Early this week Christian Carlsson, IBM Site Architect, wrote about IBM’s new Blue Business Platform for Small and Medium Businesses.  In his words, “the Blue Business Platform is a marketplace where IBM partners and software developers can market and sell their solutions online to small and mid-size companies across the globe.”  The plan is very ambitious and Bazaarvoice is excited to be a part of the solution.

From a Social Commerce perspective, IBM is using the Bazaarvoice Ratings & Reviews solution to help small and medium businesses (SMBs) connect with one another and learn from their collective experiences.  The information shared will help streamline the purchase process for these organizations and assist in matching the right solution for that organization’s needs.  In addition, Bazaarvoice Ask & Answer will enable community participants to pose product- and solution-specific questions.  This dialogue will fill key information gaps, helping not only the person writing the question but everyone who follows to make better buying decisions

The opportunity for IBM is significant.  By tapping into the SMB community through social commerce, everyone in the ecosystem wins.  It serves as another case study in how businesses selling to other businesses (B2B) can benefit from user-generated content. Remember that at the end of the day we are all consumers, whether we are buying new HDTVs for our homes or buying CRM systems for our small businesses.  To build confidence in purchase decisions, we will turn to “people like us” who have had similar experiences.  In fact, 66% of IT professionals leverage user-generated content for purchase decisions and 75% say this content has made their lives more efficient (IT Execs: Social Media Most Trusted Source for Purchasing Decisions, 2007).

Nancy Kho (eContent Magazine, 2008) said “The irony is that social media tools, properly designed and deployed, may actually bring a greater payoff to B2B users than in the B2C environment. The reason? Tools that enable faster and more personalized interactions between customer and vendor can enhance corporate credibility and deepen relationships. Those are all- important factors in B2B sales decisions, which tend to have a higher dollar value and longer-term impact than consumer sales.”

We applaud IBM for their innovation in this space and look forward to celebrating the success of the Blue Business Platform.

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