I recently attended the wonderful event that was IBM Amplify London #IBMAmplify and caught up with a range of colleagues, technical practitioners & industry subject matter experts on recent developments with the IBM Marketing Cloud suite of products including exciting news on IBM Watson, their cognitive analytics platform.

What strikes you right away, is the scale & significance of the event.  There was a real buzz of energy & excitement in the main conference room, not just from all the morning coffee, but from anticipation of the day ahead.  That energy level was then ramped up when the excellent Jeremy Waite (@JeremyWaite) took to the stage as Master of Ceremonies to kick off the day.

The morning was mainly centred around three keynote speakers.  Harriet Green kicked off with exciting news about IBM Watson, a suite of products that utilise cognitive computing to analyse & interpret data from any range of sources to drive insight & solve business problems.  To bring this to life, a case study was presented whereby IBM Watson was used to create a trailer for the film Morgan (link is http://www.wired.co.uk/article/ibm-watson-ai-film-trailer).  This was a really interesting case study & created a real buzz within the auditorium – it’ll be fascinating to see how this capability becomes further embedded & leveraged within the IBM product suite over the next few years.

Next up, Jay Henderson (Director, IBM Marketing Cloud) gave us the lowdown on recent developments within the IBM Marketing Solutions product range including ‘Journey Designer’ (their application to design & develop customer journeys) and ‘Universal Behavioural Exchange’ (an open exchange to share data between solutions) - developments designed to help businesses work efficiently & improve their customer experience.

Finally, Rusty Warner (Forrester Research Principal Analyst) gave his view on some of the challenges & opportunities facing analysts as they balance ‘insight generation’ and ‘customer engagement’.  Rusty called out some of the most common challenges that he sees today including integrating online with offline, understanding cross-device customer journeys and transforming to real-time interactions.  These are areas that we’ve been working on with our clients over the last few years, combining data, technology & people to deliver solutions that enable our clients to improve their customer experience, so it was interesting to hear his take on these topics.

The afternoon break-out sessions provided the opportunity to dive into specific areas in more detail.  Reflecting on these sessions & the conversations with delegates afterwards led me to three conclusions:

  • Make maximum use of your current IT platform – Upgrading current kit to the latest version can overcome existing challenges or improve current processes.  For example, IBM Campaign v10 has new output channel processes to make deployment through IBM Marketing Cloud more efficient.  It’s therefore worth reviewing the benefits of upgrading current software.  It’s also worth checking that you’re not leaving any software ‘on the shelf’ – software that you’ve purchased or are entitled to use, but are not currently leveraging.  It could be that there are considerable benefits that you’re not utilising.
  • Pace of change is increasing exponentially – Lots of new capabilities are becoming available & were showcased at Amplify.  Two such examples are IBM Watson (cognitive analytics) and Universal Behavioural Exchange (UBX), which promise faster access to data & quicker use of analytics.  Businesses able to explore the potential benefits of new software & improved ways of working stand to gain both commercial benefits & competitive advantage.
  • The importance of focusing on your customers & the customer experience you want to provide – Whilst lots of discussion centred around the use of data and the application of analytics, what struck me was that there is a risk that the customer experience could get lost in the mix.  Using technology, data & analytics to evolve the way customers interact with your business (across both sales and service) to create an omni-channel experience will improve customer satisfaction, advocacy & overall customer retention.

Finally, the day was rounded off by a keynote talk from comedian Dara Ó Briain, giving his own thoughts on the changing world of science & computers – suffice to say this was a touch different to the topics from earlier in the day as we moved away from IBM Watson to hear Dara trying to explain how a toaster works!

Overall, it was a great event and was a wonderful opportunity to meet & mingle with a range of industry experts & practitioners – I’m looking forward to next year’s event already!

David Thomas

Senior Consultant at Comet Global Consulting

David is a Senior Consultant within the Strategy & Insights practice at Comet. He is an experienced CRM & customer insight professional, with a passion for delivering customer centric projects using data, systems, analytics & insight. David has 15 years' analytics experience in Financial Services (both in the UK & Canada) and is a keen believer in working with people, whether that’s coaching & developing individuals, working with client teams, or actively participating in his role as a member of the Direct Marketing Association’s Scottish Council.