Connected & Ready

More companies shift focus to customer journey, with Abhishek Dalmia and Varun Khurana

Episode Summary

Increasingly, companies recognize the need to focus on the customer journey over the traditional “four Ps” of marketing. They are not changing their strategy on a whim. Measurable financial impact is directly attributable to efficiencies in the customer-centric approach. In this episode of Connected & Ready, host Gemma Milne talks with Abhishek Dalmia and Varun Khurana, of the Boston Consulting Group, about the central role of the customer journey for B2C businesses, the importance of making the journey simple and consistent, and shifting your business to a customer-journey-led business model. Learn how Dynamics 365 Marketing can help your team build relationships that increase lead generation and expand sales opportunities. Request a live demo today: https://aka.ms/CandRMarketing Thank you for listening to Connected & Ready! Do you have ideas of how we can improve the show? Want to recommend a guest for us to interview? We value your partnership and participation. Please drop us a note at connectedandready@microsoft.com. We would love to hear from you.

Episode Notes

Gemma Milne talks with Abhishek Dalmia and Varun Khurana, of the Boston Consulting Group, about new perspectives on building a customer-centric business, reimagining the customer journey, factors currently driving the cost of customer acquisition, and the importance of data for creating and understanding customer engagement.

About Abhishek Dalmia:

Abhishek is a Managing Director and Partner in the BCG Seattle. He has deep consumer expertise with focus on Fashion/Apparel and deep functional expertise in Digital, Marketing and Data. He has 20+ years experience as a marketing executive in leading digital and direct to customer focused businesses, with specific focus on customer centered marketing, data analytics and marketing technology.

About Varun Khurana:

Varun is a Partner in BCG Seattle. He specializes in next-gen sales, go-to-market, customer experience, and customer support related topics in addition to being passionate about all things relating to technology and innovation. Prior to BCG, Varun worked was a software engineer at Oracle Corp. and he holds four technology patents from this time there.

 

Learn more about BCG:

https://www.bcg.com/industries/technology-media-telecommunications/overview

 

Topics of discussion

 

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Episode Transcription

Gemma [00:00:05] Hello and welcome. You're listening to Connected and Ready an ongoing conversation about innovation, resilience, and our capacity to succeed brought to you by Microsoft. I'm Gemma Milne. I'm a technology journalist and author. And I'm going to be exploring trends around how companies are adapting to a disrupted world and preparing for tomorrow. We're going to speak to the innovators who are bringing products, operations, and people together in new ways. 

 

Gemma [00:00:30] In today's episode, we're exploring the relationship between customer journeys and financial impacts with Abhishek Dalmia, managing director and partner at Boston Consulting Group, and Varun Khurana, who's also partner at Boston Consulting Group. We discussed the emerging topic of rethinking operational planning with customer journeys as a driver of progress, what it takes to shift customer centric value streams, and how to drive financial impacts from a customer centric approach. 

 

Gemma [00:00:54] Before we start, I want to thank all of you listeners out there. If you have a topic or a person you'd love to hear on the show, please send us an email at ConnectedandReady@Microsoft.com. We're so thankful for you all. Now on with the episode. 

 

Gemma [00:01:09] Abhishek, Varun, thank you so much for coming and joining us on the show, let's start with a couple of introductions from you both, what your roles are and what you've been working on. Abhishek, let's start with you. 

 

Abhishek [00:01:18] Hey Gemma, this is Abhishek, managing director/partner based out of the Seattle office. Been with BCG for three years, I focused a lot on consumer as an industry practice and focused a lot on consumer centricity, marketing, and digital as a function practice. Joined BCG from Lululemon, where I headed up the e-commerce and prior to that spent several years at Dell. So I have been in this intersection of digital, consumer, and marketing for the last 20 plus years. 

 

Gemma [00:01:46] Amazing. And we're very happy to have you here joining us. Let's go to you Varun. 

 

Varun [00:01:50] Hi, Gemma. Pleasure to be here. Thank you for having us. So my name is Varun. I'm a partner with BCG, Seattle. I've been with BCG seven years and I've done a whole host of work. But now, most recently, I focus on tech and telco clients and functionally I'm focused on marketing, sales, and pricing as well as the operations practice areas. 

