Live From IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit: The Magic Of This Kingdom
When I arrived in Orlando yesterday for the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit, which kicked off here earlier this morning, I started having flashbacks.
No, not those kind of flashbacks, the hallucinatory kind!
No, these were childhood flashbacks. To when I must have been 6 or 7, and I experienced my first firsthand brand impressions of Disneyworld.
My mom and dad were some patient people, carrying my sister and I all the way to one end of the country from Texas to experience all the magic that Walt Disney had imagined.
And magic it was.
I don’t remember much in detail, but in emotional impression, I remembered a lot. I remembered cruising along on “It’s a Small World” ride, when, in fact, the world still seemed quite big and grandiose to me.
I also remember the haunted house ride, the one where the ghost sits next to you, even if for a brief spell. I was frickin’ mortified, terrified…and exhilirated, all at the same time.
And Space Mountain…well, don’t get me started. I might as well have been on another planet.
I haven’t even gotten to seeing the Disney characters come to life walking around the Animal Kingdom, or Snow White in that beautiful castle.
Mind you, these experiences transpired roughly forty years ago (I’m trying not to be TOO precise), and yet the fondness and remembrance they created for me were…well, simply magic.
I’m sure that’s not why we bring all our customers here to Orlando, to experience Disney’s magic. I’m sure we’ve gotten some good economies of scale for holding our events here, and certainly we (and our own customers) get great service while staying at the Disney properties.
Then again, that kind of IS the point.
As we come together to discuss the opportunities and challenges for Smarter Commerce over the next few days, we’d be wise to remember that not everything that creates business magic is something you can sell or even mimic.
The integrity and honesty of a real and positive brand experience should have and be just that, integral and honest.
If your company genuinely desires to create a positive and integral experience, then it will be so.
But to try and put it on and wear it as an after-the–fact costume…well, Mickey Mouse will have never been outed so fast!
When IBM launched its Smarter Commerce initiative last year, we tried to make sure we were wearing an appropriate costume. IBM has invested some $3 billion in acquisitions in this space, and created an IBM Global Business Services team of 1,000 focusing exclusively on Smarter Commerce.
Our Websphere Commerce technology, which was already a leading, organic product in the marketplace, was evolved, with both client and general market feedback, to expand and cover the entire B2B2C commerce lifecycle end to end.
But probably most importantly, and not unlike Walt Disney, we recognized that our own customers’ customers were going to be the ultimate measure of our success.
We live in an amazing age of the empowered customer, one who has unlimited to access to information and who can instantly share his or her experience with the entire planet…and does!
Because technology has empowered those customers with greater access to transparency to information and raised their own expectations for relevant communications, superior price, delivery, and service, so, too, must our customers raise their game, and we at IBM, our own.
Hence the discussions you’ll be tuning into and participating in over these next three days.
Soak it up. Take notes. Talk to everybody you can. Don’t waste a moment. Some of the best minds within IBM, and the broader industry, are here just for all of you to help you on your journey.
As for me, I’ll be here, and on the Solutions Center floor interviewing some of those great minds for our YouTube channel.
And if I can, I’m going to try and break away just for a few moments so I can go say hi, and make peace, with some old ghost friends of mine.
I have a distinct feeling Walt Disney wouldn’t have had it any other way.