IBM's ideal marketing investment ratio for people vs. tech

Blog | 06 Oct, 2017

IBM Evangelist Jeremy Waite reflects on how technologies like Watson are shaping the marketing industry, how man and machine should work together (and not against each other) and why, going forward, the most successful companies will be the ones spending 7 times more on people than technology.

My takeaways from the talk today are... I talked to a lot about Watson. The thing that I liked about it, at the end, is we gave everybody access, so if anybody watching this video, if they were to look at, they could see all the different types of APIs that they can play with themselves. It's all open-source. They can go and play with it and demo it.


But, really, what we were talking about was, how can each of these help people do better things. So, that could be, you know, voice-to-text. It could be helping people use voice technology. We talked today about how, by the end of 2019, 30% of browsing behavior's going to happen without a screen, 25 million people will buy their first voice-activated device this year, and the world is going to change so fast over the next few years because of things like that, that marketers are really struggling to keep up. So, that's really what I was trying to discuss today, about how technologies like Watson can help people just keep up when it's just running out of control and there's more data than they've ever had to deal with, and how do you still provide a valuable customer experience when there's so much noise.


Whenever I'm talking about technology like this, I try not to talk about product, and I try not to name names. I try not to really talk about the APIs because customers and brands don't care. They've just got a problem that they need to fix. You know, when you look at CMOs, and you look specifically at some of the bigger challenges they're trying to face, often it just boils down to three. They've got to grow more profitable revenue, they've got to reduce customer churn, and they've got to deal with competition in the marketplace. Whatever technology you need to help do that, you know, you need partners that can help you figure out, what do you need to piece together in order to solve that problem. A lot of tech companies just come at it with, "Here's my beautiful thing that does all these things, so please go and buy it," and it's the completely wrong way.


So, the best takeaway for me today was the stat that we mentioned in the Q&A right at the end, and it was about how the most successful companies in this space going forward will be the ones that spend seven times more on people than on the technology. So, for every ₤1 that you spend on the tech, hopefully Watson, ₤7 of that will go into people, which includes partners, and agencies, and people just trying to make sense of all of that. It's not just, buy a box, it's going to fix your problems, and you leave it. You know, you've got to continue to learn, and to teach it, and work with the machine, not against it.

You can watch the replay of Jeremy Waite's talk at Digital Journeys here.

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