There was a time when most IBMers wore uniforms of pin-striped suits, white button-down shirts, rep ties and wing-tipped shoes. Now there's a lot more color — in speech and dress, thanks to the leadership of executives like Tami Cannizzaro.
Cannizzaro is a vice president of marketing in the industry solutions division at Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM. She embraces social media, thinks of herself as a brand advocate and credits her employees for being smart enough to share appropriate information about themselves and their company.
"I always hear people say 'I don't have time for social media.' What I tell members of my team is that I prefer then to be active advocates for our brand, making sure they are aware of what's happening in the industry, rather than answer their 200 emails from internal type activity."
"It's really important, especially for large brands, to use social media to be active and keep their hands on the pulse of what's happening, especially in marketing. As a marketer, the landscape is changing very, very quickly. It's important to stay fresh and really understand how to use social, because it's a very powerful tool."
New Tools, Old Values
Cannizzaro has hundreds of connections on LinkedIn, maintains a blog and prefers to tweet rather than take notes, even during business meetings. She defies the stereotype of that historical IBMer. But she likes to think IBM employees have always been social, explaining:
What's new are the tools and the externalization of it. And I think IBM's heritage in selling and in building the IBM company on a set of brand values that all of our employees have internalized has helped us keep our voice consistent, even though maybe it's not as consistent as an advertisement or a press release. There's still a consistent brand value that comes across in the large volume of social conversations that IBMers are driving."
Cannizzaro was one of the speakers at the Westchester Digital Summit in White Plains, N.Y. yesterday, where she impressed a packed house with tips on using social media. "If you haven't used Twitter, just start. No one is listening in the beginning anyway, so there is no reason to be uncomfortable," she said.
"For IBM, we're working with companies to really transform through social. We see it as not just social media, but really, truly as game-changing for business. So when you think of supply chain, for example, trends can be read in social media that might help you develop products or drive sales. It's just as important for marketing, customer service and, of course, e-commerce."
"We see it as transformational for business."
What's in a Name?
Cannizzaro urged attendees at the summit it pick memorable names on social media, especially Twitter. Her handle is @tamicann — an especially appropriate moniker for someone who has demonstrated a wide scope of capabilities.
After a career as a research analyst on Wall Street, Cannizzaro received her MBA from New York University's Stern School of business. During her tenure at IBM, she has held a variety of positions supporting the rollout and global launch of IBM’s Smarter Planet, Smarter Commerce and service-oriented architecture (SOA) Initiatives. She also established the IBM IMPACT and IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit Conferences.
A former ballet dancer, she likes road trips, never wears a watch and loves music — especially if it is sung by Johnny Cash. Follow her on Twitter and she'll follow back. It's social media, after all, and Cannizzaro epitomizes the socially-inspired digital marketer, as the following CMSWire video shows.
Title image and videography by Asa Aarons.