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Building a marketing organisation for a world of hybrid selling

Ann Boza-Lobo is not afraid of a challenge. The IBM veteran surprised even herself when she took on the role of VP of Demand Generation & Growth at Kyndryl.

by Momentum Staff

October 22, 2021

Account-Based Growth

Ann Boza-Lobo, Vice President of Demand Generation and Growth Marketing at Kyndryl, on how the IBM spin-off is transforming growth marketing.

Ann Boza-Lobo is not afraid of a challenge. The IBM veteran – who, by her own admission, thought she would work with the tech giant until her retirement – surprised even herself when she took on the role of Vice President of Demand Generation and Growth at Kyndryl.

But the lure of creating a brand-new marketing organisation was just too strong to resist.

Kyndryl is a spin off like no other. The managed infrastructure services spin off from IBM will go public in November with 90,000 employees spread across 63 countries, 459 managed data centres, 3000 patents and 200 more pending, and revenue upwards of $19 billion.

As Boza-Lobo, who was speaking in a keynote session at ITSMA Marketing Vision 2021, rightly states: “Companies like this don’t come along every day. This was a chance to build a company from scratch, not just a marketing organisation. It has been great to be involved in it.

“Having the opportunity to construct a marketing organisation in a business of this size with a completely blank slate is unique and I’ve loved being a part of it.”

But the trouble with a blank-slate project is often knowing where to start – if absolutely everything needs to be done, then an overwhelming inertia can set in. Boza-Lobo overcame this by taking a very methodical three-step approach.

“Of course, there was plenty to do,” she says. “But that was the challenge facing us. We started by breaking the problem down into three areas. First, we wanted to seize the opportunity. Second, we wanted to build the brand. And, finally, we wanted to activate Kyndryl.

“Seizing the opportunity meant three things to us. First, and most importantly, we wanted to inspire and attract new talent. That was critical. Then we wanted to map customer lifetime value and our appeal to new customers, both of which meant we had to truly understand what our customers wanted.

“When it came to building a brand, we had to first come up with a name. Kyndril, which comes from kinship and tendril and talks to both our investment in people and how we help our customers grow, was what we settled on after consulting with linguistic experts and legal representatives and going through about 2,000 names.

“Once we had a name we could build an identity and define our internal culture.

“The next stage was to activate all of that. We used our people-first approach as we did things like stand up a website and our digital-facing channels. When we were hiring, we were very clear that we wanted a leader in every chair but that everyone from the top of the organisation to the bottom would contribute to activation.”

That principle was no better illustrated than by CEO Martin Schroeter leading a customer digital event intended to create intimacy and transparency with customers.

“We want to put the customer at the centre of everything,” Boza-Lobo explains. “It was important for Martin to lead that event, and we actually asked our customers who they would want to hear from within our organisation. There were some very technical questions that our customers wanted to ask and so we also brought in our CHRO and CIO too.

“We want to create trust between ourselves and our customers and the only way to do that is to open up and show our human side. As a marketing organisation, we want to truly do things differently and pair with the business to become a catalyst for growth.”

We want to create trust between ourselves and our customers and the only way to do that is to open up and show our human side.

Ann Boza-Lobo, VP of Demand Generation & Growth Generation at Kyndryl

That desire to do things differently also applies to how the marketing organisation is structured. There are five key functions and all of them are aligned to business objectives, as Boza-Lobo explains: “The five functions that we have are brand strategy and content, customer experience and engagement, offering and ecosystem, marketing strategy and transformation, and demand generation and growth.

“The first oversees our brand and reputation, campaigns and advertising, social strategy, content, and sponsorships. Our customer experience and engagement team owns account-based marketing, life-cycle management, customer insight, NPS, and creates the frameworks for how we engage the field.

“Our offering and ecosystem team oversee product marketing and how we package up our offering, develop our value proposition and define our relevancy. They also lead on our ecosystem marketing and work with partners, which is absolutely critical for us.

“The marketing strategy and transformation function is also really interesting. They have ownership of how marketing works and how we grow, including budgets, operations, process, and our culture and talent programmes.

“My area of demand generation and growth sounds fairly self-explanatory, but we are also doing things quite differently to the norm. This is performance marketing where we want to surround our customer, but it is not a volume business. The goal for us is to foster strong relationships, build trust and confidence, and show up in places where our customers are. A campaign strategy team within my team builds an automated customer journey but we want the customer experience to be a people-based experience wherever possible. There is a clear understanding that we value the quality of the experience over the quantity of leads generated.”

This approach, much like everything at Kyndryl, is new, different, and the product of a culture of innovation.

“We want to do things differently,” Boza-Lobo says. “We want our people to be leaders and to trust them to succeed. But we also know that we won’t get everything right first time. We have a culture of breaking things down and building them back better, and that is why I’m confident we can overcome any challenge and make this a success.”

Discover more about marketing organisation design here.

This content was drawn from the Transforming into a Growth Catalyst session at the ITSMA Marketing Vision 2021 conference. The full recording of this and all sessions are available on demand at no cost for ITSMA members and for a minimal fee for non-members.

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