MarTech Interview with Peter Tran, Head of Marketing, HCL Software

Hi Peter, welcome to MarTech Series. Please tell us about your current role and the team you handle at Unica. How did you arrive at HCL?

I am VP of and Head of Marketing for HCL Software.  We are a $1 billion enterprise software division of HCL Technologies, a global technology company.  We develop, support, market and sell a portfolio of products in four main categories: Customer Experience (CX), Digital Solutions (DS), Secure DevOps, and Automation & Security.  Unica falls into the customer experience category.  Not only do we develop and sell these products, we also use these same products for our own marketing automation operations.

How did your role as the Head of HCL Software Marketing evolve in the last few months through the pandemic? How did your previous experience with technology help you scale your marketing efforts during the crisis?

Covid has brought on an unprecedented global shift both in how we interact and how we do business. Digital transformation has been a reality for all marketers for some time now, but this last year demanded a complete and total shift from personal interactions to digital engagements. It had to be virtual and digital because there were no physical interactions.  Fortunately for us, our product teams brought a lot of innovation and creative thinking to the table and identified ways to make digital engagement the primary journey for our customers. We are lucky that our team was up to the task, and what seemed monumental, we took in stride and moved quick with the tools that we have.

What does your current Martech / sales tech stack look like? Which tools / platforms have become absolutely indispensable for you to manage your daily tasks?

Our Martech stack centers around our own platform, Unica. Unica truly does allow us to employ precision marketing at scale.  What I mean by that is the ability to highly segment and target journeys for varying audiences, at a scale that is unmatched in the marketplace. Our business seems simple at one level.  But we have a substantial range of products with over 15,000 customers in practically every industry sector, government, and non-profit organizations around the world.  We have customers listed in the F1000 to the mom-and-pop shops. We have near limitless breadth to the number of campaigns we can run simultaneously while never maxing out the number of interactions we can send and track. On top of that, with our new modules of Journey and Deliver, we’ve shifted our programs from counting email sends and text messages to truly being able to identify the activities within our converting customer journeys and maximizing efficiency of efforts for individual customer segments. Additionally, we can see the entire customer journey and optimize it in near real time. Think about that. We can see our customers interacting with every engagement opportunity we offer them, laid out in a map, in near real time, and adjust the future journey as needed. That’s as close to direct personal interaction as it gets in the digital channel. That right there is game changing for us.

Could you tell us more about your marketing campaigns, especially using Unica? How do these campaigns help generate better customer engagement with Unica platform?

Since our marketing campaigns are able to leverage the rich data and capabilities from Unica for execution, we run a wide variety of campaigns concurrently. Our current clients love learning more about the capabilities we develop for Unica at a super-rapid pace, so we are always updating them through various channels. We’ve recently tied Unica into our social channels to map engagement there, and we run extensive campaigns through email and text. Our Deliver module has been a huge step forward for us in that it provides more channels to reach our current clients and prospects. We can basically identify which channel an individual wants to communicate and then execute there, which gives a more comfortable and natural experience to the customer.

What makes Unica a go-to platform for omnichannel marketing and e-commerce marketing teams? What are its unique features?

I already mentioned our core mantra, precision marketing that scales limitlessly, as well as our Journey capabilities, which I’m crazy about. It’s customer journey management that actually works! But more than that, we recently launched Deliver and can now truly offer messaging delivery and integrations across the board. We can do email, text, mobile push, etc. but we can also get precision marketing content on an ATM screen at your local bank, or a slot machine in Vegas. If we can connect to the screen, we can help deliver your content. We are the go-to platform because we have both the breadth of channel delivery but also the depth to handle as many campaigns, engagements and customer profiles as you need. Unica truly is the most powerful platform out there.

HCL Unica recently partnered with Google to fortify Cloud-native platform. How would this partnership accelerate your innovations in Martech, Adtech and Digital transformation?

Our Google Cloud partnership has been a big step forward for us. Unica is cloud agnostic, so customers can use whichever cloud they want to use. Working with Google has been fantastic because it has allowed us to leverage their offerings as well. We see this as a coming together of two powerhouses in the market. As far as accelerating our innovations, we are already moving quickly. Our product and engineering teams are coming out with capability enhancements and new modules faster than anyone else in the marketplace. We made a commitment to our customers that we would deliver the capabilities that they need to be successful in their business and we are making good on that promise, including forming partnerships with companies like Google to further our integrations and overall offerings.

