Go-to-market/Life cycle marketing Panel at the CMO Inflect Conference, in Mountain View, Calif., Sept. 21. (All Photos: Vansh A. Gupta/Siliconeer)

More photos coming soon.

From beetroot sliders, Kabobs, Bombay Sandwiches, Samosas to Panna Cotta, and Chocolate Cups, the inaugural CMO Inflect Conference was packed with valuable wisdom from CMOs, successful entrepreneurs, and influential figures in the marketing throng; and an accommodating environment for the freshmen (me) to connect and network with the seniors of the marketing world. This was indeed the “Playbook for Winning,” writes Siliconeer youth editor Vansh A. Gupta.

A full house was a given. The event was organized by the same masterminds who brought us TiEcon, earlier in the year. Inflect was introduced as the new initiative from TiE, going forward, during TiEcon 2017, and we saw it in action for the first time, Sept. 21. The second floor of the Computer History Museum, in Mountain View, Calif., was echoing with two things: B2B marketing and what the future holds for the marketing industry, from the speakers and panelists at the event.

The first panel we covered was focused on customers’ voices’ significance for marketing executives in B2B marketing. Speakers, Vinay Bhagat (Founder & CEO, TrustRadius), Chandar Pattabhiram (CMO, Coupa Software), Grant Halloran (CMO, MapD) and Allison Pickens (Chief Customer Officer, Gainsight), spoke about the rise of user-based review sites where, ‘how people are already sharing their insights and prospects are listening to those insights.’ This lead to amazing results, “from influencing the buyer’s journey and lifting conversion to enabling sales and informing product strategy.”

The second panel focused on Go-to-Market Strategy and how it varies for different business models. The speakers talked about strategic investments in all the stages of the B2B Marketing lifecycle. The experts: Christina Ellwood (C-level executive, Moreland Associates, Moderator), Rene Bonvanie (CMO, Palo Alto Networks), David Hsieh (Senior Vice President, Marketing, Qubole), and Richard Heitmann (VP Marketing, Aspera). Rene Bonvanie was very open, referring B2B Marketing as “Boring-to-Boring Marketing,” which no one wants to concede to but everyone agrees with it. He says, “…I believe that you have to be the human connection, on the emotion, that would generate a positive response.”

David Hsieh pointed out that marketing companies now know a lot of information of an individual: what websites they are visiting, when are they visiting, what are they shopping for, and what do they look for. The challenge is to present the information without looking “creepy” to consumers and Qubole is finding innovative ways to do exactly that. As the panel was coming to an end, the aroma of lunch had permeated the air. It was an inviting aroma!

I was in for a surprise as I waited patiently in line, hungry and looking forward to a sandwich. There were flavors from around the world, starting from back home: Indian-style sandwiches; followed by a creamy Tomato Soup, and finally a Greek Salad. Lunch was good.

As we ate, I got a chance to chat with TiE president, Ram Reddy, renowned entrepreneur, Suhas Patil, and TrustRadius CEO, Vinay Bhagat. Many of them were impressed with the event and believe this event was essential for the development of creative marketing minds. After the hour-long networking and munching, more fantastic discussions and keynotes were lined up for the attendees.

The first panel-presented by Nick Edouard (President & CMO, LookBookHQ), Alix Hart (Global Head of Digital Marketing, NVIDIA), David Hsu (VP of Marketing Technology, CA Technologies) and Doug Bewsher (CEO, Leadspace), elaborated on the implementation of technology on marketing and its impact. The speakers reflect on the errors of traditional marketing and explain the potential of “MarTech.” The panel was a fitting precursor to the next keynote: “AI for Marketing.”

Since the beginning of 2017, AI has been the mantra for all the tech companies around the world so it was proper for the organizers to have this keynote. Presented by John Ellett (CEO, nFusion), The keynote was all about AI and its use in marketing. How has AI dominated the market? And, what does the future of marketing with AI look like? His goal was to separate the fakes and the facts. Ellet had shown a display where he explains the different stages of AI and our progress. It starts with an example of MapQuest and he referred to this as “Functional Intelligence,” where the user entered point A and point B and got directions. Then came “Augmented Intelligence,” and the epitome is Waze. Presently, we are in the “Task-Specific AI” phase, where a car can park by itself or you can simply ask for a photo from your phone. Ellet says the goal is to end at “Orchestration AI,” where you tell a car where to go and it will take you there while you watch a movie. AI will be able to handle all the marketing campaign actions that humans have to currently do.

After this presentation, there was a 15-minute networking break and then the last keynote and panel for the day was stacked. The last two presentations talked about marketing and the role of customers. Both keynotes talked about customer engagement and its impact on revenue generation. The keynote, presented by Marko Savic (Founder & CEO, FunnelCake), was focused more towards customer engagement and closing the gap between Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success to drive revenue. The last panel was more about the utilization of marketing as a revenue driver.

A a pseudo-Indian usually calls for exceptional hospitality. To close the event, the event directors held a networking reception, with samosas, sliders, and sips.

Earlier in the year, we felt the dynamism of TiE Silicon Valley with TiEcon 2017. We experienced the same fizz at the inaugural CMO Inflect Conference. With an accommodating and opportune environment to learn from the gurus of marketing and connect with them over delectable catering, the CMO Inflect Conference was the perfect “Playbook for Winning.” It was by the marketers, for the marketers, and with the marketers.