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Susan is an independent digital communications and user experience strategist. She helps companies discover their brand voice and grow their business.
Shubharthi is currently part of the strategic marketing team at Regalix. His expertise mainly lies in the account-based marketing and programmatic advertising space.
Priscilla is a content writer who has worked for Infosys Technologies and other technology startups in India and abroad.
Moulishree is a freelance journalist with over 7 years of experience, she writes research-based analytical stories on technology and business.
Avanish is a Bangalore-based journalist who writes on business with a specific focus on technology companies.
Priyanka has covered every aspect of the IT industry as a tech journalist since its early days. She is now an independent writer, working on subjects like digital marketing, enterprise technology and high-performance computing, among others.
A freelance content writer, S. Sahu was the former editor of TCS's house magazine at Tata Consultancy Services. He developed tech marketing collateral for the company and helped compile and edit books and journal articles on TCS's technology innovations. He also ghostwrites print and online publications.
Prajwala is a Bangalore-based freelance journalist who writes on social issues, stories of human interest, and art and culture, among others.
Rajesh Nanarpuzha is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at IIM Udaipur. Previously, he has worked as a brand manager in Dabur, and as a business consultant in the retail and consumer goods domains at Cognizant and Tata Consultancy Services. Rajesh has an MBA from IIM Indore and a doctorate in marketing from IIM Ahmedabad.
Priyokumar Singh Naorem
He is a passionate UI & UX designer who thrives on creating engaging creative solutions.
A freelance illustrator, artist, graphic novelist and designer. She has designed and illustrated several book covers. Her personal illustrations so far have attempted to seize the fleeting absurdity and mood of places, things and people she encounters in a childlike, intuitive and expressive manner with closure, beauty and innocence – the things that she desires.
She is an artist and an educator who has taught and lectured at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Oxford University, the Victoria and Albert Museum among other institutions. Her installations, paintings, thread work and sculptures have been exhibited in Saatchi Gallery - London, C24 Gallery - New York, and Museum of Contemporary Art – Lyon, among other notable galleries and museums from around the world.
Purna Chandra Mahato
A commerce graduate from Delhi University, Parul pursued a masters in fine arts from Nottingham Trent University in the UK. As an artist, she is interested in line as a subject which has led her to follow architectural lines in built environments. She says she is also interested in how we perceive the environment that we inhabit and what happens when a subtle shift is made in things which we have been used to seeing in a certain way. We present six of her artworks here.
Shweta Malhotra is a graphic artist and designer from Mumbai, based in New Delhi.
After working with ad agencies and design studios for close to 8 years, she branched out on her own and currently works independently.s Her overall design aesthetic is minimal, bold and graphic, a response to the maximalist visual language prevalent in India.
Rithika Merchant (b.1986) received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Parsons the New School for Design, New York in 2008. She has exhibited extensively since her graduation. Recent exhibitions include a duo show “Reliquaries: The Remembered Self” at TARQ, Mumbai; “Language of the Birds: Occult and Art” at 80WSE Gallery, New York; and group shows at Summerhall, Edinburgh and Artry Gallery, Kochi. Her work has been included in multiple group shows at Stephen Romano Gallery and The Morbid Anatomy Museum, New York. Born in Mumbai, she now divides her time between Mumbai and Barcelona.
Aniruddh Mehta is an artist based out of Mumbai, India. Trained in graphic design from the London College of Communications, Aniruddh is a self-taught illustrator and currently works as an independent freelance designer. He believes in finding the right balance between art and graphic design. He has worked closely in collaboration with Bhavishyavani Future Soundz, Qilla Records, Taxi Fabric, Adidas, Dell and United Colours of Benetton. He also goes by the moniker, ‘thebigfatminimalist’ and his style ranges from bold minimal forms to more intricate pieces exploring patterns and geometry.
Paramesh is an artist who enjoys working in both the realistic and abstract style of painting. He loves working with water color. Featured in this issue are a set of water color works that he has created exclusively for us on the subject of digital transformation.
Based in Mumbai, Chandrashekhar Thakur is a Senior Art Director and Illustrator at Truebil.com and the Founder of HAPPiNESS For You. He loves working with new styles of art and considers illustration to be his forte. Chandrashekhar has completed his BFA from DY Patil College of Applied Art.
Concept and Direction
Head of marketing at Regalix, Nimish drives research in emerging technologies and customer experience, and takes a keen interest in creative arts.
In today's hyper-connected world, many companies are moving from offering standard products and services to customized and personalized offerings. Global tour operator, Thomas Cook, is among them. Over the last two years, the company has been adopting technology at a rapid pace. It has brought in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and analytics into its Account-Based Marketing function, which now helps the firm serve customers better, says Abraham Alapatt, President & Group Head, Marketing, Service Quality, Value Added Services & Innovation at Thomas Cook (India).
In an interview with Digital CMO, he talks about how ABM has evolved within the company, the technologies that are driving it and how it is changing marketing and sales.
Interviewed by Moulishree Srivastava
/ / How has the ABM function evolved in your company over the past few years?
When we talk about ABM, I think it is important to step back a bit and understand that we have actually come to a full cycle. If you went back to marketing many years ago, the principle was really about a high degree of customization. You could see it in kirana stores, where sellers had almost a sort of one-on-one relationship with customers. Only then came the market of many, which was led by mass production. Whatever sector you went in, it was largely about standardization. And to a great extent, we moved away from the market-of-one principle.
In many ways, in the last two years, thanks to AI and ML, we have come back to the market-of-one where we can serve many customers, yet at the same time, treat each customer individually. That's the basic premise of ABM. Thomas Cook has followed the same journey. We started with the principle of getting groups to travel together, which was mostly a standardized offering. However, now we are moving toward highly-personalized and customized offerings.
