Write to us
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.
Santosh serves as Senior Director, Customer Success, at MuleSoft, a Salesforce company. MuleSoft defined the Application Network category and is helping shape the future of the connected enterprise. In this role, Santosh leads MuleSoft’s strategic customers to adoption and success using the industry-leading Anypoint platform. Santosh has spent over 16 years as a technology leader across customer success, account management, technology strategy and program management. He is passionate about mentoring, traveling and sports.
Interviewed by Nimish Vohra
// What significant challenges are you facing as a result of COVID, and how do you work around them?
In my role at MuleSoft, I am focused on driving the transformation agenda for Fortune 100 enterprises using MuleSoft’s market-leading technology, API-led philosophy and outcome-based delivery approach. Our primary customers are CIOs and CTOs.
COVID-19 is a once-in-a-lifetime crisis that has completely changed the playbook of most of our customers. Moreover, a significant percentage of these changes are becoming the new normal.
Cost pressures - Most customers have either reduced budgets or are keeping them flat. As a result, their acquisitions have slowed down, churn has increased and a few strategic accounts are driving revenue growth. Customer success has become pivotal to proactively address churn and drive outsized revenue growth. We’re addressing churn byrestructuring existing contracts to provide short-term cash flows and long-term benefits, converting short-term renewals to long-term through incentives like volume discounts and flexible payment terms, and Bringing rigor to renewal forecasting/renewal strategy and risk management plays.
People changes - A combination of factors such as loss of senior staff, cut back on consulting resources and significant reduction in in-person collaboration have added pressure on CIOs to deliver on increasingly time-sensitive asks from their CEOs. As a result, there is an ever-increasing expectation from CSMs to lead our customers with empathy. The few areas we have invested in are automating operational activities and ensuring that a significant percentage of CSMs’ time is focused on customer interactions, re-imagining our playbooks to focus on shorter, high-impact activities, and higher focus on customer enablement through training, product sessions, meetups and hackathons.
In summary, the last 7 months have been a once-in-a-lifetime phase of learning for us as an organization and for our customers. It has definitely positioned us as one of the very few strategic partners truly driving the innovation agenda for Fortune 100 customers.
// Has COVID changed the way you interact with your customers?
Definitely. The whole world is remote and there is real ‘Zoom fatigue’. Our customers are certainly working longer hours than ever before. As a result, every interaction with customers has to provide value. The challenges that we have seen are:
1) No opportunities for in-person interactions, especially in early phases of customer relationships
2) Less opportunity to gather customer intelligence when we can’t walk the halls
3) Difficulty engaging customers on day-long product sessions, workshops, training.
On the positive side though, we have been able to innovate and use this situation to our advantage. Examples:
1) With customers being remote, we have been able to engage many more in our events such as “CONNECT” and “Dreamforce” as they don’t need to travel
2) We’ve re-imagined short and focused interactions for cadence calls, QSRs, executive briefings
3) We’re focusing on community building through hackathons, meet-ups, office hours, go-live parties, etc.
// What are the most significant changes you’ve observed in customer behavior?
CIOs have become CEOs’ best friends. They are getting their much-awaited recognition. The biggest change has been acceptance of bold ideas. Customers are primarily investing in:
1) Customer Experience - Customer service, new sales channels (D2C), personalized digital marketing, single view of customer, omni-channel
2) Partner Experience - Supply chain modernization, investments in partnerships for digital capabilities (Insurers and InsureTech, Banks and FinTechs), API marketplaces for partners to innovate
3) Employee Experience - Investment in collaboration and remote workplace technologies, employee wellness, training and up-skilling, bringing employees safely back to office.
// Have you noticed any difference in how prospects evaluate your offerings since the arrival of COVID?
In the beginning of the pandemic, the obvious answer seemed cost-consciousness. But as we have continued to engage, we have realized value is the biggest focus. Now customers want technology partners to not only advise, but lead them. They also want faster time to value. Conversation has moved beyond product to adoption, change management and mutual success. Customers are much more interested in understanding their partner's playbook around driving post-sales engagement and business outcomes.
// What has been your single biggest focus during this period?
MuleSoft/Salesforce’s single biggest focus has been on employees, their safety and mental wellbeing. This includes daily communication around COVID-19, daily ‘wellbeing breaks’, additional flexible holidays, help with childcare, help with home-office setup and a list of resources to support employees during these unprecedented times. This laser-sharp focus on employees has resulted in Salesforce having the best quarter in its history and MuleSoft growing at an exponential pace.
// What are the lasting industry-wide changes that you expect to see staying beyond the COVID phase?
One obvious area is the current focus on employees and flexible working arrangements. We don’t see that changing in the future. As a result, all enterprise technology companies need to reimagine their approach towards customer success for an ever-increasing remote audience.
Secondly, CIO/CTO roles have been elevated, and they are actively driving CEOs’ agendas, rather than back-office support. This is a great opportunity for the right set of partners who can elevate their game and lead their customers. CIOs are increasingly looking at these strategic partners for leadership.
Customer success has become everyone’s responsibility, not just that of one department. Investment in CS will significantly grow beyond tech companies to all kinds of industries.
Cost vs. value is being scrutinized closer than ever before
Atul Mathur, Senior Director, Customer Success, Microsoft
Reaching decision-makers is getting harder
Steve Beamer, VP Customer Success & Transformation, Element