By Darren Webb
Working on a large project, perhaps partnering with an enterprise level Systems Integrator (SI) can be challenging and rewarding in equal measure. Basic project management principles will always apply in terms of the solid identification of up front end goals, and tracking progress will help get you across the line with sanity (and budget) intact, but here we will discuss what happens when you take a relatively simple Watson Marketing implementation and then scale up to System’s Integrator level.
With project requirements, what are your end goals? These should be clearly laid out and any requirements that contain the words “etc.” or “and so on” or similar should be called out at the start. Strict requirements will let you scope the project clearly. Ultimately you want all parties to be happy to signoff the work but keep an eye on those NFRs (Non-Functional requirements) that describe how a deliverable is going to perform rather than what it is going to do. The capacity for the project to go wrong if the foundations have been badly laid is almost limitless and review cannot be emphasised enough with a strong management team essential. When the subject area is particularly large or new to a customer then a helping hand up front in specification is never a bad thing.
By Ben North
Invest for success
The bulk of enterprise software implementation effort (and budget!) is typically allocated to the technology purchase and its subsequent deployment, with on-going support for marketing teams often an afterthought. However, truly successful implementations, that is those that achieve their ROI and adoption objectives, require an appropriate level of investment in enablement as well.
By Tim Biddiscombe
We live in interesting times, as the Chinese curse goes! While Purple Square remain fully committed to 100% supporting the IBM Watson Marketing technology stack across our 4 functional pillars (Implementation, Consulting, Learning, Support), I, along with my fellow 'Squarians' have been watching the IBM UBX area develop with great interest, for the complimentary (not competitive) technologies that are now linking up to IBM Watson Marketing.
We've talked about IBM UBX before, check out our blog ` Life after V9’ and 5 minute feature for starters. It's a brave new world of effortless APIs (Application Program Interfaces - software talking to software). I say effortless, because with a technology like IBM UBX, the API layer, once the purview of lengthy and expensive internal IT Development projects is all pre-completed for us. With a few clicks a marketer can connect up any existing UBX endpoint (IBM or otherwise) to any other one, and the data will start flowing to where it needs to be to support your marketing.
Out of the 30+ endpoint partners currently on offer (full list here ), we have chosen to explore and evaluate Sprinklr first of all. As one of the first endpoints to be added, Sprinklr caught our eye, and the more we found out about them as a company, the more interested we became. Sprinklr is an Enterprise Level Social Media Management Platform, with modules to cover an organisations interactions with their customers across all aspects of Social, including:
- Content Marketing
- Case Management
Their reach is broad, across 24 social networks (I couldn’t even name 24!), and thousands of forums, websites & blogs.
By Ryan Bartlett
Enter “Content Marketing” in Google and within a few clicks something along the lines of “Content is King” will surely appear on screen. Content has always been here but there’s been a dramatic shift in focus to Content Marketing. Content is now a valuable commodity, depending on how you use it can do a lot more than just inspire a purchase, it can create followers and brand advocates all of which increase brand awareness which could create new leads and more sales.
Back in May last year, I sat in the audience at Amplify 2016 and watched like many others the many new and exciting propositions from IBM in the Marketing area. Watson had definitely arrived and one of the new areas covered was Content, IBM too were stressing the importance of quickly delivering the right content and at the right time. Six months after Amplify, IBM launched Watson Content Hub - a tool aimed at simplifying the content management process, and recently I’ve had the opportunity to get some hands-on experience which I’m happy to share.
It shouldn’t come as a mystery as to what this new product is all about, the clues are in the name. For starters, it’s part the ever-growing Watson marketing suite, so it’s cloud-based and comes infused with cognitive abilities. It’s for Content management, storing a variety of object types including (but not limited to) images, videos, contents and links. However, it’s the final word ‘ Hub ’ that piqued my interest, a word that can be defined simply as “the effective centre of an activity or network” . So, what exactly could this be or will this be the centre of? We can get to that bit shortly.
In this product, Watson works by analysing the content you upload and tagging the material appropriately. For example, for an image of Times Square in New York, Watson analysed the image, and generated 33 different tags including Traffic, City, USA, Yellow, Cabs Commute, Times Square. You’re also free to add your own tags and remove any tags you don’t quite agree with. The big point is that this is all done for you in the background and is relatively accurate – and will become more so over time. The design and layout is easy to navigate but it’s these tags that make it easier to find the right content when you need it, and take a great deal of the pain out of Content Upload.
