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April 23, 2012

Experience tomorrow's enterprise

Posted by BG Srinivas (View Profile | View All Posts) at 2:11 PM

In my ongoing discussions with CEOs and executives, I find we are all looking for the same things - ways to quickly adapt to the changes around us and drive top-line growth. Large business and technology shifts are shaping the future and we are looking to harness the opportunities these forces are creating. With increasing clarity, I can see 7 key trends that are at the fore. For instance, one that you couldn't have missed, is the advent of the digital consumer and how her demand for personalization is upsetting the apple-cart of existing business models. We have shared our point of view, on building tomorrow's enterprise, with over 100 global corporations, and conducted innovation co-creation workshops with over of 50 of these enterprises. In fact, we are consistently putting our business and technology investments into these areas so our clients are equipped, for tomorrow, with all they need to not just manage change but spark the next wave of growth.

But what, I think, will specially interest you is that, at Infosys, it's not just content and corporate-speak that tell our clients how this can work for them; we invite them to experience tomorrow for themselves. The Infosys Experience Centre we've unveiled today, in our London office, is another of the many channels we leverage to do this. Through fully digitized interactive experience zones, the Centre tells the story of the seven mega themes, dominating global business, and how your enterprise can take advantage of these to build sustainable business advantage. It lets you experience firsthand what tomorrow's enterprise is all about....building a compelling case backed with real-world examples, videos and democasts of solutions that can specifically help you chart your course for transition into the innovation-led accelerated growth mode. In fact, our Product Research and Development Center, 500 engineers strong today, is expected to grow to 1,000 over the next two years. With 474 patent applications, 12 platforms, 12 products and still counting, the momentum to deliver innovation around the megatrends continues unabated. Annual revenue from Finacle is over 318 million USD and our other products and platforms have brought in contracts valued at 350 million USD. Over 40 clients leverage Infosys products and platforms and 160 others accelerate innovation with Finacle from Infosys.

This near-obsession with building tomorrow, today, is what has inspired the very evolution of our organization that seeks to be your strategic partner...help you sustain competitive advantage...and build your enterprise of tomorrow.
Don't take my word for it. Come, experience the real thing.

It's tough being the Sun!

Posted by Samson David (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:05 AM

A Physics project

My 14-year-old girl came to me and asked me to help her with her Physics project. It was called "It's tough being the Sun". As I started getting into it, I explained to her that there are two fundamental forces at work within the Sun. The Hydrogen atoms are undergoing nuclear fusion and converting into Helium and releasing a lot of energy in the process - almost as if billions of hydrogen bombs are blasting - every second. This generates a huge expansive pressure which could blow the sun's core away. But, for the other force - the force of gravity! It binds everything together and exerts a compressive force and balances the expansive force. So these two forces are at it continuously and - the balance between the two is what keeps the Sun going! And that's good for us earthlings - the "consumers" of the light and heat that the sun provides us with - which is paramount for our survival.

A CMO's world

A few weeks later we were at this Italian restaurant in NY - I and a CMO of a Fortune 500 Pharma company. Here was a man, who managed 150+ brands, across 200+ countries, across agencies, across hundreds of campaigns at any given time, with total budgets in the 100s of millions of dollars, and ever increasing complexity of managing zillions of digital assets being created across this complex ecosystem. Add to this, he had multiple questions staring him in the face to which he had to provide answers.

  • My GTM processes vary for all geographies - maybe even for every brand - how do I standardize?
  • The content is getting generated in multiple formats, locations and languages - how do I drive re-use and automation? How do I institutionalize central governance for this?
  • I am in the midst of an explosion of digital channels & devices and consumers experience my brand ubiquitously as the lines of brand experience are getting blurred across these hannels and devices - how do I drive a seamless consumer experience across all of these?
  • All my consumer data itself is spread across multiple channels, in different systems and formats making it very difficult to aggregate and understand - how do I convert all of this into insights?
  • There are so many stakeholders spread across brands, geographies, departments, agencies etc. How do I drive collaboration across all these internal and external stakeholders?
  • How do I institutionalize performance monitoring which tells me how I am doing on various dimensions and which also lays the foundation for continuous improvement?

He wanted more budgets, more resources, more technology to manage this rapidly changing stuff of this scale and complexity. And then his CEO came and demanded "ROI accountability" metrics directly relating the output of his marketing team's efforts and budgets to parameters relevant to business outcomes.

And as we spoke on and on, I could see a lot of similarity between his context and my 14-year old's project!

Forces of Nuclear Fusion & Gravity in the CMO's world

There were two fundamental forces that this CMO's world was being subjected to.

An expansive force driven by the explosion of devices and channels, mobility, cloud and social media and of course data - lots of it! A great opportunity to expand business across newer channels of influence! Of course, if leveraged correctly this could have a very strong top-line impact. This is like the force created by nuclear fusion.

At the same time, with the economic climate, there is a strong force of compression on business on a whole. Top lines are getting compressed, bottom lines are getting compressed and growth is getting compressed. CEOs in turn are turning to the CMOs and are applying the same compressive force on budgets and resources and are demanding a lot of ROI accountability. This is like the force of gravity.

And, just like in the case of the Sun, there needed to be a balance between the two forces. If gravity won, there is a threat of the star crumbling. If nuclear fusion forces won, it could blow away the star!

Marketing Operations Efficiency & Marketing Effectiveness

So what could this CMO do? He had to have a strategy and a plan to drive a balance between the expansive and compressive forces at play in marketing. Essentially this translates into focus and improvements in Marketing Effectiveness and Marketing Operations Efficiency - more now than ever before.