 

Gemma [00:02:08] We're absolutely delighted to have you both here. And we're going to be talking a little bit or a lot about reimagining customer journeys today. So, you know, conversations around customer journeys have obviously been rising over the years and obviously their impact on business has been more and more clear. So in your opinion, why is being customer centric so critical for B2C businesses? 

 

Abhishek [00:02:29] I think Gemma the consumer centricity for B2C businesses has always been very important and it might come as a surprise from a marketer. I think marketing has been a little bit of a reason why some of the brands lost their way of being consumer centric because of too much a focus on the four Ps of marketing. And people started to realize now more than ever that you cannot differentiate yourself just based on product, price, promotion, and place. You need to really have that true relationship with your customer in order to have a highly profitable growth in your business. A lot of organizations which are product centric, you know, they have an amazing product. They connect on the both functional and emotional needs. But that is becoming equal stakes. If you don't have an engagement loop with your consumer, which is beyond transaction, especially in B2C businesses, your business cannot have the retention rates and consumer loyalty that is critical for a profitable growth. Right? Especially given the acquisition costs going up. So I think there is a massive realization for the businesses that we need to get back to the old school way of true authentic relationship with the consumer. And that's why consumer centricity is more important. I think the other big piece is also recently the tailwind of the evolution between data and technology has really enabled the brands and the B2C players to really start to emerge and fulfill that promise of being closer to the consumer, understand their needs, and serve them with the right product at the right time on the right channels. So I think while it was a notion, it was also not possible for some of these brands to deliver that promise of consumer centricity. And I think the final pieces are more around - you know, if you think about any business, it kind of, you know, is at the intersection of you got to have a strong product, but you got to merge that with the right needs of that consumer. And that's where it's not the one or the other. It's an and. You know a lot of things people say that we will become consumer centric. But that doesn't mean you're going to get away from product centricity. It is an and instead of or. 

 

Varun [00:04:42] I think from my perspective, the access to products, right, at the best price has changed significantly. It's happened with e-commerce, as we've seen. And most recently, there's been a catalyzing effect from covid on the digital landscape. So there's always been the sort of secular trend towards consumer touch points evolving. But now we're in a world of just it's sprawled. Some recent research points to consumers engaging with 60 plus touch points right across their phone, across their physical spaces, digital spaces and the lines blurring across them. And so this is explosion of touch points. And there's a wealth of information at all these touch points, and it's almost an overload. So we're finding that the key to success now is reaching the right customer at the right time for the right product and on the right channel. And consumers are rewarding companies that do this well. Now to do it well, though, it takes a really customer centric approach embedded pretty deep in your DNA if you're a B2C business. I think it's this growing realization that's bringing consumer journeys to the forefront today. 

 

Gemma [00:05:43] So Abhishek we spoke a little bit about the cost of acquisition rising. What's driving that? 

 

Abhishek [00:05:47] Yeah, if you think about where you spend your most of your marketing dollars. Right. You obviously have paid channels and you have the owned channels. On the paid side, it's not a surprise to anyone. But over the last three to five years, there's a massive consolidation happening. Right. I mean, there was a time where your entire paid media was highly distributed and fragmented across several display media players. Right, but now it's significantly consolidated, especially in the North America market or markets outside of China. So the cost per impression itself on Facebook and Google has almost doubled over the last five years. So that is exactly where the media spend has become extremely expensive and your cost of acquisition is going up. So that's why. Two, the emergence of a lot of these digital native brands has happened quite rapidly over the last five to six years. Talk about different categories. There are different number of players which are emerging, which is really starting eat away more into that long tail of, you know, your customer decides. If you think about highly loyal 10 percent, they might stick with you and they might engage with you. But the balance, 90 percent are not that brand loyal anymore. So for them, getting like a lot of churn rate around those customers, reacquiring them is becoming dependent on the media. So on one side, your costs are going up. On the other side, your churn rates are going up, which is really making it extremely important that you're one efficient on your media spend and you're constantly optimizing for that media spend and the tactics. But two you have a CRM and a retention program which really allows you to leverage the consumer data that you already have and market them to your own channels like email, app, and others to really drive your cost of acquisition down and put less stress on the media spends. 