What is the latest offering that you have just released, Unica on HCL Now. 

HCL Now is our cloud-native-as-a-service offering. Think of it as an invitation to your new cloud native future.  HCL Now allows our clients to realize the benefits of cloud native deployments without needing to hire or retrain staff in specialized Kubernetes operations.  Our experts will run the HCL Software products that they already own on the cloud of their choice. We have leveraged our top HCL technical talent to bring together our very diverse software portfolio through a common cloud native architecture. We’ve transformed our software portfolio of over 50 product components to support the most modern cloud standards. What that means is you can utilize the cloud of your choice to deploy our fully integrated HCL software suite and leverage our best-in-class capabilities to execute business critical functions across your organization, and to do it at basically limitless scale. 

But how is HCL Now different from traditional SaaS offerings.

HCL Now is truly different from traditional SaaS offerings. HCL Now offers a dedicated single-tenant cloud native deployment to whichever cloud environment you want, so you aren’t sharing your instance with anyone else. This single-tenant environment can then follow an organizations policies and preferences, including privacy standards, not any mandate from HCL. You own the app, you own and control your data.  We really want the customer to have control, and that goes for services, functionality, SLAs, CI/CD upgrades, even planned outages. We also unbundled our offerings so software, IaaS, Managed Services and VAS are all separated. With unbundled offerings we can offer a transparent and predictable cost structure so you know what everything costs. It also prevents you from being locked into a specific vendor, therefore maximizing portability. At the end of the contract, if the customers wants to make a change away from HCL, we will provide offboarding assistance.  The software is containerized, so it’s an easy lift and shift.

That all sounds really great, but how does that help the client actually make the transition from their current scenario to a cloud native environment?

Our cloud native offering is really about eliminating obstacles. We want customers to have a legitimate option to lift and shift to the cloud of their choice using the latest capabilities and functionality that HCL has to offer. Our team at HCL Software will help you deploy in the cloud, run your marketing and customer engagements using the latest and greatest capabilities in the cloud, and even help you offboard at the end if you are so inclined. On top of all of this we can get you started fast, and I mean really fast. Using SoFy and our rapid deployment offering, we can get your organization up and running in a fraction of the time it used to take to make the move to cloud. 

Help me understand more about SoFy. What is it and what it does for a customer?

SoFy is short for Solution Factory. It’s basically an online catalog of HCL Software products that you can log on and try out. SoFy is the foundation of our cloud native strategy.  It contains products and over 2000 REST API endpoints that you can integrate and create new solutions.  You can spin up an instance of Unica, or our other products, and give them a test drive. I can talk about it or you can try it out yourself right now. Just go to https://www.hcltechsw.com/sofy and log in. You just select Unica and hit deploy. It takes about 30 minutes and it’s awesome. You don’t need to know anything about the product in advance or even be a tech person. Marketers can do this on their own and try Unica for themselves. It’s pretty amazing how fast and easy it is.  

Any advice(s) to all the young Marketing professionals starting in the technology industry?

Sure.  Always be prepared for rapid change and growth. That’s the only constant in business and life for that matter.  The pace that technology moves is just accelerating. Technology is also becoming a part of everything we do, touch, and experience. The end customer expectation is that we can deliver a continuously improving experience and we have to deliver that. At HCL Software, we take that challenge very seriously and drive improvement and enhancement every day. So my advice to newcomers is to “buckle in” because the world isn’t slowing down any time soon.

Thanks for answering all our questions!

HCL Software, a division of HCL Technologies (HCL) develops, markets, sells, and supports over 30 product families in the areas of Customer Experience, Digital Solutions, DevSecOps, and Security & Automation. HCL Software is the cloud native solution factory for enterprise software and powers millions of apps at more than 20,000 organizations, including over half of the Fortune 1000 and Global 2000 companies. HCL Software’s mission is to drive ultimate customer success with its IT investments through relentless product innovation.

Peter has 30 years of experience in technology and software marketing, venture, investment banking, and consulting.  He began his career with Price Waterhouse and boutique consulting firms implementing large-scale business process and IT projects.  He spent a number of years in investing banking and venture capital firms advising technology startups with their business strategies and funding needs.  For the past two decades, he’s held marketing leadership roles at webMethods, Composite Software, Cisco, and HCL Software, where he has been from its inception.