The Power of Data Podcast
Episode 80: Addressing The Three Ps of Marketing
Guest: Gabie Boko, Global Vice President Digital and Unified Customer Experience Officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Interviewer: Stacy Greiner, General Manager of Sales and Marketing Solutions and Chief Marketing Officer, Dun & Bradstreet
Hello and welcome to The Power of Data Podcast. I am Stacy Greiner, I'm the General Manager of our Sales and Marketing Solutions business and I'm also the Chief Marketing Officer here at Dun & Bradstreet. I am very excited today to introduce you all to Gabie Boko. Gabie is the Global Vice President Digital and the Unified Customer Experience Officer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Welcome Gabie and thanks for joining us.
Thank you so much, Stacy. I'm very glad to be here with you today.
I'm excited and looking forward to this time together. So why don't we start off the podcast with maybe a little bit about yourself. You've had a super impressive career working at some of the world's leading technology and software companies, could you give our listeners maybe a little introduction into your own career and your role today at HPE?
I'm always happy to talk about myself, Stacy. But I would love to. I've always been big into technology and once I decided I didn't want to be a lawyer - much to my mother's disappointment - I went all in. And when I was young, I was all about small and startup and really getting into a company that was going to make me a million dollars. And as I got older, I really was more interested in what is the technology that's going to change the world and how can I be a part of that? So that's really where you see kind of the back half of my career go, is how do I integrate customers into what I'm doing? How do I integrate data into what I'm doing? How do I really give myself the opportunity and my team the opportunity to look around the corner and to take risks so that I'm leveraging both of those passions of mine - customers and data - together? I figure that the largest companies in the world like the ones on my resume, as well as the one I’m now - Hewlett Packard Enterprise - sometimes don't have the best tolerance for risk, but they do have the best tolerance for innovation. So I find that the role that I'm in right now really brings that little bit of excitement about innovating against the digital journey and the customer experience together and doing it for a company that doesn't necessarily have a long history of doing it in an ‘as a service space’. So it's the power of customers, the power of data, the power of innovation, all driving to change the digital journey. And I guess you could say - I hope I'm not done yet - but that seems to be the culmination of everything I've been working for the last 20 years.
Well, I love it. And this past 18 months has certainly made us as marketers, right, really have to innovate and it's made our buyers really demand different interactions from us. So I'd love to hear a little bit about HPE's journey, and how your own buyers and their expectations have changed over the last couple of years?
I think that especially in the last two years with COVID and the lock down, it's not just a nice-to-have to expect the same way you would shop personally, online, personalization, easy to use, expectation of being able to buy online, use online, configure online. All of those things that may have been nice-to-haves in a lot of B2B companies has really started to change the dynamic of “You know what, maybe we aren't B2B, maybe we really are B2C, because we always have the customer at the center”. So I would say that the expectation even from the customers that HPE has today is: just make it easier for me to do my job make it easier for me to optimize, configure, and to save money on everything that I'm doing. How do I keep - and I just talked to a customer literally less than a couple hours ago - how do I keep all the things I love and yet do it in a cloud like way? That really requires us to level set and to think about how their business is running? What's going to change in terms of our business? How do we do that in an environment where we might not be able to get on site with them and share. So you know, I think the last two years has been just a mish mash mosh of all that stuff coming together. And it's accelerated that digital journey beyond where I think maybe we thought we had three years, we're out of time, we're now two years behind.
Right out of challenge certainly came opportunity. And it's so true how we all are consumers and business buyers and there's an expectation that we want that simplified experience with a brand regardless of whether it's a pair of shoes or a new piece of technology.
What about your team? How has your team changed? And how has digital technology really had an impact on the way that you've evolved as a function?
This is a good question, Stacy. My team has gotten far more technical in the last 18 months, even though there were pockets of technical-ness because we're digital, the understanding of not just what's coming in terms of digital technology, but what's coming in technology that serves our customers better as well. And how does that need to be embedded into the digital journey? All of that has really reinforced you got to be smart about all of the pieces of technology. In addition to that, I really think it's also about the convergence of data inside of that technology. I think before the pandemic we were super focused in on maybe too many metrics, too many kind of routes and you know what piece of technology or what app capturing what data and how are we looking at it. Now we're really focused in on can't catch all that data, the technology has to tell one seamless story, the data has to be plugged into that seamless story. So we need to figure out how do we do that much more effectively. That's really driven how we've evolved as a team for the company. And it's really put us in, I don't want to call again, a driver seat, but it puts us in a position to be at the table when sales or product or even the executive offices talking about our customers are asking for this, how do we go help them get there? That's kind of a nice place to be in. I'm not gonna lie.
