John Kennedy

Published on .

Title: VP-corporate marketing
Company: IBM Corp.
Years in current job:
Quote: “ "Smarter Planet' is a way to reframe the way business leaders think about their enterprises. It is a point of view and a business strategy that looks at the world from a system perspective.”

John Kennedy, a 14-year IBM Corp. veteran, this year led the global expansion of IBM's “Smarter Planet” initiative, a business platform launched in November 2008 and shows how IBM is creating solutions to help the planet in key areas such as health care, transportation and energy.

Kennedy, who was VP-marketing for IBM Americas before being named VP-corporate marketing in March 2009, said the “Smarter Planet” initiative is opening up new markets and audiences for the technology giant as it continues to transform from a hardware company to a software and services business. “Prior to the last 10 years, IBM had a profile as an IT company, and we would target heavily into CIOs and IT audiences,” he said.

In 2002, IBM acquired PricewaterhouseCoopers, which moved it more heavily into the consulting space. “Over the past 10 years, we've been repositioning the company into more higher-value solutions and services, and building the brand's presence in the C-suite,” Kennedy said. “ 'Smarter Planet' is a way to talk to the C-suite and provide entrée into more strategic and systemic end-to-end discussions.”

Kennedy said that while the first year of the "Smarter Planet' campaign (developed by Ogilvy & Mather New York) was about communicating the message of how science and technology could help make the world a better place, this year has been about presenting tangible evidence of how that is happening.

“ "Smarter Planet' is a view of how industries, enterprises and cities can improve to create a better quality of life,” Kennedy said. “This year, we took some big steps in the area of "Smarter Cities,' which is one of the major aspects of our agenda.”

IBM launched a new website at to provide interactive examples of how IBM is helping cities improve such key systems as public safety, education and transportation.

For example, the site provides a case study of how IBM worked with the New York Police Department to create a crime information warehouse. The company this year also developed a digital interactive display that it installed in several major airports; it lets users touch different portions of the screen to see examples of "Smarter Cities' in action.

In addition, IBM used a mix of TV, print, online and social media to drive the “Smarter Planet” agenda.

Kennedy said the platform is already paying off for IBM.

“By the nature of stepping into things like how to make cities work better or health care work better or certain traditional industries work better, it has opened up new markets to us. We have estimated that it has expanded what we believe to be our overall addressable market by 40%,” he said, pointing to new types of industries and clients IBM is working with.

Kennedy will now turn his attention to IBM's centennial celebration next year and expanding the “Smarter Planet” initiative.

“Since T.J. Watson founded the company in 1911, IBM has always been about driving progress in society and driving progress in the world,” he said. “All of that will converge next year as we take a multifaceted look at the company, what it has stood for and what it stands for in the future.”


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