Exploring Digital Storytelling And Customer Engagement With Michelle Peluso And Sir Dennis Maloney

26 Nov , 2019 podcasts

Exploring Digital Storytelling And Customer Engagement With Michelle Peluso And Sir Dennis Maloney

CMO Panel | Age Of Digital Storytelling


With people migrating to the online world, digital storytelling has become the forefront of connectivity. For businesses, digital storytelling has transformed into a tool that delivers their products and services to the modern consumer from the desk to their pockets. Bringing in two panelists to the show, we listen to Michelle Peluso, SVP and COO at IBM, and Sir Dennis Maloney, Chief Digital Officer at Domino’s Pizza, talk about what goes behind execution when it comes to digital storytelling today. Hear what Michelle and Dennis have to say about this modern age of digital storytelling and how it bridges the gap between the physical and the digital experience of customers, creating a more intimate connection with brands, products, and services.

Listen to the podcast here


Exploring Digital Storytelling And Customer Engagement With Michelle Peluso And Sir Dennis Maloney

We’re excited to talk about what goes behind execution when it comes to digital storytelling today. I’m going to bring my two panelists up here. We’re going to look at a couple of case studies. We’re going to talk about a lot of the pragmatic realities, the data that we’re using, the technology that’s being used and how teams are structured. I’m excited to have this conversation. Without further ado, I want to bring up my two panelists, Michelle Peluso, SVP and COO at IBM, and Sir Dennis Maloney, the Chief Digital Officer at Domino’s Pizza. We’re going to do an icebreaker. What we wanted to discuss as long as we’re talking about pragmatism are zombie apocalypses. Assuming that you are retreating to the hills to write out a zombie apocalypse, we’re not going to go on a desert island or anything, what are the three most important things you’re bringing with you, Dennis?

When you said that, I only have one, which is a big double-edged machete. My other two is going to go with air freshener and flypaper. Seriously, if it’s the zombie apocalypse, you’re going to need both of those ways underrepresented.

I’m a mom, how can I not bring my family? We’re all together, but my husband and my center are super good in a crisis outdoors situation. I think that would be good. I might bring pizza, maybe stacks of Domino’s Pizza because it is my favorite food. I would bring a collection of great books. That’s my three.

My wife and I have discussed this at length before. I might have had a head start, but what we’ve always said, the first thing we do is divide and conquer. One person gets antibiotics, the other person gets guns. From there, I think that the knife is the right direction, a multi-tool or something. If you’ve got those three things, you’re going to be pretty good.

It’s a very romantic conversation.

Antibiotics are always the funny ones.

My husband and I haven’t talked about that.

Before antibiotics, any random little accident would take you out. I feel like if you’re wandering up into the hills to go through the remnants of civilization. There’s going to be a lot of rust and other kinds of problems.

In an agile fashion, can I adapt my list? I’m ditching the books. I’ll go with antibiotics.

Multifaceted Background And Agile Marketing Teams

We’ve got our two panelists here that have gotten amazing multifaceted backgrounds. One of the things that we’re going to talk about is when you can bring together interdisciplinary teams, you can drive great results. To the frameworks, we’re going to use to talk about this kind of the imagined create evolve loop of getting ideas to see the light of day, then measuring the effectiveness of them in order to evolve toward better outcomes over time. The other thing is looking at when you’re doing the creation, the role that data technology and teams play. How can you bring to bear modern technology, modern access and better ways of processing data? The interdisciplinary teams that are going to be there to get that, imagine create evolve loop running. When we look at your two backgrounds, they are amazing multifaceted skillsets. You’re on the board at Nike. You’ve got experience in the White House. You had a liberal arts education and have also been the CEO of many technology companies. I’d like to hear a little bit from you about how does that multifaceted background applies itself to the problems that you’re solving today?

It was 2002, I was a CEO of Travelocity. I was young, clearly. People came down from the hills of Wasatch having written the Agile Manifesto. It was the first time that a group of leaders took a look at the way software was engineered and developed and said, “There’s potentially a way to do this differently. There’s a potentially a way to think cross-functionally different skills and break things down.” That blossomed into the entire Agile Discipline. The manifesto was written at a time and place where the digital innovation was happening. The internet has become pervasive and teams, mine included, Travelocity, were thinking about, “How do you work differently in a digitally-led world?

We were one of the first adopters of agile at scale. I remember distinctly from then that as hard as it was, as many stumbles as we had, as many setbacks and failures, not one of us would ever go back. Having been through that transformation, we learned faster, iterated more, took ideas to fruition faster and tested them easier. Most of all, perhaps we grew as individuals because we were exposed to such different thinking. That led me on a life quest of understanding how do you take agile and apply it at scale to companies and different disciplines, not for software engineering. I’m proud to say at IBM, we have 5,000 marketers around the world but we fully practice agile. We have all the right tools and disciplines you would expect.

CMO Panel | Age Of Digital Storytelling

Age Of Digital Storytelling: One of the things that Watson is best at is ingesting ungodly amounts of disparate data and coming up with a way to package new user-friendly way insights.


Our teams have been through months of deep training. We have agile coaches. We still have our creative marketers, product marketers, telemarketers. We have our nine disciplines, data scientists, performance marketers, but they sit in agile teams that are geared toward working against, maybe they’re selling a certain product, audience, industry or geography. They have a mission. They have a set of goals, but they cross-functionally sit together all day, every day and work in agile. Maybe that’s a little bit of a metaphor of how I thought about my own career. How do you take the ability to sit with teams with different perspectives, with diverse ideas and outcomes, and bring bold ideas forward and get them done and have the agility and the humility?

