By @SimonCocking. Great interview with  Tamara McCleary  | Top 25 Influencer and named to the Irish America Business 100 in 2016.

What is your background briefly?

My journey is a winding road. I started out in the late 80’s as a registered nurse, working in the ER, neonatal intensive care and trauma/ life flights/helicopter emergency care. Toward the end of my clinical career, I was a hospice nurse caring for children and adults with terminal illness, and it was this detour on my career path that dramatically changed my outlook on life while in my twenties. I had a defining moment or an awakening and I deeply understood and recognized we all have a limited and finite time to leave our stamp upon the world. From there I went back to school and to fund my education I took on a role as VP of sales and marketing for one of the very first wearable tech companies in the healthcare space. After enjoying much success, and finding that I was deeply passionate about marketing in the technology space, I launched my own consulting firm and I’m still enjoying the ride. My agency, Thulium, works with many of the top companies in the Martech, IoT, AI, Cloud and Mobile space, (Verizon, Dell, SAP, SYNNEX, IBM, PTC, Marketo and Huawei to name a few), on their brand messaging, particularly in the social media arena.

Is it a logical progression to what you do now?

It certainly is not what anyone would consider a traditional progression, however, looking back now, it all makes perfect sense, the pieces fit beautifully together. As a nurse and cancer researcher, my job was to fix problems and make people’s quality of life better, all the while harnessing technology, data and analytics. My friend, Maggie Chan Jones, CMO at SAP has said that being a Chief Marketing Officer is about blending, “the art and science of marketing,” and I could not live into her words more fully than what I’ve demonstrated in my own life and career. My role currently is truly an amalgamation of art and science.

1 min pitch for what are you doing now?

We take brands in the B2B and Enterprise space to the next level of success through strategic brand storytelling, personalized customer engagement, and account based marketing on the social media platforms in order to successfully reach the target market at the right place, right time, with the right message on the right channel.

You have a lot of cool interests, how do you balance them all?

There is no such thing as balance…since the world turned digital we are all connected 24/7. Instead, I take a lesson from my early days in end-of-life care….I ask myself if I am happy with how I am living my 24 hour day. I am reverse engineering my life…I’m beginning with the end in-mind. What is it that I want to have experienced before I leave this place? This is what causes me to be brave, take calculated risks, and never ever settle for the status quo.

How do you define Digital Transformation and what do you suggest people do to achieve it?

Digital Transformation has been tossed around so much that I’m not sure it carries a salient meaning anymore. It’s been sliced and diced and had so many conferences dedicated to it, but yet no one walks away with a clear definition or strategy. I believe this is due to digital transformation meaning different things to to different people, in different industries. However, for simplicity of limited discussion here, let’s define it as “the implementation of digital technology in traditionally human-centered business.” With this definition in-mind, the application of Big Data, Cloud, Marketing Technology (Martech), Artificial Intelligence, (AI), and Machine Learning, we are beginning to understand the customer in ever greater depth and we are able to solve business problems more quickly by harnessing machine learning technology to increase operational efficiency and productivity. As business is enabled to create their own intelligent services, machine learning is transforming what is possible in optimizing internal and external facing systems and processes. I believe the next disrupter in business will be AI and machine learning.

We love AR / VR, but the last few years the predictions have been ahead of the uptake, are we at a tipping point yet for its wider usage?

We’ve seen very little in the way of technological innovation the past year on the consumer products side of the AR/VR, particularly in the areas of decreasing consumer technology costs and solving some of the physical effects of the technology (heavy head gear issues, dizziness due to frame rate, etc.). AR on the other hand is taking many steps forward. Take, Pokemon Go, a perfect example of the desire for consumers to use even the most basic of AR technology. AR is also taking off in the industrial sector too. I’m far more bullish on AR as the business and healthcare use cases currently are very promising, and incredibly practical.

What might marketing look like in the future? Will it all be completely personalised or something else?

I believe we will continue to see an evolution of the current marketing space not a revolution. Take for example banking and Fintech. At one point people said the bank branch would be replaced by the ATM. After that, we were told the brick and mortar bank would be replaced by online banking. Neither of these things happened, in fact, what we had were complimentary customer channels. I believe we are seeing this as well with Amazon and it’s purchase of Whole Foods.

Marketing will continue to become more personalized, however, there is a fine line in personalization. That creepy versus sexy factor in personalization. Customers expect brands to know them and not push notifications to them they don’t care about, or send advertisements to them about products and services they don’t need or want. This fine line walk we must do is to harness the data we need to deliver the expected and desired level of personalization to surprise and delight our customers while also safeguarding their privacy. Part of creating this level of personalization is creating a trusted relationship with the customer. Look at how Amazon and Netflix have personalized their marketing. It’s so fine-tuned that it doesn’t even look like they are trying to sell us anything. Instead, it looks like they are recommending products, services, and entertainment that we would enjoy because they care about us enough to know what we like and what we don’t like.

I imagine a future where we are in an autonomous pod to move from place to place, (we won’t need to own vehicles anymore), and AR will replace our devices…there will be no physical mobile phone in our pockets and purses, no more computer screens, and physical laptops…and of course because of AI and machine learning, (and quantum computing paired with machine learning), all advertising will be highly personalized to us individually as we move about our environment. With the wave of our hand we can pull up and access anything, or remove it from our field of vision. (And I predict, those that are visually impaired will also be able to “see” through a type of AR technology or neural implant.)

Are we all our own brands now, and if so, what tips would you give to be a good brand ambassador?

Absolutely YES! We are all brands. If you haven’t started consciously building your own personal brand, it is critical you start doing so now, because you have a personal brand whether you have co-created it or not. In today’s merging virtual and physical world, your online brand is critical to nurture. In fact, this has always been the case. Before social media we built our personal brands through face-to-face networking and the building of our personal resume. Today it’s just more visible and easily accessible by anyone and everyone. A compelling and robust online persona is mission critical in growing professionally. Consider, you have two similar candidates for a job, one has a very basic online presence, and one has an online following in the tens or hundreds of thousands, with positive recommendations from others and active posting as a thought leader in the area for which you desire your perfect candidate to possess? Which candidate brings more to the brand? The invisible persona or the thought leader?

It is a fascinating time. Those who are actively cultivating a compelling personal brand have a significant leg-up within industry.

As far as tips go:

Pick a lane to build your expertise in and stick with it. What do you want to be known for?
Make sure your area of expertise is something brands would be interested in AND you have a passion for.

Build a PROFESSIONAL social media presence on LinkedIn and at least two of the following: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat.

Build relationships via social media. Meet people online and then translate it to offline meetings at conferences and events. In the end, there are no short cuts to real relationships, and relationships are the most important thing.

More about Tamara McCleary

As an internationally recognized keynote speaker and thought leader on technology, branding, and marketing, Tamara McCleary is ranked by Klout, Kred and Klear in the Top 1% of global Social Media In?uencers. Onalytica has also ranked Tamara a Top 5 Robotics, Top 10 Augmented Reality, Top 15 Martech, Top 25 AI/Machine Language, Top 50 Big Data, Top 50 Blockchain, Top 50 Digital Transformation and Top 100 IoT Influencer in 2015, 2016 & 2017. Tamara is an IBM Futurist and was ranked by LeadTail as the 3rd most mentioned person on Twitter by CMO’s. In addition, in 2016 Tamara was named the Most Influential Woman in Martech by B2B Marketing, and is currently the CEO of Thulium, an agency specializing in B2B and Enterprise marketing.


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