IBM’s success story from the I-COM Data Creativity Awards 2018

The objective of the I-COM Data Creativity Awards is to acknowledge the most creative people and companies achieving business value and competitive advantage for their clients by leveraging value from data.

The Awards stand out from other competitions in the industry through a bespoke system, where each judge only looks at a restricted number of entries. This way all companies entering the competition receive the consideration and recognition they deserve from our esteemed Jury. The finalists are invited to present at the final round of judging at the I-COM Global Summit, with the winners announced at the Gala Awards dinner.

Since the very 1st I-COM Data Creativity Awards in 2012, the competition has grown in both the number of entries and the quality of presented case studies. At the I-COM Global Summit 2018, which took place in San Sebastian, we witnessed a wide variety of interesting, insightful and inspiring case studies, particularly in areas such as data visualization, AI, attribution and CRM.  

Following the event, we caught up with two of the winners to discuss their experience at the event: IBM Corporate Marketing’s Becky Waddell – Senior Product Manager (Pearl) and Andrew Douglas - VP of Data Platforms & Strategy.

This year you won 2 awards: Overall & Data Visualisation Category. What does winning these Award mean to you and your team? Were there any tangible benefits afterwards?

Andrew Douglas and Becky Waddell at the  I-COM Gala Awards Dinner 2018

Andrew Douglas and Becky Waddell at the
I-COM Gala Awards Dinner 2018

We won the awards at I-COM only two months after the Cognitive Marketing Management System launched (now branded IBM Pearl), so it was a big win for the team. It definitely validated that we were doing something unique, and the excitement and interest has continued since San Sebastian. We’re actually working to commercialise Pearl and have a growing list of clients interested both in the Pearl platform and the marketing organisation transformation work we’re doing.

Was the competition tough? In your opinion, what set you apart from other finalists?

Absolutely! There’s a lot of incredibly innovative work in this space, but it was definitely the lens through which we approached the problem that set us apart. Rather than fully developing capabilities at the corporate headquarters level and then trying to scale through the organization, we took an extremely user centric approach: partnering with IBM marketers across the globe and in various business units to build a tool that removed their biggest pain points. Alleviating the burden of tracking down tools and reports made a huge difference, and since the marketing teams were so involved in the process, they were really excited to adopt and become evangelists of Pearl.

The name of your project was: Cognitive Marketing Management System. Please explain what it is about.

Since I-COM 2018 we’ve actually rebranded as IBM Pearl, but the underlying strategy remains the same. We built a marketing management system that visualises all of IBMs marketing data with specific views for every level of the organisation: summary reports for Michelle Peluso and our business unit CMOs; campaign level views for our marketing teams; and detailed reports for specialists (think paid media, SEO/SEM, email, etc.). Then we built a platform around it to create a stunning user experience that allows us to easily launch additional features like performance alerts and a chat bot.

Becky Waddell presenting in the final round of the I-COM Data Creativity Awards 2018

Becky Waddell presenting in the final round of the I-COM Data Creativity Awards 2018

Would you suggest other companies to enter the Awards and why?

Being able to say that we’ve won awards for the Pearl work definitely adds a level of prestige when we’re talking to clients. And aside from winning the awards, presenting at I-COM was a great opportunity for us to brainstorm with other industry leaders and get feedback on the work that we’re doing.

Our next summit will take place in Malaga, Spain, May 13-16th, 2019. What was your overall experience from the I-COM Global Summit 2018, which took place this April in San Sebastian?

Overall our experience at I-COM was wonderful! Being surrounded by the best of the best and having the chance to see everyone’s cutting edge work was a fantastic learning opportunity. I certainly think IBM is leading the way and setting the bar high for marketing transformations, but it was great to see that across the board organisations are embracing data and the latest technology to do some really interesting, exciting work. And of course, Michelin-starred dinners don’t hurt!

Entries for the 2019 edition are open here: