Judy Buchholz, General Manager of Digital Sales, IBM
Gary Tubridy: I’m here with Judy Buchholz, General Manager of Digital Sales, IBM Digital Group. Judy, welcome to the forum.
Judy Buchholz: Thank you.
GT: Thank you for joining us. Great to have you. IBM is a household word or set of letters in the American business theater. But IBM Digital, something new. Tell us — tell us what IBM Digital is all about.
JB: Yes, it is something new. It’s really about the client journey, how clients want to discover offerings and solutions, how they want to interact and buy, and how they actually want to consume. So this organization is about addressing those new sets of clients with the right offers and the right sales talent to really satisfy their solution needs.
GT: So tell me a little bit about those new clients. Who are they? What portion of the total market that IBM covers do you serve in IBM Digital?
JB: Well, I serve a buyer, an individual. So it’s not a specific segment. It’s a client that wants to interact this way. We’re a pretty large share of IBM’s business today and growing. Probably the fastest growing route for IBM. The client really is someone who really does a lot of their own discovery. When you think about your personal life and you think about when you want to buy something new, the first thing you do is look on the Internet. You go to forums and blogs and look at what people are recommending. Well, people transcend that into their business life, and so they’re looking and finding solutions the same way. And we want to be there to intercept that opportunity. So it’s really about the individual and how they want to work.
GT: Give me a sense of how that translates in IBM Digital, how you project value using these new technologies, new approaches.
JB: Yeah. I’ll give you an example. My team, which I have about 3,000 sellers around the world —
GT: Three thousand sellers.
JB: Yes, 3,000 sellers around the world — a whole program around making them digitally and socially imminent. And what that means is you need to be present where the client is looking for a solution. And you need to become a subject-matter expert. So while they’re looking for a cloud solution or an analytic solution, you need to be the SME that’s in those blogs, that’s in that value chain, so they actually come to you as an individual to have a conversation. So the value is about your value you bring in understanding our capabilities and portraying them out in an Internet world to the customer. Now, you may need to do a follow-up interaction. It doesn’t mean you transact business on that first contact. Of course not. Many times, you need to have multiple contacts, multiple touches. And if — when it becomes more complicated or a complex solution, you may need to bring people on-sight to work with the customer in person. So it’s more about using all the assets and capabilities, but trying to attract that set of clients in a different way.
GT: So that’s important. You start out with the web as a means to attract clients to value, but you’re not constrained by that. You can bring voice. You can bring interpersonal action, depending upon the situation and how — what’s dictated properly. But you also serve customers in kind of the traditional form. Is that not true?
JB: Yes. So I have multiple missions. So I have missions that are reactive, meaning through a marketing funnel or customer landing on our page and wants to chat. And I need to be there, my team needs to be there to have that interception. But we also have sets of clients we’re going after in a proactive way utilizing some of our cognitive capabilities, our Watson APIs, to really understand that client’s in our industry and target them with some specific solutions. So we’re doing inbound as well as outbound with the clients.
GT: Are there any prototype classical solutions that you’re trying to project over the digital channel?
JB: Yeah. All the as-a-service products, because they could be consumable, they could be demoed, they could be downloaded. We could do the follow-up to ensure, you know, are they consuming that product so that when it’s time to renew, it’s a no-brainer, right? They’re happy with what they’re doing and they want to continue down with IBM as their partner.
GT: What kind of feedback are you getting from the marketplace and the efforts to date?
JB: Yeah, so I think, you know, we’re not totally there yet. You know, we’re still on this journey. Everything keeps changing. But I think initial feedback is positive. We have a lot of positive client interactions. When you think about a business person’s day is stacked from, you know, probably 8:00 in the morning to 7:00 at night just with meetings and conference calls, et cetera. In the evenings when you actually have time to do some research, so this is when we also need to be available. So a lot of positive feedback on the off-hour capability. You need to be available when I actually have time to have a conversation with you. So I think a lot of positive on how do you interact in those times, and also how do you ensure you have people in a follow-the-sun model so that you could, you know, pick up a lead that starts, you know, in the evening in Singapore, but it’s the morning in North America. And then how do you make sure you can get that lead to the right team in the right time zone.
GT: What are you working on for 2017?
JB: Oh, well, again, it’s about more buyers and it’s really about developing a lot more offerings that are specifically designed to be sold this way. Right? IBM is a company that’s been around over 100 years, as you know. And our offerings and our clients have been evolving over that time. I think this is the next generation of what are the next set of offerings, what are the next set of partners that we need to work with and the next set of companies, you know, we need to partner with. I think you’re going to see, you know, a lot more in that space and how we develop offerings that are really suited for this route.
GT: Judy, good luck in 2017.
JB: Thank you.
GT: It sounds like you’re off to a great start. Thanks for joining us.
JB: Oh, you’re welcome. Thank you for having me.
GT: Appreciate it.