What inspired you to follow your current career path?
I began as a copywriter at an advertising agency. I’ve always loved words and all forms of creative expression. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that someday I’d found and run a tech company.
In retrospect, though, I can see a logical progression in my career development and how we’ve brought the creativity of marketing communication and an enabling technology together to deliver a business outcome.
Marketing is no longer marketing in the historic sense. It’s no longer about who can shout out their message loudest. Marketing today is about stories, experiences and conversations that lead to an exchange of what both the buyers and sellers value. That’s what business is all about.
At almost exactly the same time that I grasped that concept fully, I encountered the hard reality of turning engagement into results and the critical importance that audience data and analytics plays in making that happen. Intuitively, I knew that there was much to be learned and that the insights data can yield are essential to capturing the empathy, emotion and context that makes our brand stories resonate and communicate the value we add to the lives of our customers.
I’m constantly inspired and motivated by all that—the somewhat unlikely yet ultimately satisfying career trajectory from words and creativity to marketing technology and business transformation. I can’t imagine a more exciting career for me in the 21st century.
What insights have you leveraged from your agency experience?
I remember all those dire predictions that the rise of digital would be the end of the written word. Isn’t it ironic that because of digital communication, words now have more power than ever? In fact, that was at the core of our positioning as a digital marketing agency in the early 2000s—the ability to use words and pictures and stories to move people to action and deliver the results our clients wanted.
That legacy of starting out as an agency is critical to the strength and success of our company today. During our decade as an agency of record for some of the world’s most respected brands, we gained experience with virtually every marketing technology platform and application in existence at the time, learning both their strengths and weaknesses.
As a result, we became acutely aware of the universal difficulty our clients faced in managing big data, orchestrating omnichannel communications and documenting marketing ROI. So much of it stemmed from the multitude of different platforms they were using and the inability of those systems to work together as a seamless integrated whole. Some of the modules—for email, SMS or data management, for example—might have worked okay as standalones, but they didn’t play well together.
So, we leveraged our agency knowledge along with the experience and expertise we’d gain in marketing technology and set out to address those martech challenges in a holistic, integrated way. You could say we seized the opportunity to do something totally different to satisfy a truly unmet need in the marketplace.
And yes, there were other tech companies that also recognized the opportunity. But so many of them went at it with a technology mindset.
I think we’ve stayed ahead the curve because we’re grounded in marketing and understand the landscape from the CMOs perspective. We already know the questions CEOs and CFOs will ask about how their budgets have been spent and what outcomes they have to show for it. That’s where we can really change the rules and the results of the customer engagement game—by helping marketers achieve and document outcomes, ROI and top-line growth.
What factors do you think are having the most dramatic impact on your industry? What do you see for the future?
If you really think about it, many of the most major impacts and biggest challenges marketers face today trace back to data in one way or another. For example, marketers toss around buzzwords like big data, AI and machine learning constantly—not always with a deep understanding of what they’re saying. That’s why marketers have to stay up to speed on the rapidly advancing technology that’s redefining their profession.
Another factor is the veritable deluge of data that companies have to deal with, whether it’s stored in their own systems, coming from a third-party or being constantly generated by individual customers and prospects every time they tweet, post, comment or interact with a brand. Capturing, consolidating and making sense of all that has a huge impact on brands as well as on companies such as Resulticks that develop customer data management solutions.
If that weren’t enough, CMOs—and most others in the C-suite—find themselves facing all sorts of challenges related to data privacy and security. It’s the proverbial two-edged sword. Customers want highly individualized experiences and interactions, which brands will willingly provide. But delivering those experiences requires access to personal data, which customers expect to be kept totally private and protected. At Resulticks, we’ve embraced this conundrum of data security and privacy as an opportunity to help our customers resolve their conflicting motivations and solve their security and privacy challenges.
And of course, everyone talks about how blockchain will change our lives forever. Incidentally, it’s impact is real and huge, and we were actually the first company in our industry to address the blockchain opportunity from a marketing perspective. It will be a defining force in the future of marketing and, more broadly, the global commerce ecosystem.
What is that best-case scenario? What is the real result for both a consumer and brand while embracing all that is possible?
Brands definitely have a lot of room to explore how they can engage and serve their customers better, with and without total reliance on data. All the way from our agency days, we’ve believed in the concept of communications inside out—where everyone in the organization focuses on the customer and understands why what each team member does and says has an impact on customer relationships and the success of the business. We’re now enabling that concept with technology.
