Business Marketing Association 2011 Conference Unleashes Torrent of Content & Data Strategy

Published June 19, 2011

The following is an exclusive by David Dalka (@dalka) a Chicago-based digital business strategy consultant.

In the first week of June, the Business Marketing Association (BMA) held its annual B2B marketing conference in Chicago. The show over-delivered on its “Unleash” theme with a tidal wave of information about the changing nature of strategic marketing, business models, content and data strategy. Incoming BMA chairperson Al Maag, Chief Communications Officer of Avnet, had this to say about outgoing chairperson Gary Slack, “The annual conference is the jewel in our thought leadership BMA crown thanks to Gary Slack. He has consistently attracted leading marketing authorities to speak creating a haven of knowledge transfer. My responsibility will be to expand this effort for our members globally year round.”

Some sessions explored the changing nature of the marketing workplace. Rick Segal, Chief Practice Officer of gyro, facilitated a thought provoking panel featuring Maggie Johnson, author of the book Distracted : The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age. The closing keynote by Bob Thacker advocated unleashing workplace creativity as did a panel with Adrian Joseph of Parker Hannifin and Randall Rozin from Dow Corning sharing success stories of driving difficult changes via education and persistence.

Most topics clustered around the increasing importance of organizing content, data and internal and external communications to create strategic competitive advantage. Roy Vallee, Chairman and CEO of Avnet, the first CEO to ever speak at the BMA conference discussed how to integrate communications into corporate culture. Ben Edwards outlined emerging IBM strategy for organizing employee skill sets in a worldwide portal. The increasing importance of data strategy and how companies are struggling to utilize data effectively was debated with Darryl McDonald, EVP at Teradata and John Coe, President of

For some the conference highlight might have been the Odessey Chicago boat cruise which departed the Sheraton and went through an opened Lake Shore Drive bridge to Lake Michigan on a picture perfect evening. For others the highlight was clearly keynote speaker Seth Godin, who gave a dazzling speech discussing his most recent book, Poke the Box, which urges people to take immediate action. Seth stated that “The ability to do the opposite of what our instinct tells us to do is scarce – fight the resistance. It’s turning us into sheep and pushing us to fit in. We’re stuck.” Seth also encouraged empowering experimentation, ”If failure is not an option, neither is success.” Companies need to select new leaders that can lead complex change successfully.

The conference takeaway was crystal clear, everyone from the most senior level executive down to the newest employee need to be empowered to drive real-time marketing change that impacts corporate outcomes. The opportunity cost of ignorance is escalating rapidly and is simply too high for corporations and individuals to tolerate indifference and business as usual. The lessons of this conference need to reach far beyond attendees to those that are indifferent about how these topics impact daily lives in our society.