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Marketing Transformation Opportunities are Here: ITSMA Session Lowdown

Last week, hours flew by quickly as I attended an Insight Session on Marketing Priorities for the 21st Century Enterprise co-hosted by HCL Technologies and ITSMA at Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in Noida. Much was covered in the discussion that was centered around accelerating marketing transformation. Thanks in no small part to the significant findings shared by David C. Munn, President and CEO ITSMA, Apurva Chamaria, Head of Corporate Marketing, HCL Technologies, and to the expert insights by the panelists, including Krishnan Chatterjee, Head of Marketing, Indian Subcontinent, SAP, Jyoti Singh, Global Marketing Head, NIIT Technologies Limited, Jagdish Mitra, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, Tech Mahindra, and Amit Sinha Roy, Vice-President, Strategy & Marketing, Tata Communications.

Unveiling the findings from a recent ITSMA research, David announced that less than one-third of B2B marketing organizations have an explicit strategy, plan, or framework for marketing transformation. And, even the ones with a documented plan, paid attention only to the technology roadmap, which, though vital, is only one of the key areas of transformational change.

David, was also quick to point out the complexity of the marketing technology landscape that was teeming with 5000 companies already! He asserted that organizations should consider all six elements of ITSMA’s new Marketing Transformation Maturity Model: 1) Role of marketing, 2) Thought leadership and content, 3) Sales relationship, 4) Technology infrastructure, 5) Data, analytics, and insight, 6) Organization and culture.

A “cowboy’s shoulder,” marketing, according to David, should forever be geared to enable sales with the right content at the right place, at the right time. A striking call, particularly when 89% of buyers view content, particularly thought leadership, as quintessential during the initial phase of the buying cycle!

Apurva Chamaria, while reflecting on HCL Technologies’ tryst with marketing transformation, informed that his company’s marketing activities were consistently focused on all six dimensions of the ITSMA Maturity Model. He observed that for most tech companies, 90-99% of annual revenues come from existing customers—for HCL, this figure was 96.4%, while for TCS and others, it stood at 99%. Underlining the importance of relationship building, he asked if it was really right, for marketing to invest more than 50% of its budget on new customers?

As a moment of reckoning, he invited all marketers to ponder while it’s cardinal for them to drive brand differentiation, could they be doing a better job when all their booths, most of their websites, and content look and sound the same.

Speaking highly of talent upgrade, he added that most of the marketing leaders in his company spend a lot of time giving trainings, including Digital 101 courses to develop all team members into full-stack marketers. Discussing transformation hacks, he remarked that the real moment of truth for marketing will arrive when a marketing project can go live in 7 days.

Apurva’s session was followed by a vigorous panel discussion that saw the panelists talk about how they transformed marketing in their organization. Underlining the key role of relationship in marketing, Jyoti Singh described how marketing helped build a successful custom VoC program in NIIT Technologies Limited (NTL) to assess customer perceptions and strength of customer relationship.

Jyoti also highlighted that marketing transformation is better realized when there is a clear intent to become an insights-driven partner for sales. Leveraging automation through Pardot, NTL marketing derived real-time insights on key accounts and prospects, making them part of campaigns. With “serious skin in the game,” not only did this approach yield higher number of SRLs and opportunities but also improved throughput per dollar-spend.

Taking cue, Amit Sinha Roy agreed it’s essential for marketing to be “laser-focused on intent” and do things that are of value to sales rather than just seeking to humor themselves. Jagdish Mitra even illustrated how he chose to adjust Tech Mahindra’s positioning to the expectations of buyers in a bid to localize the brand in overseas markets. Jyoti Singh granted that though “credibility is building, yet the interlock between sales and marketing is far from that of a happily married power couple and they seem to be just dating.”

Talking about the three parameters of SAP’s redesigned GTM strategy, Krishnan Chatterjee noted that a joint P&L with key accounts, growth relevant proposition, and territorial presence in various markets are essential to design a brand that is steeped in local context.

The panelists were one voice in concluding the discussion that buyer journey-based marketing, disruptive ways of messaging and experimentation, and agility in leveraging tools, processes, and accelerators held the golden key to marketing transformation amidst substantial change and uncertainty.

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