The other thing is an undersold benefit of true agile. We don’t work agile and agitate, but the discipline of agile is humility because one of the most important, I would say almost religious discipline of agile, is the idea of a retrospective that every week or two weeks, whatever your sprint cycle is, you as a team reflect what did you do well, what could you have done differently, what do you improve, what are you going to do next week, how are you going to end? That forces humility because you’re going through it with the team every single time. It becomes part of your routine to say, “I’m feeling good about what I accomplished here. Don’t want to be the outcome on this one. Here’s how I thought about it. Here’s how I think I can do it differently.” That is a great thing to inculcate in teams.

It’s great to bring that up because agile marketing teams are definitely something that we’ll be talking about. An interesting thing about the modern conception of the agile marketing team, we work with brands across all different industries. Something interesting happened through the transformation that we’ve seen over the last few years or so is that the composition of these teams stays consistent. It’s an interdisciplinary collaboration amongst engineering capability, whether that’s product engineering and design or how that looks, traditional creative, then data science. Whether that’s analysts, people are going through reports or full-on data science, machine learning teams. When you can bring together that engineering, creativeness and data orientation and put that in one team that can operate in an agile fashion, those are the teams that are achieving the most sophisticated results.

The interesting thing about the history with over the last several years is that it grew out of a discipline that called itself a growth team. We see that in the organizations. If you’ve got a chief growth officer, a chief digital officer or a chief customer officer, you probably have an interdisciplinary team that looks like this and organized in that way. We also see the existing and product organization and in marketing organizations and that key is interdisciplinary. Where I’m going with this is that Dennis is the chief digital officer at Domino’s. Tell us about what is in your background that brought together that chief digital officer side and obviously, the convergence of technology and food that you live every day.

A quick origin story, I’m an engineer by trade. I’m a Navy nuke submariner, if you want to get detailed. It makes no sense to be in marketing, but I did the Navy for a good chunk of time and then left. I went to probably the most militaristic organization in the entire country, which was P&G. It’s a super easy transition into that organization from a marketing perspective. I went from there to a P&G startup and to Coke and I ended up at Domino’s. At Domino’s, I live in the in-between space. The chief digital officer for me is the person that lives between marketing and engineering and connects those two. I am the catalyst between those two groups. Our organization, those two groups are the two groups that work closer than any other two groups in our entire group, our entire company. It’s funny because you’re talking about the secret is trying to create that team. Our data scientists or SSI folks would be the third component to that, but people ask all the time, “What’s been the secret to this many years run for Domino’s?” It’s those two groups working together. It’s the two plus two equals five thing that everyone starts to realize the power and that’s where we live.

This is also why that old version of their creative and operations or data science is outdated. I don’t even understand that anymore. When I think about our teams, it’s individuals who have to be multidisciplinary and their own thinking. At the same time, the teams in agile have to be on this as well.

The Change In Digital Communication: Convergence Of Physical And Digital Experience

I looked at your history and I specifically honed in on where you were working when the app store was launched. You were at Travelocity and you were at Coca Cola, and a host today. I was made fun of for being young earlier. I was still in school. It was my senior year at school. I was in a computer science program at MIT when android launched in the app store and iOS had come out earlier that summer. I was fortunate enough to work directly with the Android team. Seeing that I went to Google, worked on Android after that. What led me to start my company a couple of years later was the on the ground conviction that I got on how I felt mobile was going to fundamentally change our interactions with each other and our relationships with brands and relationships with society.

Anchored in purpose, agile self-empowered teams with data as their common language can set the world on fire. Share on X

The reason for that was two-fold. I think that this brings the tension of how hard this problem is of this digital storytelling and the delivery of products and services to the modern consumer is that when we went from our technology interface being on her desk to being in our pocket, it became a much more intimate connection. We bring phones with us in every moment of our lives, no matter how personal, intimate they are. In most circumstances, we give them permission to interrupt our lives in all of these cases. On the one hand, that’s an amazing amount of power if you want to communicate with someone. They’re literally bringing this device around, which can share the context of how they’re going through their day and give you a way to reach them. On the flip side, it’s also going to fundamentally change their relationship with brands, products and services such that you need to meet their expectations. You need to deliver value to them.

When we looked at how a lot of organizations were organized around the places where they were communicating directly with customers, a lot of brands, the only thing that they were doing other than the delivery of their literal physical product was sending emails to them. A lot of those email strategies were sitting in silos. They may have been being run by a third party team. They were basically taking your billboard and TV strategy and putting them in an email inbox. When you look at how things change in the digital communication that comes into your phone and it’s interrupting your day, the bar for that to be relevant, and the bar for that to be valuable is substantially higher. You need to be able to create those interfaces with people in order to communicate.

We looked at, “How do we solve that tension?” We wanted to bring to bear data and technology in taking a modern approach, taking advantage of the data that we have access to and making sure that we can fulfill that consumer expectation. What we’re going to do is we’re going to look at a few different programs that are being run through the vein of advertisements and talk about what was behind the strategy here. How are we trying to fulfill consumer expectations? What do we look at in terms of the data that brought these to life? The first one that we’re going to look at is delivery insurance from Domino’s. Do you want to set us up for this? What was the kind of data that you looked at what causes you to originate the program? How do you measure the success of it? How did it come to life?