 

Gemma [00:07:32] So it's obvious that there's lots of discussion about why this is so important right now, specifically from the customer perspective. And of course, we're being customer centric. So of course, that's what we should be putting first. But thinking about it from a business perspective, how can B2C businesses thinking about tying this concept of customer journeys to business outcomes, to things like revenue growth, profitability, uplift, and so on and so forth? 

 

Abhishek [00:07:55] Now, that's a very important question, Gemma. You know, I would say there are three things in terms of tying that back and making it truly impactful. Any business, if you think about it, you cannot measure success unless you have a clear KPI and you are tracking to that on a day to day, week to week, month to month basis. So I'll give you an example in the first bucket of planning and measurement. Right. If you think about any retailer or if you think about any brand, everybody have their annual operating plan, five year strategic plans in terms of their revenue growth and profitability growth. But when you double click on that, you realize that most of the plans are built around, where is that growth going to come from a product category standpoint? Most of them have that growth plan broken out by where is it going to come from a regional standpoint? Is it going to be China? Is it going to be North America? A lot of them also have it broken out by channel. Is it going to come in from my direct to consumer or is it going to come from wholesale? Is it going to come from e-commerce versus stores? 

 

Abhishek [00:08:53] But very few players can easily articulate how much of that growth is going to come from acquiring new customers. How much of that is going to come in from driving X amount of higher frequency for my lower decide consumer cohort? And this much frequency needs to increase or this much spend needs to increase from my loyal customer base to drive that. I think very few people have actually translated that different stages of the journey. If you are in an awareness stage, if you are in a consideration phase, if you're actually going to be already with the brand and translating that into true financial metrics. So I think one big opportunity is around planning and measurement. Do you build your financial plans based on the different stages of the consumer life cycle and have that sharpness to actually drive that on a day to day, week to week basis? I think the other piece, the second big bucket around actually translating this is, if you think about your organizational design, most of the organizations are still design and the operating models are still designed from a product lens. How am I going to design my product, how am I going to source my product? How am I going to get it down to the right, you know, distribution centers and the different regions, allocate the same to the right stores. And then how am I going to drive sales and marketing and post purchase behavior? Right?

 

Abhishek [00:10:14] None of them is actually structured, you know, from across collaboration, across these different functions to bring in that lens of consumer centricity. So I think there is an element of connecting the dots with the organizational incentives and the organizational structure. I think the third big bucket is really starting to - a lot of businesses, especially in the B2C space, they know and it's possible detail on their product, the vendors, the suppliers, the value chain around the product. But a lot of people have not designed the consumer journeys. They are also tapping into this consumer data, collecting that consumer data to translate that and connect that with the one and two that I talked about. If you don't collect the consumer data itself, you cannot connect that with like measurement and planning. So when somebody like a newer brand is emerging or an existing brand is trying to evolve, are they really thinking about these consumer journeys to connect the dots between the consumer data and then connecting that with the right organizational structure and putting the right planning and measurement in place to connect that with the right revenue growth, the right profitability uplift, and ultimately drive that consumer centricity as a DNA inside the organization. 

 

Gemma [00:11:24] Just to build on a couple of things you said there, because, you know, you were talking about all the different markets earlier when we were talking about 60 plus different touch points that consumers have nowadays. And what you were saying there about it's less about looking at all these really specific things and instead looking at whether they're new customers or they're repeat customers or so on and so forth. And that final point about data, I mean, is it just about gathering data about because if you think about it, if there's 60 plus different touch points, a whole load of different markets to thinking about whether they're new or loyal surely is not enough. You know, these customer journeys are going to be completely different in every market, on every platform and so on and so forth. So is it just about collecting data and analyzing it or is it something more? 

