Amplify showcases new ways to ‘Outthink Ordinary’

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To separate yourself from the pack, to attract and retain customers, to lead, to win, to ‘Outthink Ordinary.”  Most true leaders want that, but the more than 3,500 industry leaders, experts and practitioners at IBM Amplify 2016 today understood that outthink ordinary was more than a conference tagline, they learned how new technology will help.  Check IBMGO for on-demand viewing.

Harriett Green and Alex Alexander, CIO, YOOX NET A PORTER

Harriett Green and Alex Alexander, CIO, YOOX NET A PORTER

Harriet Green, General Manager, Watson Internet of Things, Commerce and Education, IBM, set the scene in her General Session opening remarks, “We’re sitting on a goldmine of information. We’re talking about hundreds of zettabytes every year. But for that data to be useful, it needs to be analyzed in real time… it needs to be understood, in all its complexity… and it needs to supply us with reasonable, actionable, insight.”

She said the advent of cognitive computing – systems that understand, reason and learn – now makes this possible.  These thinking systems help us outthink ordinary, today.


Kareem Yusuf

Kareem Yusuf, Vice President, Offering Management & Development, IBM Commerce, revealed the latest IBM Commerce cognitive solutions that enable practitioners to understand and adapt instantly to their customers actions and intent … to read between the lines to make better decisions … to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. And there’s a definite need; according to a recent study 68% of marketers believe they understand their customer while 70% of consumers believe that marketers aren’t engaging them personally.

Kareem announced a new Real-time Personalization solution as part of the IBM Marketing Cloud. The solution’s embedded Cognitive Rules Advisor can – based on goals, e.g. increasing engagement or maximizing conversions and learning from actual tests – suggest rules for showing the most effective offer and message to each visitor.

It offers the basis for its suggestions, which the practitioner can adopt as-is or modify. The continuous feedback loop continues to inform the advice it gives, and provides the ability to determine how and when to use it. There’s also the option to allow the system to act on its recommendations and optimize a particular set of offers in a fully automated manner. Expected GA: 3Q2016.

Kareem also offered good news for merchandisers by announcing cognitive enhancements to the IBM Commerce Insights solution, which was introduced last year. Commerce Insights can notify practitioners of a real time inventory issue and allow them to take action by manual adjusting product sequences on the page.  Now it provides a cognitive system that can intelligently sequence a category based on sales and inventory available. So what appears dynamically at the top of a category has the right inventory level to meet demand, and products selling well naturally gravitate to the top. The system continuously learns from every interaction, and practitioners can override the sequence of products generated to allow specific product placement with a simple drag and drop.

We’ve also extended our cognitive thinking to anomaly detection and optimized notifications. Practitioners can teach the system what they care most about, and set it to detect significant spikes or dips in sales compared to plan, for example, and expose contributing factors such as inventory, promotional events, and channel activities. Where it provides insights, it gives reasons and recommendations for actions to take.

Carol Wentworth SVP, Marketing, Performance Bicycle joined Kareem on stage to talk about how they recently partnered with IBM to bring their content together in the cloud – with the goal of generating a single repository with a unified taxonomy.  “We started by looking at how we could improve the experience for a high potential segment, the female enthusiast cyclist,” said Carol. “We’ve been partnering with your offering and design teams to bring together our existing content such as product catalog, promotions, images, our learning center content like articles and videos and even exploring how to bring user generated social content into an intelligent content hub.” The company will leverage this content to create and deliver personalized experiences for this target segment. And, by leveraging cognitive technologies, Performance Bicycle will have new insights such as the tone of a piece content, which can be used around customers’ intent.

Lisa Claes

Lisa Claes, ING Direct

Lisa Claes, Executive Director, Customer Delivery, ING Direct Australia shared how they are embracing customer engagement to grow their business and meet their challenge to position ING DIRECT as a customer’s primary bank. “Today, informed by sophisticated analytics and propensity modeling we target the right customers, with the right offer, at the right time, and in the right way.”  With its initiative the bank increased its target primary bank customer segment by 60%.

The Color Run, aka “the Happiest 5k on the Planet,” is a unique paint race that celebrates healthiness, happiness, and individuality.  The Color Run hosted more than 225 events in 35+ countries in 2015.  “We are living in the age of the experiential customer. They want experiences more than they want things,” said Kiley Newbold, VP, Marketing, The Color Run.

Alex Alexander, the CIO of YOOX NET A PORTER, the world’s leading online luxury fashion retailer, discussed how everything will become more personal. YOOX customers are “mobile and international and want it now.  Our focus on omni-channel is borne of a desire to be wherever our customers are because luxury fashion is perishable.” So the company is investing in mobile and omni-channel to reach the market with personal communications and offerings.  “Imagine offering every customer a truly personal shopper,” said Alex. “That’s where we’re going.”

Jeff Pattison, VP, Global eBusiness Servicing, MetLife discussed how the his company is leveraging IBM / IBM Marketing Cloud / IBM MobileFirst and other solutions to reach our customers and transform to a digital experience and engagement model.  The insurer has focused on delivering more communications, such as explanation of benefits statements and QuickPay online pay options, to its customers electronically. “We worked with our partners to go online – go green and engage,” said Jeff. “Unless you’re the post office – eDelivery is a win / win / win.  Good for the customer, good for MetLife and good for the environment.”


Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow joined Harriet Green on stage to discuss her amazing journey from Oscar-winning actress to bestselling author to the founder and Chief Creative Officer of goop, a brand devoted to making every choice count. Since goop (name based on Gwyenth’s initials) now is a global brand and an eCommerce site for many products, Gwyneth discussed how she plans to help it stay fresh and relevant to its market, how she enjoys connecting with her customers across social channels and personal appearances, and her plans to grow the direct-to-consumer business while continuing to offering high efficacy, non-toxic products at accessible prices.

The General Session concluded with an on-stage conversation with IBM Watson, demonstrating its capabilities to inform an ad campaign.  The demo showcased Watson’s natural language, image recognition and other cognitive capabilities. What does the world look like when you, as a Marketer or Merchandiser, work everyday with Watson as a learned colleague?  Check out the replay in IBMGO.

The show began with a challenge, “The extraordinary belongs to those who create it.” The ideas and solutions presented today at Amplify offer some innovative ways to Outthink Ordinary to create the extraordinary.

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