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The Value of and Power of Storytelling

by David Yockelson  |  April 13, 2016  |  2 Comments

Within the Technology Go-To-Market practice at Gartner, we often tell our customers, nearly all tech providers, that they should user storytelling as a way to communicate complex ideas and value propositions. Stories enable providers to reach a variety of roles within buyer organizations and are applicable throughout the buying process. They do this by creating an emotional connection with buyers – when successful – in ways that white papers, screen cams and other forms of collateral simply can’t.

This week, I happened to stumble on what I feel is a tremendous example of storytelling. It attracted me at first because it was related to the Internet of Things (IoT), a favorite area of research of mine. I actually hadn’t been looking for this video, but I was looking for information about some of IBM’s (now you know the author) IoT capabilities. So when I saw a video that could tell me how someone was able to control a robot – in this case a small version of the cute robot, BB-8, from the latest “Star Wars” movie – with brainwaves, I was hooked.

Instead of hitting me over the head with the slew of technology that it took the narrator, the worldwide liaison for IBM’s Bluemix (essentially its PaaS platform), to (yes) make the robot move with only the power of his thought, the story allowed the narrator to explain the things that excited him about this particular project. We are captivated as he was by the ability to translate thought to algorithms and commands; we hear and feel his affinity (from his boyhood through now) for “Star Wars;” and he walks us at a very high level through the elements it took to make this small miracle happen, but it’s conversational and discussed as casually as if he was giving us the recipe for a cake he baked. Sure, there’s a LOT of technology behind this, but it’s depicted in background and mentioned as a few things that he seemingly took a few minutes to knit together, and VOILA — we see him send BB-8 on his merry way strictly by thinking about it. Our narrator is even allowed some whimsy, using Jedi-like hand motions and mentioning how making robots move through technology would be better than, say, conjuring up light sabers (“People would chop their arms off!”).

In a few minutes, IBM has described for us the potential of the set of technologies they can bring to the table; they’ve described “cognitive” in a way that visually demonstrates its meaning and power; and they’ve listed out, ever so softly, key technical capabilities and products they can provide for scenarios like this one. But I’ve already done this nifty piece of storytelling an injustice by describing it above, and I’ll soon provide the link so you can enjoy it. But as a lesson to other providers that must convey highly technical concepts to less-than-technical audiences – and to those that think putting up screen cams and animated slide presentations get the job done – I ask that you watch this video and see what can be accomplished.

IBM tells us a story about “cognitive,” IoT and BB-8

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Category: digital-business  gtm  iot  

David Yockelson
Research VP
1 years at Gartner
30 years IT Industry

David Yockelson is a Research Vice President on the Tech Go-to-Market and Sales Strategies team in the Technology and Service Provider Research organization.. Read Full Bio


Thoughts on The Value of and Power of Storytelling


  1. […] The article “The Value of and Power of Storytelling” was first published on 13 April 2016 | 5:55 pm. Source […]

  2. Jonas Arends says:

    You have brought up a very wonderful points, regards for the post.



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