Executive Interview – IBM – Katharyn White

Katharyn White, Global Sales and GTM Leader – Apple Partnership, IBM

Keynote Topic: Delivering superior value in an era of rising client expectations

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Video Transcript:

Gary Tubridy:  I’m here with Katharyn White, Global Sales and GTM leader of the IBM and Apple partnership. Katharyn, it’s great to have you here. Thanks for joining me.

Kathayrn White: It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you, Gary.

GT: It’s very exciting, this partnership with Apple and IBM. Tell me a little bit about what you’re trying to accomplish and some of the new and interesting things that are going to come out of this great partnership.

KW: Thanks for the question and it really is an amazing partnership. It really compliments the strengths of both organizations to change work. The question is, how?

Apple believes that we have these amazing iOS devices in our work environment, but they’re not being used to their full potential. Together with Apple’s obsession and expertise around simplicity and user experience, and IBM’s depth of understanding of the industry and our capabilities around analytics, that marriage between simplicity and analytics, around a specific role and process to actually change the way we do work, to bring in amazing capability in terms of what we do each day just like we’re doing in our personal lives is what the partnership is going to do together.

GT: Wow. You have two iconic American brands in Apple and IBM, and probably two very different cultures coming together here. Talk to me a little bit about what it’s like bringing two cultures together and some of the good and challenges that come out of that.

KW: I’ll tell you. When we’re at our best, when we’re working with another organization to really reimagine how work is done for their seller, for their utility worker, for their pilot, for whatever role we’re working on, I guarantee you, you can’t tell who’s from which company. The partnership is so powerful and our strength is so complimentary that, in fact, it just works.

GT: The reimagining word is a powerful one for me. Can you give me a little insight in terms of how one might reimagine the seller’s job using this new technology?

KW: The first trick is that we have to engage the user whose job is going to change. The seller themselves, not the sales manager, not the executive sales leader, the regional leader, but the seller themselves is involved with us to reimagine their work. That’s the first key to success. Second, it has to be powered by analytics. This notion of each of us as smart as all of us is very powerful to any role, to any organization, but specifically for sales. There’s no reason that in the majority of organizations around the world, 20% of the sellers drive 80% of the sales. We can do much better than that through analytics. Then the third factor is that we’re not just designed for mobility, but we take advantage of the iOS feature to change the moment whether that’s microphone, whether that’s camera, GPS, Apple Pay, scanner, and something signature. Something changes that moment through that capability. Then ultimately if those are true, it changes the way I do my job.

GT: You referenced earlier some of the applications that are being worked in pharmaceuticals and telecom, can you offer some insights in terms of those applications and how they’re being applied?

KW: Yeah. In fact, what’s really interesting about the expert seller app or the one that you mentioned is while we’ve designed it for pharmaceuticals-the interesting thing about that app is the pharmaceutical rep has on average 90 seconds with a doctor. The app design point was, how do I make the most impact in those 90 seconds?

GT: Use those seconds wisely.

KW: Most of our sales organizations get more than 90 seconds and so when we’re endeavoring to transform the way our teams sell solution and dialogue with our customers, and in a more personalized way, the same framework of what we built for the pharmaceutical industry or for the pharmaceutical seller, we’re now using as you mentioned in the telco industry.

We’re using it internally in IBM for our partnership apps and we have an interest across banking, across a number of different industries where the idea of marrying up how we learn with how we engage with our customers, and then bringing in the analytics so we can, for example, follow the best seller to understand what they’re doing, and then having the closed loop of the analytics to understand which content is actually driving the best sales performance.

GT: That’s a lot of moving parts and it’s going to take some time for sales executives in the field to grasp all of the options available to them. Where would you suggest they start thinking about something like the applications you’re describing?

KW: In one of the interesting things that we do is actually something that Apple calls a “ride along” where they ride along with the seller to identify areas of improvement. Then we’ll do a mobile experience workshop to really work the pain points in the role today to then envision how we might design apps to address those pain points, how their job changes going forward, and then prioritize the next steps around that. Then that then proceeds a design session to actually build that app which could be one that exists in the portfolio today or one that we create together to begin.

A lot of my focus is on picking the right place to start, but the importance of starting because the agility and the process begins with us as leaders. It’s not a development agility challenge. It’s a leadership agility challenge where we need to define that it’s okay to not have it perfect, but it’s not okay to not start. Then that app will continue to improve, will continue to prioritize new features through the backlog. Every time we go to use that app every day, it will have more features, more functions, more capability as we continue to improve it over time. That’s a paradigm a lot of us are not used to, but it’s critical on how we move forward.

GT: Those old paradigms change. It becomes a leadership imperative to understand that and then move. I like the way you make that statement about how picking this up and starting with it is a leadership imperative.

KW: The challenge to leadership is to select your core users who are going to be your advocates and champions in this change, which, for us includes the app because that is really an accelerator to a broader transformational agenda. Then they think the app is theirs.

It’s not IT’s, or it’s not IBM’s, or it’s not Apple’s, or it’s not sales leadership. It’s mine. Therefore, I have more interest in it being successful and talking about it with my peers. Then because of this process continuing to identify how to improve and it just becomes how I do my job as opposed to something we built.

GT: Excellent. Katharyn White, thank you very much for your time today. I really enjoyed it. Best of luck.

KW: You’re very welcome. Thank you.

GT: Thank you.

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