Talking with Sarah Dudley marketer for IBM on how the IoT can improve customer experience

December 18, 2019
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Joe

00:00

Good morning, everyone. I am so excited to have a long time Twitter friend Sarah Dudley with me today. Um, first time we've been able to chat together, Um, and this, you know, being a live broadcast mixed kind of fun. So Sarah has a great background of marketing and is currently working for IBM. And I thought she could give some really fun insights into customer experience and the Internet things And how, uh, kind of marketing modern day marketing. So how? Ah, a big enterprise respected enterprise like IBM is really trying to look at, um, connecting with its customers on a personal on enterprise level. So, Sarah would you mind giving us a background of kind of what got you to where you are now and what you're doing currently. And then we'll get into kind of some questions.

Sarah

00:55

Sure. Thanks, Joe. And, yes, I make lots of great friends on Twitter. I don't know. It has a bad rep sometimes, but I love it. Um, so thanks for that introduction. Like you said, I'm currently working in the on the product marketing side in IBM Watson IoT. And so I've been with IBM about six years now and spend a lot of time on the content marketing side and so that, you know, from an experience standpoint, definitely plays into an interesting angle on. And then also, you know, more recently moved down to product marketing side. So much more involved on the events and kind of crafting customer experiences through that lens and then also spent time and calms and on more of the strategic side as well. And and also recently I took over a call it extra curricular activities as, ah, the executive director of Boston Content. So kind of leading a community of over 2000 that marketers in Boston and kind of growing that content marketing community.

Joe

01:57

That's really cool. Um, it kind of brings up, you know, a new wave of content that we're kind of all of part of in that there's so much value in trying to get people to your site and showing kind of different different angles on different things. You know, we live in like a world full of distraction and other things. Um, how how you guys tried to, you know, stand out from that.

Sarah

02:23

Yeah. So I think when it comes to experiences you. You kind of returned back to things because of how they make you feel in a lot of ways. I think, you know, experiences, content, how we do marketing these days. It's very oriented around people, right? It's very human focused. And so it's no longer about, you know, what is your product do or what are the the key features? At least not right away? You know, you probably heard this before, but it's like if you're going on a first date with someone you're not hitting them with, like, Will you marry me? Or maybe weirder things have been seen, But, um, it's really about focusing in on how can we any touch point, whether it is a tweet on Twitter or whether you know some form of a social post, whether it's a blogger, whether it's a white paper or an asset on the Web or whether it's an actual event, I think we're really focused on how can we create an experience that that people can relate? You know, if it's certain pain points when when I think about what I work on, every day it's around, you know, facilities, management, infusing IoT into those spaces and and one, they focus areas around improving the workplace experience, right? And so for millennials and the next generation's coming up really focused on How do you improve experience? It is for your workforce, and so it's every touch point. How do you as your as your marketing solutions? How do you consider what do they care about most at that point, not know what did not What do we care about most? E tend to want to lead with that a lot of times, right? But it's what What do they care about most? And how do we bring that forward in a way that we know they want to consume? And so it's really interesting, even when it comes to creating a Web site. And a lot of people don't think of inexperience is being necessarily digital, like a website or a blogger post or something like that. But every every touch one you have is an experience for that potential customer or for that client that you want to attain. And so it's How do you you know, if if a certain color catches their eye more than another ones that one more if it's certain terminology that's resonating more than other use that more you test your messaging, you make sure that everything is aligning to what those with those prospects are most engaging with because that's the type of stuff that that keeps pulling them forward and keeps them interested in learning more from you. And you become a trusted partner, as opposed to just somebody trying to sell them something, right, because we've all we've all been there, where somebody just starts pushing something on you the second you meet them and it's a huge turn off, especially for buyers in generations coming forward. And so being able to build that connection before you start throwing stuff at people I think is huge. Whether what I said is a piece of content on the Web or whether it is an actual event experience. You don't go just to hear about product. You go for community, you go for networking, you go for entertainment. You know you can you go for so many more things than just information.

Joe

05:39

Yeah, I think that's a really good point. You know, you made a ton of good point. So what? I wanna latch on to a little bit is the You know, ever since I added kind of like head of marketing to my title, moving over to cloud out from Adobe, uh, my linked in inbox is just insane. Uh, you know, with people's trying to sell me things and also just, you know, somehow they get my my corporate email. Um, and that's also messy family. Right? And what I appreciate, though, is, um, I'm kind of with ones that seem like they could be interesting because I still do Look, which, you know, there's value there for salespeople. Um, but all the ones that are interesting, I'll reply back and say, Hey, you know, take a cloud app. Use cloudapp screen recorder to take a screen recorded, like how to tutorial of your product and send that over to me. Um, so there's kind of like this. There's been a few that have actually done it. There's been a probably the majority you haven't, um, but the ones who have won it like I kind of sold them a little bit, but they kind of, you know, went the extra mile and did kind of that Experiential sales, you know, motion that you kind of need to do to break through the noise like you mentioned to really try and connect 1 to 1 versus like. Okay, this is just an outreach sequence and you're just blasting a 1,000,000 people. And you're hoping, you know, 500 respond.

