'Today, brands have to embrace technology to get closer to customers'

Ashish Sinha, Managing Director – India, APAC & MEA, Epsilon, discusses the company's journey helping brands transform customer experiences during COVID

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Updated: Oct 21, 2020 9:50 AM
ashish sinha

Today, businesses are going through rapid shifts in the way the industries are functioning. Amidst massive global shifts, marketers are at an inflection point and are compelled to drive growth for brands, keeping the cost in check and proving marketing ROI.  

Epsilon, an adtech and martech firm, has been helping brands shift the conversations and transform customer experiences for the past 50 years. While Epsilon celebrates 5 years of its operations in India, 2020 marks the launch of its Commercial Operations in the Asia Pacific and ME markets. exchange4media caught up with Ashish Sinha, Managing Director – India, APAC & MEA, Epsilon as he discussed the launch, its key growth drivers, strategies for new normal, future plans and more.

Edited Excerpts:-

Epsilon India completed 5 years in 2020. How has the journey been for the brand?

It has been an exciting, action-packed five years for us. Epsilon brought martech to India even before martech was fashionable in the region. The first three years of our genesis was focused on building a world-class organization - setting up operations, building strong skill-sets in our people, and laying the foundation for a great culture. It is heartening to see that our India operations have been extremely vital for our global success.

In 2019, Publicis Groupe acquired us and today Epsilon sits at the heart of Publicis, turbocharging all of its capabilities across creative, media and technology to accelerate its growth. This partnership has put us front and centre of the adtech/martech revolution.

In early 2020, India, APAC and MEA came together as one region under me. Now we are ready to help the APAC region get closer to advanced markets like the US and Europe. For 50+ years, we have helped the world’s top brands transform customer experiences into meaningful, human experiences that drive results.  And despite the tough environment, it is inspiring to see our teams deliver tremendous value. We are driving customer retention and performance marketing by helping clients focus their data and tech through cutting-edge platforms and solutions like messaging (email), loyalty and customer identity.

How has Epsilon helped brands shift conversations and transform customer experiences especially during Covid?

No brand was realistically prepared for the pandemic and has had to shift their strategy overnight.  Marketers are under pressure to bring even more relevance to customers without wasting marketing spends creating experiences that do not deliver ROI. In the last 6-8 months, brands and marketers have covered a “decade in days” to be in line with consumer expectations. According to a report by McKinsey, online delivery, for instance, has seen 10-years-in-8-weeks with the bulk of consumers switching to digital overnight.

Covid has already nudged consumers to be increasingly hyper-connected, have rising expectations from brands that they engage with and at the same time become privacy-conscious. Epsilon’s research shows that 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences across all channels. Marketers are therefore compelled to deliver on customer expectations.

This is where Epsilon helps brands personalize brand journeys at an individual level, giving the marketer performance transparency, and thereby restoring the balance between the brand, marketing and customer. As a leader in outcome-based marketing, we partner with brands to help them drive measurable results through our PeopleCloud suite of products – loyalty, messaging (email), CRM and customer identity.  

How important is the Indian market for the brand?

Epsilon is the only martech player in the APAC region with the depth of expertise and experience needed for marketers to win during and beyond these unprecedented times. We see a lot of potential for us to expand our scope in India and support global growth.

Our biggest strengths are the platforms we own and our immense talent, focusing on strategically combining rich data, analytics, creative and technology, to create powerful marketing programs for our customers.

We are already engaged with a number of large Publicis clients to further strengthen the engagement.

With its global expertise and proven formula, how will it be beneficial for the Indian market?

The tech market today is cluttered and confusing. At the same, brands don’t have a choice but to embrace technology to get closer to their customers. Brands want to drive performance by putting people at the centre of their marketing, but amid all the options available to them, knowing how to do it right is hard. Worse, the platforms that brands have grown to rely on, are not giving them the tools to create meaningful customer experiences and to know what is really working. Brands deserve better: a partner that can and will prioritize their interests.