Two sentences story on Domino’s and who are we. The first one is we are a work in progress brand. The second one is we relentlessly pursue the perfect pizza experience. Those two sentences completely expressed what we’ve done over the past several years. We give our team members permission to fail. We create great experiences in a fast iterative, agile way. Delivery insurance is one iteration of what has been a long arc around our pizza tracker. A pizza tracker is when you place an order at Domino’s, you can track the experience throughout the store. Many years ago, that was a relatively new concept. Now, you can track all sorts of things, but from a consumer experience standpoint, as far as the perfect pizza experience, it used to be you’d play, you’d get on the phone, you’d talk to someone, they’d take your order and then you would sit at home and wonder did they get it right? Is it going to show up? How long is it going to take? Where is he going? Does he know where I live? Lord knows what was going to happen from that point forward.

We killed that back and put a lot of data and all of the components in place to answer that question for the consumer basically. Delivery insurance is a continuation of that theme. One more element on that, we guarantee a good delivery. If not, you can go on and we insure it. It’s a consumer language that people understand. It’s not couched as a guarantee. It’s more around insurance because it’s a different way of positioning the same idea. It’s something we’ve done as a brand from the very beginning. If you had a bad experience, we’ve always been willing to replace it. Now, we’ve couched it in some different marketing language, some different technology, understanding all the implications of that from a business perspective, because we have all the data. We’re fully integrated. It’s something we can do to create a perfect pizza experience.

There are a few things that work here. You mentioned that vertical integration of your systems is vitally important to be able to deliver this. The fact that you’ve got consistency across the country, you’re able to look at the data of the orders, track them throughout and communicate with people. Tell us a little bit about how you think about the convergence of the real-world physical experience and the digital experience that you’re delivering to people through the ordering and the pizza tracker.

Instantly, the pizza experience bounces back and forth between the digital and physical world a bunch of times through the experience. Everything from people orders online but then walk into the store, which is that physical-digital where the order goes from online into the store and goes back on from that tracker. The customer tracks it then gets delivered to their door. It’s constantly back and forth and measuring that data is something we can do because we do own the entire consumer experience. Everything from marketing to the consumer, to the manufacturing of the food, to the delivery of the product to their door. We never handed it to someone else, all the way to the follow-up of how was the experience. We circle that feedback all the way back around and you create a full loop. That is the key to experiences like this because we all have our stores, single POS, the ordering platform is fully integrated. All that’s happening throughout the entire system. We can do things like this in a way that’s difficult for other folks to execute and then iterate off it fast to create these interesting and unique consumer experiences, which we can then turn around and talk about our marketing and make part of our brand.

With all these handoffs going back and forth, what’s the average amount of time that the entire experience lasts for people?

From the minute a person thinks they want to order Domino’s to the minute their food is delivered, for the overwhelming majority is less than 30 minutes for customers. That assumes a probably about five to six minutes worth of ordering experience and a less than twenty minutes or so delivery experience once the products made.

We’re looking at less than 30 minutes and you’ve had multiple handoffs back and forth between different digital properties, maybe email confirmation, mobile app, the online website checking the pizza tracker or the physical experience of receiving the delivery. The ability to go back and forth and act on the real-time nature of how the person’s context, as well as the life cycle of the pizza, which is perhaps more important than the customer life cycle in this particular example. That ability to go back and forth like that, have that tight integration means that you’ve got a product experience and a marketing or a messaging experience that has intertwined with themselves. You need to have the teams together. Michelle, can you tell us a little bit more about how you’ve structured your own agile teams to bring them together and enable that tight integration?

CMO Panel | Age Of Digital Storytelling

Age Of Digital Storytelling: Connecting Coca-Cola’s brand of bringing joy directly with individuals is a way to take technology and experiences and make it work.


We have 200 agile teams across our entire marketing organization. We have some teams that sit above agile that serve all the agile teams but that’s important. That’s the way they work. That’s where they fit. They’re accountable together for a shared mission. They’re cross-disciplinary, but this is important too, each member of the team belongs to a guild. For instance, if you remember software engineering and you think about agile and software engineering, all of a sudden, the QA teams, the QA people were placed on the team with engineering, with architecture, with project management, and with design. You still need a common approach to quality assurance. Same as marketing, you still need a common approach to data science. You still need a common approach to things like event marketing or to things like creative and brand.

Our agile teams sit together as an agile team, but they have accountability to their discipline leader. The disciplines for us, I’ll take an example, if you think about data science. That’s going to be a small group that sits at the center that sets most of what they do is setting data standards, data governance and the technology tools that they want, all data scientists to deploy across the organization, but they also do things like best practice sharing. They helped me with talent reviews and making sure we’re getting the right data science on the right teams. It’s this interesting team model and both are critical. It’s critical that if you’re an event marketer, you keep learning how to get better as an event marketer, but it’s also critical in your day-to-day job that you’re performing against how IBM shows up in the world in financial services, how IBM shows up in the world for security products?

A Look At Data And Artificial Intelligence: The Case With Watson

The next thing that we’re going to look at is some work that Watson’s been doing recently. I know you guys have done a lot around the US Open. We’re going to look at a Fantasy Football spot here. I think the interesting parallel between these things is that when we look at pizza, one of the hottest pizzas, in particular, is one of the most perishable goods that exist. We look at giant technology behemoths. An example of that is Amazon. They can’t even figure out how to deliver groceries and without buying whole foods and they are working through that. We look at something like perishable hot pizza. How do you vertically, integrate that and deliver that through the digital experience? Another adage that we live by is that the value of data to your organization starts deteriorating as soon as it’s generated.

