Beautiful B2B sites with BlueSky

B2B has traditionally never been sexy. They are usually mean and lean and very functional; but in recent years the expectation is they look and feel like a  B2C site but still remain powerful for the B2B users. IBM has invested a lot in the B2B space and our partner BlueSky augments that with premier solution, hosting, and services package.

B2B eCommerce websites are often thought of as dull and boring with outdated UX and uninteresting business challenges when compared to modern B2C sites.

As a premier partner and expert in implementing B2B and B2C sites, I urge you to check out their blog and see what they have to offer. I like the image they put together, see below, because it showcases the B2B starter store and all it has to offer. The store is a launch point for your store development efforts and it is a fully functional site out of the box. While the shopping experience is identical to a B2C site it offers the power of everything you would expect from a B2B site: contracts, requisition lists, organization/member management for your B2B sellers, and the primary business models for B2B and B2B2C.

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BlueSky will also be at Amplify 2017 featuring these key sessions from two of their customers: Performance Bicycle and Cardinal Health. Here is a quick reference to those sessions:

Performance Bicycle’s Smooth Migration to the Cloud: A Success Story

Performance Bicycle is the largest bike retailer in the US. Join this session to hear how Performance Bicycle worked with BlueSky Technology Partners to rapidly and painlessly move from an IBM WebSphere Commerce on-premise solution to IBM Commerce on Cloud. You’ll hear why Performance Bicycle made the move, lessons learned, and best practices. If you are looking to move to Version 8 or to the cloud, this session will help you on your path to success! (link to session abstract)

The “Four P’s” of Success to Build a New eCommerce Site at Cardinal Health Canada

Cardinal Health Canada is wholly owned by Cardinal Health, a Fortune 21 company. Cardinal Health Canada’s eCommerce site experienced exponential growth in the early years, but stabilized and flat-lined after the first decade. With over 2,500 customers and 120,000 products, their goal to launch a brand new site with a modern design and focus on an exceptional user experience seemed insurmountable. With the power of the right Platform, the right Partners, top-notch People and Agile Processes, Cardinal Health launched in eight months! How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. This story is about delivering incremental value… step by step! (link to session abstract)

Cardinal Health and IBM Predictive Customer Intelligence: Personalizing eCommerce Marketing

Cardinal Health, a Fortune 25 healthcare services company, sells $40 billion annually via its B2B eCommerce portal. The eCommerce Digital Marketing department drives incremental sales via this portal by personalizing product promotions to targeted pharmacies, and is on a journey to scale using IBM Predictive Customer Intelligence. The solution learns from past customer behavior, predicts future purchase patterns, and optimizes and targets audiences for marketing offers. Combining propensity models with customer profitability data will allow Cardinal Health to optimize its promotional mix and maximize profit. The solution self-optimizes based on new products, changes in consumer behavior, and other trends—it is cognitive analytics in action.(link to session abstract)

Working in the BlueMix Garage

screen-shot-2017-03-01-at-2-26-39-pmI have always been a fan of gamification and now I can be manly and say I am working in the garage, the BlueMix Garage!  You can earn points by completing different tasks in the BlueMix Garage Method site.

Trilibis PSD to HTML converter

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In this segment of Partner Connect I demonstrate how the Trilibis PSD2HTML API is used to create responsive HTML from three versions of the same PSD. The new Triblibis API can take a Web, Mobile, and Tablet version of the design along with a configuration file to identify HTML elements at a very granular level.  Watch this video to see the new API in action.

 

Be a social super hero with Dynamic Signal’s VoiceStorm

I use the VoiceStorm mobile application powered by Dynamic Signal to share content throughout my social networks by scheduling posts a few days in advanced. Watch this video to learn how I use the application and how IBM uses it to amplify content throughout the social networks

Top 5 things that make a SaaS product great

Screen Shot 2016-10-03 at 12.57.47 PM.pngSelling software can be really easy or really hard and the harsh reality is it depends on the product. Great sales people use to say “I can sell ice to an Eskimo” but today, with the internet, the level of global competition, and a more educated younger generation, the products  have to sell themselves. In a world of instant gratification with zero patience, and almost no tolerance for faultiness, the world of continuous development and value-add is here and it is demanded. I will not include what I consider the number one element in the list: it has to be simple to use and easy to navigate because that should be the golden rule for all software. I will focus on the “other” areas that make a product great not only to the customer but for the creator.

