Adobe decodes 'Big Data' and more

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Digital | July 30, 2014
Adobe's top brass, Indian and global, shared valuable insights regarding big data, digital marketing and consumer behavior over a day-long seminar held in Mumbai yesterday.

Adobe, global leader in digital marketing and digital media solutions, held a day-long 'Innovation Session' in Mumbai yesterday.

The event was titled 'Digital Disruption: How Indian Brands Are Responding'. It was held at Trident, Bandra. afaqs! was events partner.

Speakers included senior members of Adobe, namely, Umang Bedi, managing director, South Asia, Suresh Vittal Kotha, vice president, marketing strategy (digital marketing), Siva Ganeshanandan, director of the company's marketing cloud, APAC, Umakant Sista, head, global delivery center analytics and optimisation, Mark Henley, director, transformation and digital strategy, and Anurag Goel, the company's value engineering manager, APAC and Japan.

There was one guest speaker - author and marketing expert Rama Bijapurkar.

A quick look at what each speaker left the audience with:

"Make, manage, measure and monetise"

Umang Bedi

Rama Bijapurkar

Suresh Vittal Kotha

Siva Ganeshanandan

Umakant Sista

Mark Henley

Anurag Goel

First up was Umang Bedi, who spoke about the company's goals. "Our focus, as a company, has been on changing the world through digital experiences," he said, before giving the delegates "the four Ms" to ponder over.

"Make, manage, measure and monetise," are the four crucial stages in the lifecycle of online content, said Bedi.

"Let's not get bogged down by jargon"

Next up was Rama Bijapurkar, who spoke about what the words 'digital marketing' mean to her. "I'm here to demolish all the things I don't understand" about this topic, she began, referring to all the jargon that gets tossed about whenever the realm of digital is discussed.

"Strategy, segmentation, digital, disruption" are words that people throw around a lot these days, she pointed out.

Even so, she conceded that today, there's no real distinction between 'marketing' and 'digital marketing', as all marketing has a strong digital element. "It's just like how there's no difference between marketing' and 'youth marketing' in a young country like India," Bijapurkar explained.

To her, as far as digital marketing goes, the most important thing is "adding value to the customer" - of course, value as the customer perceives it - and simultaneously "extracting value from the customer."

Going on to speak about the importance of the mobile platform, she said, "The cell phone is the central nervous system of India."

Bijapurkar concluded, "Today, digital is mainstream. In most industries, the 'plumbing' of business has become digital. Now how marketers use the analytics and tools they have at their disposal, depends on their imagination. Today, we can mine for patterns... so let's harvest these capabilities and not get bogged down by jargon."

"Being a marketer is hard in today's digital era"

Then Suresh Vittal Kotha spoke about how the digital advent has caused "the power to shift from the hands of the marketer to the consumer" given the fact that the digital space is an open platform on which one can talk freely about any product and one's experience with that product.

He then spoke about the changing role of the CMO in this environment. In this context, he shared some interesting figures: Today, 64 per cent of all marketers expect their roles to change over the next 12 months. Moreover, 40 per cent of all marketers want to re-invent their respective roles. But yet, only 14 per cent know how to do so.

"Being a marketer is hard in today's digital era; one has to tackle all the real-time opportunities available," he emphathised with the CMO community at large.

Kotha cautioned, "Looking at the customer through a 'lens of silos' will not work, going forward," referring to the separate TV lens, web lens, in-store lens, mobile lens, etc. that marketers tend to use to analyse their customers at various media touch-points. Instead, he recommends perceptually fusing all these media channels together and gaining a more holistic view of the customer pool. Of course, eventually, the aim, according to him, is to personalise content. "We're looking at building a 'segment of one'," he said, referring to one single target individual and marketing to her, based on her likes/dislikes, wants and needs.

"We need to bring mobile apps under the control of the marketer"

Siva Ganeshanandan spoke about the endless opportunities the mobile platform offers marketers. "We need to bring mobile apps under the control of the marketer," he said, speaking about tools like "geo-targeting" and "geo-fencing."

By way of example, he cited something that American consumer electronics corporation, Best Buy did. The company leveraged information about the way in which people use its app, to predict their subsequent behavior. For instance, the team found that 30 per cent of those who used the app to get information about the store's locations actually went in and made an in-store purchase sometime over the next 14 days.

"Big data is about volume, variety and velocity"

Umakant Sista spoke specifically about big data. "Broadly, there are three definitions of big data - they pertain to volume, variety and velocity," he said, referring to the gigantic number of data points available to marketers today (volume), in both structured and unstructured form (variety), including the various real-time pieces of information that one can access today (velocity).

He went on to quote SanDisk, flash memory storage solutions and software manufacturer, on the subject: "The volume of business data is expected to double every 1.2 years." Referring to Gartner's Hype Cycle, Sista said, "Overall, 2013 was a big year for big data; there was a lot of hype around it. But 2014 is a year of disenchantment."

The ultimate goal of big data, of course, is to tap insights. In this regard, he said, "Though finding an insight from a pool of big data is akin to looking for a needle in a haystack, data scientists are actually looking to add more hay to the stack."

"There's more to digital than social and mobile"

The most memorable statements from the next speaker, Mark Henley's talk were: "The future is going to be digital", "Don't be misled into thinking your digital experiences are going to be just about social and mobile; there's a lot more to it than those two" and "Your customers drive your organisation's behaviour."

"Be CFO-ready"

Anurag Goel spoke about the importance of "value management" at the organisation level and "making business cases that are CFO-ready."

"A startling 73 per cent of all organisations," he shared, "don't measure value."

Adobe's Damon Scarr, director of partner sales, APAC digital marketing, also spoke briefly, mostly about the company's APAC partner team initiatives. He shared that Adobe's partner business has grown by 92 per cent, in the first half (H1) of 2014, as compared to last year.

According to him, strategies that helped fetch such growth were: Evolving the alignment plan between Adobe (sales) and its partners and doing so market by market, having QBRs or quarterly business reviews, bolstering the company's global partner enablement plan with regional support, bridging the gap between the company's media partners and its marketing partners, and lastly, expanding the company's partner ecosystem within the public sector.

What next for Adobe? "Focus is on entering new markets," Scarr said.

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