We see this in pizza’s lifecycle. If you can’t respond to exceptions, if you can’t give people those updates in real-time, in the right way, they quickly become useless because they become out of date. Sports is another important place for this. The work that Watson has been doing with Fantasy Football, even looking at real-time sentiment analysis in the media, I think is an interesting way to put this perishable data to work as well. Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired this work and how you put it in?

Let me step back. One of the things IBM introduced was the concept of AI to the world in Jeopardy when Watson showed up in Jeopardy. That was groundbreaking for everyone. How was that even possible that a computer can beat a human in a game show where you don’t even know the questions like Jeopardy, where there’s so much natural language contention like Paris? It could be Paris Hilton. It could be Paris, France. The concept that Watson could understand natural language and process it. Winning on Jeopardy was groundbreaking. That was a whole course as a brand introducing Watson to the world, introducing the concept of artificial intelligence to the world in ways that showed how humanity and technology could work together. As a matter of fact, the day after Watson won in Jeopardy, the ad in the New York time was humans win.

It was always this idea that man and machine are in partnership. We will forever be in partnership with artificial intelligence and the next iteration of that. We’re not a consumer brand. We power the world’s greatest brands. We’re a 109-year-old company that has helped change how the world works era after era. When we work on the biggest problems with our clients that the world has to offer, showing though consumers and individuals how artificial intelligence works, how Watson shows up in ways that are experiential and user friendly is a big mission of ours because we certainly know that people, in developers’ perceptions are shaped by their consumer experiences.

Going into Fantasy Football was a great place for us. First of all, it’s a developer rich audience. It’s a very critical audience for us from an IBM brand perspective. Second of all, it shows the power of AI at scale because there are lots of machine learning in the world that do this and say this in very predictive analytics. What Watson is able to do is to take lots of disparate data sources and to take dark data, people’s expressions, things that have not normally been turned into data before, and pull all that together and provide information, experiences, insight. The Fantasy Football is a good example of Watson at work.

Looking at that collaboration, working with ESPN through that, getting access to all the raw data feeds, being able to pull them all into Watson and then push it out into a pleasing user experience. Can you tell us a little bit about the collaboration that you have there between ESPN and Watson?

ESPN gave us huge amounts of access to data, but it’s also all sorts of other data sources, all media outlets, all published reports on people, all sentiment, social sentiment, and social analysis. That’s one of the things that Watson is best at is ingesting ungodly amounts of disparate data and coming up with a way to package new user-friendly way insights. The idea for us is to have fun with his experience and think about what it can mean in the context of your work. I’ll draw this back to marketing. We as marketers, and I know Dennis knows as well, you know this certainly from your job, it’s inconceivable how much more data we have now on our customers, our clients’ experiences than even three years ago, certainly than five years ago. It’s not even compared to ten years ago. We, as individuals can’t possibly process all that information. We can’t possibly understand all of it. It’s not humanly possible. I was looking at to see the day that we ingested a billion data points on client behavior in the past couple of months. I believe in data points. I have a team of 5,000 people. We can’t possibly process all that.

This idea that artificial intelligence, for us, Watson, what does it do for marketers? Agile teams get notified by Watson on their campaigns. Here’s where your next best opportunity to optimize is, in your search funnels, with creative assets, maybe your displacement in a certain channel, maybe it’s landing page is not converting, maybe it’s a similar content. That’s what we want. We want people to play with it in their lives and places where they’re having fun. Maybe it’s USTA or the US Tennis Association, maybe it’s Fantasy Football. Play with it. Experience it and then dream and imagine what it can do for you in a professional context as well.

The chief digital officer is the person that lives between marketing and engineering and connects those two. Share on X

Looking at all these new data sources and understanding how we process it, how we contextualize them, understand them and then translate that into great user experiences is obviously a massive challenge that we’re all dealing with. A big part of it is because not only are we trying to do it on our own, but it’s a highly competitive market. A lot of the changes that have happened, especially due to mobile app stores, delivery, and aggregation. A lot of different things that have come into play from a competitive standpoint means that the bar is constantly being raised. When we looked in the early days at our company, we saw this tension between the potential that mobile computing was going to bring and the expectations from customers. One of the things that we did over the last couple of years has worked with Forrester to work on this project called The Brand Humanity Index.

What we wanted to do was put a quantitative measure on what we all intuitively believe or what we intuitively understood, which was that the more human that our brand can feel, the better results that we’re going to see, the better loyalty we’re going to have, higher propensity to purchase. Importantly for today’s environment, a higher ability to forgive. I think that forgiveness, understanding of the human on the other side of what’s being delivered to you, whether it’s a real-world or a digital product or service, I think is important for customer empathy. We wanted to go and measure this. One of the things that we’ve now seen in the second year of doing the survey, which we did globally, is that consumer expectations are continuing to rise. When we look at some of these examples, delivery insurance is an amazing one where when we look at that ad, you see the human that owns the store. You see that human that shows up on your doorstep and delivers the pizza. That experience of being able to humanize and understand the brand, I think is vital to success.

When you talk about Watson, the earliest days of Watson were like, “How do we take something that’s inherently not human and make it be a part of people’s daily life?” Make it be a part of something that you conceptualize with humanity. Obviously, the name Watson helps a lot, but this also goes back to what we’ve been talking about this whole week, which is how do you become the hero of your story? The third spot that we’re going to look at is a spot where someone becomes the hero in the family story for the evening. I’m not going to steal the thunder on it, but you want to introduce this one and how you conceptualize it.