By Mos Bhatti
In October 2016, my colleague Tim wrote a great little piece on Life After V9 (of IBM Campaign). As the song goes “the world don’t stop…” and IBM have embarked on a fascinating journey; embedding cognitive capabilities in to the IBM Watson Customer Engagement portfolio, comprising Campaign Automation, Marketing Insight and Real Time Personalization solutions.
We’ll talk more about these in future posts, in this blog I’ll be looking at the integration between IBM Campaign V10 and IBM Watson Campaign Automation (formerly IBM Marketing Cloud); which enhances the interaction and overall capability of these solutions, putting the customer at the heart of the practice, enriching the marketing users experience and facilitating a collaborative and omni-channel approach to marketing.
IBM Watson Campaign Automation is a digital marketing platform encompassing a broad range of capabilities including:
Incorporating email, SMS and mobile push, along with embedded analytics, Engage is a digital marketing and lead management solution.
Provides a way to exchange data between IBM (and IBM Business Partner) applications and your own systems of engagement. UBX identifies individuals and their behaviour (Events) in interactions occurring across different channels, passing this information from Publishing systems, to Subscribing systems in an actionable form.
Used by marketers to create compelling, easy-to-use storyboards of digital and traditional marketing programs or customer journeys, this collaborative application can be used in conjunction with IBM Campaign and Engage to bridge Planning and Execution.
By Jonny Oliver
IBM Journey Designer was released a year ago, but has now come-of-age as one of the many tools in the IBM Watson Marketing suite. It's a cloud-based collaboration product that allows marketers to plan the customer journey in a user-friendly drag-and-drop interface. It includes a real-time chat window and messages/notifications to allow users to work together, allowing Marketing, Sales and Customer Service to visualise cross-channel journeys, set marketing goals and design tailored customer experiences.
Users begin by creating a Storyboard - an editable canvas that supports Connectors and Touchpoints, and tools such as directional arrows and notes. Connectors can be a group (essentially a low-level canvas), a program (that integrates with automated programs in Marketing Cloud) or a campaign (which integrates with IBM Campaign). Touchpoints include E-mail, SMS, Landing pages, Social and more that marketers can drag onto the canvas to plan their customer journey. These can all be linked with arrows to indicate the direction, though these are just informative and do not have an effect on the journey. In fact, with the exceptions of the campaign and program integration, the entire canvas is just a reference to allow marketers to collaborate and discuss.
By Joe Mawson
IBM launched the Watson brand in late 2016 and anyone engaged in IBM Commerce in the last 5 years could be forgiven that this could be little more than another name change. As part of the PSC delegation to Amplify 2017, I was keen to see what Watson could really do and what it really means in the real-world of IBM Marketing.
The first day of Amplify kicked off at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas with a Business Partner session. Presented by Kate Linendoll, the session immediately introduced several consumer products that use the Watson APIs in creative ways; a toy dinosaur that could talk to you, chocolates with recipes aggregated and suggested by Chef Watson and LifeBeam headphones. Using the twitter hashtag #IBMAmplify put Business Partners in the running to win one of these products as prizes. This kicked off a flurry of twitter traffic and reminds us all that social marketing is becoming central to our interaction with events. The session was held exclusively for Business Partners, with IBMers and Clients turned away at the door. IBM now place Business Partners as central to their business model, with VP Susan Reynolds promising a Business Partner in every deal.
Amplify this year promised to show off not just what Watson can do or will do in the future, but rather how Watson is being used now. In Watson Marketing this means Predictive Journey Path Analysis and Struggle Detection in Customer Experience Analytics, Rules Advisor in Real-Time Personalisation and Audience Identification in Marketing Insights. Richard Hearn declared IBM to be the only end-to-end cognitive customer engagement platform, emphasising that IBM know that clients want a seamless integration, not just a series of products bolted together. To be cognitive the platform must understand, reason, learn and interact. For IBM, cognitive is synonymous with Watson. By embedding Watson across the portfolio IBM have proved that the Watson brand is not just a clever name, the Watson brand is here to stay.
The buzz from the Business Partner session carried over to the keynote, which began with Katie Linendoll proudly announcing that what we are going to see is “not the future. It’s right here, right now”. The first demonstration had Watson perform real-time sentiment analysis to a series of questions, with cubes changing colour based on the sentiment of the answers given in the room under the #ibmamplify hashtag. Pink for excited, teal for curious, blue for eager and purple for engaged.
