Music, marketing and mathematics can combine beautifully to create a million possibilities

As I reflect back over the year, this is one conversation that has left some deep impressions on me. The challenges that are there in rewiring our skills, learning from different streams and applying them in our day-to-day working is becoming more and more critical.

Marketing today is on the threshold of change. In the past, marketing as we knew it was largely dominated by 30-second TV spots and other mass media such as print, outdoor, radio and so on. The number-crunching only came into play while deciding which medium to back in the advertising campaign and for what price to buy the media.

But, look around today and there are the likes of Google, Facebook, Twitter and others who apply complex algorithms such as Page Rank, Adsense, marketing mix modelling, content marketing and so on along with technology (analytics, digital marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) to make marketing a lot more data-driven. Similarly, in music the magic of maths plays a huge role.

As a musician, Padma Vibhushan Umayalpuram K Sivaraman has an accomplished career of nearly 71 years – he debuted at the age of 10 and has been seen and played with the best musicians across the years. His son has been one of the earliest adopters of marketing analytics in India. cat.a.lyst brings you a conversation between the legendary mridangam vidwan and his son S Swaminathan, Co-Founder & CEO of Hansa Cequity, a major customer marketing & analytics firm, on the cross-learnings from music, maths and marketing.

 

Here's the full link to the conversation

 


Unilever buys Dollar Shave Club - Is this the emerging era of direct mass marketing?

Last week, Unilever announced it had acquired Dollar Shave Club.  Tech Crunch carried an interesting article on the $1 billion acquisition and the challenges reputed & established FMCG brands face with the onslaught of innovative and emerging brands. 

FMCG companies have been living in an era of mass marketing for over 100 years now. They have working on the premise that if they  create a great brand and have an efficient supply chain, then the sale is done. Hence, over the last few decades, they have been working on building an efficient supply chain and ensuring the stocks are placed ahead of competition and replenished efficiently. As far as the customers were concerned, if they had a top-of-mind recall about the brands and if there was availability when they landed in a retailer's store, the sale was completed. However, digital disruption and democratization of technology is transforming the  FMCG industry. Leaders like Unilever, P&G, Nestle, L'Oreal and the like have been reeling under this disruption.

The thinking of FMCG companies has to move from managing the supply chain to building a robust demand chain. The FMCG companies' supply chain approach  is about 3P strategy- " Place, Push & Purchase". However, the demand chain approach requires a drastically different mindset which is a 3F strategy " Find, Fill & Fullfill". The customer behavior here is about "Discover & Buy" rather than "Reach & Buy". Also, it is no more about replenishing retailers'' stock but it is about replenishing customers' stock. This for FMCG companies turns their marketing thinking on its head. However, the customers are lapping it up, as they are able to get value & convenience like never before. This also throws-up new big data opportunities about customer purchase behaviour for FMCG companies as new direct-to-customer digital channels are emerging to engage with customers and they now need to understand the insights that arise out of these huge data sources.

The era of direct mass marketing is around the corner for FMCG companies and they need to serve these customers in new ways in the future.

 

 


Software vendors as data vendors - How will convergence, interplay & privacy make a difference?

Last week, we saw Microsoft announcing the acquisition of Linked-In for US $ 26.2 billion. With the acquisition of Linked-In, Microsoft now has access to over 400 million accurate profiles of professionals from Linked-In across the world. Over the last year or two, I have been seeing this trend where large software vendors like Salesforce.com acquiring Jigsaw and Oracle acquiring Blue Kai, who predominantly own data. So, this got me to think, what are the implications one can expect or must see over the next few years with these kind of trends?

Meanwhile, I was also reading an interesting article written by Sangeet Paul Choudhary in his blog, where it is mentioned how Linked-In was trying to get into the enterprise CRM space but lacked the infrastructure & tools( post written by Myk Pono) and Sangeet's view on how Microsoft can take advantage of this acquisition but lacks the understanding of network & data layers.

The key questions that came-up to me was - What does it take for a software vendor to work  & behave like a data vendor or as a platform player? Also, how can all these data seamlessly flow into Microsoft's strategy of leveraging its Enterprise CRM, Windows, Azure, gaming business etc.?

To understand & appreciate this, first we need to look at some of Google's acquisition of DoubleClick, Andriod etc. way back in 2007 & 2004 which made a huge difference to their platform strategy. As Google transformed itself from a search to an online advertising platform, many of these acquisitions made sense - with Android becoming the defacto mobile OS platform while still Microsoft was managing Nokia as a Mobile Phone company and not as a platform.This led to the death of Nokia as a mobile phone brand, as Microsoft thought of it like a licensing business(which is their DNA) more than a mobile computing platform. 

If Microsoft needs to take advantage of Linked-In's acquisition & their data, then - the transformation of Microsoft as a platform company is critical. For example,they need to look at  Office365 as a central platform or a hub is critical. This free & paid subscription based platform must leverage the 400 million Linked-In professional's data for their own personal devices & computing services- Home PCs, mobiles, gaming consoles etc. This then can change the game for Microsoft. However, if we look back at history, neither Hotmail or Nokia was leveraged to its full by Microsoft due its software vendor thinking. Microsoft will have to change its strategy & execution this time.

The next most important question was the issue of Privacy. What is the sanctity of privacy information owned by Linked-In & do the limited or full permissions that was given to Linked-In by these 400 million professionals, hold good for Microsoft too or how does Microsoft use these in its platform intelligently without diluting any of the privacy issues that may arise? For this, the permission-based sharing professional community that Linked-In nurtured, needs to thrive, without advertising as the primary revenue driver unlike other online platforms like Google, Facebook etc.

For software vendors to transform & think like data vendors, it forces, disruptive platform thinking from them. It requires a services, community, subscription & marketplace mindset with a strong interplay between them. Only time will tell if Microsoft is able to make this mindset shift but transform they must, if they need to play this game on the web for a leadership position.