I teach Digital, Social and Mobile Marketing [also called DiSoMo] to graduates and undergraduates in the Medill School at Northwestern. We have an international student base who want to learn how to use new technologies and big data to drive effective and profitable marketing programs. While all of my students use social sites and mobile apps and THINK they know how they work, most don’t understand the depth and speed of real-time big data and its usefulness to executives and marketers in any type of business. To show them the real power, I turn to IBM and their BlueMix systems.

Today, successful social marketing programs need to be extremely relevant to the markets and communities they target. To be relevant, you need insights. To generate these insights, my students use the BlueMix Insights for Twitter. On the first day of class, all students get their IBM ID. We discuss how it opens the door to a wide range of applications, audio and video marketing content and key executive insights.
To start the insight development process, students first use free social monitoring systems like Social Mention and Klout to identify key hashtags being used by the markets they want to analyze. The students then take their hashtags, company information, and influencers and enter the data into the BlueMix Insights for Twitter system. The system extracts a large sample of tweets and identifies the important topics driving their market, the influencers and thought leaders who are at the center of the conversations, and the way the “Twitterverse” views the company and their competitors. The output from the BlueMix Insights for Twitter drives the development of effective social marketing strategies and produces key outputs used in the final presentation to their client.


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When we are finished using IBM BlueMix for business, the students then use it for fun [and learning]. During my class, the students work on their professional personas using Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook. At the end of the quarter, I have the students open the IBM BlueMix Celebrity Match system. You put in your Twitter handle and the BlueMix system matches you to celebrities based on your personality, needs and values. My matches are: Personality – Michelle Phan, Needs – Bill Maher and Values – Emma Watson. Try it! The students love comparing their profiles and it does show how key insights can be generated using the power of BlueMix and Watson.

Today, students need to know how to use the power of new technologies and cognitive systems to succeed in today’s global, digital marketplace. IBM BlueMix provides the tools which let the students see the power and use it to build their marketing programs…and how it can track and define their professional persona.


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Randy Hlavac
Northwestern University
Medill Integrated Marketing Communications [IMC] School

Randy Hlavac is a social and mobile marketing expert. He is the director of the OmniChannel Initiative – a joint venture with IBM to develop the digital IBM Business model. He is manages the Northwestern Medill IMC Digital and Interactive specialization. Randy teaches Digital, Social and Mobile Marketing and Digital Marketing Technologies to the graduate and undergraduate programs at Northwestern.

Randy has just completed the Social Marketing Specialization – a series of 5 MOOCs [Massive Open Online Courses] with Coursera. This specialization is open to everyone interested in developing their social marketing skills and completion results in a Social Marketing Certification from Northwestern. This specialization has taught over 35,000 participants in the first year and has learners from 1140 countries.

Currently, he is a social marketing blogger and his first book – Social IMC – Social Strategies with Bottom-line ROI is available on Amazon. Randy can be reached at RHlavac@MSINetwork.com or at 630.328.9550. You can also follow Randy on Twitter at @RandyHlavac or call him on skype at randy.hlavac

1 Comment on "Adding IBM BlueMix to your College Curricula"

  1. Valinda Kennedy November 16, 2016

    Professor Randy Hlavac, Thank you for sharing how you are levering IBM Bluemix in your Digital, Social and Mobile Marketing classes for graduates and undergraduates at the Medill School at Northwestern University. Congratulations on the 35,000 students taught in your Northwestern University Coursera Social Marketing Specialization in the first year!

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