Yes, for sure. For sure. So as you think about really evolving your team and technology, and I love that concept of how much more technical your team has become. And then you think about the changing buyer journey, and expectations over the last couple of years. Were there specific decisions that you made, specifically, because of things that you saw your buyers expecting a view?
Yeah, that's a really great question. There was this moment where we thought, “Oh, you know, what, number one, do we really need to upgrade some of our systems?” The answer came back, “Yeah, holy crap, we really need to upgrade our systems”. So there was a belief in an understanding that, you know, upgrade was not now optional, something to push off. But it was going to drive systemic change against process on how we helped our customers and supported them much more effectively. When you think about what you then give up in terms - because technology is a pretty big, heavy lift, right? It's, it's something that says, you know, what, if I'm going to change marketing automation out, I better make sure that all this stuff running on that marketing automation is also getting ready for it too. So it was a reevaluation of the apps and services and the processes. We talked a lot about, you know, do we go with standardized processes for some of these things out of the box? Or do we really lean in and have somebody come in and help us redefine those processes. So it was pretty extreme in terms of what decisions that we needed to make, but we were always doing it, again, with the customer at the center of the end destination at the center. Otherwise, it was just this hire upgraded. Well, why did you upgrade? Or hey, I did this. Why did you do that? I think the last thing we did is we started working much more tightly with our sales teams, not that we weren't working with them, but we were really mapping our technology decisions to their technology decisions and making sure that if there was a choice point to use one product or another that we both agreed. But then the second thing was, you know, how do we get out of this traditional kind of lead passing and move into a digital signal and how did that need to change their process? And maybe their choice in technology? And could we support that? So the collaboration with sales and overall go to market? Even our channel team has been hugely important to the transition we've taken this year.
Right, for sure. So certainly the pandemic has radically changed the way that we're all working. And as you mentioned, right, we've really accelerated the digital transformation journey that we were on. And one of the things that I love talking with you about Gabie is that, you know, so often so many people have seen certainly the number of headwinds that we've all faced over the last 18 months. But what I love about our conversations, right is the optimism and really recognizing what those tailwinds are. And so I'd love to maybe shift into from your own experience of what you've gone through how companies really should be leveraging data and technology to boost both the targeting and the outreach to their customers and prospects in some new ways.
I do love our conversations as well, right? I find that if you don't view it through the lens of opportunity, then you're somehow not going to be enough and it's going to come too late. So I love to have that perspective, because it really does define how you like to move forward. And I think that most companies and customers want to do the same, but they might get weighed down by existing process. Some of the things that I like to do and that I try to employ, it's not perfect all the time. Please don't accept that I'm saying I'm perfect. But I like to clean sheet a lot of things at once, if we're going to go down the technology paths. And don't tell me every reason why I can't do it. Don't tell me all the gaps and risks to it, tell me how to do it. And then by telling me how, I'm probably going to figure out where the holes are. I think that clean sheeting is super important. I think that's the same thing, though, that you need to apply the data. And when we did this, when we had this data conversation at the company, when you clean sheets, something, you start to really look at it and say, I have no idea why there are multiple 1000s of people doing data cleaning when you're doing it in a silo and it's not really not how does this force us to think about our data? While we should really have a centralized data strategy. It's amazing how data came third in terms of how we were thinking about things versus first, but when you clean sheet it, it's like okay, now I get it now I get it. So I think that if you were looking at the technology and the data from money, what's the optimistic way and the right way to look at it, then by just the very nature of doing that action, you're going to find where you need to change. And then it's easier for you to prioritize the change. Because let's be honest, if you don't have a hold of your data and don't know who your customers are, and you don't have the technology to reach them, then you're not going to make much change, you're just going to be kind of cobbling along. So that's my experience.
