Kalpit Jain is the Group Chief Executive Officer at Netcore Solutions.
Jain is a digital marketing technologist with over 21 years of experience in technology, digital marketing, and marketing automation space. In his current role, he helps drive reliable, customer-focused results, and has been instrumental in architecting Netcore’s flagship email products. He also likes to dabble in product innovation
Jain has been associated with the company since its inception and has been a key contributor in shaping pre-sales, client servicing, technology, operations, and product development functions. Kalpit has stewarded the company’s growth from a startup to becoming a leader in the Indian Marketing Technology space. Under his leadership, Netcore has today developed a global presence in the MarTech space through its flagship marketing automation platform powered by AI, helping brands create an exceptional customer experience.
In an exclusive interview, Jain interacted with MarTech Vibe at length, speaking in detail about technology disruptors, personalisation, the advancement in AI, and the adoption of marketing technology in the Middle East, among other things. Excerpts from the email interaction:
1. You have been a MarTech expert for over two decades. How has the marketing function evolved over the years?
Well, the marketing strategies surely have come a long way from the Batch and Blast to today’s hyper-personalised messaging. The segmentation capabilities and the breadth of the channels have significantly widened to become all-powerful, which has enabled real-time one-to-one marketing.
Gone are the days of plain vanilla marketing strategies, which were mostly about releasing a campaign on TV, print, radio and a banner ad on digital. Today marketing has significantly evolved and now leverages technologies to deliver real-time, contextual and personalised campaigns to target customers.
In this era of digitally-driven experiences, the job of marketers has become both easy and difficult. On the one hand, the number of channels via which businesses can reach out to customers has definitely gone up; the flip side is fleeting customer attention spans.
For businesses today, the answer lies in delivering hyper-personalised and contextually engaging campaigns, which are sure to capture the attention of customers.
2. With technology disrupting major companies and industries, how can leaders still focus on brand building?
With all these technological advancements, the customer has become the king today. Your customers build your brand. You are what they say. And they say what they experience with you.
The technological advancements also provide you with the opportunity to build your brand with your customers. For CMOs, it is important to bring the power of human relationships back into the entire brand experience that will create more lasting loyalty. Brands need to embrace mobile-first as a strategy along with using Chatbots, AR/VR to provide a better CX. Above all, singing the praises of your customers goes a long way in building the brand today.
3. AI is impacting marketing significantly; which AI-powered trend will have the biggest impact in the MarTech industry?
Artificial Intelligence is changing the marketing industry quite rapidly. AI, when combined with marketing automation, helps in translating data into decisions, creates meaningful conversations and positively affects the ROI. It enriches and empowers marketing abilities.
The present marketing scenario can be best described as the “AI-for-Marketing’ era. And one AI trend that is and will have a huge impact on the Martech industry is personalisation at scale. Personalisation engines create a relevant, individualised interaction between two parties designed to enhance the experience of the recipient. They use insights based on the recipient’s personal data as well as behavioural data. Today, the best personalisation engines personalise each customer interaction across multiple channels, i.e. web, mobile web, mobile apps, as well as email.
We are betting big on personalisation to have an enormous impact in the MarTech world. And we are very excited to come up with something really big in this space very soon.
4. How does siloed data harm an organisation? How should companies handle large scale customer data?
Data of your customers in silos will never let you paint a complete picture of your customer. Siloed data can tell you one story about your customer while there can be many more stories that needed to be accounted with. It prevents to generate the 360-degree view of the customer and the customer profile unification. Centralising all the acquired data form a unified view is imperative for a marketer today. And that is precisely what a CDP does.
A CDP is a persistent and unified customer database designed to collect and organise customer data across all interactions and attributes. This data is available to systems across the organisation for action and analysis. CDPs approach data from a centralised customer profile perspective and all the real-time data is organised adhering to the approach. The CDP contains individual identifiers used to target promoting messages and track singular level results. A CDP collects data in an automated manner from both online & offline channels directly from the customers (even for anonymous visitors), does modelling on the acquired data, creates a lifetime customer behaviour & journey and helps the marketer analyse and derive actionable insights via a unified view.
The demand for omnichannel experience and actionable insights makes Customer Data Platform a must-have in today’s MarTech space.
5. Which solutions is Netcore most excited about?
We primarily function in two areas – marketing technology and CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service). In marketing technology, our flagship product is Smartech, and on CPaaS, we have our AI-powered, API-based email delivery platform – Pepipost.
Netcore’s Smartech bridges the gap between customer analytics and effective engagement to enable marketers to drive the delivery of hyper-personalised and contextual experiences. Our key offerings under Netcore’s Smartech are Cross-channel Campaign Management, Unified Customer View, Single-Step Actionable Analytics, AI-Powered Send Time Optimisation, AI-Powered Subject Line Optimisation, Push Amplification and Preferred Channels.
Our CPaaS product “Pepipost” is an AI-powered email delivery engine with an email delivery throughput of fewer than 5 seconds and a highly enhanced primary inboxing rate. The less than 5-second delivery time makes the communication almost real-time and is the reason for which the biggest brands trust and applaud Pepipost for its reliability. Pepipost’s high primary inboxing rate results in increasing more engagements.
