IBM’s UK CMO Explains How Cognitive Technology is Reinventing Marketing

Making a brand’s messaging more intelligent, reactive and precisely personalised to the audience it serves has always been the marketing holy grail.

But in today’s shape-shifting consumption landscape, the old tricks simply don’t work anymore.

There’s little argument that social media, video on demand and the smartphone have reinvented the way we consume media – and in turn disrupted the marketers who, for years relied on consumers being content with being sat and sold to across print, television and radio.

Now we can even block adverts online, thanks to the growing popularity of ad blocker software, which studies show are now used by 46% of millennials. So, should marketers just admit defeat once and for all?

What is Cognitive Marketing?

Cognitive marketing allows marketing teams to ‘listen’ to behaviors and interactions, before reacting precisely to the consumer, using both structured data, like spreadsheets and statistics, and unstructured data like text, audio and social media trends. For the customer, this leads to a more personalised marketing approach and better customer experience overall.

IBM has been at the forefront of cognitive technology with its Watson platform for some time now. Last year, CEO Ginni Rometty heralded in a new era in technology and business called, you guessed it, the Cognitive Era. With some analysts predicting enterprise spend on cognitive technology will surpass $47 billion by 2020, you can understand why she’s optimistic.

IBM has been referred to as a ‘sleeping giant’ in the marketing space and it’s a fair analogy. According to a report from Nucleus Research, IBM delivers a $15.82 return from every dollar spent on its marketing and sales technologies. It’s success in the marketing space is certainly something ‘big blue’ are taking seriously, given recent acquisitions of The Weather Company and Fluid’s Expert Personal Shopper, as well as the launch of its THINK Marketing resource portal.


So why do global brands like Red Bull and ING flock to IBM to enhance their marketing campaigns? “Purchase decisions are made by buying groups” says Lisa Gilbert, incoming CMO, UK&I at IBM. “Buying groups are made up of people with different expertise around the table. Whether it’s marketing or finance and operations or the CEO – so you have to talk to them in a way that’s relevant to them”.

Before stepping up as CMO, Lisa has spent fifteen years at IBM, holding various marketing and communications roles for the company. We spoke exclusively to her to find out how marketers can get started with cognitive and why she thinks traditional b2b marketing is a thing of the past.

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