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The CMO needs to leave his comfort zone and embrace technology

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In light of changing consumer behavior and business transformation, a CMO’s role has expanded to include many functions. New priorities have emerged, one of them being the usage of technology and data insights. Rashi Bisaria spoke to Rajesh Kumar, Head of Marketing, SAP to understand how technology is changing the way businesses function and why it’s important for the CMO to embrace technology.

Studies have shown that not many CMOs have well developed systems for meeting the needs of the customers. Do you feel there is a lack of usage of right technology by them ?
A CMO’s role is broadening today as companies are confronted with changing consumer behaviour, increasingly important third-party scrutiny, and more diverse target markets and segments. The role of the CMO has changed significantly over the past few years as we have seen transformative advancements in how to acquire, nurture and retain customers. The line between B2B and B2C is blurring and is creating a global, volatile marketplace where the only moment of truth lies with the customer.

In the competitive market environment of today, the CMO needs to leave his comfort zone and embrace technology, marry the art and science of marketing and move from an activity focused approach to an outcome focused one. Embracing technology is a new terrain for most marketers. A recent study conducted by SAP in conjunction with CMO Club and Human 1.0 showed that while six out of 10 organizations have access to data they need, only 22% of CMOs were leveraging data insights for spending decisions.
CMOs need to realize that adopting technology is no longer a luxury but a matter of survival – the business transformation is constantly in motion and it will change the very way we look at this profession. The accelerating pace of change is creating a wide range of potential new priorities for chief marketers—leading change efforts across the whole corporation, playing a more active role in shaping the company’s public profile,

What are the Technology solutions you are providing to marketers?
Tables have turned today- we are not managing the customer, the customer is managing us. The customer now has the power to decide when to communicate with the brand or business. In order to support this fundamental shift , we provide marketers with the ability to first analyze their businesses. Our new platform HANA allows businesses to analyze information real-time thus empowering them to be predictive. For example, Pirelli, the tyre manufacturer has distinguished itself through tyre innovation. The Pirelli Cyber Tyre is an intelligent tyre with sensors that sends continuous data streams on performance and road conditions. Diagnostic information and predictive analytics based upon SAP HANA are subsequently used to optimize the life of tyres, and alert drivers when maintenance is needed. This information enables Pirelli to provide new services to its fleet customers, helping them to control costs and keep drivers safe.
Our new omni-channel solution – the Hybris marketing platform, leverages the changing buying behavior of consumers who are increasingly blending multiple channels. The Hybris marketing platform provides a business complete visibility to communicate, engage and do commerce with customers wherever they are. All large retail companies are currently talking to us for this solution. Recently, the country’s retail giant, Future Group announced their association with Hybris to converge their digital and physical channels.

Which are the brands or industries that are coming to you for such solutions?
The business environment has changed across industries. Customer facing industries including durables and non-durables, service industries with large user-bases like telecom, media, cable TV channels, financial services are all interested in our offerings.

What kind of growth are you seeing in your cloud based business in India?
The cloud has profoundly changed the way people interact. In enterprises today, IT is required to scale up, provide real-time insights into business and help companies decide, respond boldly and quickly.
India is recognized as one of the valuable and strategic markets for SAP. SAP in India has infused the cloud DNA, into its business and has seen a surge in the demand from customers of all sizes giving companies the flexibility and choice they need to innovate for growth across their entire business on cloud. With Ariba, Fieldglass and Concur, SAP is the undisputed business network company.
The Cloud is seen as the next evolutionary step in IT services delivery, with an increasing number of enterprises worldwide integrating cloud budgets into overall IT spends. In the last two years we have seen triple-digit growth in Cloud and we have a range of customers across multiple industries and from small to large enterprises that have seriously adopted Cloud. With our rich ecosystem of partners, we deliver results that demonstrate SAP is the Cloud Company powered by SAP HANA

Can you elaborate on Design Thinking? Have organisations adopted it?
Design Thinking is a suite of tools, methods and processes which is used to present new solutions to any kind of challenge. It complements SAP’s existing approaches by focusing on understanding the human side of things — what our technology is and what that technology means to our customers and in turn, to their customers.
At SAP today, Design Thinking is a key focus for which classes and coaches are provided. Over the last year, SAP Labs India has developed a range of applications applicable to a variety of sectors including sports that empower the consumer by inculcating the principles of Design Thinking in conjunction with a Co-Innovation Partner.
Design Thinking urges one to think how designers think when they design products. Design thinking is a process for Innovation that uses the product designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with technologically feasible and marketable solutions. In essence, it refers to a way of building products or solving problems with a holistic and multi-dimensional approach. We are trying to bring the same thinking to business problems. We are big champions of the concept and have used the concept in internal product development. Currently, we are conducting workshops and facilitating this approach, helping marketers in delighting their customers.

How are you connecting with your customers and how is SAP marketing itself?
At SAP, we segment our market and follow a one-to-one account based approach. We build dialogues and communicate with our audience from different communities using events and social media. We distinctly approach enterprises that are technologically equipped but aim to change their game from a Marketing or HR perspective. The last aspect to this is the volume market where we follow a scalable approach – Our large marketing team reaches out to this market with robust targeted strategies. In addition to all this, we cannot underestimate the potential of word-of-mouth marketing- our success stories are the best tools for marketing ourselves.

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