MarTech Series Interview with Sumit Virmani, Chief Marketing Officer at Infosys

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Covid-19 has been a reminder for marketers to refocus efforts on core marketing basics feels Sumit Virmani, CMO at Infosys; catch this complete QnA where he dives deeper into Infosys’s marketing journey during this pandemic while highlighting more on their team’s marketing tech stack:

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Tell us about yourself Sumit – how did you venture into marketing?

I pursued an undergrad in Finance, and then went straight into a management program fully intending to find and build a career in finance. And that’s when my real career found me.  One of my professors, who was deeply passionate about marketing, got me enthused about the subject. I was very intrigued. What motivated me then, and continues to excite me to this day, is the potential for an intangible asset like the brand to connect two other tangible entities – the consumer and the business. This has been an area of continuous exploration for me – a journey I enjoy navigating every day.

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Can you take us through your biggest marketing highlights at Infosys in the last few years?

While I imagine this question is about highlighting marketing programs from Infosys that have had the most impact, I’d like to reflect on it a bit widely. While we have certainly enjoyed the brand’s evolution as the leading digital services brand globally and nurtured it to become one of the fastest growing large technology services brand in the world, what’s been even more heartening is shaping marketing’s role as a strategic business value creator. Traditionally B2B marketing ends up focusing disproportionately on promotions and communications for the business. Our strategy, however, at Infosys has been to drive holistic business value. To this end, we have created a ‘brand and business impact value framework’ to measure and report –  awareness, consideration, and preference for the brand – in long-term business-impact terms while also delivering direct and immediate impact for business through marketing-leads nurtured into sales-leads, then pipeline and revenue. The strategy and framework have helped us articulate shared goals and success metrics not just across the marketing fraternity, but beyond, in a language that the rest of the business understands and appreciates.

We’d love to hear more about the marketing journey and changes made to core marketing technologies and processes at Infosys during this pandemic.

At Infosys, the martech stack has always been at the core of what we do. In fact, we decided to invest in a best-in-class marketing technology stack three years ago with an aspiration to offer highly personalized and immersive experiences for our stakeholders. It also helps us in bringing the efficiency and agility of automation to our processes as well as clarity of digital measures and metrics. 

This past year has also been the year of virtual events and heightened digital marketing. To realize our immersive experience aspirations, we also added a broadcast platform and built our own digital collaboration platform. We have integrated technology across marketing, sales, and operations to create one sentient tech stack that captures data to generate intelligence from both internal and external systems. This brings us several benefits like giving our key front-line executives real-time insights into client behavior while minimizing data related risks by strengthening compliance around data privacy mandates. 

From a process perspective, the pandemic has been a great reminder to renew the basics of marketing. For example, how brands must stay true to their purpose, focus on contextual and human communication, be genuine and lead with empathy. Embracing this approach has helped us serve and engage effectively with our global audience. 

We’d love to hear about some of the top predictions you have in mind for the tech/B2B marketplace, in terms of how martech and marketing will evolve and any long-term changes in the industry.

There has been a renaissance of sorts in digital marketing in the past months. And we will all continue to build on what we’ve explored by continuing to acquire new digital capabilities and master new digital tactics. Does that mean the future of marketing is all digital? Not quite. While, clearly, this appreciation for all things digital will last longer than the pandemic, the craving for tangible human connection has only grown and with it the enthusiasm to connect in more human ways. I think we will all evolve in two ways, simultaneously. We will be more human and be more digital.

Can you take us through Infosys and Interbrand’s recent report – what are the key highlights and takeaways?

As brand custodians, CMOs often spend disproportionate resources in promoting and growing the brand as compared to protecting it. The Infosys-Interbrand research dispels the notion that cybersecurity is a mere hygiene factor when it comes to nurturing the brand. It builds a counterview by quantifying the risk of a cybersecurity incident in terms of brand factors most impacted – presence, affinity, and trust – when a company suffers a data breach. It also simulates the resulting brand value at risk in the event of a breach, using Interbrand’s proprietary brand valuation methodology. The research, in fact, revealed that the potential risk in brand value of a data breach to the world’s 100 most valuable brands could amount to as much as $223B. One of the biggest takeaways for me is that marketers must work closely alongside their CIO/CISO counterparts to create a joint framework for brand risk management, which would be vital in a digital-first world to protect and nurture the brand.

Take us through some of Infosys upcoming marketing plans (events, etc.) that prospects can look forward to.

In addition to the evolving marketing programs and tactics, the team is working on strengthening brand preference through our upcoming campaigns. For example, the coming year will see us build a compelling narrative focused on helping stakeholders accelerate their navigation of the digital landscape as they plan for a hybrid future. We are, of course, eagerly looking forward to resume brand presence at physical events like the World Economic Forum, which might well be the first big global gathering of business leaders after the pandemic hit. We also have well laid out plans for resuming our own signature event platforms across key markets. Interesting days and exciting challenges lie ahead!

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What are a few takeaways for marketing leaders in 2021 and top factors they should keep in mind as they plan for the rest of the year?

The proverbial top three factors here:

  • ONE: Be More Human. The basics of marketing still work just as well. Contextual communication delivered credibly and authentically works almost unfailingly. If the pandemic left us marketers with one lesson it is a reminder that consumers appreciate and respect brands that drive their purpose with authenticity and empathy for stakeholders.
  • TWO: Be More Digital. The digital evolution is here to stay in the hybrid world. Evolve a best in class tech stack to offer personalized and immersive communication experiences. 
  • THREE: Be More ROI-centric. In a tough environment, businesses are less tolerant of fuzzy metrics. Embrace measures that matter to business leaders outside of the marketing organization.

infosys

Infosys helps transform enterprises to become a thriving live enterprise with their suite of AI-Powered and Digital Agility solutions. 

Sumit Virmani is the CMO at Infosys

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