General Manager Harriet Green took to the stage with presentations from the Home Shopping Network (who don’t believe in Omni-Channel, it’s just shopping), Adidas (they do believe in omni-channel), and Titan each sharing high profile success stories of working with IBM.
For Watson Marketing, the stand out presentation came from Melanie Butcher who demonstrated the Watson Marketing Assistant speaking to Watson using natural language; she was able to teach Watson new terminology, ask Watson to analyse campaign results, ask Watson how it gauged that success. Melanie asked Watson to analyse the sentiment of the subject lines of the emails with the highest open rates in the past year. This was an impressive practical application of AI in Marketing providing actionable insights and it is available in beta now for customers using Watson Campaign Automation (formally Marketing Cloud). All you have to do is ask for it.
Film star, Will Smith was the final act of the Keynote. He is Professionally Certified in Watson Campaign Automation (formally IBM Marketing Cloud, formally Silverpop) and has been an IBM Campaign user for a number of years. All part of creating a buzz around the conference, Will shared some of his life story and answered the questions we all wanted, for example “How’s DJ Jazzy Jeff?” For all the light-hearted anarchy Will Smith brought to Amplify, one point he made resonated though the week. In his early acting days he could get away with making average movies, or sometimes poor movies (Wild Wild West, anybody?). In the 1990s he could make films that hit a dud note and no one would notice until the studio had made its money back. In 2017, if you make a bad movie word gets out straight away through social media and we are all much less forgiving. Decision making in 2017 has to be much more considered.
As exciting as the keynotes are, the real substance at Amplify comes from the breakout sessions. One session of note came from Jeremy Waite. Jeremy is an IBM Evangelist (that really is his job title) and he presented a tour of the landscape Marketers face in 2017. Jeremy introduced the term ‘ personification ’ in Marketing. In a world where 55% of customers don’t want to share their data, personification is the opposite to personalisation; it’s the right message at the right time when you don’t know the customer. In social media this is advertising to lookalike profiles, or leveraging cognitive tools like Watson to deliver ‘thumb stopping moments’
Other standout sessions came from Embel Assist who used an implementation of IBM Interact and IBM PCI to deliver real time scoring and offer presentation across channels. This included scoring customers’ propensity to respond to an offer and present those offers in real time. In an inbound call centre, this might mean presenting no offers, to ensure efficiency in the customer experience.
Similarly, Shutterfly presented an example of using Interact to deliver targeted cross sell messages in transactional email. Shutterfly delivers personalised printed merchandise, they analysed their email response rates and saw an opportunity to deliver real time marketing messages in transactional mailings, and on the website, making their marketing message central to the customer experience, and not a pre or post sale activity.
PSC’s Tim Biddiscombe created a buzz with his presentation on the integration between IBM Campaign and Sprinklr using UBX. IBM Campaign is an enterprise level marketing tool that provides closed loop marketing with offer management and attribution. Sprinklr can listen for brand mentions across 25 social networks, over 500,000 websites, blogs and forums, it enables advertising to target lookalike profiles and it can be used to manage massive volumes of social conversations. Connecting the two platforms using UBX means a seamless extension to IBM Campaign, where social is more than just another channel, but part of closed loop marketing automation.
The award for best breakout session title went to ‘Cloudy With a Chance of Email Personalisation’ presented by Sam Peskin (IBM) and Dennis O’Donnel (IBM/Weather Company). The session demonstrated the cognitive capabilities of WeatherFX within Watson Marketing Automation. The integration of WeatherFX with WCA offers an interesting number of use cases, based upon the underlying research that weather drives customer demand. In the UK, weather is the single most important topic of conversation, for national retailers in large territories in the US, the weather can mean the need to target different messages across different regions. Beyond knowing that we buy ice cream when it is hot, using Cognitive Weather triggers Marketers can use weather to target given messages as a zip code level. For example during bad road conditions, a car manufacturer may want to deliver a marketing message to emphasise safety and handling. A grocery store that could target customers to a local store level to drive customer footfall ahead of incoming storms. A fashion retailer leveraged bad weather to promote ads for thermal jackets to consumers experiencing bad weather. A pharmacy identifying the first days of spring at a zip code level could target customers at a local level to remind them to stock up on hay fever medication. The key component of the weather triggers is to understand what weather means to each region at a given point in time, identifying when it is unseasonably warm, or when the weather extremes are approaching. In this way, WeatherFX triggers are cognitive, and that cognitive capability can be used to drive really targeted messages.
