A third session at the IAMAI 2014 Marketing Conclave hosted in Mumbai on 9 May was moderated by Rammohan Sundaram, CEO, IbiboAds – Ibibo. It featured marketers discussing optimal use of big data, kind of talent needed to work in ever-evolving digital landscape and the impending merger between technology and marketing.
The panel comprised Deepali Naair, CMO, Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India; Sanjay Tripathy, senior EVP – marketing, product, digital and e commerce, HDFC Life Insurance; Namrata Gill, VP - HR, auto & farm sector, Mahindra & Mahindra; and Ashish Sahni, head – digital marketing (passenger car business unit), Tata Motors.
Speakers underlined the need to collect, process and effectively utilise big data. Naair said, “The number of data analysts that you need to have on your team will depend on the industry in which you work. The first thing that comes into play is that as an organisation, are you structured to put all the data in one place for every department to have access to it and use? Because you need to have a technology backbone, a backbone of the company’s trust in what you’re doing and that is where a cross-functional team, top management decision makers and the board comes in, because these are expensive technology investments at a company’s disposal.”
Sanjay Tripathy was asked whether as a brand is important to attract the right talent or the leader. He answered, “Both brand and leaders act as a draw to bring in talent. But the ultimate goal of a company is to know how to put the right person in the right team. For example, when we talk about digital marketing, some core skills are required which are not necessarily taught in the academic environment. This does not mean that an IT guy who knows coding is the right candidate for digital marketing. The right person would be one who understands how digital helps in marketing in terms of the new technology coming in, looking at customers, what technology they are using and how can I service them in a much quicker way.”
Gill spoke about how by 2020, the lines between marketing and digital marketing would have disappeared and a marketer would be no longer able to treat digital marketing as a separate entity. She said, “As a brand manager, you need to know digital as well as analytics. Even if your company hires a digital agency to handle your digital marketing, the marketer would still be expected to have a good understanding of it. It’s not just about having data and applying various metrics to it to analyse it. We always talk about hiring and acquiring talent. What we forget is that the existing team’s skill set need to upgraded and they need to be made relevant.”
On digital agencies working with clients’ technology budgets or marketing budgets, Sahni responded, “At this point of time they are working with both of those. Marketing being an integral part of the front-face operations and technology being the one providing support. The budgets for these are coming from marketing at this stage. There are two types of technology processes that we’re seeing. The budget for the technology that supports marketing comes out of the marketing budget but the technology that is more about providing infrastructural support is completely different and the budget for it is not drawn out of the marketing section.”
Tripathy predicted, “Someday technology and marketing would definitely merge. It will happen much sooner than we expect it to, probably by 2017. Any front-facing technology, anything on social, anything web or mobile will actually converge with the marketing operations.”
The marketing panel was asked a list of three departments that they would like to see report to them. Sahni answered, “IT, operations and analytics. Marketing would remain an over-arching theme on all these.”
Naair mentioned prospect management, brand management and customer management as her three picks. Tripathy added, “There is the marketing team that reports to me with the addition of the e-commerce and digital teams. I would like IT to report to me too.”
Sehgal differed: “I don’t think IT should report to us for the simple reason that it needs to play a bigger role throughout the organisational structure. We cannot have a myopic, marketing-only concept to decide on this. IT should have its own data analytics team, its own team for digital.”