Rajesh Kumar is the Head of Marketing for SAP India Subcontinent.In this role, he champions SAP India’s marketing efforts to support the company’s transition to become THE Cloud Company Powered by SAP HANA with a focus on customers and world-class innovations. He is also responsible for developing and implementing strategies for SAP to establish its leadership as the trusted solutions provider to businesses in India.
Rajesh has been associated with SAP from 2010 and drives SAP’s go to market strategy and execution across strategic industries, Cloud, Business Analytics, General Business and Channels in addition to Intergrated Marketing Communications.
Prior to joining SAP, Rajesh was associated with Microsoft India for 9 years, in various leadership roles. An industry veteran with over 20 years of experience in sales& marketing across technology, internet, consumer goods and industrial machinery, Rajesh has been involved with various organizations, including Perfetti, HCL & Seagram.
Rajesh holds a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering (1988) from NIT Kurukshetra, and a Masters degree in Business Management from Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (1994).
Digital Vidya: How have you leveraged Digital Marketing for SAP India? Can you share some statistics / trends about your success in leveraging Digital Marketing?
Rajesh: Today, digital marketing has evolved rapidly to become an integral part of marketing, both in B2B and B2C scenarios. Business buyers are making purchase decisions by researching products and services online. Prospects today have access to multiple digital touch points along their purchase journey and no company today can afford to neglect their digital marketing. This changes everything about our traditional approach.
In SAP, digital forms an important and intergral part of our overall marketing and customer engagement strategy. Through our digital marketing efforts we are committed to making it easy for consumers to find and act on the information they need and constantly endeavor to provide clear direction and relevant content that our audiences expect. We have seen some encouraging results in terms of over 1,50,000 followers in India alone across various social media platforms like Linkedin, Twitter & Facebook.
Digital Vidya: What percentage of Marketing Budget is allocated to Digital Media at SAP India?
Rajesh: Asia and India in particular is now becoming the land of opportunities, especially when it comes to Digital medium. According to the latest survey by IAMAI, the internet users in India stood at 190 million as on June 2013 and is expected to touch 243 million by June 2014. This makes them more socially connected. In fact, 65 per cent of customers in Asia use social media for research and product recommendations, compared with only 46 per cent worldwide. Therefore, Asia is currently reporting a steady increase of investment in digital marketing. According to the most recent APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard, published in 2013 by the CMO Council, digital’s share of the total marketing spend is predicted to grow to as much as 29.4 per cent in Asia.
The trend is similar in India as well. We foresee a steady surge in digital marketing budget spend across various industries. We at SAP India have steadily increased our digital marketing as we see digital playing a key role in our overall marketing mix and expect it to overtake traditional forms of information consumption/cutomer engagement in foreseeable future.
Digital Vidya: Are there any challenges you are currently facing in exploiting the potential of Digital Marketing for SAP India?
Rajesh: Digital as a medium is still evolving so are the ways to measure its ROI. Key area is to find the right optimization between the final business outcomes and measuring process efficiency/ effectiveness alongside.
In B2B scenario, while we may use leads generation and lead conversion as benchmarks, the larger opportunity will remain in the area of engaging with the our senior audience and influence their percptions, which was tougher with traditional media due to high media spillage.
Digital Vidya: Would you like to share your learnings from some of the mistakes you might have made in using Digital Marketing?
Rajesh: Any digital or social capability needs to be driven by data, by clear and measurable goals, and by a documented and specific strategy that provides a roadmap towards your ideal destination. It requires a fundamental shift from largely onesides communication with delayed feedback mechanisms to an engagement & instantaneous response paradigm.
It is challenging for one to make this transition and we have had our own share of mistakes. This medium is still evolving – one useful learning has been that it is not limited to marketing – all executives and key subject matter experts need to be present and active on social/digital media today – greatest opportunity is to have real time engagement with audience wanting to get more information and help them solve their business problems with rich discussion among our experts and existing customers already successfully using our technology to manage it already.
Digital Vidya: What is your message for B2B brands who are still not using Digital Marketing?
Rajesh: There has been a sea-change in the way customers and sales interact with each other. Unlike the past, when buyer had limited exposure to information, customers today have plethora of information channels available and these changes the sales cycle equation dramatically by placing him (buyer) in the driver’s seat.
Under the circumstances, any failure to adopt digital marketing could have serious impact on an organisation’s performance. The best part about digital marketing is that even small companies can adopt it without worrying much about the budget. For example, it doesn’t cost much for a SME to have a content strategy involving social media, blogging etc. and there are many a successful examples
Digital Vidya: How do you see the Digital Media evolving in future for B2B Brands? What are the trends and opportunities doing you foresee?
Rajesh: As one can see, it’s clear that digital is a changing marketing, but we also see that digital is changing business. That’s a big opportunity for marketers who get this right. The pace at which the technology changes are dramatic and it is difficult to predict how digital media will eventually shape up. However what is certain that we will become smarter in collecting and analyzing the wealth of data that we accumulate through digital media. Through the use of analytics we will be able to understand customer behavior much better and adopt our marketing approach accordingly.
At some point, the line between ‘Digital’ and ‘Traditional’ will no longer exist – basic tenets of creating customer value profitably is never going to change.
Digital Vidya: When you hire people for Digital Marketing roles, what kind of skills and experience you look for?
Rajesh: Digital marketing is a new profession and it requires unique skills across the content, search, display domains with very specific skills at operational level, which is essential. However, what we find is that this does not obviate the need for understanding marketing as a domain.
The skills that we look in a digital marketing candidate are his/her comfort with technology and their ability to analyze data and convert them into actionable intelligence. But at the same time , we look for creative thinking and ability to bridge the gap between business and IT in communicating technical ideas clearly and effectively to nontechnical audience.