As a leader in outcome-based marketing, Epsilon enables marketing that is built on proof and not promises and can hand-hold the brand through the entire journey. We are focused on helping marketers anticipate consumer intent, activate to meet customers where they are, and deliver measurable business outcomes.

Our globally proven formula - Data + Identity + Machine Learning + Activation = Personalization at Scale = Growth, makes our intentions and commitment better. We understand the power of data and technology and what our customers need, providing solutions that are personalized and that helps in business continuity and growth.

With a 2,500-employee strength in Bangalore, what are the employee engagement policies of the brand?

Covid has been unprecedented and has thrown the world out of gear. But a real proud moment for us through this situation has been the quick shift to work-from-home. Leveraging the technology and systems we already had in place, we transitioned our 2,500 associates within a matter of days, so that work could continue seamlessly.

At a time like this, employee engagement could have posed a huge challenge. But I would like to believe that the pandemic has actually brought us closer. We found new ways to engage with each other, and at the same time deliver on our work commitments. To build a great culture at work, we need every associate to feel inspired and be driven by our values – Passion, Accountability and Inclusion.

Here are some interesting initiatives that we did this year: 

  • Celebrations: Our five-year celebrations, which in ‘normal’ times would have been a high-decibel event, was an intimate, low-key virtual celebration, centred around the theme, gratitude. We also held a virtual recognition ceremony - Country Head awards – recognizing individual and team excellence. 
  • Development: Learning and development continue to remain a strong area of focus. This month we have a 3-day virtual learning event, DevelopU 2020, where we invite internal and external expert speakers to help associates expand their technical knowledge and soft skills. 
  • Inclusion: Given that Inclusion is one of our core values, in April this year, we announced insurance cover for partners (same-sex or opposite sex). Also, at a time when companies are not investing in development, our commitment to gender diversity has continued even in this economic climate and we are offering women on a career break, internship opportunities through our returnship program, SheRises.  
  • Wellness: We launched a comprehensive wellness program for associates, focused on physical, emotional and financial wellness. To help associates take care together, we’ve introduced “days of rest” to give them the opportunity to unplug and recharge.  
  • Connectedness: We are proud to announce Season of Service, where across Epsilon offices we are driving initiatives to contribute to the community. We are supporting Head Held High, by contributing INR 25 lakhs, to upskill youth so that they become financially independent.  

And at a time like this, we are incredibly excited to welcome 120 fresh graduates from 16 colleges across India into the Epsilon family.

What are Epsilon’s ambitions for the APAC region and what can the region expect?

For long, the APAC region has been seen as a laggard when it came to data maturity and tech adoption in comparison to the US and Europe markets. But having spent the time that we have studying the market here, we realized that while data not only exists, there is a passion to do more with the data and to provide value for the customer. Where Epsilon comes into play, is to marry data and tech and also bring customers closer to the brand to make every interaction personal. And that’s where Epsilon has immense faith in the market potential of the region.  Verticals like banking, travel & hospitality and retail, for instance, are sitting on tons of first-party data that is just waiting to be leveraged.

In this journey, we also want to impact two key constituencies. One is the marketing ecosystem –Late last year, Gartner released its Marketing Technology Survey 2019 findings, which indicated that globally, marketers were only using 58% of their martech stacks’ capabilities, which means in APAC, it is likely to be much lower.  We are fully here to help the marketer succeed – by helping them utilize the platforms to the fullest potential.  

The second ecosystem that we want to influence is the employer marketworking at Epsilon is a fantastic opportunity for professionals in technology, adtech/martech to learn first-hand. We see ourselves as an employer-of-choice, not only because we have a wonderful culture, but we are also in an environment where we can help budding marketing/tech professionals grow. Eventually, to shift conversations in the market, we need both the technology and the right talent to unleash the full potential of Epsilon.

 

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