Marketing Operations Efficiency is fundamentally about driving costs down & faster time to market. If done well, this will have a strong impact on bottom-line. Consider this. The gentleman I was talking to, had an annual budget close to a billion dollars. Taking out 5-10% from this, would be an awesome impact on the bottom-line - every year.

But doing this, would need a strong & integrated technology ecosystem, tuned and aligned to provide the Marketing Operations Efficiency outcomes.

Example: You will need robust Digital Asset Management (DAM) so that your team of marketers can create, manage and reuse digital assets is essential. You will need a Collaboration portal which could accelerate the digital property review and approval through workflow automation engines. You will need Knowledge Management engines that promote best practices adoption through content tagging and discovery is essential. You will need a Web Content Management (WCM) system to enable websites to be built and rendered dynamically. You will need an integrated Marketing Operations Efficiency Dashboard which tells gives near real time visibility across how you are doing on costs on running campaigns, Re-use, time to market, Campaign Efficiency etc.

Driving Marketing effectiveness is around having a robust ecosystem to be able to listen across various digital channels - not only your own digital properties but also public ones and understand what is being said about your brands, by whom, in what segments, in what geographies etc. Leveraging big data analytics will help him understand and get deep insights. And this in turn will enable him to monitor what is trending - across what channels - get to understand sentiments and then engage effectively. This drives better campaign effectiveness and could have a material impact on top-lines.

Balance is the key!

Balance between the two is important. If focus is only on Marketing Effectiveness (ability to listen, understand and engage with the consumers effectively) but comes with a very heavy cost, this will end up being a drag. Driving Marketing Effectiveness, in tandem with running efficient Marketing Operations is the secret sauce - especially on that scale and complexity.

Well, it's tough being the Sun!

April 18, 2012

Where digital consumerism is the business.

Posted by Pravin Rao U. B. (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:17 AM

No, it's not the digital consumer phenomenon and its irresistible opportunities that I will outline here. That is, indeed, a given. Let's explore what more can be achieved.  

Thus far, most digital consumer stories have been lessons in adaptation - for example, how banks and retail institutions, which originally created self-service channels to cut cost, are now using them to deliver experience. Or how consumer brands, which tuned into social media conversations to keep track of the buzz changed gears to use those insights to understand customers better, create new products (often with customers), improve service levels and so on. Or how other companies reinvented their physical business models to fit into an online universe, faced with a choice of going digital or going bust.

Which is why the case of Duolingo stands out as an example of what can be. Duolingo is a creation of the digital consumer phenomenon and all that it stands for; the digital consumer is not just its raison d'être, it's the very reason it came into existence in the first place.

What is Duolingo? It is a website that provides language training for free. With an ingenious twist, that combines all three aspects of digital consumerism - self-service, personalization and co-creation. The Duolingo website enables people to learn a new language on their own. That's hardly news. But what is, is that they do so by helping to translate web content from one language to another! The pace of learning (a blend of self service and co-creation) is completely personalized, so the more one learns, the tougher the content presented to be translated gets. Could this story drive home the digital consumer point any further? Yes it can... the same content is translated (or learned, if you will) by many, and others get to vote on which translation is best! This is but one story indicative of a whole genre.

Point to ponder: Are our businesses doing enough to harness the opportunities that emerge from evolving with the digital consumer as focus or are we content to merely adapt to change?

April 2, 2012

Co-creation. Some call it innovating at innovation.

Posted by Sanjay Purohit (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:16 AM

One of the largest telecom operators in the world launches an m-commerce ecosystem as a new business line. A global consumer products company introduces a distributor inclusion platform. An aeronautics giant builds a state-of the-art customer engagement modeling center. Innovation is a way of life for most enterprises.
Yet, with market conditions being what they are, it is no longer enough to merely come up with a bigger, faster or smarter product or service; the game belongs to those who innovate innovatively so they go leaner and their offerings get cheaper, more durable and first to market. This is driving enterprises to look at new ways of innovation - like co-creation.  And, that takes more than two heads engaging in an inspired exchange of ideas.

A fairly defined ideation framework, with a robust platform to match, where members of the co-creation ecosystem can gather, collaborate and share ideas is a good starting point. And yes, a clear vision of the joint investment, and how it will create opportunities for everyone must necessarily lead. With this in place, several interesting co-creation models have thrived in recent times.

The most basic type, if you will, works well at an early stage of Intellectual Property development. Herein, the technology partner, with the co-creation framework and platform, collaborates with a product partner to refine and bring momentum to an existing innovation. Product customization partnerships are fairly common too with partners jointly charting the customization path and laboring through the product road map. Often times, joint research agreements help crystallize the partners' 'informed hunches' into innovative product development ideas. A more intensified model of co-creation is a joint innovation center, wherein partners leverage collective strengths in research and development to accelerate innovation. Product development, herein, goes the whole nine yards. Everything is jointly defined and executed - ideas for the product, the co-creation path, working through product development, incubation and finally, commercialization.

Whatever be its form, co-creation works on a fundamentally simple principle - take responsibility for innovation out of a distant uninvolved lab and place it right at the heart of a truly invested market - its ecosystem. Suddenly, it's in everybody's interest to make it work. To keep it lean. To rake in the green-backs. As quickly as possible.

Innovative innovation? Perhaps. But then, it's also the basics of business at work in its purest form.

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