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Saturday, June 16, 2012

IBM CMO+CIO Leadership Exchange

My colleague and I, Amy Maniatis, Chief Marketing Officer at National Geographic, had the pleasure of attending IBM's, by invitation, Leadership Exchange for CMO's and CIO's. 

It was an enlightening and inspirational few days mixing with colleagues from companies in numerous industries, but all facing similar challenges.  It highlighted the importance of CMO's and CIO/CTO's partnering closely in today's fast paced and fast changing environments.

Below is our report on the experience: 

 Hello Marketing & Tech teams! 

 Stavros and I had the opportunity to “step back” for the past day and ½ at IBM”s first ever CMO + CIO conference in NYC and it gave us an opportunity to take a 30K foot view at what we’re doing relevant to other large brands, get feedback from a formidable group of other CMO’s & CIO’s and hear from the most senior leadership at IBM about the future of “big data.” 

 Overall the conference confirmed that what we’re doing together on our brand and membership is RIGHT ON, (and if we’re wrong we’re in very good company with other enduring brands like Amex, Kaiser, Gap, Verizon, Aetna. 

 We both left yesterday feeling excited and charged about our strategic direction, and although we did not hear anything HUGELY new, the value in our time spent with this group was in the consistency with which CMO’s and CIO’s expressed their mandate across multiple industries. We left with strengthened resolve that what we are doing is right and is urgent. 

 Here are our notes, happy to share or discuss further. 

 • Staggering facts: 1 trillion connected devices in 3 years, today over 8X the world’s libraries are uploaded daily 

 • Customer Centricity: We’re all trying to move from a product centric to customer centric view - but we’re challenged by either management, culture, legacy or all three. We heard from companies as old or older than us, and they are all trying to do the same thing (Aetna, 160 yeas, CitiBank 200+ years, Amex, IBM 100 years) Terry Jones, founder of Kayak asserted customers expect a “1 to 1 relationship in EVERY industry.” He had a phone booth installed at Kayak that listened in on the customer service calls … his employee mandate was that employees had to spend a little time in the phone booth each day. 

 • Marketing and technology on frontline of revolutionary change

We’re at the beginning of a new “cognitive computing era” in technology and IBM describes this as the beginning of a 3rd (30 year) era preceeded by “mechanical computing era” (40’s 50’s 60’s) , then “programmable computing era” (70’s, 80’s & 90’s). This means the CIO & CMO’s objectives merge and they share spheres of accountability. Marketing systems are enterprise systems. In this era of data-driven marketing and digitally empowered customers, the CMO and CIO can no longer perform on separate stages. 

 • URGENCY “Once in a generation, change is happening and there will be winners and losers” Kenneth Chenault, CEO, AMEX. Ken explains that once customers see what they can have, they’ll want it everywhere… we have 12 to 36 months to create this change. We need to construct and/or transform the infrastructure to facilitate this change. Start with a Proof of Concept (POC). Get the foundation in and consider business models. Great companies see the need for change and attack it. It’s harder for companies that need to “recreate” rather than “create” and for us, staying true to brand & mission is imperative. Amex & Nat Geo similarities are a little uncanny as Ken explains the need to ignore the “form factor” (for them the card) and to focus on Membership and Services. 

 • 3 key “takeaway’s “ from Ginni Rometty (IBM CEO) 
    - Whole new level of marketing optimization 
    - Need to develop systems of engagement– orchestrating   
    - BE AUTHENTIC – need to very clear and true to our purpose 

The conference was incredibly well run, using technology to foster an interactive dialog throughout the sessions. Both Stavros and I were given an ipad at registration pre-loaded with apps to facilitate the sessions and upon leaving, IBM generously gifted these to attendees. 

 We'd like to use these ipads as a reward for 2 members of our teams who you think model our NG values best. More to come on that! 

 Thank you all for affording us both the time out of the office to engage with an incredible group of industry peers! 

Best, Amy & Stavros

Ginni Rometty (IBM's CEO)  

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