About Jumana Akkawi, Marketing and Communications Director,  IBM Middle East & Africa

Jumana Akkawi is a seasoned marketing and communications professional with over 19 years of experience in the field, currently serving as the Marketing and Communications Director for IBM in the Middle East and Africa region, based in Dubai, UAE.

Jumana has a wealth of experience in marketing and cross-communications across a culturally diverse region and various industries. Prior to her current role, Jumana served as the Communications leader for North, Central, and Eastern Europe and MEA at IBM, where she led successful integrated campaigns with a digital-first approach, highlighting client successes and home-grown achievements that aligned with national agendas, resonating both locally and globally.

Before joining IBM, Jumana led communications for Cisco’s operations in the Middle East. Her career began as the Marketing and Communications Manager for a broadcast channel in the UAE. Jumana later moved to the agency world, leading communications for key accounts at Buchanan Middle East.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Jumana is a devoted mother of four. She holds a degree in Computer Science from the American University of Beirut.

About her thoughts for the industry

The marketing and communications industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace and the importance of data-driven, customer-focused, reskilling and agile marketing strategies is crucial in today’s digital age. Some of the key trends that we see emerging are:

Unlocking the Power of Data to reshape marketing strategies: It has been estimated that humans generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day, which is an enormous amount of information to analyze and understand. We live in a data-driven world where every industry and every line of business including marketing should leverage AI technology to help organizations process this data and identify patterns and insights that can inform marketing decisions. If we look at marketing specifically, AI can be used to analyze customer behavior, preferences, and demographics, which can inform product development, customer segmentation, and personalized marketing campaigns.

The use of AI in marketing can also help organizations optimize advertising campaigns. AI can be used to analyze customer data and behavior to identify the most effective advertising channels, formats, and messaging. It can also be used to optimize ad placement and targeting to improve campaign performance. 

In today’s highly competitive market, CMOs and marketing teams need to go above and beyond to meet customer expectations and ensure customer trust AND have data-driven strategies that deliver results and personalization.

AI and Machine Learning are on track to generate between $1.4 Trillion to $2.6 Trillion in value by solving Marketing and Sales problems over the next three years (McKinsey Global Institute).

However, it is important to ensure that the use of AI in marketing like in every other industry, is aligned with ethical principles and values, and that data privacy and security are prioritized. We need to embed fairness metrics into AI algorithms and marketing processes. 

Upskilling and Reskilling in Marketing is crucial for career growth: With the explosion of data and advent of generative AI, marketing professionals will need to have a solid understanding of data analysis and AI technologies. marketing is ultimately about connecting with people through compelling stories and experiences. Marketing professionals will need to balance their technical skills with creativity and storytelling to develop successful marketing campaigns.

Breaking down silos: The convergence of marketing and communications for Integrated Brand Storytelling: Organizations realize the need for marketing and communications strategies to be closely aligned in order to create a consistent and cohesive brand message across all channels. Storytelling is key across campaigns to create an emotional connection with customers. Show vs. tell is also integral in today’s world in marketing, as it is imperative to show the benefits and features of a product or service rather than only telling consumers about them. IBM decided to bring together Marketing and Comms to better align our Brand to Demand system.

With the rapidly changing marketing landscape, businesses need to be able to quickly adapt to new trends and technologies. Marketing solutions should be designed to be flexible and scalable, allowing businesses to easily add new features and capabilities as needed.