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Q&A with Joyce Kim, Chief Digital and Marketing Officer at Arm

30-second summary:

  • Arm Holdings is a global semiconductor company headquartered in Cambridge, England.
  • ClickZ spoke with Arm’s CMO/CDO about how she’s helping shape company-wide digital transformation initiatives across all facets of marketing & communications.
  • Joyce Kim started her career as a software engineer before moving into the marketing arena, where she began doing product marketing and communications.
  • The biggest challenge Kim faced as CMO was in expanding Arm’s marketing beyond targeting the semiconductor engineers that knew us well.
  • Arm works with chip manufacturers and their customers like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung, and others to figure out what kind of technologies will be helpful in the future.
  • Arm also helps companies create a single pane of glass where they can look at a variety of technologies, cloud services, and devices in one view.
  • CMOS have been at the forefront of many of new digital tools over the past 7 to 10 years.
  • In marrying the CMO role to the CDO role, arm wanted to empower someone within the C suite to drive and deliver on what they’re saying to customers or potential customers from a marketing perspective.

Arm Holdings is a global semiconductor company headquartered in Cambridge, England. Established in 1990, Arm is one of the earliest pioneers in the semiconductor/design sector.

ClickZ spoke with Joyce Kim, Arm’s new Chief Digital and Marketing Officer, to learn more about the company’s approach to digital transformation and what that means for her combined role as chief digital and chief marketing officer.

Q) Can you give a brief insight into your professional journey and how you came work at Arm?

I started my early career as a software engineer and moved into product management. Even back then it was astonishing to me how marketers really didn’t understand the technology of the products that they were marketing.

That’s what motivated me to move into the marketing arena, where I began doing product marketing and communications. I developed a passion for turning the products that engineers built into the value and benefits that businesses and consumers experienced.

I was introduced to Arm while working at Google on Chromebooks. Chromebooks were the first devices that were trying to mainstream ARM technology and one of my colleagues introduced me to the Arm team.

Q) What has been the biggest challenge(s) for you at Arm and how did you deal with it?

Arm has been around for a long time and has traditionally been focused on the semiconductor industry. If you think about our foundational technology, we don’t make the chips. We work with the broader semiconductor industry to make these chips and we’ve done this for over 27 years. Doing things that add value on top of that is difficult. It’s change and change is always hard for companies.

The biggest challenge that I had was in expanding our marketing beyond targeting the semiconductor engineers that knew us well. We touch 70% of the world’s population. Whenever I speak to a room and ask how many people have a smartphone, literally every hand goes up.

There are so many things that Arm does, so part of what I wanted to do was bring those bigger stories to life. That was something very new for the company. I don’t think they were against it, but there was the question of, “Why do we need to do this?” it was a change in cultural and mind shift.

I think from a company perspective, while we’re ubiquitous, we’re not the only game in town. We need to make sure that more than engineers understand our message and what we’re doing as a company, including the innovations we’re working on.

Q) Briefly describe Arm – what’s your elevator pitch?

Arm is a semiconductor company that powers more than 70% of the smart devices we use every day. Its semiconductor designs have become so ubiquitous that it’s safe to say no company is more responsible for our tech-enabled lifestyles than Arm.

The company powers 90% of the world’s mobile devices and has a vast ecosystem of more than one thousand partners. Now Arm is at the cusp of the next intelligence revolution and is aggressively investing in AI, 5G and IoT technologies

Q) Who is Arm’s target customer?

The semiconductor industry is our main target customer—Qualcomm, Nvidia, and media tech. We also have a large target of industrial IoT that includes utilities, logistics, and lighting companies. On the data side, we work with automotive, beverage, and many consumer products and services companies.

Q) What are the biggest problems that ARM solves for its customers?

The semiconductor industry is changing from an AI, autonomous, and compute technology perspective.  Arm can tell you what we’re designing today that you’re going to see in your smartphones two to three years from now. We work with all the different chip manufacturers and their customers like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung, and others to figure out what kind of technologies will be helpful.

On the IoT side, for both home and industrial sectors, data from devices does not typically come from one vendor or one geographical region. Arm provides the logistics around what vendor provides what system so that you can manage and monitor multiple vendors.

