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April 24, 2012

Unveiling the Future of Digital Marketing - Infosys BrandEdge

Posted by Ajay Anand at 4:51 AM

Editor's Note: This blog by Ajay Anand is the third feature of the blog series in our By Invitation segment.

The Future has arrived!


Please join me as I take immense pleasure and pride in presenting Infosys BrandEdge - the first comprehensive Cloud-based platform that Simplifies Digital Marketing.

Yesterday at 10.00 PM, India time, Infosys unveiled two marvels to the business community - Infosys BrandEdge and our state-of-the-art Infosys Experience center in London. It couldn't have been a better pairing as both are designed with a vision into the future of business, technology and innovation. The first-of-its kind platform - Infosys BrandEdge - has been very well received by the industry practitioners and we have already received some great reviews by the experts.

Let me pick up the threads from my last blog and share with you the promise of Infosys BrandEdge with you - as we are doing today with the entire business world.

Our key promise to marketers and other users of this solution is that we will deliver a business solution to their business problems and be measured and paid based on business outcomes. We cannot make this promise if our offering was only about technology and tools. Technology is just an enabler. We have packaged our Infosys BrandEdge IP with tools and partners enabling us to offer comprehensive solution. For example, we have partnered with Fabric - a WPP company - to jointly take this solution to market. This means that marketers get the best of technology and marketing skills in one solution. We have combined forces to offer a deep understanding of the processes, tools and technologies in the marketing domain and, powered by a world-class IP, are delivering a best-in-class solution. This unique approach to solving a business problem has been the key to our success and will be the key differentiator, as we have already seen in our 3 wins.

As I conclude this blog, I would like to say that Infosys BrandEdge delivers a differentiated solution for the client and a differentiated offering for Infosys.  This is truly "Innovation in action" on multiple fronts:
a) Solution Innovation - A standout turnkey solution for marketers: Infosys BrandEdge provides a solution that simplifies the challenges of Digital Marketing and takes care of marketing at both the enterprise and consumer levels
b) A Business Model innovation - A true winner for Infosys: The hosted cloud plus services based Infosys BrandEdge is a new type of offering from. Infosys BrandEdge has seen excellent resonance in the market and is creating unprecedented buzz in CSG community.
c) Innovation in our ability to acquire new customer segments - Our strategic partnerships fundamentally change our positioning in the market place. Infosys BrandEdge opens doors to enter niche marketing areas of large enterprises leading to large scale marketing transformation opportunities.
This is clearly a great way to accelerate the client's innovation agenda and catalyze our Infosys 3.0 journey.
This is definitely, the beginning of some really exciting times for Team BrandEdge and Infosys as we set about on delivering our promise to our clients.
Coming soon on InfyTV, are the videos that bring this wonderful story to life.
Also see the Infosys BrandEdge in action in this interesting video and to learn more about Infosys BrandEdge visit -
In case you have missed the earlier parts of the Infosys BrandEdge story, catch them here -
Let's Simplify Digital Marketing
The Future of Digital Marketing is Blue


April 23, 2012

The Future of Digital Marketing is BLUE

Posted by Ajay Anand at 4:46 PM

In my last Blog, I shared with you the genesis of the Digital Marketing Platform - the inception, the research, the challenges and the opportunities. But as they say "Great ideas need landing gear as well as wings", today I will talk about how we set about shaping the platform. 

Through our research and talking to clients and practitioners of digital marketing, 2 clear areas of challenges were identified - Efficiency and Effectiveness; both addressing to a different aspect of digital marketing. While it would have been easier for us to come up with separate solutions for each, we decided to take up the challenge of addressing both through a single platform - this would give our platform a level of comprehensiveness that did not exist in any single tool / solution in the market. Out of this quest was born BLUE - a simple yet ingenious framework to wrap around our Infosys Digital Marketing Platform.  

Let me tell you a bit about BLUE. Long considered a corporate color, BLUE is associated with intelligence, stability and expertise. Many great enterprises have a theme centered around this popular color - IBM has a big connection with BLUE, VolksWagen has 'BLUE motion', Mercedes has 'BLUE efficiency', Nike has a 'Bleed BLUE' campaign, our own Bangalore boy Mr. Mallya has a Blue brand. The time had come for Infy to have its own BLUE but with a difference. Our BLUE is not just about creating a theme / campaign based on a popular corporate color but has a clear meaning - Our BLUE has the entire solution embodied within its name and stands for Build, Listen, Understand and Engage. 

