Robert Schwartz, global leader of agency services at IBM iX, is convinced that two factors have brought the marketing community to a decisive existential moment. "Simply put, we see this as the single greatest time to be a creator," he says, citing the power of technology and a never-before-seen ability to overturn brands and disrupt entire industries and categories. Conversely, and as a direct result of that first factor, it's also the most difficult time to be a business, Schwartz says, "Especially if you have existing infrastructure, brands, products, or services."

Schwartz's pedigree — two decades of senior marketing positions at major brands (IBM, JPMorgan Chase, AT&T, Century 21) and ad agencies (WPP, Ogilvy & Mather) — lends credence to his observations.

Even as he, no doubt, has a vested interest in that particular point of view because it presents "a real need (by marketers) for a different kind of strategic partner," and IBM iX is just such a partner.