The foundation that’s common to a lot of these vendors is Arm because most of the compute technology is going to be an Arm-based chip. We create a single pane of glass where you can look at a variety of technologies, cloud services, and devices in one view. That is the benefit that we’re trying to provide for our customers.

Q) How is ARM adjusting to the current post-coronavirus environment/how has it impacted your business?

We moved very fast to become a remote workplace almost overnight. Our operating model is flexible enough to allow us to function very well in a virtual environment, and we’ve been able to maintain a high level of productivity. It’s been amazing to see everyone come together and accomplish things in this new way.

Beyond that, we have established a permanent global COVID-19 Response Team to engage local communities, governments and key partners to understand where we can lean in. Our goal is to find areas where we can meaningfully make a difference.

Q) Can you speak to the changing role of the CMO in today’s data and tech-heavy marketing environment?

Over the past seven to ten years, CMOS have been at the forefront of many of new digital tools. The martech industry caters to that because it’s SaaS based, enabling people to put in a credit card and immediately access the tools.

CMOs are used to pioneering these kinds of technologies. We’re not afraid of it.  New tools and digital strategies are something that CMOs are expected to pioneer. Technology is progressing at a fast pace, so CMOs must put in the time to understand the technology landscape and marry that with the customer perspective.

Q) What does the addition of Chief Digital Officer (CDO) to your title mean in the context of your current CMO role at Arm?

We went through a bit of a thought process in looking at how we could empower someone within the C suite to really drive and deliver on what we’re saying to our customers or potential customers from a marketing perspective.

In marrying my chief digital role with my chief marketing role, I’m working with the business to define the offering and value that we’re trying to provide. I also design the holistic customer touch points throughout acquisition, engagement, product delivery, and product support. It enables me to have a holistic view of how we sell to the customer.

I work with product and product development, support organizations—anything that touches the customer is something I care about. It’s helped  create a more customer centric point of view within the company.

Q) Do you have any parting words/advice for today’s CMOs and those aspiring to be in this role?

There’s an acceptance that the CMO role is overwhelming. I certainly don’t feel like I will ever master the landscape that we’re operating in today, but I’d say there’s a little bit of paranoia and a little bit of curiosity that keeps me dedicated to continuous learning in.

Tomorrow, something new is going to come up that I’ll have to get my arms around and figure out if it applies to my marketing or growth efforts.  So, I would say, if you’re looking to be a CMO, you’ll never be comfortable. You’ve got to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Q) What advice would you give fellow CMOs about how to address the challenges posed by COVID-19 (in marketing materials or otherwise)?

While it may be fairly obvious, I think there is a level of vigilance and sensitivity that is almost constant due to the environment we are in which is changing frequently.

The biggest shift that I think all CMOs are making is to go virtual on all events and conferences.  The challenge is not pivoting everything online but creating distinctive, engaging virtual experiences in a very crowded virtual calendar since nearly everyone has pushed their events back to later in the year and every company is now moving online.

You need to stand out in a sea of virtual offerings and find new ways for your audience to interact, because people still want that interactive experience from a conference.  The good news is we can be really creative without physical limitations which is nice.

Q) Are there any key learnings or words of wisdom that you want to share regarding how ARM and its clients are getting through this?

This is an unprecedented time – it’s not only a huge adjustment on a business level but also for each one of us personally. Staying healthy, physically and mentally, has to be the top priority as we adjust. Working from home is placing a lot of added stress on families as they try to juggle childcare with work, and for others it can be a very isolating experience.

It looks like life is going be impacted for a long time to come, so we have been very flexible and supportive with our teams as we learn how to manage in a completely new environment. We have also created ways for teams to have fun and emphasized the need to over-communicate since we are all remote.

Q) Can you tell me one tool you cannot do without in your martech stack?

Having a customer data platform (CDP) has been extremely enlightening. We’re a multi-vendor company. Our tech stack includes tools like Salesforce, Adobe, and Google Analytics, so we have a lot of disparate data.

Being able to ingest that data and understand what’s happening keeps us on the right track. I personally think that having a holistic view of everything that’s not dependent on pulling insights from six different vendors is life changing.

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