Top Eight Takeaways from IBM Amplify

Just last week in sunny San Diego, we wrapped up IBM Amplify, an annual customer conference where IBM Commerce users learn from executives, fellow clients and practitioners as they discuss the latest trends in commerce, customer analytics, marketing and merchandising. Based on conversations with customers and the various announcements made during the event, I put together my top eight key takeaways from the conference:

1. Marketers Have A Passion for Learning

Whether it’s discovering new techniques to better use the digital marketing technologies at their fingertips or learning tips and tricks to make their lives easier and improve marketing effectiveness, I was amazed by not only the dedication of our customers to learn, but also the innovative campaigns they are deploying. While San Diego is a fabulous venue and temptation is right out the front door, folks were packing into all of the breakout sessions, eager to hear the latest and best tips and techniques that they could take back to the office.

2. Marketers Must Have Support Back Home

Support comes in many shapes and sizes: Support from executives to forge ahead with new programs and ways to work; support from IT to implement Web tracking on URLs and SDKs to embed into their next round of mobile apps; support from the sales organization to create agreed upon lead definitions, service levels and recycle ‘back to nurture’ programs is a mandatory part of transforming B2B companies especially. It’s often easy to see the frustration of the attendees who face challenges if they don’t have full commitment back home, but their fellow peers often can provide tips or insight into how to achieve company-wide investment and support.

3. Marketers Want to Know How They Stack Up

Everyone is anxious to hear metrics – they provide marketers with a baseline to see how their programs stand up to their industry peers and give teams a way to receive executive buy-in. The marketers I spoke with were not only interested in traditional email marketing metrics like opens and clicks, but also statistics like revenue and market share growth and marketing attribution percentages. This shift in thinking tells me that more marketers than ever are becoming much more strategic contributors to business success.

4. Marketers Want to Compare Ecosystems

Among one of my favorite slides in the many presentations I listened to was the chart of each presenters’ digital ecosystem: What each ecosystem technology stack looked like, what data is integrated into digital systems, where data is being captured and what the key outputs are. It was pretty much guaranteed that when a presenter showed an ecosystem chart, viewers’ smartphones were going up like crazy to capture that slide for future reference.

5. Marketers Can Learn From Many Other Marketers, Even in Different Verticals

Towards the end of the conference, when I was doing an informal poll to ask folks what their biggest takeaways were, many had done such a great job of absorbing techniques from completely unrelated industries and were eager to go home to apply these learnings to their own situations. What many of these practitioners found is that the best results are coming from those companies that are putting behavioral techniques first and slowing down on the straight-up blast emails that are losing effectiveness across all industries and verticals.

6. Experience, Customer Journey and Personas are Hot Topics

Today’s most sophisticated marketers are looking to get closer to their clients and prospects. I managed the “Customer Journey” track at the conference and came away very impressed with the fresh thinking and customer-focused design and journey-based implementations. In fact, the new customer-centric planning and management techniques are so important that IBM announced IBM Journey Designer and IBM Journey Analytics at the show. I can’t wait to see marketing (and the marketing department) transform even more, increasing their relevance within all types of organizations with these important tools.

7. Those Who Don’t Attend Are At Risk.

Like the kids that sit on the bench for an entire sports season, I worry about those marketers that don’t attend at least one or two educational conferences a year. Marketing is quickly evolving, and new skills are necessary. The best way to make these changes happen is to immerse yourself and attend both keynote and breakout sessions at key vendor and industry conferences. If company resources are an issue, there are most likely local events in your region that wouldn’t require additional travel expenses. You probably won’t become a transformative marketer by sitting in your office or cube and reading user manuals. 

8. Marketers Really Know How to Have Fun

Face it, marketing is the coolest place to be in your company – and that includes being the most awesome group of people! The great personalities and people within the marketing field are a big reason why the industry is becoming increasingly important and relevant in businesses across the globe.


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