MarTech: Enabling digital transformation

Remember the times when we would huddle around a radio set tuned into live commentary of a cricket match? Fast-forward to today and people are watching cricket on streaming applications on the smartphone. Now they can pause the live streaming, record the telecast to watch it later, or share their favorite moments out of a match on social media. For marketers, the only way to engage with the consumers during a radio telecast was through jingles. On the streaming app, the same marketer can connect with the consumer via a banner ad, social media hashtag, embedded video, or location based advertisements. This shift reflects the shift in media consumption patterns, the increasing number of choices available to consumers today, and how marketers are leveraging technology to address their needs.

Instead of endorsing the products, the organizations are now focusing on creating deeper engagement with the target audience. Smartphones, tablets, wearables enable the new age consumers to be active on social media and other digital platforms 24X7. If marketers want to stay relevant amidst the competitive clutter, they need to create unique and memorable experiences across all the platforms where their target audience is active. Needless to say, they cannot continue with legacy marketing skills and need more intervention of technology in their brand communications.

A joint report released by NASSCOM and SapientNitro in 2014 predicts a $37 billion CMO opportunity for the Indian technology industry by 2020. This is a clear fallout of a global trend on how strongly technology is influencing marketing strategies of companies in recent times. Today’s digitally empowered consumers require engagement at multiple touch points. For example, a customer can reach out to a bank via phone banking, Internet banking, app based services, value added services at ATM, social media channels, and then there is always the option of physical branch based banking. Sensing the evolution, several brands have started adding technology capabilities to their marketing strategies. For example, ecommerce player Flipkart has recently bought mobile marketing firm Appiterate to boost the mobile experience on its platform. Similarly, Starbucks, essentially a beverage seller is investing in technology to consolidate its position amongst millennials. In March this year, the company launched additional services on its mobile application. Customers can now locate the nearest outlet from their phones, pre-order and then pick up coffee while skipping the lines. The company already provides other services like including wireless charging stations, Wi-Fi, and Clover coffee machines that connect to the cloud. Starbucks processes 7 million weekly in-store transactions from its mobile payment application. These examples are just an indication of how consumers need much more than a good product and how technology becomes an important enabler for brands to deliver to these aspirations.

89% firms in the Fortune 500 list of 1989 are not present in the 2015 list. The message is clear: either change with the wind or perish. Given the digital transition that we are going through, adoption of marketing technology is not a choice but a survival need of the brand. If you do not engage your consumers, there is always some other brand ready to do so. For marketers, the writing is clear on the wall, embrace technology as your consumers are doing, or go out.

What should marketers do? Understand their consumer journeys, understand the needs of the consumer across the entire brand journey, and focus on providing the right kind of services and experiences across every touch point, that will increase the relevance of the brand far more than the jingle that interrupted the radio commentary twenty years back.

About the Author: Rajdeep Endow is the Managing Director of Sapient India

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