Amplify 2017 put cognitive at the centre of the IBM proposition and the real-world examples on show at the conference prove that cognitive marketing is more than a novelty, it is the reality for marketing in 2017 and beyond.
By Christian Pullara
Although I have taken part in many IBM functions before, this was my first IBM Amplify event and without a doubt the best I have ever been to.
I was impressed by the sheer number of IBM customers present at the event and IBM could not have chosen a better location than a Las Vegas venue. The sessions and meetings I attended were of incredible value to me.
As someone who has just entered the world of Marketing in the cognitive era, having the opportunity to take part in these sessions and learn from industry experts was fantastic.
I arrived in Las Vegas late on Saturday. I had Saturday evening and part of Sunday to network and make the most of these two days away from my ‘everyday’ work commitments.
It was difficult to hide how excited I was to be able to fully immerse myself in the IBM Watson Customer Engagement world and have the possibility to speak directly to IBM executives who specialise in this area.
The presence of many IBM customers who are already using the IBM Watson products was an extra opportunity for me to improve my network and I could see that many other people around me shared the same excitement in such an opportunity.
The open session took place on Monday with the open keynote and a high level of information focussing on how the Customer Engagement has been redefined in the cognitive era.
In my opinion this session was important for two reasons, firstly because it gave the possibility for everyone to get familiar with the new terminologies used now in IBM to refer to the Watson products, and secondly it gave all the companies present the chance to network and share their knowledge.
Closing the session with Will Smith as a special guest was ‘the magic touch’ from IBM.
Tuesday and Wednesday were dedicated to specific products and sessions with the opportunity to speak with the experts.
For me, attending these sessions was very valuable as they helped me to further my understanding and knowledge in specific IBM products and strategies. There was a great diversity of topics and the format varied based on the sessions.
I found this very good as I had the opportunity to also use some of the new capabilities for some software and experience the product as a user.
Overall this has been a brilliant event for networking, getting to know product knowledge and meet the experts, IBM executives, existing clients, as well as potential clients.
The breaks in between sessions I made the most of by speaking with potential clients, business partner’s or an expert regarding a specific product, and I must say that by doing this I have seriously improved my business card collection.
By Tim Biddiscombe
Back in 2015, Gartner coined the term Big Data, a term for data sets so large, disparate or complex that traditional data processing approaches were not adequate. This applied across many areas of data processing including capture, storage, maintenance, access, reporting & compliance.
Here we are in 2017 and we thought it was worth a recap on where we’ve come from, where we’re going how Big Data applies to IBM’s Watson Marketing customers.
Big Data is still a hugely relevant topic for modern marketing, though the term has become a little distorted to mean many things to marketers trying to stay ahead of the curve, in much the same way as ‘real-time’ has.
The last 2 years have seen a continued proliferation of channels where our customers can interact with brands, with a corollary of reducing reliance on brands interacting with customers (in the traditional outbound sense). The phrase ‘too much information’ (TMI) has never been more relevant and the need to manage high-volume, high-velocity informational assets and incorporate them into your decision making, ever more important.
Analytics powerhouses such as Gartner and Nielsen have also documented a shift from investment in technology to investment in solving specific problems, which indicates a period of consolidation may be upon us. Other strong growth areas of Big Data involve the capture, contextual interpretation and analysis of visual data such as images, animated gifs and even videos. While this is in it’s infancy, it’s clearly a fascinating time to be a marketer – or a social technologist.
In terms of how Big Data currently integrates or influences the Watson Marketing portfolio, it can take a number of forms;
At the time of writing, the latest version of IBM Campaign is version 10.0.0.2, however there will be new releases during 2017. Alongside the traditionally supported heavy hitters of large scale transactional databases Teradata and IBM Netezza, several ‘big data’-bases are now supported, with more on the way:
- Amazon Redshift
- IBM dashDB
- Apache Hive (based on Hadoop Big Data)
- HP Vertica (based on Postgres)
These can all be added as base/dimension/general datasources in IBM Campaign and used to complement outbound decisioning. The data contained in these can also be fed through to an IBM Interact supported database (Oracle/SQL Server/DB2) for inclusion in real-time inbound decisioning.
Watson Campaign Automation (formerly IBM Marketing Cloud)
Although not a database in its own right, the ability to add web tagging throughout your brand real estate to capture data into WCA’s universal behaviours datastore allows extensive online interactions to play their part in CRM decisioning.
This facilitates a long awaited move away from batch communications to triggered programmatic messaging, interacting with customers when they want to be interacted with, rather than the other way around.
