IOD '09: Day One: Mary Garrett on communicating via social media

Mary Garrett, IBM® vice president of Marketing Communications, Global Sales and Distribution, explains how turning to more social media can help with customer communication, plus she discusses challenges in information transformation and provides a great example from NYPD — from Day One at the IOD 2009 conference.

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Scott Laningham (scottla@us.ibm.com), developerWorks Podcast Editor, IBM developerWorks

Scott LaninghamScott Laningham, host of developerWorks podcasts, was previously editor of developerWorks newsletters. Prior to IBM, he was an award-winning reporter and director for news programming featured on Public Radio International, a freelance writer for the American Communications Foundation and CBS Radio, and a songwriter/musician.



28 October 2009

Also available in Portuguese

Turbo: You know, this whole notion of [A] Smarter Planet I think is really interesting in that respect. And I'm interested ... you know, this notion of new intelligence, how can we demonstrate ourselves and how are we demonstrating that in our electronic interface with our customers, either directly on our Web site or in other areas of the Web.

Mary Garrett demonstrates how data delivers an edge

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Garrett: Well, honestly, I think we've got a way to go Todd, but I think that there is a real acknowledgement from the marketing community and many of the leaders within the marketing organization that we want to shift from more of a purely events-oriented model, much more into Web and to social media.

And I think the ideal would be, you know, nirvana would be:

We understood a personalization of who we were trying to reach, the clients we're trying to reach, that we were able to deliver the information they wanted that was meaningful to them in a way they want to consume it.

And I think we have a way to go to get there, but I think that we're starting to run some pilots, we're starting to do some experimentation, and I think we're learning. I just want to see us accelerate that.

Turbo: And in terms of our own selfish marketing interest, you know, Ambuj [Goyal] has talked a lot about this proliferation of data. And some of the statistics I've heard here on the ground are staggering, like we're going to see 10X the amount of data in a just a couple of years since 2006.

Guest: Mary Garrett

Business transformation and inspiring the possibilities of A Smarter Planet are happy tasks for Mary Garrett. Her responsibilities include leading IBM's global marketing and communications for industries, small and medium business, ibm.com, and ISV alliances, as well as the development and execution of unique marketing strategies for both mature and growth markets.

And obviously all this social media, this consumerization of IT, just what we're doing here, podcasts and blogging, is a big contributor to that. It seems to me there's a lot of interesting stuff out there that IBM and other companies could learn from that information. Could you comment about how you could see that being fruitful for your own marketing efforts?

Garrett: Sure. You know, I hear of tools that are out there that we could better search the kind of conversations that people are having. You can't be on all the blog sites all the time. I think we should be better at applying technology to sift through that information, to sort through the kind of conversations ... topics that people are interested in so that we can have a conversation with clients that's more meaningful and directed to them.

It's a little bit daunting right now, quite honestly. But I think that we've got an opportunity to learn and to grow and I'd like to see us be a leader in this space. Like I said, we've got a way to go, but I think there's a huge opportunity for us.

developerWorks: So, Marion, in supporting the message of this conference certainly around information on demand, can you articulate some of the challenges that customers or potential customers are dealing with?

Garrett: Sure, Scott. I think it's ... some of it is how to get started. This is not a situation of we don't have enough information. The situation is there's too much information. And how do I put some kind of a structure around it, be able to kind of harness the power that's in that information?

Then, apply analytics to it so that I can get some meaning or some context out of that data.

And the ultimate payoff is how can I apply that to my business to either give me a competitive edge, to help me make better decisions, that's really what we see clients are really pushing towards.

developerWorks: Can you give us an example? Talk a little bit about where the rubber meets the road with a client?

Garrett: Sure. One that springs to mind is a story I love is the New York City Police Department. They've reduced crime by about 27 percent in the last few years in New York. And one story they have is they've developed a huge crimes database.

And they have a story of a robber that went in and robbed a pizzeria. And the guy had a big tattoo on his neck that said "SUGAR." And when they did a search on the database on nicknames, there was a guy whose name was "Sugar" who happened to live within a mile radius of the pizzeria. And that evening, they arrested the guy and brought him in a charged him.

You know, you couldn't have done that before. And that to me is just a real-life example of, who would ever thought a database ... you always think of kind of dry information in there, but there's information in there that helps bring a crime back to reality and bring a criminal to justice. So I think that's a pretty cool, visceral example of the data coming to life.

developerWorks: And the reason why criminals should stay out of social networking. [LAUGHTER]

Garrett: Yes, exactly. [LAUGHTER]

Turbo: Sugar. [LAUGHTER]

developerWorks: That's a funny story. That's good.

Turbo: That's good.

Garrett: Yes, I like that one.

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