Reality check, pizza is fun food. The brand, everything about our food and the brand should be fun. This is all part of their relentless pursuit of the perfect pizza experience. The pizza experience extends beyond the ordering process. Does it extend to how do you get your family home? How do you put that in a context that people have understood literally for decades? Ever since, out on the Wild West ring the dinner bell. How do you create that fun gathering of people to experience fun food? How do you enable that with technology in a way that we can talk about as being new and unique to our brand, but very familiar to the entire country? That’s basically what this ends up doing. It is enabled by all the things that we’ve been building over a decade. It connects together all different components of our experience, and yet it still feels familiar, but in a unique new way. We’re a food company that’s advertising technologies, which is into it, a little bit strange and unique, but it’s become who we are as a brand. It is the experience more than the food. It is the entire pizza experience ordering to delivery to process.

Let me hold that thought because I think it’s such an important one. As our commercials for IBM, all of our commercial customers. I get to talk to a lot of CEOs. As a board member of Nike, I see this all the time. The idea of reconceiving who you are as a brand and repositioning yourself or thinking differently. Nike’s mission has always been to bring performance and inspiration to every athlete. *If you have a body, you’re an athlete. That has led them into many new territories. The Nike run apps that you’re running with Nike and you’re providing all this information and data. That shoes now can monitor your performance and progress and do things. I was in Washington Square Park when Nike dropped virtually some new shoes in the park. You literally saw thousands of people streaming out to Washington Park to virtually find the shoes. The first X people got shoes. By the way, the rest was directed into partner stores. Not even Nike stores, but partner stores, which was a great closed-loop with their wholesale partners. We talk to companies all the time. They would say, “I used to think of myself as a rental car company but now, I think of myself as someone that has the ability to move things.” I think this idea of repositioning, reconceiving your assets. Domino’s is brilliant at that. It’s always been about the entire experience. Not just think about the pizza, but the entire experience has been brilliant.

We’re a 60-year-old company and yet for years, we didn’t think about the ends or experience. We are very focused on just the food.

That’s such a reimagination that many brands are going through right now. I think it’s powerful.

A catalyst that we’ve seen for a lot of that is an actual ability to speak directly to the customer. An interesting example, we’ve been talking to Disney about their challenges around in figuring out what their voice is going to be. We think about Disney and all these iconic characters and you say to yourself like, “How could they not?” I feel like they’d been talking to me, but if you think about the last several decades outside of the theme parks. Disney, the brand itself didn’t communicate directly with its customers. It’s in this interesting challenge where you’ve got providers like Netflix and Prime Video and such that are disintermediating them from their customers. They’re betting the farm. They’ve completely reorganized their entire company in order to chase down Disney streaming services and opportunities.

As part of doing that, they’re not going to Disney. The brand itself will have a direct relationship with the customer. We needed to think about how do we speak to people? What do we sound like? What is the humanity behind the Disney brand? When you look at it, you mentioned P& G as another great example of this were a lot of the CPG universe was about brand advertising and IO placement. Their customers were not necessarily the end customer. It was the wholesaler and it was all these, like Disney’s end customers, in a lot of cases was the cable bundle. It wasn’t literally the person on the other side of the TV. Now, that you’re facing competition where it’s either the aggregators on one side, Netflix, Amazon, whatever it happens to be, or more direct to consumer experience with the CPG world, you’re looking at Instagram brands and media and entertainment, such as, YouTube creators, and Twitch streamers. Those brands are challenging themselves to say, “How do I get out of the middle and go and talk directly to customers again? When I’m going to talk directly to customers, what do I sound like?”

That reconceptualization has been an important transformation that a lot of companies have been going through. Tied into that is how do we bring our voice to life? How do we communicate with people? What are the teams that we’re going to use to iterate on this? What’s the technology that we’re used to delivering it literally? In a lot of cases, you do need to challenge yourself and say, “The goal is to talk to people. What is the product or service that I can deliver or the change that I can make in order to be able to do that?”

New Source Of Data, Listening To The Customer Journey, And Breaking Down Silos

We will be shifting gears from that conversation a little bit. I want to talk about data specifically. I’d like to hear from each of you, what’s a new source of data that you’re using today that is allowing you to run a strategy that you wouldn’t have even conceived of years ago?

CMO Panel | Age Of Digital Storytelling

Age Of Digital Storytelling: From the mobile-first mentality, we now move into the real data connected environment with machine learning and AI.


Let me quickly comment one more thing on the previous topic because Coca-Cola is graciously bringing us here now. Coca-cola gave me a scholarship to college, so I’m particularly biased and particularly big fan. I was having this conversation down at headquarters with some of the senior team. We’re having the same conversation. Sometimes you think it’s so big, it’s got to be so bold. Even when Coca Cola started putting your own name bottles and machines that you could get, I can’t even tell you. I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but the number of times I’ve gotten texts from people like, “I got you a Michelle bottle of Coca Cola.” My kids are like, “We had to get mine like weird names are free.” It is very odd. I don’t know what’s going to happen soon. That idea of humanizing, personalizing, connecting with people in real ways. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be the biggest overhaul. Sometimes, it can be those moments that matter is recognizing the brand of Coca Cola brings happiness. The brand of Coco-Cola brings joy and connecting it directly with individuals can be a powerful brand. A way to take technology and experience and make it work. That, to me is another brilliant example of it.

