Earlier this year, Pivot CEO Mike Edelhart sat down with Renee Ducre of IBM to discuss Social Business, IoT, Watson, Analytics and more….
Mike: This is Mike Edelhart, the CEO of the Pivot Conference, and I am here today with Renee Ducre, the Global Director of Marketing from IBM Social Business, and long-time participant in Pivot and friend of the Pivot community. Renee – glad to be with you here today and Happy New Year.
Renee: Happy New Year and my thanks to you and the Pivot and Momentum team for having me on the call today.
Mike: Our pleasure. So our focus today is to talk about 2015 and for you to tell us some of your thoughts about the upcoming year. So from your vantage point at Social Business at IBM, what do you see happening this year related to digital business?
Renee: We actually did a webcast not too long ago and some of those predictions that I have for 2015 are really around things that I see from a digital enterprise standpoint for businesses today. You know there’s been a lot of talk around the Internet of Things it’s a huge market opportunity where marketers like ourselves begin to leverage the data. I was reading an Information Week article and they talked about 2015 being the year of the Internet of Things. So when I think of the enormous amount of data that are being created, there’s a huge opportunity for companies to make better decisions and inform all of our marketing tactics but also to make everything that we’re doing more targeted to our client by leveraging this data. So I really see 2015 as the year of big data and analytics ….and taking advantage of all this information that we have access to….to have more customized and personalized offerings as well as improving the customer experience.
Mike: That makes a lot of sense; I saw a report just this week that said that by 2020 they expect between 30billion to 50billion objects to be connected to the Internet of Things, and if you think about it, that’s 5 to 6 times as many non-human nodes on the network as there are people –all creating and absorbing data and I think, as you say, that’s going to start this year. Thinking about things from an analytics point of view, back in October at Pivot we had both you and one of the folks from IBM’s Watson Group up on stage talking, and it seems like there’s a movement at IBM perhaps related to the Internet of Things and other trends, to bring those kinds of extraordinary AI-like analytics down from the academic area and more into the world of real business decision making. Is that what you’re seeing, and how does that play out in the areas where you’re focused?
Renee: Yes, so – Watson. In this past year 2014, our CEO made a huge announcement to the business community about the formation of a Watson group within IBM – a formal business unit. The Watson team sits in New York and it’s really a formalized business unit and we’re now putting Watson Analytics into everything that we do. Watson is a cognitive system – meaning that it learns as it goes – so whether It be healthcare and all of the medical records that you and I are providing to the medical community, or all the travel plans that we’re making annually, or all of our banking transactions that we do – There’s just tons of data and we continue to think of the application of Watson to those industries.
The opportunities are tremendous for improving customer service and user experience. We actually just made a huge announcement in mid-November around IBM Verse which is our new collaboration platform; so think of a very smart email system where we now have incorporated Watson analytic capabilities into the inbox where it can help prioritize the things that – based on its learning – are most important for that user to focus on.
Mike: Yes, that makes a lot of sense to think about all these things – I’m not even sure if “integrated” is the right word. That causes me to wonder – you know IBM has launched business units now focused on cloud, big data, analytics, on social business, and mobile enterprise – what trends are you seeing across these technological areas and how are you seeing clients actually begin using them and putting them to use ?
Renee: As you mentioned, we’ve made an investment probably over the last 18 months or 2 years to start really righting the ship – focus on the areas that our clients are asking about. So historically I think, a lot of the way we used to go to market was very product focused, looking at some version of a piece of software – and now, our customers over the last several years have been coming to us saying: “hey, my CIO says I need to have this application in the cloud by the end of the year” or “I have a mobile workforce that needs to bring their own devices to work and I need to secure those and, by the way, I need them to be able to download things from the cloud and I have huge amounts of data that I need to analyze “. So one of the key trends that we’re recognizing which I think the creation of these business units validates and supports, is the emergence of these topics for our clients as key issues that they’re having – trying to figure out: how do I “do” mobile? How do I “do” social, cloud, big data, analytics? – as well as the convergence of all these.