Here are my top 5 elements that make a SaaS product great:

1 – Platform, Availability, and Scale

In almost every discussion I have, availability and scale is always a number one concern and “is it a platform” frequently comes into question. Many times the platform question may be for API interfaces or extensions from other platforms since micro-services based architectures are the “in thing”. Questions like:

  • Do you support in place upgrades with zero down time?
  • Are you distributed and support a world wide content delivery network?
  • Can I scale up during peek times?
  • Are all the API’s REST based?

Those questions and more are almost always asked. Remember, eople are putting the IT tasks in your hands and they know the pains of their business and you better be able to answer their questions in their context.

2 – On-boarding

On-boarding needs to be dead simple. A few fields on a form, a verification email, and you should be up and running in minutes. That is the expectation today. If your SaaS product works with data, images, or videos, then uploading those assets need to be just as simple. Searching and managing those assets need to be as intuitive as using a Microsoft Office Application or using your iPhone. If it’s not, you have failed.

3 –Video Library/Training Webinars

Almost every company has a YouTube channel of some sort. But do you have self paced videos showing off your products best features? Do you have videos of your products solving a business user problem? Those are the videos customers look for. This generation searches for videos to figure things out more than ever before. Video is the new encyclopedia and that includes webinars.  Webinars play a big part in building a community around your product. It brings your customers together while giving out the latest and greatest information for how your product can help solve their problems. Recorded webinar videos are also becoming a popular reference for education and should be included in your library.

4 – Self-paced tutorials and gamification

The last two generations, mainly because of online gaming, are conditioned for being rewarded for their accomplishments. From the almost certain participation awards in AYSO and Pop-Warner to ranking systems in games like Call of Duty it is almost expected. Having self paced tutorials and badges for completing work benefits you in two ways:

1 – it entices your customers to really learn and understand your software while getting rewarded and

2 – their badges, certifications, and rewards can be posted to online social profiles like LinkedIn, an instant resume bonus!

5 – Know exactly what your customers are doing

Analytics are so critical in software today you simply can not be competitive without it. Data and the internet of things is quickly proving that big data really is BIG. So big in fact most companies have no idea how to handle the amount of data or make heads or tails of it. This is where having cognitive assistance will differentiate you from your competitors. The companies who can understand this data are the ones with the competitive advantage, they will be the winners. More and more augmented intelligence systems are coming into play – you are probably thinking, don’t you mean “artificial intelligence”? No, I really do mean augmented. I say augmented because as it stands today you most likely won’t let the computer fully make a decision for you. I am talking about serious business impacting decisions like sending out a million emails of $20 off coupons – that could get rather costly. So essentially what systems do today are suggest actions to take and a human makes the final decision – augmented intelligence. Understanding how your customers use your software is extremely important to your success. You can optimize click paths, find best/popular practices, understand customer journeys, and most of all know which features are used most and understand where to further your investment.

Three out of the five items in the list directly impact your customer. The first one directly impacts your customer and potentially their customers. The last one affects your overall product growth and strategy. I could have picked very different topics for my top five but after much reading I think these five are definitely at the top of the list. I know there are many more out there and I would really like to hear what you think should be in the top five!

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Webinar: Cloud Customer Reference Architecture for e-Commerce

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Be sure to join my colleagues and me in this webinar about a new cloud reference Architecture for eCommerce the Cloud Standards Customer Council have recently published.

Click here to register for the webinar.

WEBINAR: CLOUD CUSTOMER ARCHITECTURE FOR E-COMMERCE

October 4, 2016 from 11:00am – 12:00pm ET / 8:00am – 9:00am PT

The Cloud Standards Customer Council has published a new reference architecture that details how to support e-Commerce solutions using cloud computing. The architecture describes the flows and relationships between business capabilities and architectural components for e-Commerce applications that use cloud computing infrastructure, platforms and/or services. This presentation will outline key considerations for building out advanced e-Commerce capabilities and determining how best to instantiate an e-Commerce system using private, public or hybrid cloud deployment models.

Register today for the webinar!

You can also access the white paper here.

IBM’s new THINK Marketing site and news letter launches

Want to stay in tune with todays best marketing minds? Then you should visit IBM’s new THINK Marketing site and subscribe to its news letter to receive fresh thinking from the worlds greatest marketing minds. The site is highly visual, responsive and pretty cool to navigate. The site also has a Trending page to see what is most popular at that moment.  And don’t forget to follow #THINKmarketing on Twitter!

THINK Marketing