Q&A: IBM’s Jay Henderson on rebranding its marketing suite

Jay Henderson, head of product strategy at IBM’s newly rebranded marketing technology arm Experience One (formerly Enterprise Marketing Management) talks to Marketing Week about how it will be positioning the new business, the move to outcome-based rather than discipline-led marketing and what B2C marketers can learn from those on the other side.

Jay Henderson, IBM

Jay Henderson (JH): There are really long sales cycles in B2B marketing and a lot of the time it’s about nurturing the customer or prospect until they’re ready to talk and convert. For me that means that B2B marketers are actually fairly good at engaging customers over long periods of time.

I think one of the really interesting trends we’re seeing in the marketplace is that some of those principles from B2B marketing are very applicable to B2C marketers, who you might traditionally think of as better at one-to-one marketing, but aren’t always so good at the longer-term customer journeys.

We’re putting a lot of thought into how to apply some of these B2B customer journeys to B2C marketing. For me that is a really interesting overarching trend that we’re seeing in the way marketing is changing.

MW: Why did you decide to rebrand IBM’s Enterprise Marketing Management (EMM) suite as Experience One?

JH: Engaging customers and delivering on the brand promise isn’t just the responsibility of marketing any more, it is the responsibility of the whole organisation.

As we assembled the EMM portfolio, which is made up primarily of assets gained through acquisition – six in the past three years – we felt that the word ‘marketing’ was a little constraining in terms of the kind of people we were trying to reach and some of the things that we were trying to accomplish.

MW: As part of this transformation how have you adapted the way you market the proposition?

JH: When communicating the new suite we will focus much more on the outcomes our clients want to achieve rather than our products and brands, so it’s more relevant to customers. We’ve always tried to focus on solutions but our own internal product names and brand names were starting to get in the way of that.

When I look at the broader market landscape it seems like a posh thing to call your portfolio a ‘marketing cloud’ but we explicitly didn’t choose those words as we don’t want to be defined by deployment models.

We now have 10 solutions within Experience One which are reflective of things like ‘better understanding of your customers’, ‘omni-channel customer engagement’ and ‘digital customer engagement’.

MW: How will you be communicating the new offer to customers?

The Global Smarter Commerce summit held in Tampa last week is a big first step. Many of our customers attended so it was the big unveiling. That will then trickle down into the sales forces that talk to prospects and communicate with the individual customer.

It will also fit into wider corporate campaigns. The big corporate theme right now is ‘Made with IBM’ and the Expereince One suite will be featured within the context of that.

MW: What trends are you picking up from customers?

JH: We’re noticing a few things. Firstly that mobile has reached a tipping point in terms of its significance to marketers and as part of an overall customer engagement strategy.

The second trend we’re noticing is around real-time personalisation across channels which is related but still distinct. It’s about being able to take the context of the current situation, what’s happening right now and then change how you treat the customer.

MW: IBM is larger than competitors like Oracle and also has a far greater brand value according to BrandZ but profit and revenue did fall in 2013. How are you looking to bounce back from that to ensure the brand’s value doesn’t decline?

JH: Experience One is certainly one of the faster growing parts of the IBM portfolio and I think IBM is looking to businesses like ours to fuel long-term growth. That is being helped by the fact that spend on technology is shifting out of the back office and IT department and into the main line of business.

MW: Do you view start-up businesses in the marketing technology space as an opportunity or a threat?

JH: One of the big trends we’re seeing is the polarisation of technology solutions. At the same time though there are literally thousands of start-ups that are all solving interesting portions of this overall customer engagement problem.

For us it isn’t about needing to have an end-to-end IBM solution but rather being able to have an open, extensible platform that has APIs associated with it and being able to open that up to a partner ecosystem.

We don’t have any gamification products at IBM, for example, but that doesn’t mean our clients don’t have gamification initiatives so we work with partners to enable them to solve that problem.

So we see start-ups as an opportunity rather than a threat as it is a big part of enabling us to do more innovative things.