software that combines the power of Apache Hadoop with IBM innovations. In addition, the IBM BLU Acceleration technology leverages in-memory capabilities to deliver up to 25 times faster reporting and analytics.
5. Build on open architecture
Go beyond your enterprise and simplify application development. Deliver new technologies on an open architecture so you can quickly and easily integrate capabilities from different sources to create compelling business value.
Healthcare providers need to ensure patient eligibility for services at the time the service is provided and not during overnight batch processing. A few years ago, as it was growing exponentially, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) processed 42,000 eligibility requests through its systems. Unfortunately, the eligibility systems would crash every morning due to heavy volume, as well as customers using real-time channels for batch processing, and lack of a suitable connectivity solution with external customers.
Using a service oriented architecture (SOA) approach, BCBSNC implemented IBM WebSphere DataPower® Appliances and IBM WebSphere Message Broker as a hybrid enterprise service bus, enabling real-time eligibility responses to requesters from the outside. This enabled 1,429-fold growth over the past three years, 60 - 80 percent cost reduction in integration projects; and 10 times less coding needed than with Oracle Sun Java4 Complex Application Platform Suite (JCAPS).
You can also view this video to learn how Sprint uses IBM WebSphere DataPower to reach new audiences.
Forrester Research notes, "Finding vast pools of new customers is unrealistic, and so business growth depends primarily on expanding your relationships with the customers you already have." Make sure your organization is ready to meet customers, partners and employees on their own terms by building a system of interaction based on the five imperatives. To learn more, visit IBM Systems of Interaction.
- "Systems of Engagement Demand New Integration Solutions - And A New IT," Forrester Research, April 2013
- "China Mobile 50k survey," Morgan Stanley Research, 2011 and "Most Smartphone Users Feel Naked Without Their Devices"
- "22 Million Web-Connected Devices 'by 2020'," Marc Chacksfield, August 18, 2010.
- Java and all Java-based trademarks and logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of Oracle and/or its affiliates.
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