That makes a lot of sense. And I know that you describe yourself as a CDO, meet CMO, meets Chief Experience Officer. And in fact, now you carry those two titles at HPE, of Digital and Customer Experience Officer. And you talked about your passion for data and getting it into a view that really can support what your marketing organization is trying to accomplish. How do you see that changing the marketing landscape going forward, or what it means for the marketing landscape even today?
I believe that marketing needs to learn how to make market, that's what marketing should be really good at. And if you're making a market, then it's about understanding that market, and then being able to apply all of the aspects of marketing, whether you're doing demand, whether you're doing comms, whether you're doing brand, whatever you're doing to that digital journey, and then driving it forward. I think the advantage of being around the D, the M and the X, that you've just described, is that if you aren't willing to do two things, look at what you're doing and marketing through the lens of the customer, which is the customer experience aspect. And if you're not willing to embrace the digital technology, or the digital way of doing things, then quite frankly, marketing is going to be unable to go make a market in today's world. You're not going to be able to create a motion for your company and your team to be able to compete. And so I think that it's incredibly important, even if you think that it's out of the realm, or it's you know, in another team or whatever else, it's about embedding the principles of digital and embedding the principles of customer into your marketing motion. And that's really, I think, how you get ahead as a marketer.
Agree. And I know most of our listeners certainly know the name HP and they recognize that from computers and laptops at home, but you are with HPE and not to be confused with HP, they’re two different companies, HPE, the enterprise IT company. I’m curious to hear how complex you see it marketing to enterprises and B2B marketing. And again, kind of leaving in some of the challenges that we've talked about, how are you overcoming those that complexity of the B2B landscape?
So let me back up and say for most of our listeners, six years ago, now, six years, while almost seven, Hewlett Packard decided to split into two companies, Hewlett Packard, HP and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, HPE. The split was driven along the lines that they've been running as a behemoth, this amazing company driving consumer and B2B or enterprise for the longest time, but that it would probably be who both kind of divisions turning into separate companies to drive more shareholder value and actually more customer value in terms of their products. Let's just say that it continues to be a challenge. But I consider my cousin with the with the name HP to be equal parts in bearing that challenge with me. I think it gets less complex, the further we get away from the split. But I think it goes back to something that I talked about up at the top right, it's no longer a business anymore. You might be using business principles, you might be needing to understand procurement paths of buying patterns, how your products are going to be deployed differently than a consumer would right? There's definitely a longer run on a business purchase and a business deployment than there would be to download something and start to use it in an hour. But those same principles that a B2C company traditionally carried, or the same principles that B2B is now having to rely on and implement, because customers don't want a different experience. They want it to be that easy. They don't want to have to go to work and beat themselves over the head. So you know, I think that as you think about that, the experience again, thinking about the customer, customer at the center, that means understanding what the data is, what are they doing, how are they using the product? How are you sharing the digital signals and taking advantage of them? It's not just a report you get sales people, but it's, it's really, hey, somebody downloaded this, somebody came to an event, they're looking at this and search, how do I go figure out how I can help them and just have a successful conversation. I think all of those things, and the technology to backup those views that data is giving us is what is driving that shift. And it's allowing us to start to take advantage of it. It's certainly not over and it's definitely not done. But I am optimistic and excited that at least we understand that now. And we know that that's where we want to go and we've put all the right things in place to go do that.
That's awesome and definitely a journey. One of the things that you said that really resonated was, you mentioned how much closer you're working with sales over the past year and that's something that we've heard quite frequently and really lead us in this conversation around revenue technology or rev tech. As you think about marketing and sales teams come together as revenue teams. There are three trends, market trends that I know we've spoken about, and I like to call them the three P's, because I like alliteration: privacy, personalization, and proliferation. Privacy being obviously, you know, more and more dollars shifting to online channels, trying to reach buyers who are now all engaging digitally, because of the changes that we've been going through, which has then created a lot of noise and buyers wanting more privacy and kind of a backlash to the noise that we've created. But the flip side of privacy, right is really personalization. So buyers do want a digital effective, efficient journey, they want it very personalized from brands that they're doing business with. And then we as marketing and sales teams, right, have this proliferation of tools that we are trying to orchestrate behind the scenes to actually deliver on the first two promises of privacy and personalization to really create this one, fluid, digital buying journey. So I'm curious about your view on these trends and the impact that you see them having on the industry.
