IBM’s base is shrinking.
Tech pros in the B2B world know and love IBM. But these ‘pure geeks’ – the Senior IT Managers and Technology Directors who look after a company’s infrastructure - are no longer getting promoted to the boardroom, where big-ticket IT decisions are made.
As technology becomes more deeply ingrained in all aspects of business, the role of CIO is increasingly going to people with management, finance and consulting backgrounds, rather than technology skills.
Which means that multi-million dollar IT investment decisions are now regularly being made by people unfamiliar with the IBM brand, let alone its technology and solutions.
Don’t chase current CIOs - create brand new ones.
Eschewing the obvious route of trying to influence the current crop of C-suite executives, IBM decided to play the long game. Ogilvy & Mather set about creating a future generation of executive-level decision makers, equally well-versed in the fields of technology and business.
IBM decided to teach a class in how to become a CIO, and offered places to the most promising members of their traditional base: Senior IT Managers.
Stop sending eDMs, start delivering MBAs.
A partnership between IBM, CBS Interactive and Charles Sturt University delivered an MBA-level course that helps Senior IT managers make the career leap from the server room to the boardroom.
The core of the idea relied the 3-way partnership that leveraged the relevance of the brand (IBM), the reach of the publisher (CBSi) and the credibility of the University (CSU).
The curriculum was drawn from the University’s online MBA course and designed to augment the IT Managers’ technical knowledge with the management skills they need to pursue a leadership-level career.
Editorial coverage, on-site advertising and direct messages to the publisher’s audience of Senior IT Managers drew in applicants, who were assessed on a multi-disciplinary set of criteria, including their social media footprint.
As the course progressed, the students self-organised into groups on social networks. This augmented the ongoing editorial coverage CBSi generated as it followed the participants and the lecturers through the educational experience.
After the final assessment, the top 10% of students graduated to ‘masterclass’ where they spent 3 months in, one-on-one mentoring with the country’s leading CIOs, generating a long tail of editorial content.
Forget ‘engagement’ – think career development.
The response to the NextGen CIO program was overwhelming - 300% more than we could handle - as IT managers clamored for a chance to move up the career ladder.
As they progressed through the 5 modules and final written assessment, our audience gave up their evenings and weekends, spending over 700 hours literally studying our content and brand values.
Although it’s fun to get re-tweets and it’s nice to be liked, you don’t build a B2B business by building a social fan-base – you do it by building the careers of the people who matter.
At the time of writing, 70% of the attendees sought to continue the relationship directly with the brand - it’s what we call ‘Return On Future Leadership’