Paul Mackender (00:09):
Welcome to the latest edition of Agents of Change, and I’m here today with Neil Berry from Atos. Neil is the head of global account and deal based marketing center of excellence. And has been held up in many occasions about the great work that he’s done and the awards he’s won. So first of all, Neil, thanks for making time to chat today.
Neil Berry (00:26):
No, no problem Paul. Thanks for having me.
Paul Mackender (00:28):
Fantastic. The theme of today is scaling ABM and centers of excellence. I think in the last two to three years since we’ve been doing these kind of agents of change calls. This whole theme of scaling ABM has been a big one. And obviously sense of excellence plays a key role in that. Could you first of all, explain a little bit about your role and what Atos does. And then we’ll dig into some of those details?
Neil Berry (00:50):
Yeah, yeah, of course. So my role is predominantly looking at account-based marketing and deal-based marketing globally. So that would be in a sense, setting up the center of excellence. To task, tool, train, all the usual T’s of getting ABM ingrained into an organization. But then that also comes along with deal-based marketing, right? Where we are working with deal makers, deal leads, on a daily basis. And kind of categorize ourselves based on the top accounts and top deals, and specifically work with those. So the center of excellence provides pretty much everything from execution through to the actual advisory part as well.
But Atos is a significant player in the IT space, and technology and digital change space. Which I think if you asked any organization, most of them are at the minute. But we are a French-based headquarter or organization with around 100,000 people. And we’ve got significant deals and contracts all over the world. So we are a global organization. We literally have people in most countries. Which is something I’ve learned as I’ve kind of gone through the ranks at Atos. So it’s been really cool. But it’s very interesting organization with a lot of complexity and works on a lot of complex deals, and opportunities, and business for our customers.
Paul Mackender (02:23):
So you’ve just mentioned ABM, account-based marketing and DBM, deal-based marketing. Could you first of all explain what you mean by both of them. And then from an Atos perspective, explain how they kind of work together?
Neil Berry (02:35):
Yeah, of course. ABM for us is very much kind of one-to-one. So we can look at one account, we treat that as a market in its own right. So we know that the accounts that we work with are often super complex. So these are big organizations that have multiple different matrices, and organizational roles, and all sorts of things that we’ve got to try and deal with. So when the sales team are trying to engage with them, we help to make that sim journey for the customer more simplistic. It’s more targeted, it’s more focused and it’s done on that one-to-one basis.
When we talk about deals, we take the same approach. But what we do is we actually do it in the ecosystem of the deal. Now the deals themselves is, every deal has its own ecosystem of suppliers, its own stakeholders, it has its own solutions and services. So it’s very defined and it always has a specific deadline as well. So it’s not like a campaign where you can go, Well, let’s do it next week. There is a real hard line on submitting what you need to on that specific date And that time. So that’s the difference for us.
Paul Mackender (03:51):
Okay. And when you set the COV up originally, what was the driver then? And bearing in mind that obviously you’ve continued to deliver great work and great outcomes, what’s the driver today? Cause obviously it’s in a very different place from when you set out.
Neil Berry (04:06):
Yeah. So the actual initial driver was, so I did a virtual center of excellence. And I say virtual because the instigator was the change program that the organization went through. So we were initially set up as regions and we were going into global industries. Now the people coming into the global industries as marketers, some of them had never done ABM before. And we kind of went in and said, Look, I was running financial services ABM, so I said, Well, I’ll help other people to get up to speed, use the same frameworks, use the same tools.
So I kind of started to help other people within the organization. And in the end we built this sort of mini virtual community that both people who were doing ABM, and doing deal based marketing, and looking at the different ways in which they can do it that they’d not seen before, because it was always a UK-based model. So when it got opened up globally, that was the instigation really. It was the business change that kind of naturally built into where ABM can really help.
Paul Mackender (05:17):
If you were to say there were certain archetypes of centers of excellence, how would you booket them all? How many would you say there are? Are they different types or are they all similar but just with slightly different variants, if you like.
Neil Berry (05:31):
I think there’s a few. So you’ve obviously got the virtual center for excellence, which I’ve set up originally, which was just a community. It’s not an official entity. It’s something that allows people to engage and talk on a specific topic, understand and learn together. That for me is still a center of excellence because it’s a central point for a specific team or a specific niche of people that can come and collectively learn. The other center of excellence model is obviously down to how you build one that is just almost like an internal consultancy. So you go in and you are the expert. It might be that you run the workshops, it might be that you do the training, it might be that you choose the tools and technology. And you pass that out to the rest of the organization, but the doing is done on the ground.
The other one is obviously looking at the center of excellence with all of what I’ve just said, plus an executional piece. So the executional piece being, okay, well we only work with this number of accounts, this set of accounts. But they’re ours. We hold them, we work on them, and we do them. But we also support everybody else with theirs as well. And there’s obviously the global strategy can be included in that as well. So it’s kind of bolting different elements.
And I think the difference between the center of excellence in a department, is essentially when a department is pure execution versus a center of excellence. Which has the training, the techniques, the best practice, the insight, the tools. All the stuff that kind of comes with what you would expect from a client point of view. You would expect to have provided potentially by an agency in some places or a consultancy in some places. If you’ve got one or two expertise that have the access to that, that can really help you.
Paul Mackender (07:30):
Thanks, Neil. So I suppose to bring all this together, you’ve obviously been on the journey for a number of years of awarding ABM, DBM. What do you see the direction, where do you see ABM going? There are some commentators that say that ABM and the principles ABM are the very essence of what B2B marketing is becoming. There are lots of authorities, analysts, et cetera, talking and saying ABM and demand generation coming together. Where do you see it from your own personal view and the purview that you get within Atos?
Neil Berry (08:03):
My perspective is that I do think we’re kind of going down the root of, I mean, so we’ve been doing forms of ABM for years. We’ve just never really labeled it as ABM. And I think there’s a difference. I think there will always be this kind of one-to-one ABM element that people look at and go, that’s the truest form of ABM. But there are other elements. Because you’re looking at accounts, or groups, or large amounts of accounts and focusing on them. So I think for me, the future of ABM really is probably going to be along the lines of, actually it’s going to be pretty much how we do marketing.
I was speaking to someone the other day about how you do ABM in the channel. Now that’s something that is realistically being done and being looked at right now. But it’s not something that the channel marketers were considering 4, 5, 6 years ago. So there are elements of that where ABM is now starting to flood into different parts of classic B2B marketing. But I think that in its purest form, I think it will end up becoming something I keep talking about. And I would like to be able to say I’m practicing it, but we’re not there yet, is community marketing. I think that ABM is going down that route. Where we’re looking at groups and communities of customers, that we bring together and curate. I think that for me is where ABM could and might well end up going. Because it seems to be where, you look at what the likes of yourselves and other agencies do. It’s about getting people together and talking and engaging. And being able to feel like they’re part of something. And I think that’s where ABM will end up personally.
Paul Mackender (09:55):
Fascinating. Well, look forward to that. Well, goes without saying, you’re obviously doing some amazing work. Sounds like going through another proto change, no doubt you’ll come out the other end equally successful. So Neil, thanks as always for your time. It’s good to see you. And good luck with the journey.
Neil Berry (10:10):
Nice one. Thanks Paul.