Perceptions are a funny thing. Whether it’s thinking of a certain person or place perceptions can very often blur lines with reality. The same is true for brands and the perceptions people have of a given brand.
Take Verizon for example. Ask most people what they think of they hear the name Verizon and they more than likely think of a wireless carrier. The truth of the matter is technology is at the core of everything the brand does. Technology is in fact, the the connective tissue that helps Verizon innovate in telematics, IoT, smart cities and more.
The issue, if you will, is that most people don’t know about it the breadth of Verizon’s innovation and how it is giving people the ability to do more.
To change this perception, Verizon has built a strategic approach called Humanability to better articulate what the company stands for, and where it is going. More than a campaign, it’s a philosophy which demonstrates Verizon’s technology and capabilities in a world that gets more and more connected each day.
The “connected future” — where every device can talk to each other whether inside or outside the home; where data can be collected and disseminated in a blink of an eye and everything is faster, more efficient and more attainable — is not a new concept.
And everyone – consumers, investors, even competitors – are waiting for this future to become a reality. But Verizon isn’t not waiting for the future. They are building it.
They are not alone, as they work with incredible innovators who already have amazing ideas that could change the world and make it better. And now, Verizon has the technology powerful enough to transform those ideas into reality. They partner with these innovators across different industries to understand what their needs are and then use their advanced technology to provide a solution, which in turn provides a greater societal benefit. And the ways in which they are deploying their technology is not those that you would traditionally associate with Verizon.
For example they are using Verizon’s technology to disrupt in three key areas:
Smart Cities: Smart city work solving traffic congestion and reducing pollution with sensors and video monitors in Sacramento, CA.
Healthcare: Empowering new ways to perform remote surgery, allowing top quality healthcare to be more accessible, for more people.
Food Safety: Improving food safety using cold chain sensors to ensure better transport and handling, preventing spoilage and food-borne illnesses
QA With a CMO
I spoke with Diego Scotti, EVP and CMO of Verizon to dig deeper into this new approach as well as pick his brain on a few other topics.
Steve Olenski: Today Verizon is unveiling a new vision for connecting the world together. Can you give us some background on this new approach?
Diego Scotti: Most people see us as only their wireless carrier, but as a leading technology company, we play a huge role in enhancing the ability of people, businesses and society to do more new and more good. What this means is that we are using our technology to help solve some of the biggest societal issues such as protecting the environment, reinventing healthcare and enhancing food safety. So we built this strategic approach called Humanability that demonstrates our technology and capabilities. You hear a lot about this “connected future” where every device can talk to each other whether inside or outside the home, but what does it really mean?
For Verizon, it’s partnering closely with cities like Sacramento, CA to build smart cities where sensors and camera monitors, powered by our network, help to solve traffic congestion, reduce pollution and driving time for thousands of drivers everywhere; it’s improving food safety using sensors that are size of a nickel to measure everything from temperature changes, humidity, and location – all in real time and it’s enabling new ways to perform remote surgery, allowing top quality healthcare to be more accessible, for more people.
We’ve been working on these projects for years and have the proof points to showcase not only the success, but the potential of what our technology can unlock. Now is the time to really bring it front and center because we’re using our technology and data to turn innovative ideas into reality today.
Olenski: How are you activating Humanability from a marketing POV?
Scotti: First, I think it’s important to distinguish the audience that Humanability is geared towards. This is meant to be for the investor community, business leaders and influencers. Our goal is to increase the awareness of our stakeholders on all the different parts of our business that extend beyond wireless – media, telematics, IoT, etc. This initiative brings all those parts together in the form of short films that demonstrate how we are leading the future in technology and connectivity. We’ll be rolling out the first wave of films across TV, digital and social. In early 2018, you’ll see a second round of videos that demonstrate how we are enabling disaster recovery, helping close the digital divide and growing small businesses. Our strategy is pretty simple – it’s a purpose driven approach with one goal, and that’s giving people the ability to do more in the world.
Olenski: Humanablity is anchored around technology, but do you think marketers can get TOO reliant on technology?
Scotti: Technology and connectivity is at the core of a lot of things we do as consumers, it’s the reality we live in. People are more reliant on their devices than ever before which means the frequency in which they interact with Verizon has also increased. Because of this, we have a responsibility to contribute to the global agenda. That’s why Humanablity is such an important and exciting initiative for us. We have the opportunity to use our technology to really impact society from smart cities to healthcare to food safety, and do it in a way that is for the greater good.
Olenski: What are the biggest challenges you face in marketing Humanability? More broadly, what are the biggest challenges facing marketers of any industry today?
Scotti: The biggest challenge is probably educating our stakeholders on the role Verizon plays beyond wireless. As I mentioned earlier, our business runs the gamut from media to IoT, and because it doesn’t fall into the traditional wireless category, it’s going to take some time to connect the work with Verizon. However, I’m confident we’ll get there because the opportunity is so great and we’ve made significant progress in bringing these businesses to life.
I think the challenge for marketers across any industry is storytelling in a way that is authentic and real. That sounds simple enough, but not always easy to execute. There’s pressure for content, especially digital content, to be short and quick soundbites which works for certain platforms, but if you can tell a longer story in a way that really resonates emotionally, it’s as effective. A good example are the three videos we created for Humanability. We bucked the trend and created 1:20 length short films that use real people, not actors explaining the work that they do to bring this technology to life.
Olenski: As a follow up, do marketers within the wireless industry face the same challenges? Some the same? Some unique to the industry?
Scotti: I think we have a lot of unique challenges, taking into account how much technology has evolved over the past five to 10 years and how the landscape has shifted. But, what’s similar is that every wireless company is racing to make 5G a reality. Most of the industry feels fully commercial 5G is expected in 2020 – we’re ahead of that. We just announced the launch of 5G wireless residential broadband services in three to five U.S. markets, with the first commercial launch planned for Sacramento, Calif., in the second half of 2018.
What also sets us apart is the work we are doing in the B2B space with our Intelligent Edge Network that is powered by 5G. This network will deliver super high speeds with ultra-low latency, benefiting areas such as autonomous vehicles, smart cities and artificial intelligence. It’s going to transform the way we work, live and play – enabling us to do more in a way that is unimaginable.
Olenski: Putting your own consumer hat on, what do you look for and expect when it comes to customer experience?
Scottu: Because of my job, I find myself constantly evaluating the customer experience with brands that I interact with. It’s both a blessing and a curse. What resonates for me personally is when the experience is easy and the journey is effortless that I don’t even have to think about it.