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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.
Steve leads the customer success and transformation organization at Element, a data analytics organization that enables any person or system to have a 360-degree view of every asset in a system. He has a solid understanding of operations excellence and the systems which support it. As a former customer who led a digital transformation, he wants to help others do the same. Steve lives in Houston with his wife, Sally, and two teenage boys. He enjoys reading, biking, hiking, food, travel, and technology.
Interviewed by Nimish Vohra
// What significant challenges are you facing as a result of COVID, and how do you work around them?
The biggest challenge was that potential customers stopped spending because of the uncertainty. To counter this, we employed a more direct marketing strategy, hosting more webinars and other online content. We also changed our sales approach over several months and are in the process of refreshing our website and offering more interactive sessions.
However, this challenge has mostly passed through the system now and we’re seeing interest pick up again.
// Has COVID changed the way you onboard your customers?
Only physically. Before COVID, we would actually go on-site with customers for a week to onboard them. We are now doing this virtually. We were prepared for this and actually did our first virtual onboarding in early April. It did require us to redo our training material to compensate for the fact that we were not there in person. It requires more proactive checking in, because you are not there to see if someone is struggling with a concept or a software issue.
// Has there been a change in the way you furnish prospects and customers with information, either in method or content?
Only in physical presence. We have had to move the meetings to online and virtual, but the approach is pretty much the same.
// Have you noticed any difference in how prospects evaluate your offerings since the arrival of COVID?
It’s taking them longer to decide and get started. Within our potential customers, budgets have been decreased and spending limits moved up at least one level in the organization. Many made cuts and are taking a wait-and-see approach. We would have productive meetings with the end-users and leaders of those teams, but when they went to organizational leaders for funding, they hit a roadblock. Because of this, it took more meetings, and actually getting to those leaders to get funds released to move forward.
// What are the most significant changes you’ve observed in customer behavior?
On the positive side, customers are more available to discuss the product. Without the commute, people have more time to explore the product and listen to a pitch.
On the negative side, spending limits have been pulled up higher in the organization for most customers, so it is more difficult to reach a decision-maker.
// Have you altered your organization’s messaging strategy? How and why?
We have enhanced our messaging to make sure customers understand that we can support them remotely every bit as well as we can in person. Beyond that, no significant changes have been made. We are always trying to improve our messaging and that is not a result of COVID.
// Has the shifting business environment exposed any shortcomings in your technology or processes?
No it has actually reinforced the strength of the product, the people and the processes supporting it. We are a cloud-based SaaS and we have clients all over the US and some in other parts of the world, so our support has always been mostly virtual. Prior to COVID, our support engineers would co-locate with the customer team for a week or two and then work remotely, post which customers were supported virtually. We already had video training sessions and a training portal set up.
In the backdrop of COVID, we are able to deliver both live virtual training and training videos with the same content remotely. In April, we trained a group of 76 users virtually over a few days — we were put to the test right away. Sales processes were modified, but that was happening pre-COVID as well. COVID did force us to accelerate that but it did not change our direction.
// What has been your single biggest focus during this period?
Reaching more people and staying in touch with those showing interest before COVID. We have focused on more webinars, customer interactions, calls, demos and the like. We want people to be thinking of us as the world returns to a more stable situation and whatever the new normal becomes once COVID is under control. We’re already seeing signs of things returning to a more business-as-usual approach and we will be ready when our customers are.
// Are you looking forward to a return to business as usual? Please expand on this.
We are looking forward to being able to meet with our customers face to face. We’re not sure if business will be like it was or if there will be a new normal. People are working effectively from home all around the world, and business continues. I think a lot of companies have been forced to realize that people can just be as or more productive working this way, so I think this will accelerate some of the trends that were already growing before COVID, like flexible working.
// What are the lasting industry-wide changes that you expect to see staying beyond the COVID phase?
More remote working for those who can. Companies may start to optimize their real estate footprint. People who can work remotely will move to locations with lower costs of living; we have seen this with our own teams and customers already. I also see the ability to do more asynchronous work. We have cut back on meetings and done more work with small groups on shared documents and collaboration tools like Slack and Teams.
// What is the most significant learning you've personally taken away from this experience?
For me personally, I have seen that people are capable of much more than companies give them credit for. Many people have stepped up and taken on more responsibility. People have gone above and beyond my expectations. This has helped me realize that I need to expect more of people and help them see their own capabilities (and I don’t mean do more with less or work harder). Many are experiencing more job satisfaction and better work-life balance in this environment. It would be a shame to go back to the old way of doing things and lose this benefit going forward.
Cost vs. value is being scrutinized closer than ever before
Atul Mathur, Senior Director, Customer Success, Microsoft
Businesses are increasingly open to bold ideas
Santosh Sahoo, Senior Director, Customer Success, MuleSoft