MarTech Interview with Venkat Nagaswamy, CMO at Mitel

Venkat Nagaswamy, CMO at Mitel chats about the future of martech and what marketers should prioritize to optimize end results:

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Venkat, tell us about your marketing journey in B2B so far, fast forward to now, what are you most looking forward to as Mitel’s new CMO? 

My journey isn’t that of a typical CMO, as I am not a classically trained marketer and have not spent the entirety of my career as a marketing professional. I began my career as an engineer, then moved into a sales role. Then I was an entrepreneur. It was actually Lauren Flaherty, whom I worked with at Juniper Networks while she was CMO, that I really began to shift my focus to marketing.

At Juniper I brought a data-driven approach to marketing for Juniper’s enterprise customers. At that time, data-driven marketing was pretty new, but held a lot of promise. It held so much promise that I then founded my own AI marketing company – Mariana IQ, which leveraged deep learning to help businesses more effectively target their marketing campaigns. After I sold Mariana IQ to a business communications provider, I became immersed in the communications space.

Mitel is a world leader in business communications, and its current focus and direction holds a lot of promise and potential. Mitel is in a great position to lead unified communications and I want to be a part of shaping that growth story.

What according to you should be the core focus area for new CMO entrants when they takeover new teams? 

Three core focus areas come to mind.

Number one is getting to know your team and also how they fit into the larger organization. It may be cliché to say we depend on our teams, but it’s also true. Building relationships with your team is especially important because we are all human beings. Every human being is unique, complex, and comes with their own interpretation of what their role is on a job description.

Number two is creating clarity around what the marketing organization is committed to contributing to the business as a whole. Much of this comes down to establishing clear metrics and holding ourselves accountable to them.

Number three is understanding your customers. In my case at Mitel, that means spending a lot of quality time with our channel partners and sales team to gain a very deep understanding of the customer base and their needs. German words can be really fun, and there’s a German word – “fingerspitzenfgefühl” – whose literal translation is “fingertips feeling.” To have “fingerspitzenfgefühl” means to achieve a deep, instinctual understanding. That’s the level of understanding and awareness I seek to achieve with our global partner and customer base.

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We’d love to hear from you about some of the core marketing practices you’ve always kept as a foundation and also, more about the martech that has always enabled your marketing efforts? 

The premise I like to establish and operate from is one where we are very intentional about our marketing efforts. This means that we start with a clear end goal in mind, and then establish a work back plan from there.

Not long ago, it’s fair to say that many of us in marketing would see a fair amount of what I call “random acts of marketing.” Meaning, there were marketing activities happening, but they weren’t necessarily linked to an end goal, weren’t necessarily measurable, and probably weren’t an intentional part of an overall plan. I urge marketers to very intentionally align on an end goal and work back from there.

Data analytics is also a very powerful tool at a marketer’s disposal to help understand the customer and then craft a story that connects with the customer and is conveyed across multiple channels. The more data that you can gather about your customer, the more informed and compelling the story you tell them will be.

What best practices would you share for CMOs and other senior level marketing leaders navigating the market in 2022?  

We have more marketing tools at our disposal now than we’ve ever had. So, then the question becomes, which are the right and best ones to use? Every person is different, and we have different preferences for how we consume information. For example, I prefer reading to video. Other people prefer the opposite. So, I believe in the “different strokes for different folks” approach.

While clearly, we’ve all moved more towards a digital marketing approach, I’m a big believer in a digital and physical marketing mix. There’s a powerful place for digital marketing, and there’s an equally powerful place for physical marketing engagements where you can be face to face with your partners and customers.

I would encourage marketers to remember that the choice between digital and physical marketing is a false one. A thoughtful, blended mix is best.

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As martech and B2B marketing evolves, what kind of martech and marketing tools or practices do you feel will become more crucial to marketers? 

Cloud data platforms (CDPs) can be very powerful and effective tools for marketing but can easily become just another silo in organizations. I think we are evolving to a world where the best approach is to build CDP functionality into an organization’s comprehensive cloud data warehouse, where the other key data lives: sales data, financial data, and so forth. This way, data is integrated from across the organization but is accessible in one easy place. This is where the future is, and how winning marketing machines will be built.

In fact, I would not be surprised if – within the next five years – marketing automation tools like Marketo and Eloqua are built on top of cloud data warehouses as opposed to living in independent silos as they primarily exist today.

At the end of the day, nobody cares about CDP, or data in and of itself. What we care about is customer experience: providing the best experience for customers. When you break down silo’d and verticalized systems and evolve to an integrated data model, you put yourself in a better position to deliver superior customer experiences.

Any last thoughts, takeaways?  

AI has been a hot topic in marketing for several years now, and I think we’re finally getting to a place where AI has the potential to change how we market because the technology can reliably create a good experience; an experience that feels personal and occurs with the right person at the right time.

Highly personalized, highly targeted content will happen more effectively, and more often. AI will be a main driver for those kinds of good customer experiences.

Mitel – Logos Download

A global market leader in business communications powering more than two billion business connections, Mitel helps businesses and service providers connect, collaborate and provide innovative services to their customers. Mitel’s innovation and communications experts serve business users in more than 100 countries.

Venkat Nagaswamy is a seasoned, highly strategic marketing and demand generation executive with a proven track record of growth and success through building great teams. As Chief Marketing Officer, Nagaswamy is responsible for Mitel’s global marketing motions, including demand generation, field marketing, corporate brand, and analyst relations. He has deep expertise in data-driven go-to-market functions, with a focus on B2B marketing in enterprise communications and SaaS organizations.

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