 

Abhishek [00:12:07] I don't think it's about collecting data only. Right. That is a big part of it, because you can only measure what you have with you. Right? I think the big challenge is, yes, there are 60 plus touch points. Yes, there are a lot of different engagements and multiple permutations, combination of the journeys that will emerge. The key thing for business is to think through is how do you really create a very simple framework of thinking through and breaking down that journey into some simple steps which will be consistent across all these touch points. Some touch points will integrate to what some parts of the lifecycle. You know, the funnel is an old way of thinking, right? The journey is where things are emerging because the same consumer for a different category, for the same brand might be at a different stage of the journey. Right. So it's not about the funnel of awareness, consideration, and conversion. It's more about which stage you are in, what's the context. So I think it's making sure that you're not overcomplicating the metrics. So if you think about a retail environment, one of the big problems for retailers is why a lot of retailers have a loyalty program. If you dig into their data, you will realize that almost 60 to 70 percent of their customers only transact with them once a year. But do they have a program and are they tracking that as a metric? And are they actually creating marketing engines and sales programs around that one and then consumers? That is something which is while that one and then could be coming in from Facebook, would be coming in on Instagram, those customers might be spending time on a laptop in the evening, but on a mobile phone in the morning, those complexities will always be there. But are you able to simplify the problem and get down to a very concrete audience and a very concrete stage of a life cycle to go and address? And if you had that simplicity then that simplicity helps you navigate this complex environment with the right set of tactics, with the right set of measurement, KPIs, and then having a set of leading and lagging indicators which supports and drives actions for the business. 

 

 

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Gemma [00:14:39] Varun, from your perspective, what does this all look like in practice? You know, we're talking about shifts that are going on, whether it's different ways of using technologies or whether it's different mindsets or different strategies and so on and so forth. So how are companies tackling or adapting to meet these shifts? What are they doing differently now than what they were doing before? 

 

Varun [00:14:58] Now Abhishek alluded to a simple framework, right? I think simple is always key. We've seen companies think about it from a perspective of know your consumer, understand your consumer, and then engage with your consumer. So that's a three part framework. Now, what does that mean, though? Now, oftentimes a consumer has multiple touch points, like I mentioned, with the brand, but companies aren't able to discern that it's the same consumer of your point of sale channel in the store was, as you know, a consumer that was engaging with you digitally prior. So the main priorities are knowing a consumer becomes, you know, how do you resolve identity? And in a world of third party cookie deprecation, there's a sort of increasing premium from companies on first party data and then enriching with third party data. Right. So that lets the companies really know the consumer because you've got an identity framework. You've got the ability to now conduct behavioral analysis. And that's a huge opportunity. Now, you use this data and this really in-depth knowledge of the customer to understand them even more deeply. Now here we are finding AI and ML finally starting to catch up to the hype. We're past the world of retrospective analytics now. Now we're in a world of predictive analytics and true personalization. So how can we take targeted actions? Right? I mentioned at the right consumer at the right time, on the right channel for the right product. And it's this data that really allows us to engage with this right intent. And I think we have to be really careful. The engagement here. It's not just about driving the next transaction, but it's really building a relationship with the consumer as Abhishek was alluding to. And you need a foundation of deep understanding of individual preferences that comes from the data and that comes from the sort of rich analytics that we're able to imply. Now that takes you to the third phase as we engage with the consumer. We need to have a strong view on our why, without a lens and effectiveness, without the sort of measurement around, you know, how these investments are paying off. You know, the feedback loop becomes really important. And so what companies that are able to navigate the sort of know, understand and engage stages are the ones we're seeing adapt really well. Right. And they're really leading the way today. 