I love the alliteration, by the way, I think that's great. I agree with the three P’s by the way, I'm going to call those the new P’s. And I think that that's absolutely critical that we continue to have kind of the view into those three topics. Privacy is absolutely critical. I mean, the very fact that we're dealing with data in a completely different way and we're trying to move it and more away from business and into kind of your personal information, your PII is, it's absolutely important that we have a privacy aspect that everything we do, people aren't going to engage if it doesn't feel secure and if they don't feel like you're protecting their data and making it private. Additionally, as you think about even just for what my company does, selling the technology that manages and monitors the data center, then security and privacy has to go all the way through, not just from the products you sell on the promises you're trying to keep but how you do business as well. So privacy, absolutely huge. And I completely agree that that should be part of it. The personalization, I think is truly interesting. I think we've been in a lot of different places around personalization. I think in the beginning, it was like, “Oh, they put my name on it, they know who I am”. And then it quickly became “Why are they putting my name on it? They don't know me”. And then it was like, “Why are you serving me up ads about things that I looked at three years ago, I don't want that”, or “I looked at it three minutes ago, I don't want that I was just browsing”. So I think personalization has taken a little bit of an interesting turn. I think there's a way to manage personalization in a way that isn't creepy. And I think that that goes back to the privacy aspect, if you really understand the principles of what you're trying to build and support from both a business perspective, but also what your technology does and what your data standards are, then personalization can actually become a way to manage a customer success versus away just to over market to them and to try to always be where they show up. And that's really the lens that I like to put on personalization. And that's why I love your three P's. Because privacy and personalization to me go absolutely hand in hand. We're not here to jam something down your throat. But my goodness, we're going to know about you and be sure to we can meet your needs when we are able to. Last one on proliferation is again, you have to make the business support the same standards that you have as a company and with as much technology as you have to deal with these days that manages data, etc., then it's really, really important that you are able to put those same control points across all of your technology so that everything is working together to deliver that personalized, private experience. So I love those three P's. You know, honestly, Stacy, I think that if companies could get that right, every company, then I think the face of business would change faster than even it is right now.
True, you would then really achieve that true customer experience that we're all seeking. What about the teams themselves and the people behind right? So it's easy to talk about revenue technology and the technology coming together to support that buying journey that's now so digital. How have you thought about your teams, as you've brought marketing closer to sales and potentially even silos within marketing? How have you really addressed breaking down the silos to make that all work together?
Well, let's just say that's not job done yet. I think that that's just continuing. But again, I feel like I'm a broken record but I'm not trying to be. When you start putting the customer at the center, then you start changing silo work. And I'm really inspired by my own CEO who has made it very clear that working in a silo isn't the way of the future. But working very horizontally across each team is the only way to really truly accomplish some of the really big goals that a company tries to get to. And I think that that's, in how we've talked about rev tech and how we've talked about data and the technology of the future, it's that cross or that horizontal way of working, there's one go to market motion, it's sales and marketing. We're doing things to work together and if we have competing objectives or if we have competing technology, or if we’re even looking at the data differently, then we are clearly not putting our own customers at the center. So I think it has to start with, with the statement from your big leader, your big boss that says we're going to work differently and this is how we're going to work. And then I think it really comes down to trying to eliminate the worst part of yourself and say, “You know what, I'm not just going to go do this”, we have a saying here that we like to commit and go. And I love that as a company policy, because that really allows us to feel like we can move fast, and we can risk. But what I tell my team is you can commit and go all over the place. But if you're committing and going, and you've just left somebody out in the cold, because you made a decision that doesn't help them, then that doesn't get us anywhere. So how you think about using our own technology, our own data, our own campaigns, what it is our objectives that we're trying to go for, to go help somebody else commit and go, that's where I want you to go. So that's just a hopefully, a basic example of it starts at the top, but then it lays with us as people to say, “Come on now, let's actually try to make this kind of change that is more meaningful”.