New sources of data. I feel like every day we’re thinking about new sources of data. This is a traditional source, but it’s allowing us to do some interesting things. We’re a net promoter score company. In some ways, it can be very traditional. How do you think about it? How likely can you ever commend your 9 or 10? Are you a promoter? Are you a detractor? Are you 6 or 7 or neutral? You get from Beaton, you feed that back to the product teams. You guys work on things in different ways. We’re taking a lot of this data, analyzing, predictive likely to be a detractor and changing our call center and support team’s approach. We now have sort of with enough rigor in a large competence interval, the ability when someone’s calling in and asking for support to have a highly accurate prediction based on what we know about them, what we know about other clients like them, what we know about previous interactions. How likely are they to be a detractor or promoter and to change the experience based on that? Those are some ways where we’re saying, “How do we take in some ways stale or salary?” No data that you’ve collected regularly, but we turn it into predictive action that can change at the moment the customer experience. Your company certainly does a lot with this. I think that the power of taking data and thinking, “How can the experience be different immediately in real-time because of the information we got?” That’s one example.

That’s generating new insights off of data that we would consider maybe stale. One of the things that we work with people on is to shift gears from trying to think about the harvesting and bringing together the single view of the customer in this massive data operation and conceptually switching to listening closely. How do we listen closely and make sure that we’re catching the right things and the tracking? I’m motioning at this amazing story, Graham with the tracking conversation we all had, but I thought that it was a great way to look at how we are listening closely during the customer journey. There are many examples where people are telling us exactly what they want. They’re telling us when they’re ordering pizza. If they order ten of them, they’re probably someone that orders for events and for parties. If they are regularly ordering at 7:00 PM and they’re getting two or three, we don’t need to go and look up their zip code, their IP address, get the census data and pull that together. They’re literally telling us right then what their preferences are and what their ordering is. Could you give us an example?

People think of pizza as being a pretty straight forward simple food. In some ways, it’s very complicated for perspective. I’m guessing anyone in the room, if you were to think of a traditional retailer, you have someone who orders things. They get it delivered to the same place. It’s a pretty one-to-one relationship. There’s an email address, personal connection that you can track and keep track of. Pizzas are interesting. There is mom, dad and two kids. They ordered a home to work, to soccer, to the random event that happens in something once a year. Different locations, different people, different cell phones, different food, different occasions, different needs, and different times. All that stuff needs to come together into a single unified view of the family ordering unit, which is way different than trying to figure out the single ordering of a single person.

You’ll always see the single person view. You get a completely broken up view of what’s happening. If you’re looking at the full unit, you will see all of what’s really happening from a pizza-eating experience for the first time. Literally, within the last couple of years, we’ve been able to start connecting those strings together in a way that we can then respond to. Everything starts to change when you can do that. That level of customization you were talking about like down to people starts to happen. They were able to change our ordering experience based on the occasions that start to happen. Things like I typically order every Friday night and my order tends to be within this realm of two to three things. When I start my ordinary experience, that order will get dropped into the store. They start making it before I put those products into the cart.

People, from developers’ perceptions, are shaped by their consumer experiences. Share on X

You want to talk about creating an experience. We have stores all over the world now that will deliver a pizza to a consumer within fifteen minutes of them beginning their order. It takes eight minutes for a pizza to run through our oven. There are stores that have had delivery times drop almost into the single digits. That type of predictive data experience where I can be 99% confident of the minute they see me on our site on a Friday night, we’re pretty sure what I’m going to order. That totally changes your experience that you can then deliver to the consumer. That’s only available because of the type of data and the data understanding that we’re starting to get from consumers.

Can you tell us about the team structure and the skillsets that are there to help you iterate on a project like that?

It’s an iteration of the staff we’ve been building over the years. It’s a combination of marketing, the data scientists, the machine learning and AI folks, our programmers and database folks. It’s a nice evolution of what we’ve been working on through these many years of journey. It wouldn’t have been possible without us being able to have gone through that learning beforehand. We keep pushing it. This is who we are as a brand with a relentless pursuit of the perfect pizza experience. The perfect experience is when I’m thinking of pizza, I’m hungry. I want pizza, then the doorbell rings. That would be great. That would be cool. That would be a perfect pizza experience. How do we get as close as possible to that experience? We keep learning and iterating and allowing ourselves to push and make mistakes to get as close as possible to experience.

Let’s talk about silos a little bit and breaking them down. You brought up being able to pull together all the data to figure out if someone is likely to be a detractor and changing their customer support experience on the fly. That’s obviously something where you’re bringing together data from all of their product interactions. Maybe their prior interactions with some of your marketing materials. You’re bringing it together, sending it to a customer support team. You involved probably a website and an email program and a call center. There’s a lot of things there. What are you doing to break down those silos and make sure that everything can flow together?

There’s so much talk about these big data leaks and all the rest of it. I have a very different point of view. My point of view has been in at scale, what you need to think about more than anything else and we need to be rigorous about more than anything else is data standards and governance. That’s a horribly dry topic. I think the only way you can empower agile teams with data and not have some complicated thing where there are some centralized data lakes and some specific experts who can tap into it. You have to be ruthless about data standards and governance so that a customer profile’s across all these different channels, a product interaction and marketing interaction across. We operate in 160 countries. We have people on the ground and operate in 160 countries. We have thousands of offerings. We’ve got to be worthy of some rigorous about data standards and governance so that it allows any team that says they have a hypothesis. I can improve customer experience by X. I can make this product better by Y. I can improve marketing interaction by doing Z to be able to pull the data they need and recognize and understand that it’s going to be coherent and cogent and sort of there.

They’ll be able to take that and do something with it and build an application. They put predictive analytics against it to tier the way phone calls are coming into various agents to think differently about how the field shows up in an interaction. I think that the heart of having silos broken-down is a common understanding of data standards and governance and then creative teams that knew how to ask questions. “What if I could? I believe I have hypotheses.” When you have hypotheses and you have access to well-constructed data that you can trust, that works across the organization that sets teams free. To me, that’s the heart of breaking down organizational silos.