Samson and I have debated many a times on what our BLUE should be called. I personally like "BLUE Reach" because ultimately marketing is about reaching the right consumer with the right message at the right time on the right channel. My team members have their own naming preferences. Net Net we have not yet come to a conclusion. For now we are patenting "BLUE Digital Marketing Platform". If you have any suggestions please send me your ideas and I will happily evaluate and if it happens to be the chosen one you can expect a big treat from meJ 

Creating the Platform BLUEprint 

Solving Problem Area # 1 - Solutions for the 'Enterprise Side' of Campaigns 

Many solutions, I believe, focus on the consumer side of the equation and tend to neglect the enterprise angle. To successfully navigate the shifting Digital Marketing landscape, enterprises need to first BUILD an effective Digital Marketing platform. 

It is critical that the solution orchestrates the enterprise's complete digital marketing initiative into a seamless effort. A digital marketing platform must standardize and automate enterprise-wide marketing processes across business units, brands, and markets. It must also drive reuse of assets and collaboration amongst internal and external stakeholders. The platform must enable speed and agility for marketers by incorporating the following key efficiency drivers:

1.    Configurablity - We all know how quickly the business environment is changing. Adaptability is critical, which calls for a configurable solution. The Digital Marketing Platform must handle everything the enterprise throws at it - varying processes, regions, products and industries. The product framework needs to be built on a metadata based model and be flexible, dynamic and completely configurable. 

2.    Extensiblity - Enterprises make significant investments in technologies. The Digital Marketing solution needs to be extensible and plug into an enterprise's existing ecosystem to allow standards-based integration - or most companies are not going to invest in it. A lift and shift approach will not work in this domain 

3.    Personalized - Marketing is a complex effort and a number of stakeholders - both inside and outside the enterprise - contribute to its success. These stakeholders must be connected under one project umbrella and be empowered with a smart user experience and relevant data.  

4.    Verticalized - The platform must not be the typical 'off-the-shelf' marketing product. It must address the specific needs of the industry, be it pharma or auto or retail or banking or any other industry, and must come with add-ins and services that drive verticality.  

Campaigns built using a platform that leverage these key drivers will be agile, cost effective, and faster, thereby accruing in measurable business growth for the company and have a direct bearing on ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment).  

Solving Problem Area # 2 - Solutions for the 'Consumer Side' of Campaigns 

According to Industry analysts, digital marketing will influence at least 80% of consumers' discretionary spending. Adopting a consumer-focused strategy that leverages the opportunities of the digital space will increase engagement, response and conversion rates. Let us now take a look at how we have addressed the consumer side of the Digital Marketing story.  

1.    Listen - While companies invest in listening tools to hear what their consumers are saying, the information they gather reside in silos. A Digital Marketing solution must enable enterprises to listen and allow it to collect and integrate the data in a single container, providing a 360-degree view of consumers. 

2.    Understand - Who is my consumer, and what does s/he want? Marketers need to understand consumers and extract actionable insights. A successful Digital Marketing solution will segment consumers to enable personalization and analyze behavior.  

3.    Engage - As businesses gain insight into consumer behavior, they can engage them via targeted campaigns that satisfy consumers and increase conversion rates. Such consumers help build loyalty and become advocates - the objective of any exercise in marketing, not merely Digital Marketing. 

Vision to Reality 

Now that we had a solid BLUE print for our platform, we set about bringing it to life.  

Building the overall Digital ecosystem - In addition to incorporating all the solution tenets, our BLUE framework allows easy integration into a myriad of tools and technologies that are used by marketers. These include:
a)    Tools that are applicable to all marketing departments across various industries. We call them Horizontal Apps. For example Marketing Resource Management (MRM) tools such as CMS, DAM and Marketing Operations Management (MOM) tools used in the 'Plan-Execute-Measure' process of campaign management.
b)    Tools that meet the varying demands of each industry. We call them Vertical Apps. For example e-detailing for Pharma, dealer OEM integration in the automobile industry  

Driving Excellence in Marketing Operations and Marketing Performance - Our Platform has a highly configurable Insights dashboard which we call BLUEDash - "You cannot control what you cannot measure". There are several tools in the market that measure end-consumer behavior. The BLUE framework takes this one level further by providing a configurable dashboard that allows marketers to measure end-to-end performance, from marketing operations to campaign analytics to end-user actions. 