/ / What are the technologies and trends driving ABM today?
The ability to look at data and patterns, and use AI and machine learning to customize offerings, whether it’s a product or service, I think are the two technologies driving ABM.
/ / Have you implemented AI in your ABM practice?
We are harnessing AI and ML in many ways in ABM. And we are using analytics to drive deep insights. This is helping us to spot patterns, based on which we can customize both messaging and offering to individual customers. We are also able to profile customers' preferences and behaviour patterns. So in some sense, we are able almost to predict and give them something that is more relevant, and more likely to be purchased.
/ / How is AI changing the ABM function?
It has completely changed the ABM principle because without analytics, without the ability to understand customers, we won’t be able to create personas and offer something that's relevant to each individual, pretty much as a market-of-one as against a market-of-many, as it was earlier. All this has been possible only because of AI and ML since we are talking about data of enormous magnitude here.
/ / How well, in your opinion, are businesses coping with this change? Are they adapting well?
Yes and no. It's not like we have got to a level of great expertise. I don't think anyone has. It's an evolutionary journey, and everybody is at different stages in that journey.
The more data AI and ML get to compute, the better will be their ability to help marketers make the right decision. And my sense is that it is especially critical for high-value service-led organizations such as ours because the stakes are high and the category that we are in, for example, it is not a standard product. It's a complicated, multi-stage transaction at the purchase level and multi-stage consumption at the experience level when somebody is going on a vacation.
/ / What are the tools you use in ABM?
We work with consultants and companies that provide these services, and they, in turn, employ various tools. We have implemented CRM and AI and ML ourselves internally as a platform, in which we have invested. One of the ways we are putting this technology into play is re-imagining the entire customer experience and journey. It's a project that we have just gotten into. We are looking into how it will impact market creation, customer reach, acquisition, purchase behaviour and experience and finally, consumption and post-consumption experience as well. Your ability as a marketer, as an organization, to completely rethink and reimagine the qualitative experience of customers, in terms of the ability to reach them when they are looking for the right product and services, the ability to personalize offerings to the degree that makes sense to them, to provide a good experience, and thereby maintain the relationship going forward till their next purchase―this whole life cycle relationship piece is very important to us.
/ / Have you invested in advanced analytics?
This is our second year of analytics, and we have CRM in place for three and a half years. You could say it puts us on the beginners' path, and there is a lot more to travel to reach the stage where we can confidently say we are able to understand customers and treat them in the spirit of ABM, which is like treating each as a market-of-one.
/ / Do you have a separate ABM team? Do they function under the sales or marketing function?
Last year we aligned marketing and sales so that their KPIs (key performance indicators) are the same. This is crucial because marketing and sales have to work together, and they have to have common goals.
/ / Do you think companies are investing enough in ABM?
As a concept, ABM is not widely understood or talked about in boardrooms yet, but I think sooner than later it’s going to start. AI, ML and analytics are the pieces in the ecosystem in which companies are beginning to invest big money because people see the value of it.
/ / Do you map the customer journey of all your ABM accounts? Have you created individual personas of people within each of your ABM accounts?
We are not fully there in terms of drawing up completely individualized personas as yet, but I think we are getting there. We are now able to sharply define mini segments of customers rather than just broadly categorizing them into groups. However, I think the perfect spot would be to recognize our customers and personalize something for them, without, of course, spooking them out. That will make customers feel that they have a special relationship with Thomas Cook.
/ / What are the challenges you have faced in implementing ABM?
The technology has evolved rapidly over the last couple of years, so technology adoption by itself is a challenge for large traditional organizations. The ability to capture data accurately and use it to make real-time marketing decisions are some of the challenges we have faced.
/ / What are the new opportunities that ABM has opened up for your business?
What ABM has done is that it has married the heart and the brain from a marketing perspective. The heart has always been about the art of marketing. What ABM, on the back of ML, AI and analytics, has done is bring science to it. It has brought data to back a lot of gut decisions.
/ / What are the trends/technologies that you think will drive ABM in the future? How should businesses gear up for this?
As more marketing money moves into digital, and as more and more consumption happens digitally, more customers will become what we call digital customers. And like the old world market, which understands a customer and his behaviour well, the digital market will do as well. AI, ML and analytics are the tools that will help present marketers understand their customers better. Like you had a physical engagement in the real world, these are the tools that will make the equivalent of physical engagement possible in the digital world. ABM will help you in delivering that real-world experience.
Transitioning to an ABM organization
Marketing, at its core, is a process of understanding consumer needs, to design goods and services that satisfy these needs better than existing competition.
AI has huge potential to transform ABM meaningfully
Apurv Bhatnagar, Associate Vice President, Kore.ai
In ABM, personalization is not an afterthought – it is part of the strategy
Yashdeep Vaishnav, Director, Marketing Cloud, Salesforce
ABM is more cost-effective than traditional marketing
Jennifer Toton, Vice President, Marketing, RollWorks
ABM is akin to fishing with a spear instead of casting a wide net
Sumit Srivastava, Head, Corporate Marketing Analytics & Operations, LexisNexis Risk Solutions
The return on investment of ABM is far more than a generic broad-based marketing approach
Samik Roy, Country Head (Dynamics), Microsoft India
I would say ABM is a big cultural shift for companies, and AI is only a small part of that
Todd Berkowitz, Managing Vice President, Tech GTM Marketing, Product & Sales, Gartner Inc.
ABM can seem thankless before it turns to gold
VC John, Regional VP, Marketing & Communications (BFSI), Accenture