Interview with Rohit Prabhakar, Head of Digital Marketing and Tech at McKesson

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This Q&A is part of an interview series for the upcoming MarTech Conference, May 9-11 in San Francisco, covering the agenda topics to be discussed at the event. Read on for an exclusive sneak peek from the presenters

1. How have you seen marketers evolve in their understanding of martech in these last five years? What are the gaps (maybe in exploiting technology, attitudes, approaches, strategies etc) that events like these address for newbies as well as veteran marketers?

Yes, I have seen marketers evolve big time on MarTech in last 5 years. 5 years ago, Marketing technologists were called unicorns, butterflies etc. but no more.  MarTech is part of discussion in every marketing function and every conference. I have not seen any marketing conference lately where MarTech topic is not on the center stage, key track etc.

I have seen evolution in 2 tracks, Marketing Technologists and Technology Savvy Marketers. I have seen a huge spike in the number of Technology Savvy Marketers but relatively lower increase in the number of Marketing Technologists.

I see gaps in the following areas:

  1. Too much focus on Tech part of MarTech while ignoring the other parts for successful implementation of MarTech. That is why I picked this topic for my session at MarTech. I will share more details in my session and introducing BuNK framework to solve this problem.
  2. Shallow understanding of MarTech leads to picking wrong category of solution or vendor. As per MarTech vendors they have the best solution and they may be right but the real question is what is the best MarTech for my organizational needs. If the MarTech agenda is led by a Marketing Technologist then you can solve this problem more easily but in case of Technology Savvy Marketers you should lead by doing pilots before you are finalizing a vendor. Yes, this will take more time but this will ensure that you are moving in the right direction.

2. At what stage would you say is the ‘ad tech meets martech’ state of affairs at present? Would you say businesses today need to have a consolidated advertising strategy that includes all formats be it Search, Social, Display, Native and of course, Video being a key entrant or does the character of the business decide the approach?

I will not be the right person to say anything on this topic due to my limited understanding on AdTech. I am very selective about where I spend my time and energy. AdTech is not the key area of our focus as I have learnt that ROI of Ads is very low.

3. 2016 was the year of data-driven marketing. This year, AI was added to the data mix. Where do you see the changes in technology taking data next – be it for data capture, analytics and insights? Considering the above data cycle, where do organizations lack in proficiency the most?

As per my observation Knowledge-Data and real-time application of Knowledge-Data is the area where the organizations lack the most. I define Knowledge-Data as the actionable data insight you get after processing all the data from many sources and types. This includes the knowledge about customer who, what, where and when. We all may be doing data-driven marketing but very few are doing Customer-Knowledge-Driven marketing.

Data driven marketing will continue to grow more rapidly and at bigger scale now powered with AI.

The biggest benefit of AI is its ability to process so much data and get meaningful insights from it

Very few companies may have huge budgets for marketing but most other companies are not able to do data-driven marketing due to the complexity and cost. A lot of processing, cleaning and nurturing is required before you can use that data. The biggest hope for data-driven marketing to become mainstream is availability of practical and mature AI technologies. This quote from 1990 is more relevant today.

“Data does not equal information; information does not equal knowledge; and, most importantly of all, knowledge does not equal wisdom. We have oceans of data, rivers of information, small puddles of knowledge, and the odd drop of wisdom.” – Henry Nix, Keynote address, AURISA, 1990

AI will help us to move from data-driven marketing to Customer-Knowledge-Driven marketing at a very fast rate in next 10 years. This year you will see rise of personalized and relevant content using the power of AI driven personalization.

4. What are areas you commonly see where businesses are getting stuck from transforming themselves to optimal customer-centricity – excess of to-dos to achieve this, lack of aligning all stakeholders on a common platform, lack of initiative to know a customer as a person rather than a statistic? How much can data help this transformation?

I have seen all these to be very common areas where organizations get stuck when it comes to digital transformation. Data and (more surprisingly for technologists) change management done well are the two most important things that help organizations avoid being stuck in such areas. Digital Transformation is truly leading a change and not just automating with the power of digital.

5. How can marketers get a buy-in from their organizations to invest in digital transformation of their businesses? What are the timeframes that a small business should expect for complete digital transformation and how important is it to record each of the marketing and sales process’ digitization?

For a small enterprise, it may take 9 months to 1 year but at a large organization it is a long process that may take 2-5 years. At McKesson, we have a 3-year marketing transformation roadmap. Digital transformation is not a project but an initiative that should continue and evolve with the changes in market, technology and organizational strategy. Strategy to get a buy-in varies from one company to another based on the size, age and structure of that enterprise. It is also based on where it is coming from. In general I have seen that leading digital transformation with Data and focusing on small projects to create short-term wins is key to getting buy-in.

6. How can digital transformation become a strategic thought process for a business rather than just being a mere means to an end to enhance customer experience? Please suggest some processes that organizations can put in place so that internal stakeholders move in sync with this makeover?

Digital Transformation has always been strategic but a lot of times our focus on MarTech, AdTech, RevTech, SalesTech makes it siloed and tactical. When we think about any customer we should think about the customer journey and how we can enable it for a great experience in the digital world. It is way beyond just end-to-end User Experience Enhancement but enabling everything that is part of the customer journey. It is everything the customer experiences and the employees of organization experience while serving the customer.

7. Could you share for our readers a sneak peek on the topic of your presentation?

I will cover the topic of “conditions for success” of MarTech in every organization. I will also be introducing BuNK framework for MarTech success. I firmly believe that if this framework is followed every single time we will hear bigger and bigger stories of MarTech rollouts in every organization.


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1 Comment
  1. Sagar singh 2 months ago

    thankyou so much for updating us about this industry I really thank webmarsol team

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