For sure, for sure. I love that mindset of commit and go, which clearly reflects, you know, you are a transformational leader. It's obvious you love disrupting the status quo and asking those questions of why and really pioneering and driving change. So I'd love if you could maybe share the best piece of advice that you might have, for people who are listening?
Wow, it always comes back to the one thing is that you just have to be present, you have to be in the room, and you have to be able to ask the questions. If you want to be a disrupter, and you want to transform, you don't transform all by yourself. You do it with other people, otherwise, you're just in a box, making things shiny, and nobody else will know. I really do think that that's really the core of what integration and data and technology and the idea of putting the customer at the center brings. Disruption is amazing and everybody should be able to participate. But you have to a want to be there, you have to participate, put yourself out there. And you have to remember that you aren't a solo act. And that's the most important piece of advice, you are not a solo act, you can drive things you can drive change, that real change doesn't happen by yourself.
That's a great piece of advice. I really like that, that you're not a solo act. It's so, so true. As you look forward, we've talked a lot about the change that we've been navigating the last couple years, how do you see the future of the CMO role itself evolving? You mentioned you had changed from a potential career in law into technology. And I myself started out in engineering, and I'm now in marketing. So I'm just curious how you see that role of the CMO really evolving, and the kind of future skills that you think will be needed for this kind of role and for careers that can be multi-dimensional?
Yeah, I think that the CMO is very quickly and I know that you experienced this, the CMO is very quickly becoming a little bit of everything. It's not just the demand Gen person anymore, or it's not just the brand person anymore. And I think that when you're when you're looking at a career in marketing, and if your goal is to be a CMO, then it's about what you bring to the business and how well rounded are you in order to be able to come into that role. I really like in the fact that I understood - clearly I'm not a lawyer and I didn't go down that path - but at least I was interested and I learned and I was looking and I was thinking and preparing for that before I decided to take the plunge. And even then before I landed in marketing, I went around the company, I'd carried the bag for a little bit, I was on a call center for a little bit, I built a catalog. I mean, there were so many different things that I did before I actually decided “You know what, I think marketing is the discipline I want to be in”. But it was the discipline I wanted to be in because I felt it offered me the most opportunity to be and have a flexible career. And that's, that's what I think is the goal of a CMO. Please other CMOS do not stand still, your company needs you to be multifaceted. They need you to be technology proficient, they need you to know more about data than the data scientists, they need you to understand how to get around the corner and where to take a company. So if you take the time to learn all that into bring all that to bear, then you're going to be the best version of a CMO that your company is going to need and that's, you know what if I apply that to a CEO, if I apply that to I can apply that anywhere but I'm passionate about marketing so I just tried to bring all those in the marketing as well.
Agreed, that well-rounded approach to marketing is so critical as marketing really leans into being the growth engine of the company, you need to be able to see the problems and the opportunities really from different perspectives. Gabie, as the podcast is coming to a close here, I would love if you would leave our listeners with maybe some thoughts around what gets you and your team excited when you think about the future of our space.
What gets me and my team excited - outside of every other Friday off, - I'm sure you are feeling that too Stacy - honestly, it’s really about driving transformation inside a company that has a very long and rich history of innovation. And being a part of that innovation team to take us to the next level, it is super important. I think the only other thing that they get excited about is the opportunity that I give them to go invent on their own, to innovate on their own. And I think that that's what we all have to do, right, give each other space to use your brains. Because when you use your brain in another capacity, it's going to come back and it's going to be fully ready to go on the transformation at hand. So when I think about our space, having that mindset coming into it, especially in my space, but in technology as a whole, we are at the cusp of the next wave, I believe of technology innovation. For a long time we've been going into the cloud, I think we're going to be coming really head to head with the edge soon, there's going to be what we think about was normally in the future, all the data coming off of cars and watches and refrigerators and roombas. All of that is going to start to change the dynamic even more and I think not staying still and understanding how to embrace that and drive the next evolution of technology change, that's what I personally get just amped up about.
That is awesome, I love it and Gabie I'm so excited again that you joined us today for the conversation. Really enjoyed our discussion as usual and I'm very much looking forward to our next conversation.
Me too, Stacy. Let's make it soon.
Thank you so much.