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MarTech Interview with Kalpit Jain, Group CEO at Netcore Solutions

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“Both Martech and Adtech are rapidly growing fields. AI & Personalization are certainly the hot trends in the Martech space..”

Tell us about your journey into tech. How did you start at Netcore?

I’m an engineer and so I’ve always had close relations with the Tech side of things. I completed my graduation in BE from Mumbai University and started off as an HTML Programmer in Netcore which was then a part of IndiaWorld Communications, India’s largest portal of websites. In 1998, IndiaWorld Communications was acquired by Sify in a whopping $115 Million deal.

From the Full-time Tech role, I went on to do Sales & Operations side of things in Netcore after that. It was completely a different experience for me altogether. I did not really have much experience in the Sales side of things prior to that. But at Netcore, I always some of the best minds surrounding me which made my work a lot easier.  In 2011, I became the COO of Netcore and it was in 2015, that I was entrusted with the Group CEO role in Netcore and since then, trying my best to do justice to all the responsibilities.

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What makes Netcore’s Marketing Cloud unique? Tell us the various tools bundled in your Marketing Cloud.

Our 22 years of continued service and dedication to various customers is a testimonial to our achievements in the MarTech space. We have been committed to the MarTech space and have sheer dominance in email marketing; over 60% of India’s email traffic goes via Netcore.

Our USP includes:

  • Full Stack: We are a full-stack company right from possessing the capabilities of a strong Customer Data Platform (CDP) to delivery to campaign management services to journey orchestration to analytics to consulting services. Thus, the complete Marketing Automation stack. Our engineering practices and data-driven insights help brands in delivering a differentiated customer experience at scale. Additionally, Netcore’s Smartech communication channels are self-owned thus more secure and reliable, ensuring timely receipt of notifications to each and every user. A lot of industry players use third-party vendors as partners to push their clients’ communication across channels such as email and SMS. We are an Industry-Leading Marketing Consultancy providing customised solutions to every client to drive their KPIs northwards, right from on-boarding and training to campaign optimisation and new feature adoption. This gives us a major edge over the competition.
  • Empowers Mobile-First Clients with Cutting Edge Features: While analytics and engagement help our ‘app-first’ clients boost revenues and retention, our feature Push Amplification has become a major game changer, helping brands reach a larger section of their customer base with a hyper-personalised outreach.
  • Embraces True Power of AI: Netcore’s Smartech realised long ago the significance of AI and ML in marketing and invested heavily to create a complete suite of features, powered by AI and supported by ML, focused on uplifting KPIs. Our AI-led Personalization is the best-in class giving 20% better purchase recommendations, increasing conversions by 8-13% and increasing the marketing ROI by 10-15x.

AI is here, big and bold. We at Netcore firmly believe that harnessing the full potential of AI capabilities will be the key criteria for companies going forward in the Martech space and hence we are heavily betting on AI in our roadmap.

You offer services largely to Indian MNCs and government-owned institutions. Which other regions are you planning to grow your Martech customer base?

Well it will not be entirely correct to actually say that. Yes, we have a sheer dominance in the Indian market but in recent times, our clientele has significantly improved in other markets as well. We have established a significant presence and emerged as a dominant Automation player in the SEA Market. While over 60% of India’s overall Email traffic goes via Netcore, 28% of SEA’s overall traffic and 15% of Nigeria’s overall traffic also goes via Netcore.

We have been operational in US for the past 2 years and now have also established a strong base for our future growth. We believe that the next stage of growth for Netcore will come from US and the developed economies.

Today, Netcore serves a strong base of 3000+ enterprises across industry verticals, like Thomas Cook, Go Air, Cleartrip, HDFC, Kotak, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, MakeMyTrip, Lenskart, Swiggy, Myntra, BabyChakra, Dream11, Reliance, Vodafone, ITC, OLA, Pfizer, OLX along with International brands like PizzaHut Malaysia, Malindo Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Seek Asia, Tokopedia, Blibli, Standard Chartered, FCMB, GT Bank and many more.