 

Abhishek [00:17:09] You know, the way Varun laid down the simple framework of know, understand, engage - it's a multidimensional cube. So different consumer journeys will kind of fit into the different stages in a different way. Right. I mean, when you are interacting with customers on social media, you know, on your own organic platform, you are engaging with them. So it's going to be heavy around engagement. But while you are actually engaging with them, are you diligently creating hooks which can allow you to know more about the consumer? Right? Are you then using the intelligence to have a meaningful dialog while you are engaging with that consumer? Right. So say Varun and Abhishek might fit into the same persona from a demographic perspective, from a segmentation perspective, but every signal that we provide, if Abhishek is engaging ad in the morning, you know, versus Varun is engaging in like 11 o'clock in the night. That's a signal. And are you able to understand that nuance and incorporate that into your actions? That's where the disruption is happening. So when B2C players are starting to rethink these consumer journeys, it's not a linear journey anymore. It's a multidimensional journey. Context is very important. And you can only meet that need of the context if you are actually able to know the customer well, understand them and then engage. I know we talk a lot about data and technology, but one thing which Varun and I have run into several times with a lot of our clients, while, yes, there is data and technology and that's a big ball in the tent, but that's 30 percent of the problem. The 70 percent of the problem is coming back to what I shared earlier on in terms of the operating model, the ways of working. The organizations have created so many silos that they are not designed to work in this highly nimble environment and be more consumer centric. So I think as we talk about this framework, as we talk about reimagining customer journeys, one of the big learnings for us have been that while you need to solve for the consumer journey, while you need to solve for data and technology, if you don't fix your ways of working, the problem is not going to reach to the scale and the impact that it has as a potential. 

 

Gemma [00:19:17] So I want to just build a little bit, actually, on two points there, the tech one, and then also this point, on organization. But let's stay with you Abhishek for a second. This point about the 70 percent problem, the changing the business operations so that you can be a, you know, customer journey led business. Could you give us an example perhaps of a transition that a company's gone through from being perhaps not able to have this customer journey led business model to then having it? 

 

Abhishek [00:19:43] One of the great examples, if you think about any B2C brand or retailer, is if you look at their marketing organization and how it is set up. Most of the marketing organizations are set up in a way where you have channels and their teams, so you have a team that is running your email programs, there’s a team which is running your paid social program, there’s a team, which is running your paid search program. And then there's a team which is running your store marketing program. Right? Now if you think about it, it's not like what you're doing in paid social is not going to impact your paid search and it's not going to impact your site performance. Because if I look at just our journey, right, if I am getting used to a brand, I get exposed to a new brand. It mostly happens on Instagram these days. Right? I get a new ad and I can get to know about who this person is, what this brand is, what's it about? Right? I forget about it, but then a few days later, I actually search for it on Google to kind of, you know, really go to the site. I still don't convert. I might hear I might sign up for the email and then to that email I follow in romance with that brand before actually converting. 

 

Abhishek [00:20:50] Now, in that journey, I had a three step journey. But if three different teams are talking to me and they are not talking to each other, then they are not going to serve my needs because I'll keep getting the same ad. That person will not realize that I've already moved on to search, stop spending money on the ad and if I already signed up for the email, why spend money for me on Google and Facebook, which has become so expensive? Send me an email and drive more engagement with me on the email. So I think that is where those organizational silos still are set up, where the teams are not thinking of it from consumer journey lens. If I'm acquiring a new customer, what's that multi-step journey and how am I going to work in an integrated fashion? One of the big unlocks that we have seen is even pulling together these folks from the different functions of the marketing as a cross-functional board to drive the right focus on the different aspects of the consumer life cycle, so setting up an acquisition board where different channel owners are coming in, but not only channel owners, but different other members of the team like finance, creative, e-commerce, that creates that transparency, that creates that visibility of the actions and builds more cohesiveness so that you're not just spending the same dollar, you know, split in 20 different ways, but you're being very surgical of going after the consumer in a meaningful way. So that's just one example of how marketing organizations are evolving and that can be expanded across all different functions of the organization. 

 

Gemma [00:22:17] So Abhishek we've talked about organizational design and some of the sort of challenges, including things like silos or communications between various different teams and departments. What does it mean to really change that organization, what's perhaps a key first step that companies can take to really start to shift things?

