IBM’s first chief marketing officer is Michelle Peluso, the former chief executive of flash-sale site Gilt, now part of the Hudson Bay Company.
The company formerly had senior leaders of its marketing efforts, but the CMO title is new. Peluso will report to Jon Iwata, IBM’s senior vice president for marketing and communications.
Peluso is “the ideal leader to accelerate and build on” IBM’s efforts to transform itself and its marketing, Iwata says.
She was most recently a venture partner at Technology Crossover Ventures, which she joined last May. But she has marketing experience from an earlier stint as Citigroup’s global consumer chief marketing and Internet officer.
Peluso’s Gilt pedigree indicates a consumer focus, which may come in handy as IBM (IBM) seeks to put a consumer-friendly face on business applications of all kinds.
It also comes as IBM is pushing Watson, its artificial intelligence star technology, as a way to ease virtually all modern jobs from medical research to shopping.
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Over the past few years or so, the role of chief marketing officer has evolved and grown considerably. Once seen as the people in charge of brochures and email campaigns, chief marketers are now getting considerable budget to get things done faster, without having to go through traditional IT channels.
That means they have more money to spend on tech services, in particular for things like customer relationship management or sales tracking software. The feeling has been that traditional IT departments were too slow moving to help companies that need to be fast on their feet to survive.
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So why is IBM creating the chief marketing officer role now, at the ripe old age of 105? According to a company statement, the move signals the “transformation of marketing—investing in digital skills, using data to deeply understand clients … and building consumer-grade experiences.”
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IBM is no slouch when it comes to marketing. Its campaigns around Watson, for example, are the envy of competitors. Steve Gold is the chief marketing officer for the Watson business unit, so while there was no corporate CMO up till now, there have been people who carry the title at the business group level.