Yesterday morning, I was a guest at the Waltham IBM Innovation Center for their 15th Anniversary. (Full disclosure, Joe Perry and the Waltham IBM Innovation Center team have provided Mass Innovation Nights with a free site for our monthly product launch events.) The IBM Smarter Planet program was a highlight and a feature of the day’s program and I was glad to take a deep dive into it as an example of a well-done corporate strategy program.
The IBM campaign takes a big problem – world population growth – and has turned it into a multi-faceted program, PR and community relations, ad campaign, sales and partnering fiesta, and product and solution wrapper. The growth coming in the percentage of the world’s population living in cities – something that will make everything from traffic to delivery of healthcare, energy and government services a challenge – is a special focus of the campaign and IBM talks about Smart and Smarter Cities. (Let’s face it, traffic isn’t ever going to get better unless something really changes.)
IBM has been investing in this campaign – a lot. Their spokesperson has been traveling all over the world, helping to bring awareness to the depth of the problem… and the solutions that exist and issues and problems that still need to be addressed. This campaign is a wonderful way to marry various diverse products and services into a solution for a huge, global problem.
It’s also a genius marketing campaign. It takes a huge global issue, gives its sales and marketing team a singular goal – one that no one can argue with (“let’s make the world a better place”) – and brands it by tying it all together with a word everyone knows (“Smart”). It marries its customers’ goals and its goals.
It’s a program that partners well too – IBM Business Partners, with their vertical industry expertise, are well integrated into the campaign. We got a great presentation from VirtualAgility, a company that provides solutions for public safety. VirtualAgility was also able to speak to the value of the IBM Innovation Centers, 37 centers around the world, created with the express purpose of helping partners drive business. (More proof of a well-done corporate strategy, one that uses existing resources.)
I wish IBM well on their way to their goal of doubling their earnings per share goals. (Luis Rodriguez, Director, IBM Innovation Center started off the morning by connecting the event back to the recent senior management team’s promise to move toward $20/per share earnings.)
That’s right. This is business — even if it sounds all altruistic and “save the whales.” This whole campaign is designed to make IBM more successful and more profitable. That’s a good thing — that’s what sales and marketing should do. Profit is good. Revenue is good – it helps companies stay in business and continue to employ people like you and me. And when we’re all employed, the world is indeed a better place, and we have the resources to throw at big glaring world issues.