We’re ‘not immune’ to the digital transformation, says IBM | #WomenInTech


As the enterprise moves to digital, IBM Corp. is internally making the change to be more agile in an on-demand business world. The company is rebooting senior leadership, and Michelle Peluso, chief marketing officer at IBM, is among the latest additions to the team.

Peluso has an impressive resume in the digital marketing world, serving as CEO of Travelocity Corp. and Gilt Groupe Inc., as well as global consumer chief marketing and internet officer for Citigroup, bringing vast experience in improving the customer experience across the social mobile landscape.

While at IBM World of Watson, held in Las Vegas last week, she spoke to John Furrier (@furrier) and Dave Vellante (@dvellante), co-hosts of theCUBE, from the SiliconANGLE Media team, to discuss digital advertising in the new digital economy.

This week, theCUBE chose Michelle Peluso to feature in our Women in Tech feature because of her dedication to making a real difference in customer satisfaction in the digital world.

The IBM brand

As the interview opened, Furrier commented on Peluso’s move to IBM.

Q: What is your mandate for the brand?  IBM is a strong brand, but what does the future look like?

A: I’m thrilled to be here because this is an extraordinary company that makes a real difference in the world. You feel it here at the World of Watson, that sort of everyday ways that Watson touches consumers, touches end users, makes their health better, allows them to have greater experiences, so that’s incredible to be part of an iconic company.

Having said that and exactly to your point, it’s a time of acceleration and change for everyone, and IBM is not immune to that, so my mandate here is … how do we sharpen our messaging? How do we almost feel like a challenger brand? How do we think about what Watson can do for people, what the cloud can do, what our services businesses can do? And how is that distinctive and differentiated from everybody else out there?

We have an incredible amount of assets to play with. … It’s no longer the case that we can have a message on TV that attracts the world. Digital experiences, you are having [them] every single day. When [people are] clicking through on an ad, when [people] are chatting with somebody, when [people] are calling our call center, when [people] have a sales interaction, is that differentiated messaging and that brand resident all the way through?

The second thing is marketing has become much more of a science. That to me is super exciting. I’ve been a CEO most of my career and, you know, the notion that marketing has to drive revenue, that marketing has to drive retention and loyalty and expansion, that we can come to the table with much more science in terms of what things are most effective and making sure that more clients love us more deeply for longer.

Marketing in the digital space

Taking IBM digital has some impact on the brand, and Furrier and Vellante wanted to know, with all the new digital channels, what is on the cutting edge. Peluso was enthusiastic about IBM and its digital path with Watson.

Q: What is the new ROI equation, and how do you look at that? Is it going to integrate into the top-level campaigns? How are you looking at the new cutting-edge, digital stuff?

A: If you think back 15 or 20 years ago there was always something called market mix modeling, which helped advertisers and marketers to understand the effectiveness of their TV campaigns. … Then all of a sudden the digital world evolved and you could get [information] on a tactical level, very, very clear about attribution and whether you drove something.

The challenge for us now is there are much more sophisticated models that are multi-touch attribution. The reality is the average consumer doesn’t do one thing or have one interaction with a brand. They’re going to see a TV show and watch a commercial. While they are watching that commercial, the business user or end consumer is on their iPad or their phone. They are seeing a digital ad the next day at work. They are being re-targeted because they were at some company, they searched for something.

Our job is to connect those dots and understand what really moved that consumer, that business user to take an action. There are many sophisticated multi-touch attribution models where you model a standard set of behaviors and you test correlations against a bunch of different behaviors, so you understand … all the money I spent, what really drove impact.

The new marketing workforce

The conversation turned to understanding how to attract and retain talent and building a more diverse workforce. Peluso described the correlation between marketing being art and science. She feels that it is a passion for analytics and measurement and grouping the right-brain with the left-brain talent.

Q: What are your thoughts about talent, women in technology, STEAM?

A: For years I’ve hosted a quarterly breakfast in New York City for women in tech. … It’s amazing when those women come together … the discussion we have to help and support each other. That’s a real passion of mine.

It’s clear that the notion of STEAM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math] or STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math], that is a male and female phenomenon. That is what this country needs. It’s what this world needs more of. So there’s a policy in education obligation that all of us have to the next generation to say, ‘Let’s make sure we are doing right by them in terms of education and job opportunities.’

If you’re a marketer, it’s not just art or science, you have to do both. It’s that right-brain, left-brain connectivity. … The world demands so much more. It’s a faster pace; its accelerated pace. And the interconnection is critical.

At IBM, one of the things we’re doing is putting together these Diamond Teams, and I think it’s really going to help lead the industry. Diamond Teams are when you have on every small, agile marketing team an analytics head, a product marketing head, a portfolio marketing head, a designer, a social expert, these small pods that work on campaigns — gone are the days of designer designs it, product comes up with the concept, then it goes to a design team, then it goes to a production team, then it goes to an analytics team.

We’re forcing this issue by putting these teams together and say, ‘You’re working together everyday. You’ll get a good sense of where the specialty is and how you learn how to make your own discipline better.’

Watch the complete video below for more of this interesting overview of marketing in the Digital Age, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of IBM World of Watson 2016.

Photo by SiliconANGLE