Our Takeaways from IBM’s Smarter Commerce Nashville (the Millennial Edition)

Posted on June 9, 2013

“We had a blast!!!”

Perhaps that’s not the statement you’d expect someone to make about an enterprise tech conference (let alone a statement with three exclamation points) but, as you can see below from the takeaways of our nine Social Media Reporters who had the pleasure of covering IBM‘s Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Nashville for Digital Biz Wire (@digitalbizwire), this was a conference that not only delivered a treasure trove of need-to-know, strategic insights for businesses, but the event was fun and exciting. Our team ran around like kids in a candy store (so much innovation, pearls of business wisdom and memorable moments, so little time!).

This year, Smarter Commerce tackled everything from big data (the belle of the ball), to maximizing customer experience, to social and mobile technology and marketing. But the event also managed to squeeze in sessions and keynotes with some of the most charismatic, influential thought-leaders in digital media, an inspiring luncheon for innovative women and a concert show at Nashville’s legendary Grand Old Opry. Take a look at a session we captured featuring the incomparable, dynamic Dino Dogan (@DinoDogan), founder of Triberr.com,  that schooled people on authenticity in marketing as much as it made them laugh (and which includes a confession of his love for Oprah!) HERE.

Our reporters didn’t miss a beat. From the keynotes (hosted by the ever-awesome, entertaining Jay Baer) to dozens of sessions ranging from lectures to panels, to case studies, our Social Media Reporters absorbed tons of information, engaged with everyone from guest speakers to virtual attendees and even had a bit of fun with Twitter’s trending topics (GIF or JIf???).

This gets even more interesting when you consider that all nine of our Social Media Reporters for this event are all millennials (the generation more likely to identify with Apple than IBM). For these up-and-coming social media stars, this conference challenged and completely changed their perception of IBM and, as a few of them express below, it actually blew their minds when they learned all that IBM is doing to help businesses stay ahead of the digital tsunami.

One of our reporters, Benjamin McIntyre, sums it up bluntly:

“I had no idea that IBM was this powerful of a company, truly on the front lines of empowering business with solutions that help them to connect with their customers. I really believed that IBM wasn’t doing anything new. Wow. I was wrong.”

Whatever your business and your role in your company, IBM’s Smarter Commerce had takeaways for everyone. Below are a few golden nuggets our Reporters picked up at the event. And you can find some of our video coverage of the event HERE and our photos HERE.


Benjamin McIntyre (@DMWbenjamin)

Ted Rubin and Benjamin McIntyre at IBM Smarter Commerce Nashville

“You have to learn to listen far more than you talk, even as a company. Build real relationships and meet customers where they are at when they demonstrate that they want your help. Ted Rubin (@TedRubin) had the biggest impact on me. I really connected with his belief that companies need to be focused on using social media to build relationships. In part, that’s what all of Smarter Commerce was about. This idea that human-centered companies and marketing is winning. Companies need to have real faces behind their brands.

I had no idea that IBM was this powerful of a company, truly on the front lines of empowering business with solutions that help them to connect with their customers. I really believed that IBM wasn’t doing anything new. Wow. I was wrong.”

Jeremy Chandler (@DMWjeremy)

The most memorable part of the event was the Jaguar Virtual experience. I’ve told more people about that than anything else. Porter Gale was my favorite speaker when she gave the main session talk on her new book, Your Network is your Net Worth. She had some great statistics on how interconnected our world has become.

I would tell people that they need to take understanding their customer I context is essential for being successful in today’s world and it is actually possible to find valuable information through social media.

Kia Jarmon (@DMWkia)

Kia and the Porter Gayle Hologram at IBM Smarter Commerce NashvilleI have actually been talking about the event since I left to friends and colleagues. I have shared to understand your audiences’ psychology in real time by using IBM products or by being actively on the ‘floor’ of your business until you can afford IBM.

I enjoyed Jay Baer‘s openings to the keynote, Ray Wang and Dino Dogan. They all shared some practical applications for the very high brow information. I hope to come back to the conference. It was game changing.


John Cotton

John CottonWith all of the wonderful developments in technology today you can now interact with customers on an individual basis. Rather than simply using this information to advertise and communicate at them you can also use that information to listen to them. The ability to use data to listen changes the interaction into a conversation. A dialogue will always beat an advertisement when it comes to communication between the seller and buyer. Don’t just advertise, or use the data to sell your product. Use the data to know your customers. Knowing them results in giving them what they want and orients long-term loyalty.

I think that from this conference I see IBM more as a leader in the ideas of ecommerce and mobile development as opposed to a simple hardware/software company.

Daniel Hunley (@DMWdaniel)

Daniel HunleyI really enjoyed seeing how Target had revamped it’s online presence. I’d never really heard a narrative about what it was like for a mass retailer to incorporate new digital strategy.

I encourage people to start personalizing the experience that your customers have when they interact with your store. I’m a unique individual with different needs. A store that recognizes this and changes how they interact with me will always be appreciated. If a company does a good job of this now, they’ll exceed a customer’s expectations. In a year or two, when this tech is widespread, your customers will expect it.

IBM is far more innovative and focused on customer experience than I initially thought (which is a great thing!).

David Pemberton (@DMWdave)

Jay Baer and Dave Pemberton at IBM Smarter Commerce NashvilleI think the biggest professional take away was that marketing has to be authentically human to work in a digital world. I think we saw that with Target’s new strategies—the more transparent they became, the more successful they were. IBM seems to be a lot more progressive than I had previously assumed.

As a millennial I kind of saw IBM as “my granddad’s technology,” but now I see things like Watson and TeaLeaf and feel like there’s a place for IBM in the future.

Logan Leasure (@DMWlogan)

Logan LeasureThe most memorable moment of the event for me was the opening session on the first day – I remember being completely blown away at the sheer number of people that had registered for the event, and I knew when I walked into that huge ballroom that this conference was the real deal.  Peter Shankman‘s session, Nice Companies Finish First, had the greatest impact on me… his talk reinforced an idea that I have believed in for a long time: customer service should be the greatest singular focus of any company, bottom line.

Also, If you’re not in the social media game, then don’t be in the game of being a business at all. Social = everything.

See you at the next event!

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