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IBM to acquire HR software company Kenexa for $1.3 billion

BY Marianne Wilson

Armonk, N.Y. — IBM has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Kenexa, a provider of human resources software and consulting services for approximately $1.3 billion in cash.

The acquisition helps make the Armonk, N.Y., company more competitive with database maker Oracle Corp. and German business software maker SAP AG, said Rick Sherlund of Nomura Equity Research, Kenexa’s software is intended to help companies recruit and manage talent through online social networking, collaboration and consulting tools.

IBM said the acquisition will bolster its leadership in helping clients embrace social business capabilities while gaining actionable insights from the enormous streams of information generated from social networks every day.

“Every company, across every business operation, is looking to tap into the power of social networking to transform the way they work, collaborate and out innovate their competitors,” stated Alistair Rennie, general manager of IBM’s social business division. “IBM. is uniquely positioned to help clients generate real returns from their social business investments, while helping them gain intelligence into the data being generated in these networks to be more competitive in their markets.”

Industry analysts said the acquisition helps IBM more competitive with database maker Oracle Corp. and German business software maker SAP AG. Earlier this year, Oracle bought HR software maker Taleo Corp., and last December SAP purchased SuccessFactors Inc.

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GMA honors PepsiCo, E. & J. Gallo Winery for innovation

BY CSA STAFF

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and its Associate Member Council (AMC) have awarded E. & J. Gallo Winery and PepsiCo Inc. with the 2012 CPG Awards for Innovation and Creativity. The award is given annually to companies that have demonstrated creativity, innovation, and have made a significant impact on the industry knowledge base.

“GMA is proud to recognize and celebrate the creative thinking and innovation that powers the great companies and leaders in our industry,” said GMA president and CEO Pamela Bailey. “It is ingenuity such as that demonstrated by E. & J. Gallo and PepsiCo that allows our industry to grow, thrive and most importantly, satisfy its consumers.”

E. & J. Gallo Winery took the Division A (for companies with total sales of less than $3 billion) award for creating the most comprehensive in-store wine education platform to date, the “Climb the Vine” program. This non-branded education and merchandising program was designed to demystify wine and make it approachable to the average American shopper.

PepsiCo received the coveted honor in Division B (for companies with total sales of $3 billion or more) for its most ambitious sustainability project to date – transforming a 25-year-old Frito-Lay facility in the middle of an Arizona desert into a near-net zero manufacturing plant.

The official award presentations were made today by Greg Smith, Global Lead Partner, KPMG LLP, and chair of the GMA Associate Member Council, during the Leadership Luncheon at the GMA Executive Conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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How Premium Technology Support Can Effectively Combat Showrooming

BY CSA STAFF

By Jordan Socran, [email protected]

Brick-and-mortar retailers have been faced with declining profits due to competition from Internet retailers, as well as declining consumer spending in an uncertain economy. Retailers now find themselves under assault by yet another threat – “Showrooming” – when consumers physically visit a store location, gather product information at the store, to eventually compare products, prices online and purchase the said product online for a lower price. This practice has grown exponentially since the explosion of smartphone technology, which enables consumers to use their mobile device and view pricing information instantaneously. The practice has led to a decrease in physical purchases from brick-and-mortar retailers and allowed online outlets with much lower overhead costs to continue to siphon business. Meanwhile retail locations are paying staff to answer questions about products and educate the consumer, yet can’t lock in the sale.

Fortunately, the problem does have a solution. While the products purchased online and in-store may be exactly the same, brick-and-mortar retailers can differentiate their offerings by providing 24-hour premium technology support. Premium technical support services are already offered by many leading brick-and-mortar retailers. Best Buy has Geeksquad; Costco created Costco Concierge; Staples boasts EasyTech. The premium support provided by these retailers reminds us that consumers continue to patronize these businesses. With very few exceptions, businesses tend to stick to a very traditional and sometimes outdated “one-and-done” transactional approach that fails to capitalize on the growing demand for technology support, which can result in improved customer loyalty and optimized revenue.

The retailers mentioned above recognize the value of the user experience and research indicates expanding retailer services is a worthy investment. A recent Forrester report, “The Business Impact of Customer Experience, 2012,” shows that companies with higher customer experience scores tend to demonstrate and drive higher customer loyalty. Premium technology support can improve the user experience, and address a specific growing need. As consumers adopt more complex technologies and seek support for their connected devices the retailer that is able to help them get the most from their technology and improve their experience post-purchase will ultimately build loyalty and win.

The first step to launching a premium support program is to examine the problem the business is trying to solve. Is showrooming resulting in less traffic to the store, driving costs and impacting revenues? Retailers would best determine this information by reaching out to existing contact centers and “bucketing” the types of calls they receive regarding products and services. Those buckets can then be analyzed and recurring patterns identified.

In parallel, an examination of existing technology must also take place. Is the business able to provide advanced customer support across all its channels whether in-store, online or mobile? Or, will the premium technology support service you want to provide require you to partner with a technology vendor that can help you increase revenues, reduce costs and deepen customer relationships? This is an especially important portion of the process to consider since more than a third of retailers are unable to respond quickly to customer demands due to outdated technology that is not integrated across all channels and services. Premium technology support enabled by a purpose-built technology can provide that one view on the customer to support customer demands and deliver seamless and consistent experience across channels and services.

Companies must then conclude if the best approach to developing its premium technology support service is to “build or buy.” If a retailer has some form of call center support in place, should they use those existing resources? Or, would a retailer be better served by working with a premium technology support provider that can give answers to such fundamental yet difficult questions. The most successful premium technology support providers are the ones that can ultimately deliver the customer experience, provide quality of service and out-of-scope problem resolution, and at the very same time, help businesses lower their support costs. Can the business do all of this on its own?

Only after completing these steps can a retailer properly determine the best course of action for implementing an effective customer support program capable of combating showrooming.

Almost one billion connected devices were shipped last year and that number is expected to double by the second half of the decade. Retailers equipped to deal with the implications of these figures and make necessary changes to their business will be better positioned to expand existing customer relationships, gain new ones and maximize the bottom line. The benefits of offering premium technology support to customers and retailers that recognize this and plan accordingly will undoubtedly fair better than the competition.

Jordan Socran is VP business development at Radialpoint, which helps technology brands grow revenue by creating and managing white-label services businesses. He can be reached at [email protected].


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