Sarah

07:18

Yeah, it's almost It's It's like, you know, they're playing a numbers game, right? And it's like, Oh, well, to send the same You know, when you're getting a personalized message from someone who genuinely wants to connect with you and maybe has done a little bit of work to see, you know, what are your interests, or not even maybe not even at that level. We joke sometimes about, you know, someone's gonna reach out because they know, like my my sibling's names and, like, how's your brother, Michael? So there's a year behind right between personalization and customization and just creepiness. And in this day and age, especially where privacy is important and is not crossing that line for people because that's the quickest, you know, there's some key ways to break that trust really quickly. One is not being personal enough, and you just feel like you're one of the masses, and the other is being so personal that it crosses the lines, right? And so it's like, What do you How do you find that happy medium for people that they feel like you want to capture their attention because you care about addressing their challenges and not not in, like, an overly aggressive or lower on caring way?

Joe

08:31

Yeah, it's kind of like that could be like the evolution of, you know, the customer or the chief experience officer is kind of like one of the hot new, you know, sea level titles, um, and that, you know, overseas a lot of that, like personalization and testing and customer experience and how you're connecting with enterprise customers and hopefully preventing those, like target experiences where they send people know personalized, like congratulations on getting pregnant.

Sarah

09:07

or not pregnant. That was target that did that right there. I hope your parents found out their child was pregnant or something. Aren't

Joe

09:20

you? Yeah. Uh, um, which is, you know, super creepy. Probably based on, like, buying behavior and other things, but, um, yeah, so there's there's really fine line there. What do you think is kind of the DNA of a good customer experience.

Sarah

09:36

Yeah, I mean, I would say it's probably a couple of things. It's definitely a connection. You know, it's customization to to a degree, like, I feel like when I'm getting something from you in my inbox or getting an invitation to something, um, or getting targeted by something on law. And it's because I fall into your target market very specifically, and not in, like, a very broad way, but like okay, based on your buying patterns, we we know that you like this type of old ing or something like that, like customize enough where I'm not getting ads or or e mails or stuff about things that I'm not even remotely involved in. But just because I have a certain title or I work for a certain company or involved in some way, then it's just kind of sent out, you know, to the masses, Um, so there's a customization angle there, and and the more that people can address critical pain points, um, you know, for somebody who works in content more, getting just the ability to improve work flows or something, you know something that's very specific to a pain point that I have every day, Um, and then and also the connection point. I think for an experience to be memorable for to be something that I want to share. And I think that's probably the last point. Is is share ability and the desire to want to share. But that connection point where I really, really relate to what you're sharing with me, Um, whether it's at an event. And I was at an event in the full and there was this one aspect of it that it was tied to a keynote that said somebody gave and then after the keynote, you know, go right on the wall, This huge wall that covered their the portion of the outside area, you know, what do you want to achieve before you got on? And so it fell. It was it tied and really well with the messaging. But it was like, you know, a facilities management conference. It wasn't a real estate conference. It was kind of interesting angle to play for people didn't directly tied to your job or that conference, but it was a connection point, a an opportunity to bring together the community of people that you're surrounded with, and either you hadn't engaged whether interacted with and you could just really like the biggest fears. Envision people that were surrounding you that you don't know. And I just remember spending like 15 minutes just looking at it and like nodding my head to certain things and it leaves you inspired. And then I immediately wanted to share that. And not only did I want to share it on social media, but then I wanted to go back to my team and be like, Hey, it was a really interesting thing that I saw happen. You know, maybe it's something we could think about as, ah, interaction or a connection point for events, you know, bigger, small. Just taking that concept. While the concept itself was maybe a little dark for all events, just the idea of that sharing opportunity to build the connection with the people that you're trying to bring together because no matter who you're talking to you, there's going to be more than one of those types of people, right? So what's that common link with something that brings people together? It could be, you know, being a human and what's that human centered link? But it could also be very specific to the people that you are targeting. Like I think recently our worst united airplane. There's been a lot of stuff, just pours lately with the movie out and so just paying attention to, I just I find some of the stuff that some of these experiences like, but they come out with really interesting to me. The, uh, the pop up experiences that have been happening a lot like there was a happy place in Boston for a while. Um, there's the friends pop up. Now there's a Britney Spears one going into L A. Soon that caught my eye

Joe

13:37

like Instagram museum style. Things like that.