 

Abhishek [00:22:35] I would say there are three things right. One, it has to be a mandate from the top. So unless the CEO is aligned to this and he's driving the change from the top, it becomes really difficult to drive that consumer centricity and breaking down of the silos because we all know that it's like family, right? Any organization will always have political dynamics and people will be like more protective of their side of the world and will always point fingers. So unless it's the mandate which comes from the top, it becomes really hard to actually adopt that change and breaking down of the silo. The second piece is you can't do that across the globe all at once. So you've got to kind of try with your key market and try with a key function. And from our experience, you know, marketing, because that is one area where the change is happening at a much rapid velocity. That is one function which is closer to the consumer from a communications standpoint. And that is one area where breaking down the silos becomes a little bit of an easier challenge because they are still part of the same executive leader as a CMO or a CDO. So at least breaking down the silos within the sub org within one organization itself is a great place to start. And the third piece, I would say is, you know, if you start this, don't start with a long chain and a long cycle. It's like ripping off the Band-Aid. Right? You've got to get into action. You've got to kind of, you know, change the model immediately and you got to experiment that out so that you are showing the wins and showing some to Varun's point around putting some wins on the wall. You've got to show that so that there is a momentum in the organization and it's well articulated, well communicated across other functions of the organization as well. 

 

Gemma [00:24:14] And Varun, let's come to you for the example about the 30 percent problem, the way that Abhishek put it, the technology, because you mentioned AI, ML, Predictive Analytics. Can you talk a little bit about the types of, I guess, tools or technologies that are critical in making this shift to being customer centric? Are these technologies already built into what's there, is it about using brand new platforms? Talk us through a little bit about that. 

 

Varun [00:24:39] So let's speak to the intent first and then we'll sort of go to the tools. So the intent. Right? What companies need to do is really capture data and drive towards identity resolution and then really enrich the data that exists around consumers with third-party data. Now, that's the goal because you really want to build a deep foundation with which you can start to understand the consumer and from a tool perspective, you know, there's a hotbed of activity, right? What I just mentioned, and we're seeing consumer data platforms. Right? CDPs emerge as the sort of key enabler for data capture and identity resolution perspective. And that almost for me becomes the anchor, as you think about, you know, what are your tools or tech requirements as you think about really driving to a customer journey centric view of the world. Now, Abhishek spoke about, you know, the sort of engagement. Now you've got to engage consumers across channels in the best way. Right? He gave us examples of, you know, someone engaging on emails and at a certain time of day. Right? And then the same consumer potentially engaging differently at a different time of the day. So there's this sort of orchestration that's required across channels. And here we find essentially customer journey orchestration tools starting to emerge. Then you move towards a sort of how do you actually engage? Right? How do you automate your engagement across your paid as well as your own channels? How do you optimize this engagement? And Abhishek spoke also about engagement that transcends organization silos. So there's a whole lot of activity around data on your digital experience platforms. Right? Or your multi-channel marketing hubs and from a tool perspective. And then lastly, you know, we've been saying on the ROI and the effectiveness. Right? And you know, then you get to the sort of foundational analytics platforms, reporting platforms that are required from a tooling perspective. But the challenge is to get all of these to work in concert. That's the real unlock, even though it's a 30 percent unlock. But it's a really important 30 percent unlock. 

 

Abhishek [00:26:39] Yeah, and that is something which is very important, right? The other piece, Gemma, which is also critical as people start to get on this journey, is obviously everybody right now is aware that there's a lot of buzz around marketing technologies. Right? And within marketing technologies that are emerging, newer players, especially in these CDPs, there's a lot of push happening with a lot of larger players. So this landscape is still evolving. I think where B2C players can get really sharp is how are they thinking about a world where they can drive business value in a no tech, a low tech and a high-tech environment, because some of these capabilities take time to build. So a lot of executives lose that window because by the time they actually come to life, they are already 18 months in the role and they're not able to showcase value. So I think one of the big unlocks for all the work Varun and I have done with several of our clients is around maniacal focus on business value. You should aspire to have the perfect data, but you will never get perfect data. What can you do with the data that you already have right now while you start to collect more data? You cannot have the perfect technology all the time because that is also evolving. Can you build a modular environment so that do more with what you have today, create something new, and keep continuously evolving that over time? And I think the area which is also important is a lot of people are talking about AI, they're talking about analytics, but they're still doing old school, you know, retrospective analytics. 