IBM Universal Behavior Exchange
A relative newcomer to the Watson Marketing portfolio, Universal Behavior Exchange (UBX) has already made huge inroads into the core platform of many blue chip and enterprise level organisations.
UBX allows disparate (and distant) endpoints to be connected up, in order to ensure that data (no matter it’s origin) is where it needs to be to facilitate your business requirements, whether for marketing or analytics purposes.
With more endpoints being added all the time, UBX allows marketers working with IBM technologies (Campaign or WCA) to bring together and leverage data from ever further flung areas such as social, online advertising and even emoji analytics!
In 2017 we are seeing the rise of Cognitive Computing as a crucial next phase of evolution in data driven marketing. With the continued explosion of data sets available (or that should be available) to the modern marketer attempting to promote brands, products and services, cognitive computing is one mechanism that has the potential for making sense of the madness.
At the core of IBMs Cognitive Computing offering is Watson, its natural language, machine learning artificial intelligence capability. We’ve all heard the stories of how Watson has beaten chess grandmasters, won on Jeopardy and even played its part in cancer treatments in a truly astonishing project - Watson has now found its home in the Cognitive Computing arena.
IBM Watson brings to the marketer the capability to consume and make sense of the terabytes of data being generated (including unstructured text, images, audio and video), to provide personalised recommendations on next-best-action across inbound, outbound, social, live-chat and much, much more. The marketer stays in charge, but they are assisted with analysis, guidance and recommendations (including the reasoning behind them) rather than a googolplex of data and a headache…
In conclusion, Big Data is here to stay and on the horizon, are more and more innovative ways to make sense of it, to bring order from chaos.
By Andrew Addison
I’m delighted to officially announce the launch of Purple Square Consulting (Australia). It’s been some time in the planning, but PSC have now opened our southern hemisphere operation.
We’ve been working very closely with IBM and several Australian and New Zealand partners on projects since 2012, but it was often too prohibitive to support properly from the UK due to flight times, significant time zone differences and jet lag recovery! This meant that it didn’t really work for anyone involved, and so we went quiet!
This was only ever going to be a short-term hiatus, as we felt that there was always an opportunity for a highly-specialised consultancy in the region. So, over the last 18 months we’ve been working on the next stage of Purple Square Consulting’s business growth.
We made the decision early last year to soft launch in July 2016, this has involved everything from setting the local business up, getting set up as an IBM reseller, performing additional local research through to quietly shipping a number of our experts into the country.
It took a lot longer to organise the Australian Immigration 457 visas than expected. We mistakenly hit Australian summer holidays for the application, it didn’t take too long for approvals to come through once everything started moving.
I’ve had enough of jetlag! I’ve visited Australia 3 times in the last 7 months, and no matter how hard I try, I haven’t found the perfect formula for when to sleep and when to stay awake on the flights to minimise recovery time. Usually I start to feel normal again about 48 hours before I’m flying back!
And the time zones! The end of British Summer Time really caused confusion, suddenly Sydney went from being a 9-hour time difference to 11 hours, so the check in calls with the team moved from morning to evening!
The remote interviewing has been difficult, but thankfully we’ve always had one of the management team available for face to face second interviews when needed - and very kind candidates who didn’t mind taking calls during their evenings.
Since arriving, we’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in several new projects early on with clients new and existing. This is enabling us to build the relationships and reputation across the region that we enjoy in Europe.
We’ve continued to recruit people that meet our exacting standards, specialists with extensive technical, consulting and campaign management experience. The team is growing slowly, but is already able to operate as a self-supporting unit, without daily hand-holding from the UK.
It’s an exciting time for PSC, the recent Watson Marketing launch has generated some real interest for us and our clients. Our close relationships with the Offering Managers at IBM is enabling us to be at the forefront of developments and lead the way in the region.
We’re developing new relationships and re-establishing old alliances in Australia and New Zealand and look forward to continued growth across both the direct client and IBM partner network. Whilst the short-term focus is in Australia and New Zealand, the team will eventually support APAC providing implementation, consulting and learning services to IBM, Clients, Business Partners and Consultancies throughout the region.
We will also, in time, have a mirror support team to that in the UK, to ensure that we’re able to provide our advanced application support and management capabilities anywhere in the world, with some clients taking advantage of 24*7 coverage where they need it.
It was always going to be a bit of a gamble, opening a new office in a location so far away, but as I’ve learned;
She’ll be right, mate!