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Speaker Q&A with Russell Scherwin, Sales and Marketing Leader at IBM Watson Commerce

Russell Scherwin

Russell Scherwin, Sales and Marketing Leader at IBM Watson Commerce talks to John Bensalhia about the influence, benefits and future of Digital Disruption...

1. Who or what inspired you to go into the career that you are in now and why?
I've always been interested in technology, from the time I broke my father’s PC in 1983 and spent a fear driven all-nighter trying to fix it.
I started as a software engineer, building an early eCommerce platform in the mid-90’s.
However, early on, I learned that you made more money talking about technology than making it.  Plus, my passion is the socio-economic progress that technology drives. It's fascinating being at the front of where technology meets society.
Today, I love using technology to help organisations better serve their mission and their stakeholders – while dealing with competitive dynamics. The forces of digital disruption are working at a frenzied pace, which makes this a high stakes game.

2. When did the age of Digital Disruption begin and what sparked this concept?
Digital Disruption has been exponentially growing for some time.
There are three forces at play here. The first is Moore’s Law: hardware devices are getting smaller and more accessible. The second is network ubiquity: these devices are constantly chatting with us and each other. And finally, software democratisation is rampant. Component software models and algorithm availability allow for people of all ages and backgrounds to instill their ideas into always connected devices – which like the wheel and agriculture are here to serve our mission as a species.
All together, these elements and the progress of modern technology have changed the mission of selling. Today, businesses can take orders anytime and anywhere. People can buy things anytime and anywhere. The most recent wave of Digital Disruption has changed because of the accelerated speed and service levels that customers expect.

3. What are the benefits and challenges of Digital Disruption?
Customers can benefit the most from Digital Disruption because of the ability to get what they want, when they want it, and how they want it.
For businesses however, it's a double-edged sword. While there is incredible pressure to meet this growth in demand, businesses still have the opportunity to innovate and change competitive dynamics. Businesses that are ahead of the game will have more customer data to point AI towards, in order to create more compelling brand experiences. So the real beneficiaries are the users and the disruptors using the latest technology to gain even more customers.

4. What's next for Digital Disruption?
AI is the next wave of Digital Disruption. AI changes the game in how brands serve their customers. They can tempt potential customers with personalised offers or specific experiences based on their interests.
An example of this potential is Carhartt, a company that manufactures apparel for outdoor workers. Watson’s ability to recognise trends, provides actionable insights to merchandisers, allowing Carhartt to monetise these trends, while creating better customer service and ensuring brand expectations are met.

5. What are your thoughts on the upcoming September event?
I look forward to all conferences, and am greatly looking forward to September's event.
One of the great things about these events is meeting people who have different mindsets and gaining the benefit of a point of view, I hadn’t previously considered. I hope to walk away seeing a segment of this market in a surprising way.

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