 

Abhishek [00:28:12] Varun's point earlier on that aspect of predictive analytics is extremely critical. You know, just hiring a data scientist doesn't mean that you are doing data science. If you're hiring a data scientist and making him do reporting and do like, you know, retrospective analysis, then you're not using the car for the right use. Right? So I think that is a very important element to connect the data and technology with the use cases to drive business value for a lot of these B2C businesses. 

 

Gemma [00:28:38] So I've got one final question for you both. Of course, a lot of the focus of Connected & Ready in general is about being resilient and being able to move forward and achieve the potential of business. And considering, obviously, businesses have already been through a lot over the last year, but who knows what's to come next. So from both your perspectives, I'd love to hear what do you think businesses should be doing now to be prepared to keep moving, keep growing and keep being good, sustainable businesses as we move forward to whatever's next? Varun, let's start with you. 

 

Varun [00:29:06] Yeah, especially as companies shift towards being more consumer centric. I think it's really important to get some points on the board. So the speed to impact is just really important. I remember Abhishek telling me the stat right where CMOs have an average tenure of less than 18 months. And in that world you really got to get impact and points on the board really quickly. And I think the sort of mindset of experimentation is, again, really key over here because this playbook isn't well-written. So I think those two things would be primary in my mind. And then you also go to sort of think about how can you, Abhishek mentioned talent, got a sneak mention right, the sort of talent you need to bring these capabilities together, not just from a technology perspective, but even from a sort of machine learning data scientist. There is a real stress point today. So those would be the three things in my mind. 

 

Abhishek [00:29:52] Yeah. And I would 100 percent agree with Varun on those three points. But to me, those three points are very hard skills. The softer side of the problem is I think B2C players were able to really recognize their purpose and their vision, why they exist and what is the reason to exist in the minds of the consumer. And then addressing those needs for the consumer by connecting with them in a meaningful way is going to become extremely important. You have to get back to your core and understand who you are. Once you understand that and you understand who your consumer is, you have to really get back to this thousand-year-old philosophy of building that authentic relationship with the consumer. And that relationship cannot be transactional. If I am only talking to Gemma when she's coming and buying something from me, then you are not my consumer. I'm not consumer centric. I need to embed myself in a more meaningful way in a day to day aspect of your life. You know, I've worked with a lot of sporting apparel clients over at BCG. One of the big disruption that is happening is can brands expand beyond just the product that they are offering? Can they really get into health and wellness in a more meaningful way? If you think about the importance Nike has from the Nike Plus versus just the Nike product that they sell, Lululemon recently acquired Mirror the amount of intelligence and the amount of engagement they will have with the guests and the consumers that they serve through Mirror is going to be much more powerful and impactful than just selling yoga pants. So I think these are where the consumer journey needs to be reimagined and people need to challenge themselves that the product that I'm selling is that all that I can serve to the needs of the consumer. So I think that's where the harder side that Varun talked about starts to marry up really well with some of these softer aspects, where brands need to really kind of, you know, either rethink or kind of resurface their purpose and core to connect better with the consumer. 

 

Gemma [00:31:52] Amazing, Abhishek and Varun thank you so much for coming and joining us. It's always nice to speak to consultants because we have so many frameworks that we've gathered throughout speaking to you through this episode, which I always think is great for people listening and hopefully writing down these frameworks and hopefully having something nice and concrete to go away and really apply right now to whatever problem they're thinking about with their own  business so Varun and Abhishek thank you so much for joining us. 

 

Abhishek [00:32:14] Thank you for having us. 

 

Varun [00:32:15] Yeah, thank you. 

 

Gemma [00:32:19] That's it for this week. Thank you so much for tuning in. You can find out more about Abhishek and Varun's work and indeed some of the broader themes we discussed today in the show notes. If you enjoyed the episode, please do take a few moments to rate, and review the podcast. It really helps other people discover the show. And don't forget to hit subscribe and tune in next time to continue our conversation about innovation, resilience, and our capacity to succeed. 

 

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