Today’s post is by Judy Buchholz, general manager, strategy and solutions, for IBM Global Markets, leading a global team of industry and presales architects in IBM’s transformation to a cognitive solutions and cloud platform company. In Judy’s 25+ years with IBM, she has held numerous sales leadership roles, including leading the digital sales force, which broadens IBM’s reach to new clients and new buyers by using social selling skills and digital/cognitive technologies. @jabuchh
Would you like to know more about your clients, anticipate their needs, and deliver a better customer experience? Can you manage the vast amounts of consumer data and insights you’re already compiling?
Few data analytics tools and methods hold as much promise in meeting these challenges as cognitive technologies. They can process and understand data faster than traditional platforms and can reason, predict outcomes, and turn insights into actionable recommendations.
Yet a new IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study, “From Data Deluge to Intelligent Insights: Adopting Cognitive Computing to Unlock Value for Marketing and Sales,” found that only 24 percent of 525 chief marketing officers and 389 heads of sales surveyed have a cognitive strategy today.
Here are four ways to help you make the leap to cognitive computing:
Start small, if necessary.
You don’t have to “rip and replace” the tools you have now for collecting and analyzing customer data. Instead, there are numerous types of cognitive solutions – from improved capabilities for personalization to content tagging – that marketers and sellers can implement in stages to address specific challenges. They often can be integrated into existing cloud platforms and data management systems. This way you can enjoy cognitive computing benefits now while setting a strategy for future expansion.
Make room for cognitive solutions in your digital reinvention strategy.
If you’re already collecting data about customers’ individual preferences, behaviors, and attitudes through digital technologies such as mobile apps and Internet of Things (IoT), include cognitive solutions in the mix. They will help you do the heavy lifting by sifting through your structured and unstructured data to provide the insights you’ll need.
Enhance employees’ business skills, not just their data analytics skills.
If a lack of analytics talent is holding you back from implementing cognitive solutions, think again. What’s needed even more are people with good decision making skills who know all about the nuts and bolts of their business. That knowledge will help them see the business implications from cognitive insights. They will also need an empathetic understanding of their company’s customers and what’s required to consistently deliver on their brand promise.
Make cognitive your golden opportunity for collaboration and innovation.
Besides understanding the technical requirements for cognitive solutions and mapping them to the company strategy, members of the C-Suite – the chief marketing officer, head of sales, chief information officer, chief technology officer, chief data officer, and chief digital officer – should think more broadly. Cognitive for marketing and sales could also align to customer service, supply chain, product development, human resources and training, operations, and finance. Consider new processes for data sharing and reward innovators who think outside the box.
Among the respondents in the IBM study, 64 percent said their industries were ready to adopt cognitive technologies within the next three years. Are you ready? The longer you hesitate, the greater the risk that your competitors will surge ahead.