Our clients have thousands of people that are on mobile devices that they need to secure and then, by the way, they’re going to plug into the cloud and so what we’re seeing is this conversion of all these technologies coming together , and we’re seeing our clients have a need to figure out how to manage all the data and analyse and get the insights out of it, and all the mobile devices that their employees want to bring to work and put on a system that need to be secure.
The great thing is when you actually see various clients out there implementing these solutions in different fashions – like, there’s healthcare companies that we’ve been working with that are setting up their own clouds and we’re helping them secure all the medical records and information and then have doctors be able to access it real-time on a medical device – plus leveraging Watson analytics – so that they can make better prognosis for the patient that’s sitting in their office or in the hospital. So that’s really what we’ve been doing and why we’ve created these business units, and it’s always great to see it come together with our clients.
Mike: So what does that mean from your point of view at the top of the stack? What do you think CMOs at prime companies will be doing this year, what will they be focusing on as they look at these new approaches and new technologies? How is it going to affect them this year?
Renee: One of the things that I’ve really seen probably in the last maybe two years at IBM is that we’ve really shifted a lot of our focus– our bread and butter has really been around working with the CIOs and IT directors, and we still do that – we still do have great relationships in those places and we continue to nurture those relationships and do great work – but also we realize that we need to cultivate new relationships and CMOs have a lot of power – they’re getting their own IT budgets – and so some of the trends that I see – and actually I just saw something that was tweeted out by one of our key influencers where for CIOs the big priority for 2015 will be for CIOs and CMOs to finally work together.
So I think from a CMO perspective, there will be two big focus areas that I think I see emerging – one will be around making sense and leveraging all of the mounds of data that they have access to; what are companies who have been collecting all this data do with it? They’ve just been sitting on top of it and not leveraging it – and so getting the tools and the systems in place to really make sense of all that data, to get the insights from it, funnel it back into the business model and the marketing campaigns, and just be smarter about how they’re going to market: that also can lead to other things.
From a social listening standpoint, there’s tons of data there and trying to figure out that maybe there are smarter ways to go to market – so changing up some of the traditional ways to advertise and maybe don’t do as much press or tv advertising, but you do more digital.
Secondly, I would say from a CMO perspective, we just completed an IBM study which will be available in a few weeks, so I’m just referencing a data point that came out of the study- In a survey of 1800 employees many employees felt that their company had invested in all the right tools, but they weren’t necessarily using all the tools that they had available to them for customer engagement, customer service and customer experience. So I really see 2015 as where you’ll see a greater focus around customer engagement and customer experience and I think the CMO is going to be a big part of that.
Mike: Yes, and in a way that that could describe a theme for 2015 (it sounds like, listening to your answer) which is that it’s not about finding new ways to do things – there’s so much technology out there, there’s so much data out there, there’s so much potential out there – it’s as you said just a second ago, it may be the year where all this is really about tying it down – bringing it back to real benefit –integrating it appropriately in the way businesses run – answering that employee response, which is “ok, we have all this stuff available, but now how can we really make the best use of it on behalf of the employees and the companies themselves? Does that sound right to you?”
Renee: Yes, in some instances CMOs may need to make some investment in order to get the right tools – especially, as I know when I was going through my 2015 predictions, one of the things that I said “hey, 2015, all you keep on hearing about is content marketing, it’s all about content; and, you know, content marketing is king”, but I think big data and analytics is going to be queen in 2015, and it’s making sure you have the right tools in place to get the data, analyze the data, get all the insights out of it. And you know, one of the other things I always talk about is having the internal fortitude to listen to the insights.
A lot of the time we get back messages and it will make you take a pathway or a direction that maybe you would not have traditionally taken, or choose new vehicles to invest in from a digital marketing standpoint that you wouldn’t traditionally have invested in because they were either unknown or you hadn’t tested them before. And so I think the people that will be competitive and thrive in 2015 and beyond are the ones that finally analyze the mounds of data that they’re sitting on, listen to the insights and then act accordingly.
Mike: I think that pretty much sums it up. It’s going to be an interesting year full of change and challenges and opportunities. Thanks for the time and the perspective, and I really appreciate it and look forward to seeing you soon and hopefully seeing you again at Pivot later on this year.
Renee: Thank you very much for the time and the invite.
Mike: My pleasure.
©2015, The Tomorrow Project, LLC