OPERATIONS

J.D. Power survey: Ace Hardware tops in customer satisfaction for sixth consecutive year

BY Marianne Wilson

Oak Brook, Ill. — Ace Hardware ranked highest in customer satisfaction in the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Home Improvement Retailer Store Satisfaction Study. Ace has taken the top spot ever since J.D. Powers began researching the home improvement category six years ago.

The J.D. Power and Associates study is based on responses from more than 6,100 consumers who purchased home improvement products or services in the previous 12 months. Ace Hardware ranked highest among major retailers with an overall satisfaction index score of 781 on a 1,000-point scale. According to consumers, Ace performs particularly well in the staff and service and store facility categories.

The score is based on performance in five areas: merchandise, price, sales and promotions, staff and service, and store facility.

“In everything we do, on every scale, we strive to reward the customer with good service, value and quality products.” said Ray Griffith, president and CEO, Ace Hardware Corp. “Ace has rolled out a number of strong customer-facing initiatives that continue to enhance the overall experience in our stores.”

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FINANCE

IBM accelerates big data initiatives with acquisition of Vivisimo

BY Staff Writer

Armonk, N.Y. — IBM announced a definitive agreement to acquire Vivisimo, a leading provider of federated discovery and navigation software that helps organizations access and analyze big data across the enterprise. Vivisimo is a privately held company based in Pittsburgh. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Vivisimo software is designed to capture and deliver quality information across the broadest range of data sources, no matter what format it is, or where it resides. The software automates the discovery of data and helps employees navigate it with a single view across the enterprise, providing valuable insights that drive better decision-making for solving all operational challenges.

Today’s news accelerates IBM’s big data analytics initiatives with advanced federated capabilities allowing organizations to access, navigate, and analyze the full variety, velocity and volume of structured and unstructured data without having to move it.

The combination of IBM’s big data analytics capabilities with Vivisimo software will further IBM’s efforts to automate the flow of data into business analytics applications, helping clients better understand consumer behavior, manage customer churn and network performance, detect fraud in real-time, and perform data-intensive marketing campaigns, the company.

"Navigating big data to uncover the right information is a key challenge for all industries," said Arvind Krishna, general manager, Information Management, IBM Software Group. "The winners in the era of big data will be those who unlock their information assets to drive innovation, make real-time decisions, and gain actionable insights to be more competitive."

"Businesses need a faster and more accurate way to discover and navigate big data for analysis" said John Kealey, CEO, Vivisimo. "As part of IBM, we can bring clients the quickest and most accurate access to information necessary to drive growth initiatives that increase customer satisfaction, streamline processes, and boost sales."

IBM estimates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day from a variety of sources including sensors, social media, and billions of mobile devices around the world, making it difficult for businesses to navigate and analyze it to improve competitiveness, efficiency, and profitability. IDC estimates the market for big data technology and services will grow at an annual rate of nearly 40% to reach $16.9 billion by 2015.

Vivisimo brings over a decade of experience and innovation in data navigation and visualization technologies for both structured and unstructured data, making it easier for business users to get value from all of their data and content. Vivisimo’s ability to index and search data across multiple repositories is a distinguishing capability, applicable to all industries and clients.

Vivisimo has more than 140 customers in industries such as government, life sciences, manufacturing, electronics, consumer goods and financial services. Clients include Airbus, U.S. Air Force, Social Security Administration, Defense Intelligence Agency, U.S. Navy, Procter & Gamble, Bupa, and LexisNexis among others. Upon the closing of the acquisition, approximately 120 Vivisimo employees will join IBM’s Software Group. IBM will incorporate Vivisimo technology into its big data platform.

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REAL ESTATE

Westwood sells Pacific Plaza Shopping Center

BY Staff Writer

Ontario, Calif. — Westwood Financial Corp. has sold Pacific Plaza Shopping Center located at in Ontario, Calif., for $7.4 million.

“This transaction is the latest in our firm’s overall plan to rebalance our portfolio, as the funds generated here will be reinvested in grocery-anchored properties in the Southeast,” said Westwood financial executive VP Joe Dykstra.

The 49,901-sq-.ft. shopping center, built in 1989, was sold to Baldwin Park LLC. It currently contains 22 suites and is 58% leased with tenants including 24 Hour Fitness (NAP), Taco Bell, Manila Bay Seafood, Pizza Hut, Frazee Industries, Bank of America and Vineyard of Hope.

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