The BLUE framework essentially acts like a 'glue' that stitches all these varied aspects of this very complex and heterogeneous domain into a seamless homogeneous platform for the marketer driving simplicity across their entire value chain. Using this, marketers can efficiently BUILD digital assets, collaborate amongst internal and external stakeholders, LISTEN to consumers across an array of digital channels, understand consumer segments, and leverage intelligence. All this helps deliver an ENGAGING experience that drives consumer-centricity for the brand, resulting in amplified engagement. 

Advantage Cloud:

Marketing teams are always under budget pressures and CMOs are expected to do more with less. With margins taking a hit, we solution providers need to devise a Cloud and subscription-based model of Digital Marketing and that's exactly what we have done. This will help companies to adopt a pay-as-you-go model, reducing capital expenditure and optimizing operational expenditure.  

With the BLUE framework, we believe we have a winner on our hands that is poised to transform the very nature of how digital marketing is done. But 2 critical questions still remains unanswered at the moment - What is our key promise to our clients and prospects? And what does this mean for Infosys? 

The right moment to answer these questions is when this blockbuster platform takes the center stage and gets unveiled to the business world not long from now. Please join me on the final stretch of this fantastic journey in my next Blog and I promise to make it short and sweetJ

Let's Simplify Digital Marketing

Posted by Ajay Anand at 4:43 PM

Back in October of 2010 when we started exploring ideas to build a new business platform, 'Digital Marketing' was only a bullet item in the BIZP 'idea bank' list. For no particular reason, I picked Digital Marketing - probably because it was the first bullet item. I call it serendipity! Like Forrest Gump's mama said "Life is like a box of chocolates and you never know what you're gonna get".

I am amazed by how much we have learnt and how much we have achieved as a team since then to build a blockbuster Digital Marketing Platform.  Building this platform has been a fantastic experience and the best phase of my 17+ year career with Infy. I must acknowledge that we have had more than our share of luck in this period. We have responded to 3 RFPs and won all three, including the famous multi-million dollar GlaxoSmithKline deal. As the launch date for this platform draws near, let me share with you some ideas on Digital Marketing and how we went about creating this 'Navaratna' platform. 

Even as enterprises were shifting from one-way marketing of products to anonymous buyers and moving towards dialog-based marketing to consumers, along came Digital Marketing. With its interactive channels that enabled marketers to connect with consumers, Digital Marketing promised to take enterprises to the nirvana of consumer-centricity with ease and rapidity.

But things are rarely that simple!

We set out to do a systematic study before we built our IP. We talked with clients, account teams and analysts, undertook market research, and looked at RFPs. Through all this, we made key discoveries. There were a lot of white spaces to fill and we set about doing just that.

Two clear problem areas emerged from our research:

Problem Area # 1: Digital Marketing had become complex. Marketers handled multiple brands, markets, products, tools, agencies, languages, compliance requirements, and verticals - and each came with its challenges. For example, reuse of Digital Assets across campaigns was poor and, in many cases, not possible. Another pain point is the lack of marketing process standardization - each brand within the enterprise does its own digital thing. The solution needed to meet the varying demands of multiple components of a fragmented environment. Doing digital had become difficult for enterprises. 'Efficiency' in campaign creation was critical.

Problem Area # 2: Thanks to digital consumers, marketers had access to unprecedented amounts of data. Overwhelmed with processing and making sense of this data, marketers needed a solution that gave them insights. Through it, they could make decisions faster, deliver the right message to the right consumer at the right time on the right digital channel, and create campaigns that deliver engagement and ROI. Essentially improve the 'Effectiveness' of campaigns.

The need was to create a Digital Marketing Platform that simplified this complex environment even as it promoted consumer-centricity, speed, and efficiency. Since marketing involves a continuous feedback loop between the enterprise and its consumers, we believed the platform needed to fulfill the challenges of Digital Marketing at those two levels and that's when this germ of an idea got transformed into a platform that could well redefine the future of Digital Marketing.

As Alfred Bernhard Nobel puts it "If I have a thousand ideas and only one turns out to be good, I am satisfied"....We believed that this was our "one good idea".

Well folks, that's the story of inception of the Digital Marketing Platform. Watch this space for my next blog to see how we transformed this germ of an idea from a mere "bullet point" into a game changer platform.

Mobility in Digital Marketing

Posted by Sankara Krishnan at 6:52 AM

India has 800M mobile phone connections and more than 560M active ones, more than the population of US and some European countries put together. Add this to a billion in China and a global number of 6 billion users and you have a handy case for 'Why every tool and technology in digital marketing should support smart devices'. It is a no-brainer and a blog article is not needed for this.

