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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.
Apurv Bhatnagar is the Associate Vice President at Kore.ai, which is a pioneer in conversational Artificial Intelligence. Apurv leads the Product Marketing, Strategic Marketing and Partner Alliances team.
Before joining Kore, he worked in multiple capacities leading marketing streams, including Strategic, Digital and Field Marketing, for organizations including HCL, IBM and Cigniti. In his 15 years of experience, he has helped organizations shape customer experiences through marketing levers and has delivered a profitable business value proposition for them.
Interviewed by Prajwala Hegde
/ / How has the ABM function evolved at Kore.ai over the past few years?
I think over the past few years with the evolution of digital marketing, the approach of ABM has transformed from being a more physical field marketing effort to being a more digital medium-focused effort with a higher ROI. Though the field marketing efforts still constitute an essential element to enable more personalized face-to-face interactions, the initiation in most of the cases has been through digital channels. The advancements in market research have made it more sophisticated and targeted. You can more deeply analyze the personas of key stakeholders in the focused account and clearly define tactics with a higher probability of success.
/ / How do you select your ABM accounts? What are the technologies/trends driving ABM today?
ABM strategy in Kore.ai is two-pronged. Firstly, it is deployed to identify big cross-sell and up-sell opportunities in existing large accounts, and secondly, it is being used to identify new accounts with future potential. Selecting the right accounts is the key which will define the success or failure of the entire ABM plan. Typically, what we have seen is the information that you get from various databases about the account potential and propensity to buy your company’s services may not be accurate. Hence, the sales team is heavily involved in identifying the right account. While marketing comes up with findings based on secondary research and information pulled from a database, the sales team validates the information found on primary research.
/ / Do you have a separate ABM team? Do they function under the sales or marketing function?
Kore.ai is a four-year-old AI startup. ABM as an initiative is being led by the marketing team. But to ensure that our limited number of sales folks can adequately leverage ABM efforts, it is imperative that both the marketing and sales team work hand-in-glove. ABM has been one of the important platforms where both the teams work together and serve different roles at various stages of the sales cycle. At every step, from identifying the right account to identifying key stakeholders and finally having actual deal-based discussions, the sales team plays a key role.
/ / Do you provide account-specific website experience?
We have created a separate portal for chatbots, dedicated to specific use cases relevant to each company. As soon as someone from a particular organization logs into the portal, chatbots highlighting use cases relevant to them get highlighted. We have seen a multifold increase in customer satisfaction levels through this approach.
Even in my previous organization, we used to create microsites dedicated to specific organizations. The entire UX was based on organizational branding elements, which gives the visitor the feel of visiting some associated site. As soon as the customer logs in to that specific microsite, they can see assets relevant to their organization, which further makes that connection.
/ / 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 using marketing automation, enabled by Hubspot, to track and map the customer journey. Select stakeholders from the targeted accounts are monitored continuously on their social behavior, as well as on their surfing history on our website. Based on their history, various assets and collateral are shared to enable their movement to the next stage of the sales cycle. The personas are created on the basis of their hierarchy levels and feedback received from the delivery team about the challenges and motivators of each stakeholder.
/ / What are the channels of communication you use in ABM?
ABM traditionally has been a high-touch marketing tactic, but the evolution of digital marketing has transformed it. The impact is further amplified by a plethora of marketing automation tools made available today, ranging from focused Adobe targets to HubSpot, Marketo and Eloqua. I am also leveraging various market research databases, ranging from Discover.org to Zoom Info. These cover a broad spectrum of ABM activities, maybe to the tune of 70-80%. The rest of the activities, which are predominantly field marketing activities like roadshows and roundtables, constitute the remaining 20%.
/ / What are the new opportunities that ABM has opened up for your business?
ABM is a very focused effort with long sales and marketing cycles. We target large MNC’s with multiple stakeholders, distributed across geographies and with a complex matrix structure. The scenario is further complicated by multiple competitors who are also eyeing the same opportunity. So the deals are few, and it takes a lot of patience and perseverance, but once you can crack an account, the sky's the limit. Just one or two accounts can fetch almost 50% of the top-line for smaller businesses. In Kore, this has resulted in us winning the largest telecom player in North America and one of the largest financial services conglomerates worldwide, which are significantly contributing to our top- and bottom-line.
/ / How has Kore.ai benefited from ABM?
The revenue growth which we have witnessed in the last few years, particularly from specific accounts, is largely the result of our account-based marketing. Targeting a few select niche accounts has given us the ability to deliver as per our clients’ expectations without spreading our efforts too broadly or too thinly across our client base. As a result, we have been able to avoid a large number of long-tail accounts which would have consumed a significant amount of effort without delivering enough impact on the top-line or bottom-line of the company.
/ / What are the challenges you have faced in implementing ABM?
ABM by its very nature is a long and complicated marketing approach. First and foremost, it is about identifying high potential accounts and targeting the right stakeholders within those accounts. The key to success that I have found is a combination of secondary inputs from market research and primary inputs from the field sales team. The combination of primary and secondary information is a must; otherwise, there are high chances you will end up targeting the wrong organization or the wrong stakeholder.
The second important challenge in ABM is executive ownership. As ABM has long sales and marketing cycles, it is critical to find a stakeholder who will understand its importance and have the patience to wait until we get results.
Lastly, it is about defining the right mix of strategy and execution elements. For instance, if we directly jump into the account without proper market intelligence, then the efforts will be futile.
/ / Do you think companies are investing enough in ABM?
Considering the gigantic effort that is required and the limited amount of marketing resources that are being deployed, direct ABM investments are not at the desired level in most of the organizations. Here, it is important to note that this is another set of activities which the sales team does on their own.
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.
ABM will help you deliver a real-world experience in the digital space
Abraham Alapatt, President & Group Head, Marketing, Service Quality, VAS & Innovation, Thomas Cook (India)
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