For marketers, it’s smart to change when the tables turn: Deepali Naair, IBM

The Marketing Director at IBM India -South Asia explains how brands need to innovate if they want to stay relevant in a digital age

e4m by Shikha Paliwal
Updated: Aug 22, 2019 9:06 AM



Marketers are now dealing with a new age digitally savvy consumer. In the words of Deepali Naair, Director, Marketing, IBM India-South Asia, "Digital adoption by consumers in the last decade has left brands gasping". In a conversation with exchange4media, Nair explains how brands can adapt and how tech companies like IBM can help them in that journey. 

Excerpts from the interview:

How has digital adoption both by consumers and brands changed marketing strategies?

Continuous innovation is the need of the hour to sustain competitive advantage. Every day, new communication channels, interfaces and devices are emerging, and brands need to be present there so that they don’t lose relevance. This is because consumers’ velocity of adoption of new platforms has increased manifold. Digital adoption by consumers in the last decade has left brands gasping.

Earlier, marketers would benchmark themselves with brands within their category. Today, the customer experience, which includes user interface on digital, is benchmarked to the best in class (even if it’s outside the category). The expectation of a 24/7 customer service, the quality of digital interface, the speed of response from a brand, the packaging, the retail experience are all benchmarked with the best in class global consumer brands such as Apple, Uber and Airbnb. Since the benchmarks of customer experience have changed, concepts such as Customer Lifetime Value, SEO, Continuous Segmentation and Personalisation have become critical to delivering an overall marketing plan. It has become imperative for organisations to map their digital plans to their CRM planning, thereby ensuring greater integration of business to marketing strategy, especially in case of service industry.

Today, data inside the organisations has replaced market research. Further, AI has made it possible for marketers to have real-time data insights and faster decision-making. AI also helps the marketers to hyper-personalise and customise offerings and communication. The IBM study in 2018 with 12000+ CXOs across 100+ countries reported that market factors are likely to surpass technology as the most important external force impacting their businesses – for the first time since 2010. Therefore, I say, it’s smart to change when the tables turn’. That’s the approach businesses need to adapt.

What software products/solutions of IBM can the marketing and advertising industry benefit from?

IBM’s AI-powered technology solutions combine structured and unstructured data (such as media), and use Watson technology to deliver desired outcomes. We focus on enhancing, optimising key areas in the marketing lifecycle. IBM’s solutions help you become a cognitive enterprise across all functions of the business. The enterprise will operate at higher levels and deliver enhanced customer experiences through smarter internal processes. Marketing as a function also benefits from this journey towards cognitive enterprise. Let me give some examples from the marketing domain. It is estimated that 70% of an organization’s data goes unused. IBM Watson helps to centralise an organisation’s 1st and 3rd party information and enables users to quickly access relevant information for research, segmentation, and planning functions.

Natural Language Processing and Watson technology encourages brands to create, deploy, chat and connect with consumers with speed. This enables the organisation to save time and money, and drive ROI by enabling users to quickly identify and act against relevant information. We are proud to be a part of success stories of leading enterprises like McDonald’s. By leveraging IBM Watson Advertising’s 1st party location data, McDonald’s was able to reach millennials in the US who frequent QSR breakfast-style diners, and through audience targeting, target women 18-49. In addition, IBM Watson Advertising was able to connect mobile ad exposures to physical store visits through a placed attribution study. This resulted in 168% more efficient cost per visit than category benchmarks and 79% of exposed users visited McDonald’s restaurants within three days.

The media, entertainment and advertising industry stand to garner significant benefits from the blockchain technology too. Blockchain can transform how media, entertainment and advertising content is delivered, consumed and paid for. This helps to increase trust and drive greater transparency in the industry.

What are the marketing trends for the future?

IBM Watson Marketing released a report identifying a new breed of marketers coming to the forefront - 2019 Marketing Trends Report.

The report’s findings provide deep insights into how senior marketing executives and digital agencies are reimagining the marketing function with the following overview giving a blueprint for what it will look like in future. Some of the key highlights that I strongly endorse are as follows: 

-MarTech + AdTech = The holy grail of marketing. Although extensively debated for the last two years, 2019 should be the year of achieving better data connectivity between martech and adtech stacks. Marketers will then have real-time understanding of customers and ad spend optimisation using AI.

-Customer centricity breaks marketing silos and delivers happiness. Marketing transformations will increasingly focus on creating differentiated customer experiences.

-GDPR actually helps marketers improve data hygiene and customer trust. Marketers will increasingly focus on improving data hygiene processes.

-AI and Machine Learning make hyper-personalization a reality – This will change how marketers make decisions and deploy campaigns as AI analyses and delivers personalised content with massive scale.

-Director of marketing data becomes the hottest new role. Growth of marketing data roles will continue as they drive human and technology connections across their organisation.

-Digital marketing agencies transform into ‘Consulgencies’. Consultancy and agency capabilities will converge, driven by a need to build out deep expertise in AI, data integration, customer experience analytics, mobile apps, and custom solution development.

It is my personal observation that CMOs role description will change constantly and some of them may not even be called CMOs any longer.

What mistakes can marketers avoid in today’s digital world?

Remember the saying, with great power, comes great responsibility. This is what the marketers and other professionals need to adhere to when managing data. As an established industry leader in security and privacy, IBMers are committed to innovative solutions and can apply vast knowledge and experience to their client’s GDPR readiness journey. Security is as much an issue for marketing executives as it is for the Chief Information Officers or Chief Information Security Officers.

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