6. Which key markets are you focusing on, how do you see the Middle East maturing as a MarTech adopter?
The market response for our offerings been very positive. Today, they have a customer base of 3,000+ enterprises across industry verticals, including Jet Airways, Thomas Cook, GoAir, ClearTrip, HDFC, Kotak, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, UTI, Facebook, Reliance, Vodafone, Godrej, ITC, OLA, Pfizer and OLX along with international brands like Seek Asia, Tokopedia, Blibli, Standard Chartered, FCMB and GT Bank among others.
Netcore is a leader in MarTech space in India and SEA. Netcore is headquartered in Mumbai, India with offices in 12 locations in 8 countries across SEA, MEA & USA. We are dreaming big for the US. As a strategy, we will continue to enter new markets in SEA and MEA via feet on street model. The MarTech adoption in the Middle East has really picked up. The companies have realised and started to adopt the idea of going digital. The companies do realise the power of CDP, Analytics, and Personalisation along with the importance of a Full-stack. The traditional companies have also started to revamp their marketing strategies by going digital to compete with new-age companies continually.
As far as Martech in Middle East is concerned, I consider the brighter years are lying ahead of us, and we at Netcore are at the epicentre of this.
7. The role of CMO, CTO, and CIO are slowly merging. Do you agree?
The primary focus of every role in an organisation today is to drive Customer Experience. All the technology you adopt, all the tools you use, all your marketing strategies boil down to only one thing: CX.
The CMOs, CTOs, CIOs are all experts in their respective domains and certainly bring a wealth of knowledge and experience with them. But today, there is a unified goal that the business wants to achieve, and all the strategies are centred around that. Therefore, these different roles have also slowly started to merge. All of them with all the different skillset have to think as to what will the customer like and what is needed to enhance their experience. Thus, seeing their roles merge can become a reality in the future where all we have is a CXO (Customer Experience Officer).
8. Is the pace of innovation in marketing technology slowing down?
I would say no to that. The pace of innovation hasn’t slowed down, and we can clearly see from the Gartner Hype cycle where newer technologies are always creeping in. Yes, one area that emerges out is that the marketers have been a bit slow in adopting the latest technologies.
In some cases, the marketers have not realised the full potential of these technologies, whereas in some cases, they aren’t rightly equipped to harness the maximum potential that these technologies have to offer. Companies like Netcore, also have CSMs to provide consultation services to marketers for harnessing the maximum capabilities of the products and technologies.
Honestly, leveraging the maximum potential of every latest technology for your business and extracting a fruitful ROI is a challenge. But I am confident seeing the space that today everyone has realised the disrupting potential of AI and are focussed on harnessing its maximum capabilities.
9. After acquiring omnichannel personalisation platform – Dynamic Yield earlier this year, McDonald’s acquired conversational AI startup – Apprente. Do you think it’s a wise move for big brands to invest billions in acquiring MarTech companies?
Absolutely. The MarTech space is hot, and there are some really good companies with huge potential to grow in the future. I am not at all surprised with the hefty amounts of investments the large companies are making in the MarTech space.
Many traditional companies have clearly realised the power and need of going digital to delight their customers and keep up with the competition from the new-age companies. Today, Netflix provides a brilliant personalised experience, and I don’t see why an offline retailer will not want to offer the same experience to their customers.
These capabilities and features have become so core to the businesses that the biggest brands are looking forward to build them in-house. They do not want to depend on the vendors for something that has now become an integral part of their business.
Having these capabilities in-house is certainly a challenge, but as we see from McDonald’s example that they are confident enough to go out and acquire the Martech companies.
So, it’s a no brainer that MarTech is becoming big and the big brands will be looking to shell out money to either build these capabilities or to acquire them.
10. What should an ideal MarTech stack for a large company look like?
This is how an ideal Martech stack for a large company would look like. CDP, analytics, campaign management/journey orchestration, personalisation and the different channels all stacked up with machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and consulting services cutting through all of them.
Name three MarTech trends that marketers should focus in 2020.
Customer Data Platform (CDP): A CDP is a software that collects the customer data across channels from different marketing campaigns to provide a unified view of the customer. Data collection, profile unification, segmentation and activation are the basic functionalities that all CDPs currently intend on providing. Benefits of a CDP include Cross-channel attribution (Personalisation, Customer Insights, Measure across channels), Agility and future-ready infrastructure & Democratisation of data.
ML & AI: These two technologies continue to be the two big buzz words in the MarTech space today, and all the players realise their potential. Building capabilities to leverage their functionalities remain in the roadmap for all. As per the Gartner Hype Cycle 2019, these capabilities have reached the peak and are going to disrupt the tech market the most in the coming years.
Personalisation: Personalisation engines create a relevant, individualised interaction between two parties designed to enhance the experience of the recipient. They use insights based on the recipient’s personal data as well as behavioural data. Today, the best personalisation engines personalise each customer interaction across multiple channels, i.e. web, mobile web, mobile apps, as well as email.