Interview: IT Marketing Summit- Rajesh Kumar, CMO – SAP Indian Subcontinent

1. From` internet of things’ to `internet of me’, how is technology helping you in doing your business better today?

IoT or closer to home for individuals Internet of Me is changing the fundamentals of business all together. We are not merely looking at doing things incrementally because of this technology proliferation but in fact re-imagining our future.

For one, the Internet of Me is dramatically personalizing our experience – if my car’s tyres are worse for the wear, data sent at the appropriate time to my car service dealer will help him call me for a proactive service check. Now if you extrapolate this example – we are talking about Integrated Supply Chains that link companies to their customers, partners, supply chain vendors to provide predictive data/analysis that can help businesses across the board run more efficiently.

At SAP since we work with so many Fortune 500 companies our current dialogues with them are about a very exciting future – it is the next level of growth as companies think of the revolutionary ways in which they can monitor, analyze and automate processes.

2. IT Marketing is changing rapidly, what according to you can organizations do today to equip themselves better to adapt to these changes in shorter timelines?

Why only IT Marketing – Marketing as a discipline is changing rapidly and this can be attributed to the increasing pace of digitization occurring all around us. Take a look at some of these statistics:

• At close to 7 billion mobile subscriptions, there are as many connections as the world’s entire population
• 2.7 billion people or 40% of the global population are online with about 1.4 billion active in social networks
• We are moving from 2 billion smartphones to 50 billion objects/ web enabled devices including everything from clothing, cars, home appliances

Customers are seamlessly moving between the online and offline worlds demanding consistent information and uniform customer experience across platforms. They are immensely powerful with instant access to our product/service reviews, can easily switch over to a competitor or take a less than satisfactory experience with us and make it go viral on a social networking website. Added to this, with cloud and mobile technologies taking center stage, customers are demanding that they play an active part in the production value chain. They want to be in the driver’s seat and are pulling out all stops to create hyperpersonalized, make for me products/services.

The rapidly changing landscape demands a new set of capabilities from the CMO. According to a recent study conducted by SAP in conjunction with Human 1.0 and The CMO Club, today’s CMOs need to be focusing on four critical growth elements. These are:

> Having an outside-in mindset (market centricity) – The ability to have a clear external view of the company’s customers, prospects, competitors, and surrounding market forces. And it’s important to add here that listening to the voice of the customer is not enough. It is essential to look beyond – to lost customers, trendsetters, influencers – since insights gained from them can shape the current and future customer needs of business.
> Imbibing a culture that embraces data and measurement – In this age of increasing data volumes it is imperative companies put analytics plans in place to harvest valuable insights from the data accumulated. Similarly companies need to tie in marketing to critical KPIs such as revenue growth, brand awareness and market share.
> Focusing on developing talent for the future – To achieve their goals, companies need employees that are highly engaged and totally focused on customers. Companies thus need to focus on attracting the new workforce of millennials, creating brand ambassadors from among them and ensuring employee retention
> Developing Omnichannel capabilities – The ability to execute seamlessly across the online and offline worlds to offer an overall improved and consistent customer experience

3. What is one thing absolutely absolutely critical for the IT marketers who are in business today to be future ready?

While all of the four elements I mentioned above are critical, if I had to choose one I would say marketers need to move from an activity focused to an outcome focused approach. So basically that means simplifying marketing and linking it directly to the business. You will be surprised but on ground reality shows that only one in five CMOs either pursued or was able to tie customer experience initiatives with specific financial objectives (increased profitability, increased revenue, increased customer lifetime revenue). Creating a bridge between content and commerce remains one of the biggest challenges for customer experience efforts across marketing organizations today.

Profile: Rajesh Kumar is the Head of Marketing for SAP in the Indian Subcontinent. His areas of expertise include Startups, Marketing, Sales , Trade & Alliances management, Operations & General Management. Rajesh is adept at hiring, motivating , coaching high performance teams & Stakeholder management in highly matrixed, multicultural, international environments. He received his degree in Mechanical Engineering from NIT Kurukshetra, MBA from IIM-Calcutta and has completed a program on Leadership & Change Management from Wharton. When not busy with work, Rajesh enjoys travel, food, photography, reading and painting.

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