Paschalis Petalas is a senior executive specialising in developing customer strategies, leveraging analytics, and leading data-driven marketing initiatives to create new revenue streams and maximise customer lifetime value.
He has a track record of success in crafting engaging customer experiences via personalisation, digital campaigns, and the development of advanced analytics and CRM capabilities. Paschalis has a multi-year experience in Big-4 consulting and held blue-chip executive roles in Europe (Germany, UK, France, Greece, Spain) and the Middle East (UAE). He also has an impressive academic track record which includes an MBA from Warwick Business School (UK), an MSc from Imperial College London and a BE in Computer Engineering from the University of Patras in his native Greece.
In an exclusive interview with MarTech Vibe, Paschalis talks about the BFSI sector, data privacy, the reach of marketing technology in the Middle East, and much more. Excerpts from the email interaction:
How has the CRM function evolved in the last decade?
CRM was traditionally a transactional platform supporting the primary customer-facing processes of an organisation: service, sales and marketing. Over the past few years, two significant changes were transforming the role of CRM in organisations: vertical offerings from today’s modern CRM platforms as well as advanced integrated analytics, which transform CRM into an enabler of differentiated customer experiences.
The era of the horizontal CRM platforms with a large number of expensive customisations is giving way to a new one of vertical offerings with deep domain functionalities. The latter can support the organisations’ processes while leveraging the vendor’s partner ecosystem to achieve agility and improved customer engagement.
The new-era CRM platforms are mostly cloud-based. They offer templates, common process flows, data model extensions and application exchanges containing an ecosystem of point solutions (i.e. automated data capture) that extend their power.
By focusing on specific use cases, modern CRM platforms integrate advanced analytics capabilities and features like lead scoring, customer churn prediction, attribution analysis and content recommendations which result in an extension beyond traditional CRM application with public data.
The impact of the above changes in the CRM function’s operating model – its processes, governance and people – is significant. In terms of processes, agile development is becoming the norm because of the continuous need for change. Long lead development cycles give way to agile delivery stunts. Scrum multifunction teams, coupled with vendor teams, are required to support the continuous evolution of CRM features for the organisation.
While finance and banking is a traditional industry sector, its adoption of technology has been far greater than others. Why is that?
The BFSI sector has used technology to support its customer processes in branches, contact centres and direct sales scenarios. Organisations have also automated large parts of their wealth management, corporate sales and investment banking operations. The main reasons for these investments were:
- The volume and variety of data BFSI organisations have for their customers
- Directives from regulatory bodies, and finally
- The effectiveness/efficiency gains realised by competition.
Because of their nature, BFSI organisations know more about their customers compared to other sectors. They have data on salaries, spending patterns, family events of every customer. Using technology, they were able to leverage this knowledge and expand their business.
There is a substantial number of regulation directives in the BFSI sector compared to most other sectors. Adhering to the regulatory directives without technology wouldn’t be possible to the extent it is today.
Last but not least, it is the successes of the first investors in technology that drive the industry towards more investment. A typical example is the level of investment on RPA happening today, increasing steadily after the efficiency gains shared by the pioneer organisations.
With the extensive debate on data privacy, how do brands deal with their growing dependency on customer data?
Although I am not a data privacy or governance expert, in my view, data management becomes a major focus area for the organisations of the GCC. There are the data privacy regulations that although don’t yet apply in the region as they do in the EU (PSD2 and GDPR), it is only a matter of time until they become operational. Organisations need to prepare for this event, as it requires a different operating model, governance, and mindset around data. Recently there were customer data breaches of large scale globally with significant impact on the respective brands. Considering the low level of data quality, the lack of data governance and ownership in the average organisation in the GCC, brands in the region need to start taking steps towards bridging the data gap they face.
Appointing a Chief Data Officer (CDO) to own the data strategy of an organisation, developing sound data governance processes and a roadmap of continuous data quality initiatives, investing in data governance tools are some of the actions organisations are already taking in the GCC. What only a few organisations have succeeded to date is to develop a ‘data is a corporate asset’ culture that, in addition to governance, processes and tools is required to succeed.
According to you, what are the top 3 upcoming MarTech trends in the BFSI sector in the region?
The top 3 MarTech trends I see in the BFSI sector in the GCC are:
- Customer Data Platforms (CDPs):
With the need to break down the data silos, bring together data from any online and offline source, improve data quality and ensure customer data privacy it is not a surprise that BFSI organisations are already investing large amounts in CDPs. CDPs can provide a single customer view that acts as a basis for mass personalisation for the organisation.
- Analytics and AI:
There are already multiple AI applications across the Customer Lifecycle, enabling BFSI organisations to reach, act, convert, and engage their customers. Examples include programmatic media bidding, voice search, lead scoring, dynamic pricing, re-targeting and predictive customer service.
- Marketing Automation Platforms:
The modern marketing automation is cloud-based and comprises of a system of record, an operations engine – to create and execute marketing programs across online and offline channels – and an analytics engine to test, measure and optimise ROI and marketing contribution. BFSI organisations are investing in Marketing Automation Platforms to generate demand, nurture leads and personalise customer engagement.
What are you looking forward to at the Vibe Marketers Fest (VMF) this year?
With changing customer expectations, marketers are expected to do more with less; they need to personalise customer interactions, design Omnichannel customer experiences, create meaningful content, innovate in product development and deliver all these in a fast, transparent and agile manner. This is not possible today without the technologies to support all aspects of Content Management, Customer Data Management, Behavioural Marketing, ecosystem development, Marketing Automation and Customer Experience. In my view, the VMF will be a proposition focusing on these technologies and also the operating models they require. It will be, therefore, an event to look forward to, if you are dealing with customer engagement activities at any level in your organisations. Aren’t we all?
*The interview expresses personal points of view and is not associated with any organisation.