I am a guest of IBM at its Smarter Commerce conference, along with about a dozen other "VIP Influencers". The honor came with no request that I blog or tweet, let alone what I should blog or tweet. Just a "come and see" invitation.
Have to say that I like IBM's confidence and approach. "Engaging" "influencers" always comes with a measure of risk, as you can never be quite sure what they'll have to say should they decide to say something, blog something, tweet something. Yet IBM's confidence is well placed, as their entire event shows just how much they "get" smarter commerce.
Influencers at the conference include the likes of:
@PeterShankman, author of Nice Companies Finish First (not an affiliate link - none of them are), Triberr founder @DinoDogan, Return on Relationship author @tedrubin, #GetRealChat creator, Pam Moore, Smarter Commerce Social Media Command Center guru, Bryan Kramer, Modern Media CEO, Tonia Ries, Ricoh Global Marketing, Sandra Zoratti, entrepreneur, Kim Garst, social strategist and small business expert, @BrianMoran, New York Times best-selling author Bryan Eisenberg, @TheSocialCMO a network of Chief Marketing Officers "sharing power of social networks and coffee...Robert Moore, founder of Internet Media Labs, and that social media renegade and expert in Bahamian affairs, Drew Neisser - and others! (Glad to add more!)
Gotta confess that I've always had a blue suit, heavily-starched white shirt, power tie impression of IBM (yes, I often find myself wearing the same uniform). Meaning, I was a bit skeptical of just how good IBM would be at leading others to agile, customer-centric "smarter commerce". In short, I arrived with a healthy dose of skepticism.
To make matters worse, when I checked in, I asked how many "IBMers" would be in attendance at this three-day event. The receptionist answered with a smile: "About 2,000." (I have come to learn that 2,000 IBMers at a conference is not so big a conference as IBM goes.)
The reality? While the white-shirt and power-tie industries still do okay with some IBMers, what impresses one most is how passionate and smart IBMers are. A diverse group, they have a keen sense of the need for agility. They are passionate about understanding their customers, their partners, and they are incredible evangelists for their products and services.
Rush to judgment? My glowing impression may seem like a broad brush after only two days of IBM immersion, but, rest assured, I have intently listened, met, poked and probed. Everywhere I turned, there was an IBMer to chat with, to listen to - to learn from. "Smart and passionate" is the impression everyone here exudes when you take the time to test them at their craft.
Empowered to shine. It seems that IBMers have been empowered to shine with their own personalities and talents -- and they do so quite well.
Lesson: Empower your employees to be brand evangelists and they'll inspire
It's a wonderful thing to see employees who are so excited about their brand products and services. Unleash your employees to be brand evangelists. They'll likely do a far better job than you'd ever imagine in converting prospects into customers.
IBM has always been a tech leader, even in your grandparent's era. But what makes this company so special now is that as a global, mega-brand, it is working incredibly hard to be agile, to innovate, and to put the customer at the center of every experience. (Not to suggest that these attributes haven't always been dear to the company!)
|Photo Credit: Wikipedia|
Want to learn about "Big Data"? You may not. I did. Plenty of experts on hand to make the mysterious, less so. Ten minutes with IBMer J. Graeme Noseworthy gave a better sense of how it all works and what to look for, than some very long presentations on the topic. (Make sure you know where the data is coming from. Is it "at rest" or flowing? Is it trustworthy?)
Biometrics: Facial and Voice Recognition Like I said, give an IBMer a moment to tell you about their products and their eyes light up and they'll tell ya just what you need to know. Cool stuff. IBM is looking to make online transactions more secure by layering facial and voice recognition "passwords". Can't these be "gamed"? Stop by and they'll answer that question.
Test drive a Jaguar or LandRover! (Ok, not really.) See what IBM is doing with helping customers scale consumer product-testing experiences. It's Matrix-like and fun! (Sorry, that's all I'm saying. Check it out!)
"It's about ME!" (Your customer, that is!) Everything about Smarter Commerce is about your customer: how to serve her when, where and how she wants to be served, wowing her every step of the way. From mobile banking, to typical retail, customer experiences are getting better because data capture and analysis are getting much better. Visit the expo and find out what's under the hood!
What about the hologram? Yes, I know. It seems a little scary in my Vine video....It's even slightly more so IRL!