Structuring Teams To Manage Data And Rolling Out Changes

Data has the capability to be the lingua franca, but everyone needs to be speaking the same language and using the same terminology. Dennis and I were talking about this interesting pursuit of the perfect customer data warehouse with the perfect 360-degree view. An interesting aspect of that is thinking about the different use cases that you have. When you’re doing predictive modeling and you’re trying to figure out an entire household and you’re trying to predict what’s going to happen in the future, that’s definitely something where you’ve got time to pull that data together to get it all into the same data lake to have a data science team work on it, turn through it, run predictive models, tweak them over time. You’re going to be able to go through that. If you need to respond to a pizza crisis in the middle of a ten-minute order, you don’t have time for all of that stuff to end up in your data warehouse and to look at the different use cases for that data and allow for the systems to be able to respond in real-time.

We’ve tried to work with this conceptual shift of how do you get your technology systems to experience the world as it happens? How do you get them to all be understanding the context around your customer as their personal context and the world around them is evolving? When we go back to the digital experience again, it gives us this great opportunity to pull in all of that data and information and also to communicate with people at the moment. We need to be able to be interactive and understand how that moment is unfolding. When we look at something like delivery insurance, when you look at your ideal is to deliver it to them literally, the moment that they think about it, how are you structuring your teams to make sure that that data is still flowing freely and people can stay? Is there a data governance magic?

I love that you used the term pizza crisis at a conference. That’s awesome. I’m not exactly sure what that would encompass. There are two sides to that equation to be totally fair. We are still a relatively small digital organization franchise group. We don’t have a monstrous organization. We’re relatively small. We are putting the processes in place within our organization that the digital marketing teams, the technology, the programmers, even though our agency that connecting those groups together is easier than a large multi-location, multi-international organization. We have some benefits from that perspective. On the flip side, you’re dealing with stores. When you’re talking about stores, it is very much about how you stay within the standard operating procedures.

There are things that we’ve developed and done in stores that have now developed over many years. I don’t care what we do, there is no way I’m going to change them. There are behaviors that are ingrained in the stores that they are like breathing and you’ve got to figure out how to work within the constraints. There are some constraints that you cannot change. You’ve got to figure out how to be fast and nimble and have the parts of the organization that can be operating around these parts, which are very fixed and immovable and still be able to respond to the crisis. There are things like, “How do you create the right data in the right place to the right person in the store?” That’s going to take the right action literally without them even realizing it. How do you put those pieces in place so that it becomes the natural continuation of something we’ve done for many years without them realizing that behind it, there’s this whole slew of technology that identified there was this problem? They’re still responding no differently than they would have if a person had called many years ago and said, “You forgot my different tub.”

CMO Panel | Age Of Digital Storytelling

Age Of Digital Storytelling: Step back and look at what defines your entire brand experience and then figure out where you can use technology to improve parts of it.


When you roll out a change, can you walk us through the iterative approach you take in terms of phase rollouts, testing and monitoring to see what’s working? How do you make sure that those things are successful?

To some extent, it’s no different than any software development or any agile process. We do the same type of development rollout. If you’re talking about ordering platforms, it’s easier for us to control the minute anything goes and touches the physical store and the people. It becomes a much different process. From the store perspective, we take the approach that we assume honestly no one is going to learn or pay attention to anything. It needs to work literally without any conscious effort from the store and then it will only get better from that point once they do understand it. The starting point, the minimal viable product has to be literally no understanding in the store whatsoever, which is a sad thing to say to the conference. It makes sure that we create things that are super easy for people to use. That they guaranteed to work.

They don’t need to understand it. That’s not what people are at the store. They’re doing one thing. They want to make pizza and they want to serve good food to customers. We need to enable that experience in a way that makes it as easy as possible for people to do their job. Where data plays in, that’s our job. That’s what we’re tasked to do. It should be very seamless, very behind the scenes. They shouldn’t have to think about it. It’s about removing as much friction in the store as it is removing friction from the customer during the ordering experience. We’ve got to constantly be banging away at that to make it as easy as possible. That’s what makes it succeed. If we ask the stores to do a bunch of stuff, it’s almost guaranteed it’s going to fail. If we ask the customer to do a bunch of stuff, it’s almost guaranteed it’s going to fail. It’s pizza, I’m hungry. I want food. It’s super simple. It shouldn’t be more complicated than that. Our job is to deliver it.

Inspiring The Art Of The Possible With Watson

How do you think about Watson is in the foreground versus in the background, improving results versus being out there front and center?

It’s got to be both because I think we’re inspiring the art of the possible with Watson. This is a new era of artificial intelligence. We want people to understand it. We want people to try it, to play with it in the real world. The dawn of a new era. We have a fundamental belief at IBM. Our CEO, Ginni, says this often, “Many years from now, there will not be a job that is not remade by artificial intelligence.” On the one hand, that’s a bit scary. On the other hand, that’s exciting and empowering. Our job is to introduce technology into this world in a responsible way. We think a lot about that governed by principles that we care a lot about. This doesn’t have to be traceable. We have to be very thoughtful and clear about how we assure artificial intelligence, but we also think it’s got to be humanist.