More to your point about security, companies must deliver the most individualized, relevant experiences possible for their customers while exercising uncompromised diligence in safeguarding their data and ensuring the privacy of their customers’ information. Our leadership team at Resulticks focuses intently on this very issue and how we can facilitate our clients’ digital transformations, including, of course, the secure, seamless flow of data and how it can be leveraged to elevate the customer experience.
We are already making a difference, especially in highly regulated industries where a hybrid solution enables clients—say a bank or a healthcare provider—to retain highly sensitive personally identifiable information in their own data centers, and at the same time take advantage of all our advanced cloud-based engagement capabilities. It’s a win/win for the brands and their customers.
What is the right technology mindset for the modern CMO?
Today, the CMO is the new CTO. By that I mean, CMOs must have a solid understanding that two essential elements of modern marketing are data and the technology to turn it into useful insights for strategic decision making and tactical execution. If they don’t know tech, they need to know their technician—the CTO—and cultivate a strong, mutually rewarding relationship.
Leaders in IT today are more marketing savvy than ever. They hold many of the keys to unlocking success in business. For example, the imperative for data security and privacy protection lands squarely in the lap of the CTO.
Business strategy, marketing and technology are forever inextricably linked. Everyone in leadership has to stand together or they will likely fall apart.
As a female CEO in tech, do you feel you face tougher challenges than your male counterparts? Do you see a shift toward more women in senior leadership in tech?
Much of my early career was based out of in Asia, but I’ve since had the opportunity and good fortune to work with and for some of the most recognizable brands across many industries worldwide. In Asia, I see that women are beginning to have more opportunities to advance to top leadership positions, but certainly not at the rate or level it could be.
My broader experience in global markets tells me that success as a leader depends less on your gender and more on the confidence you have in yourself, your ideas and what you’re trying to achieve. It’s much more about individual capability and character.
Personally, I can say I’ve always believed that I can go toe-to-toe in business with anyone—male or female. I’m not rattled by challenges or afraid to take informed risks. I do things my way when I’m absolutely sure I’m right, but I’m also able to change my mind when someone else has a better idea.
I won’t go so far as to make a blanket statement about all women, but among those I know in leadership positions, we tend to bring a high level of creativity to our decision making and we’re meticulous, systematic and process oriented. In my experience, these qualities are distinct advantages in technology-driven industries.
What advice do you have for new-gen female CEOs?
Go for it. Go for the dream.
We have a saying in India, which I will try to translate its essence here as best I can: Combine your ridiculously crazy belief with daring determination and there’s no way you can be stopped.
Dream strong and do not worry about what may happen. Have faith in yourself and act with determination. At the end of the day, you will achieve.
Who are your inspirations and mentors?
As a marketer at heart, I have to say that Lester Wunderman—the founder of the global digital marketing company that bears his name—is one of my all-time heroes. I even wrote a published profile of him not long ago. He’s called the father of modern marketing for good reason. His philosophy and approach incorporated a powerful blend of data-driven strategy, creative thinking, advanced analytics and marketing technology that connects a brand with its customers and drives sustainable business success.
As a leader, I’ve also been inspired by strong women who succeed in powerful positions. Growing up in India, I had a lot of respect for powerful women leaders, especially those in government, like Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher.
In the business world, I admire and take lessons from women like Shelly Lazarus, the former CEO and chairman of the board at Ogilvy & Mather. Her career path from product manager at a beauty brand to running what is arguably the world’s best advertising company is an example for women and men alike of what they can achieve if they have the vision, the know-how and the strength to make it happen.
What advice are you glad you never followed?
A few years ago, during the global economic downturn, a number of well-intentioned individuals tried to convince me to sell our company. And we received some very attractive acquisition offers. While I respected the people who gave me the advice, I never came even close to following it.
When you believe in something as passionately as I believe in Resulticks—and you have a team who shares your passion—you’re willing to take the risk of failure rather than surrender without a fight.
And yes, we’ve had to face some significant challenges as a new entrant into the marketing automation space. Our competitors are well established. Our perseverance and successful expansion across global markets combined with the recognition we’ve received from industry analysts are strong evidence that we’ve made the right decision.
For more information on Resulticks, please visit www.resulticks.com