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IBM’s VP Ed Abrams Talks about Marketing and Strategy for the Middle Market

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IBM’s VP Ed Abrams Talks about Marketing and Strategy  for the Middle Market

An interview with Ed Abram, Vice President of Marketing and Strategy for IBM Midmarket (from the April 2013 issue of PRESIDENT&CEO Magazine)

To listen to the complete interview, click here

PRESIDENT&CEO recently spoke with Ed Abrams, VP of Marketing and Strategy for IBM Midmarket, about how midmarket companies who embrace social networking, cloud computing and data analysis tools can “level the playing field” with their larger peers – and drive growth and innovation at the same time.

PCEO:  I’d like to start with a rather astonishing comment from Gartner that I was unaware of, which is that by 2017 CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs.  I thought that was fascinating.  From what you guys have seen, is that driven primarily by social media and the mobile revolution?

“by 2017 CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs”

Abrams:  It really is.  It is all driven by mobility and social media, from the need to gain insight out of all of that unstructured information.  The marketing leaders are really trying to unlock “what does all this social media stuff mean for our business in terms of things as basic as brand sentiment,” to “how do I effectively use social to sell?”  So, it is clearly coming out of all about those aspects, and that is why Gartner says the marketing people will really drive a lot more of the investment going forward.

PCEO:  It’s interesting that you say that.  I was speaking the other day to a CEO of a middle market technology company that deals with the dreaded phrase “big data,” which means a lot of things to a lot of different people, and he had pointed out the unstructured nature of social media.  If I can infer from what you’re saying, it suggests to me that analytics regarding social media – that unstructured “big data” – that’s really what the platform is going to be about, right?  Sort of taking all that information and crunching it to find the trends that you’re looking for.  Is that a reasonable understanding?

Abrams:  Yes, that’s a very reasonable understanding.  We really see that all of this unstructured data, all of this social media data that is so important to midsize businesses as they look to differentiate themselves, as they look to find the new market opportunity, is where those hidden gems of insight and information are located.  And left to their own devices, most midsize businesses couldn’t crunch all that information with their internal systems.  It’s just too costly, it’s not an effective means of leveraging their capabilities, and that’s where cloud and data analytics really are a major, major opportunity for midsize businesses.

Because now, all of the sudden, based on pricing models that are consumption-based, based on the ability to gain access to greater technology and analytics capabilities, midsize businesses now have that capability to take all of that data, all of that information, and really get insights from it.  And, you know, they also have the ability to leverage tools that they may not have been able to afford previously. Again, it is all unstructured. It’s not simple “ones and zeros” anymore.

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