We saw some of the biggest M&As in Martech and Adtech in 2019. What cue did you take from these tech M&As to build a roadmap at Netcore for 2020-2024?

Both Martech and Adtech are rapidly growing fields. There is constant innovation happening in these spaces. There are a lot of companies which are coming up with some extremely powerful capabilities which is surely turning the heads of the big players to look at them. To be honest in today’s world, many of these capabilities are an absolute must in order to delight your customers. You need those features up your sleeve and for that you either build, or you buy.

AI & Personalization are certainly the hot trends in the Martech space. 2019 saw many acquisitions in the Personalization space namely McDonalds acquiring Dynamic Yield, Manthan acquiring Rich Relevance, Salesforce acquiring Evergage.

In 2019, even Netcore has gone on and completed 2 acquisitions enhancing our Martech stance and bolstering our AI-based capabilities which is the prime focus of our future roadmap.

  • Boxx.ai

By acquiring Boxx. Ai, Netcore enables Brands to Re-Invent Customer Experience with Personalization at Scale.

With the amalgamation of Boxx.ai capabilities, Smartech (Netcore’s MMH) will help brands improve Conversion rates by upwards of 15%, enhance the Behavioural and Purchase Predictions by 20%, and multiply the marketing ROI by 10x – 15x via Hyper-personalised and contextual product and content Recommendations.

  • Quinto.ai

Netcore acquired Quinto.ai, an AI chatbot start-up. Quinto enables businesses to automate conversations with customers and improve customer experience. Businesses across verticals can use Quinto.ai’s always-on 24×7 chatbot for automated product discovery, recommendations, Inside sales and Live chat.

With Quinto, Netcore’s Smartech gets capability of handling conversations in automation journeys riding on Quinto. This will be an industry first feature. Netcore will further strengthen its leadership through the AI/ML platform “Raman” and will foray into the Conversational Analytics space.

How much have Marketing practices evolved through the internet, dotcom and now social media and AI era?

Well the marketing strategies surely have come a long way from the Batch and Blast to today’s hyper-personalized messaging. The segmentation capabilities and the breadth of the channels have significantly widened to become all powerful which has enabled the real-time one-to-one marketing.

Gone are the days of plain vanilla marketing strategies, which were mostly about releasing a campaign on TV, print, radio and a banner ad on digital. Today marketing has evolved greatly and now leverages technologies to deliver real time, contextual and personalized campaigns to target customers.

In this modern era of AI and digitally-driven experiences, the job of marketers has become both easy and difficult. On the one hand, the number of channels via which businesses can reach out to customers has definitely gone up, the flip side is fleeting customer attention spans.
For businesses today, the answer lies in delivering hyper-personalized and contextually engaging campaigns, which are sure to capture the attention of customers.

Which tools and technologies do you currently use for Marketing, Sales, and Support? Which of these are must-haves for a modern CMO?

Honestly, the tool stack for CMOs keeps on increasing all the time. Starting with a good CRM like Salesforce to Inbound Marketing tools like Hubspot or Pardot, the modern day CMO also possesses different tools for Retargeting prospects/customers, Data enrichment, Webinar tools, the different Account Based Marketing (ABM) tools and also tools like Outreach to reach out to its prospects.

You will find the alignment of Sales and Marketing as a key focus area in most of the organizations and there are many modern tools to suffice those use cases. The rise in adoption of Sales enablement tools is just an example as to how this space is quickly innovating and adopting to modern challenges.

Amazon and Facebook are almost unbeatable in the advertising industry. Google (through its Search and YouTube) announced its revenue break-down for the first time. How are these tech giants impacting your business and changing the nature of consumer behavior across physical stores, mobile and online shopping platforms?

The names mentioned are surely the giants of the Tech world and have continued their dominance. But, there are many players in this space who also possess some of the best-in-class capabilities. During these testing times of Covid19, there are a number of businesses who will be shifting from Offline to Online.