It exists. The point has to be to exist and augment the power of humanity. If you believe those things and you’re thinking 20, 30, 40, 50 years out, then you feel an obligation to make sure people understand what Watson is. At the same time, Watson is embedded in a lot of the things we offer to customers. The last thing I would say is this whole notion of a brand’s place in the world and purpose, we hear so much more about this lately, particularly after the business round table and brand’s responsibility to shareholders only or to a broader constituent of stakeholders. This idea, whether it’s Domino’s thinking about the experience, whether it’s IBM and thinking about the world, in a society and change, these things become important.

We are passionate about the idea of skills and learning. If you believe that 20 or 30 years from now, every job is going to be remade by artificial intelligence in some way, shape or form, we have a big obligation to think about, “how do you train the world? How do you think differently about education? How do you think differently about training?” Thankfully, we don’t have a lot of these deeply ingrained beliefs, but the ones we do, we feel like it’s our job to think about it at that scale. It makes it fun to be a marketer. It makes it exciting to think about storytelling. Inclusion’s another one was the 1950’s when we wrote our first letter that we would never discriminate based on race or gender or anything that was a decade ahead of the Civil Rights Act. That’s another topic that runs extremely deep at IBM. It’s fun to think about how do all these things we’ve been talking about data technology, the power of all that, but also values and principles and how you show up as a brand in the world. Our job on a good day, we do a good job of this. On a bad day, not as much as to bring things together.

One of the major things that we’re seeing is consumer expectations for how human a brand is continuing to increase. I got to imagine a big part of that is it’s a reflection that broader society becomes more divisive. No matter which side of any divide you’re on, the fact of the matter is that a lot of the institutions that we looked to reflect our values are starting to fail, one group or another. People are now starting to look to brands for them to self actualize themselves, to identify with, and to find their family. In order for a brand to be able to fulfill that, they need to be able to be personified. They need to be able to be human. They need to be able to stand up for something that’s consistent. They need to be able to communicate that to people. That ability to do that and to state it is a fundamental challenge. I think that’s only going to continue to increase over time.

I was going to say we’ve actually been through this before to be fair years ago, it was the, “How do you move from desktop to mobile?” The mobile-first mentality. Now, we’re in the next iteration of that, which is how do you move from that into this real data connected environment with machine learning and AI. After that, it’s going to come whatever the next iteration of that is. That’s a fast iteration of how we’re running technology in our business. It’s basically the new normal. That’s what we need to get used to.

We have a lot of people that come to us for advice around, “What’s the next platform? How do I think about putting my investments in? How do I think about this new form of technology or this one?” The reality is that your organization is not designed to be agile enough that no matter what wins in the consumer preference landscape, you’re going to be fine. You need to go back and rethink your structures. Can we get one closing thought? What’s your word of advice as people are thinking about how do they humanize their brand, how do they tell their own stories?

Anchored in purpose, agile self-empowered teams with data as their common language can set the world on fire.

I guess step back and look at what defines your entire brand experience and then figure out where you can use technology to improve parts of it. There are opportunities and such a broad spectrum that no one would’ve thought. We’ve been able to put technology into many components of what we do at Domino’s. Honestly, we’re literally getting started.

You have to raise your own bar constantly. Thank you.


Important Links:


About Michelle Peluso

CMO Panel | Age Of Digital StorytellingAs Senior Vice President of Digital Sales and Chief Marketing Officer, Michelle oversees all global marketing and brand initiatives, strategy, response lead management, customer relationship management and execution for the IBM company. Her team includes thousands of marketing professionals and digital sellers located in 100+ countries worldwide. Michelle brings to IBM deep, customer-centric marketing, sales and leadership experience, as IBM accelerates its transformation to an AI & Cloud platform company.

Prior to IBM, Michelle was CEO of Gilt from 2013 until the sale of Gilt to Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) in February of 2016, and a Board of Directors member since 2009. While at Gilt, she oversaw the expansion of the business and the drive to profitability. Michelle was the Global Consumer Chief Marketing and Internet Officer of Citigroup from 2009 until 2013. In that role she was responsible for the digital experience for Citi’s 100 million consumers globally as well as for Citi’s global consumer marketing strategy and execution. She also led Citi’s effort to bring CitiBike to New York City.

From 2002 to 2009, Michelle was the CEO of Travelocity. She joined Travelocity following the company’s acquisition of Site59, a travel site she created and launched in 1999 as CEO. Michelle was a White House Fellow and Senior Advisor to Labor Secretary Alexis Herman and worked as a case leader for The Boston Consulting Group in New York and London. She serves on the Board of Directors for NIKE, Inc., nonprofit TechnoServe, and Tech: NYC. She also serves as a Strategic Advisor at Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV), a Palo-Alto based venture capital firm that has backed companies like Facebook, Spotify, Netflix, and Zillow.

Michelle received an MA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Pembroke College at Oxford University, where she was a Thoroun Scholar, and her BA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.


About Sir Dennis Maloney

CMO Panel | Age Of Digital StorytellingSenior marketing and technology leader with nearly 25 years of experience leading digital strategy and organizational transformation as part of both creating and growing consumer and Internet brands. Possesses strong leadership skills as well as a broad range of e-commerce and multi-channel business experience.

Expertise developing breakthrough brand strategies as well as coordinating the marketing and engineering resources needed to execute those strategies. A rare hybrid comfortable working and communicating in both the technical and creative worlds.

Possesses a broad range of experience, including digital transformation leadership at Domino’s pizza, marketing experience from Procter and Gamble, branding experience from The Coca-Cola Company and a strong technical engineering background including an MME from Catholic University and a BS from the US Naval Academy.


Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!

Join The Coca-Cola CMO Leadership Summit Podcast community today:

, , , , ,

Comments are closed.