The more important question is 'Do global corporations understand how to do mobility right in digital marketing'. Do they know the exact pieces that must be on mobile and the ones which will become an over-investment? This is to be deliberated.

Our view is that mobility is exciting for sure, much more so after iPad and Galaxy Pad, after today's smart devices that are sending kodak and garmin into a tailspin. But mobility is not the one-stop panacea for the marketer. Not every application needs to be distributed on mobile, not every process is effective for onboarding onto a smart device, not every site would be accessed on a mobile. When done wrong, mobility investments can lie silo-ed and unlocked. Only a select set of users, processes and applications need to be impacted, have the need for speed, and possess the ability to supplement mobility to enhance the value chain.

Whether it is enabling sales reps with iPads for eDetailing or allowing the dealers real-time access on smart devices to the OEM information or placing the Microsoft tag QR codes for mobile tagging, it costs money for marketing to go mobile.

The strategy roadmap for mobility needs to be carefully drawn, in-line with the corporation's global digital transformation roadmap. Small babysteps need to be made and results measured before more $$$ pumped in.

Tell us how you are approaching mobility in your verticals and industries. Which are the top processes you are mobile-enabling? What is your experience with mobile app distribution systems? Share us your pain points and success stories.

April 20, 2012

Move over yotta - show me the consumer!

Posted by Sankara Krishnan at 9:25 AM

If I told you "The world is undergoing a tectonic shift", you would call "the most boring first line for a blog".

So let's talk facts - 80% of the savings are in the western world and 80% of the growth is coming out of the eastern economies. The conservative eastern economies are still saving 30-35% while the splurging western mindset has borrowed heavily, some upto 200% of their GDP.

What this means is, suddenly, there are blue ocean markets and opportunities, massive ones, where growth is propelling spending. Spending of time on digital channels, buying of goods and services on commerce avenues, checking out on products etc.

All this frenzy is putting lot of data out there on the digital channels - FB, Twitter, FourSquare, PInterest, LinkedIn and many more. Data is growing at 48% YoY and is estimated at 3 zettabytes in 2012 (10 power 21 or 2 power 70). Expect several yottabytes (billion zetta) out there in a decade.

Now you are sitting up! This isn't a boring blog.

The brand manager, in order to run targeted campaigns, had to earlier contend with getting right data from brick n mortar, from directories, shops etc. Today, she has to overcome the digital data deluge and dig deeper, sift and sort and mine among the yottabytes, to find and understand consumers and their friends who are potential consumers. Every 'footprint in the sand' needs to be captured. Not every prospect and consumer is going to create a footfall in your ecosystem and hence every 'footprint in a foreign sand' also needs to be brought in - digital, analog, physical and every domains in-between.

My argument is that Digital platforms must have the ability to handle unstructured, semi-structured data in addition to the relational data across digital and physical channels and deliver the "real 360 view". This is one place where technology is behind the curve and this is one place where there is big opportunity today for the global corporations. "Real 360" is the answer to finding the consumer in this yotta.

What is your view on this zetta yotta thingie? Is all this relevant data? Is there a 'Real 360' possibility? Do you feel there is adequate technology today to support this? Are corporations and their ecosystems geared up to handle this? Tell us..

Efficiency. Effectiveness. Excellence.

Posted by Sankara Krishnan at 9:22 AM

Most new models go through hype cycles. I remember the .com days when an IT firm with a knock-out SCM solution was tipped to overtake Microsoft in valuation. It was 'cool' for me to work in a $3M fancy-named startup than in a $300M IT company. 12 years later, it is a different world.

Digital transformation is going back through the hype cycle right now.
Thanks to FB and Twitter, Google and Groupon, we now have a billion other believers. Digital marketing, Digital Commerce, Digital Service, Digital whatnot..

During the hype cycle, companies flood the market with a myriad of tools, and give them all kinds of funky names. If you analyzed the number of other names by which marketing is known in the digital world, other than digital marketing, you will find a dozen other names and be perplexed.

We believe this too shall pass!

Marketing is about three things: a savvy marketer, an interested customer and a great brand. It shall ever remain so. It is about the people and not the technology.

We believe digital marketing tools should ask and address these two basic questions:

# How has life become simpler for the marketer after she uses my tools i.e., - is digital enablement promoting efficiency of building the assets

# How is the framework better enabled to listen and understand customers i.e., is digital enablement promoting effectiveness of business outcomes to my topline and bottomline.

A great digital marketing solution drives efficiency and ensures effectiveness. No more. No less.

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