The fact is that the big giants of the AdTech world certainly play a huge role in customer acquisition but customer retention has emerged out as the big focus area for continued growth which the Martech companies thrive in. As a Gartner Report read out “The Martech budget is soon going to cross the Adtech budget.”

Customer Retention is the new growth. A player like Netcore is never competing with the likes of Amazon or Facebook. In fact, we are complementary to them and will continue to do so. We at Netcore focus heavily on customer engagement and retention. That will be our area of expertise. A player like Netcore will further be the answer to the offline companies as they seek to go online and become digital-first.

COVID-19 has been a major disruptor that nobody predicted or prepared for. How much has it impacted your current Operations and Sales?

Yes, the world is in a major crisis. Yes, the traditional way of Operations and Sales have been challenged and it is evolving, to be honest. Remote working has been a mandate so there has been a lot of change in the working methodology among various teams. The adoption of tools facilitating remote working has significantly increased.

I won’t say there has been a significant impact on our business yet. We are based out of India but have our offices in various parts of the world. So, remote collaboration between employees has always been a part of our culture. Yes, the pattern for sales meetings with customers has changed but I’ll say even customers understand this fact and there are a lot of customer meetings being done over calls and even business deals being closed over calls remotely. There has been many podcasts and webinars/mashups that the Marketing Team is arranging online.

Times like this demand you to push yourselves and go that extra mile. Our Sales Team and Service Team in particular have been relentless in their approach of standing beside our customers at all times. Obviously, it demands of the entire organization to be aligned in producing the best for our customers.

We at Netcore, are breaking records for participation numbers in our Town-hall meetings every week. I’ve always believed that is times like these that make or break a company. Yes, there is chaos but that brings with it a lot of opportunities. It is just important to quickly analyze, predict and react better to the situation in every possible way.

This Is How I Work

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

By placing trust in my employees.

I give them complete flexibility to self-determine their goals. I do not focus on what time does one log in to work or log out.  Input (calls, clients, projects) doesn’t matter to me much. They work with technology and figure out different ways of working with it. What I get is valuable output.  And this is usually appreciated on peer to peer platforms. Instead of the senior management pushing to achieve the targets, their peer to peer interaction facilitates motivation.

One word that best describes how you work. —

Passion

One superhero character that you idolize or profoundly connect with in your life and at work —

Professor Charles in X men.  He is a powerful telepath who reads people’s minds and can influence them for the greater good of the society. Although I cannot read people’s minds, but I definitely try to be empathetic at work which helps me guide my team & colleagues to maximize their abilities. Also in personal life, this is a powerful tool for better relationships.

What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?

B2B SaaS Startups

Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

Meticulous Planning and execution

Secret – Prioritization

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read.

Sundar Pichai

Thank you, Kalpit! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

A digital technologist with 2 decades of experience in the Digital Communication and Marketing space. Has performed roles under various positions from a Software Programmer to COO at Netcore Solutions Pvt. Ltd. Has been instrumental in bringing innovations over an array of email marketing products.

Currently leading the company as the Group CEO.

Always been at the forefront to determine and manage company strategies and goals ensuring the continued growth of the projects.

Areas of experience: Technology, CRM, Business Development, Pre-sales, Product Management, Vendor Management, Team Management, Digital Media, and Employee Training.

Apart from the professional dedication, Kalpit loved to spend time playing outdoor sports and exploring nature. His vision is to build a completely Global Martech company aiming at innovations in digital communication that will revolutionize the interaction between enterprises and consumers.

Netcore Solutions logo

Netcore, a global Marketing Technology Company that offers solutions for enterprises that redefine Digital Marketing. The first and leading Marketing Automation, Analytics and AI/ ML solutions provider in India, Netcore was established in 1997 by Mr. Rajesh Jain, an Internet pioneer. Netcore’s Digital Marketing suite also includes Promotional and Transactional Email Marketing and Mobile Marketing.

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