Sarah

13:41

happen area forever trying to think what it's called. But I saw Yeah, like my Instagram feed of like Adobe employees was just basically everybody going there saying, Yeah, replaces. You can take basically built for social. Um, yeah, that's that's really interesting. Like I think, you know, you have a unique perspective, kind of being involved in Internet of things and like very digital, faint digital and like the future of work. Um, and there's still, like very really like human element things like we all are very similar, even though we have different backgrounds, like, we all have the same, you know, fears and struggles and other things longer lives. Um, in a world where we have so much going on with digital and Internet of things and other stuff, how can those behaviors with those devices, um, helped to kind of create an experience? How can those fit into that?

Sarah

14:48

Yeah. So it's actually funny, you ask. And this is, ah, metaphorical example. We actually recently put out um, like a blonde poster story about how the North Pole uses the IoT too. Ensure that, you know, Christmas never. You know that Christmas never fails that every child gets a toy for the holidays. Um, and and obviously, the experiences those Children getting a toy on Christmas morning, but you don't see is the massive operations that go on behind the scenes to make that all happen. So everything from you know, putting sensors on toys so you can see how Children play and engage with them. And of course, these are riel. Yeah, but you get what a thing. And then, um, you know, in the workshop that the elves work in, how do we make sure that those bases are best utilized and optimized for collaborations that they have? You know, those faces they need to create and filled the toys all year, and then on the operation side, how do we use IoT to ensure that equipment is running as it shows that maintenance is done when it needs to be done? Um, and so that everything is up and running so that you don't get a situation where the whole shop is down, and then Oh, my gosh, you can't create millions of toys for boys and girls and so that the ultimate experience is that child on Christmas morning, right? But but I o. T. And you think that apply that to really life, and it's like the water that you drink in the morning is your receiving that because of the infrastructure that has been built, that you can get water in your home and sent the IoT sensors are employed to ensure that that infrastructure stamps and that maintenance is done when it needs to be done. The same with bridges the same with, you know, getting electricity and the same in your workplace is in your buildings. You know Howard Howe. Are you ensuring that maintenance is done when it needs to be that facilities air optimized all of these pieces people like, he said, We don't necessarily think about a lot of the stuff that we interact with on a day to day basis, but that's where a lot of IoT can come in to help keep those things running that you may not even think about on a day to day basis. So Chris Smith's and You Know the North Pole is like a cheeky example of that. But it's a way that people can visualize. You know what makes those experiences really profound happened and all the things that need to happen behind this means that we kind of take for granted. And that's really where the power of IoT can come into play. And then, of course, you know there's there's the personal side I like. I'm sitting here wearing a Fitbit, and it was telling me I need to get up and move more throughout the day or you know how much water. Have I drank today? That type of stuff. And so in a sense, more simplistic sense. It's how how come in his eye to really improve our lives from our daily lives, based on the data we're already getting from a variety of different sources about our behaviors and our activities. And it's putting that data to work so that we can better understand what people are doing, how they're behaving. Um, and not just people, but assets, buildings, all of that type of stuff so that we can make more efficient processes and hopefully cut costs for businesses. And that's always a good thing, right? Saving?

Joe

18:19

Yeah, definitely. That North Pole campaign sounds really cool enough to look that up and show it to my show to my kids.

Sarah

18:27

We call them the Millennia. L's Yes, it was. It was. We do one in each year as a fun holiday campaign.

Joe

18:39

Um, so it's been great chatting with you. I kind of just want to close with with one question. You know, I I've kind of admired IBM and Watson from afar for a very long time. Um, I think it was maybe like fiveish years ago that you guys kind of rebranded most of your marketing to Watson, Um, what is what is kind of ah, what's on the table right now with Watson and IoT from IBM side that you're kind of excited about and kind of tie that into what you see, the future of experience business being

Sarah

19:18

Yeah, I know. I think that in a lot of ways, we're going to continue to infuse IoT and now artificial intelligence right into a lot of what we do. And so, uh, you know, one fun thing that we've had some of our our latest events is she's actually called Sarah. She's a strange resemblance to me that I was not involved in making of Sarah. Um, and she's our virtual assistant for buildings, actually. And so using her, you could earn it was fun. You could take a picture with Sarah even though she's virtual and your real. But this idea of having a I kind of infused into buildings into your operations and being able to, you know, take the data you have in those insights IoT is generating, and then really use that to kind of generate that intelligence, I think into what you're trying to create in your processes and then your operations or beyond. And so for us, it's, you know, taking something like Sarah. And how do you create a virtual assistant for your office? For your operations? Going back to that would place experience, you know? Can I book a room faster? Can I find things faster? Can I get someone who can answer my questions? Usually that type of thing. So those are some of the kind of the fun things that are that are coming from experience standpoint.

Joe

20:36

Awesome. Well, I'm looking forward to kind of seeing what creativity comes out of your department and and IBM as well. Um, and thanks again for joining me today And hope to do this again next year.

Sarah

20:51

Yeah, Sounds good. Thanks, Joe. Great show.