In this exclusive Interview with MarTech Vibe, Cristian Ciccioli, Head of Business Technology at Abbott Nutrition, talks about data fragmentation, evaluating MarTech and business transformation.
Challenges Abbott Nutrition faced with Business Continuity during the Covid-19 outbreak?
As with most pharma companies, B2B part of our business is based on face to face interactions between our medical representatives and healthcare professionals (HCP).
That changed overnight when the lockdown impaired the chance of meeting these professionals.
We had to introduce new ways of communication quickly to keep the conversation going through digital channels such as eDetailings, video conferences, texting, emails, all from our marketing automation ecosystem.
Same happened to our medical events, probably the most common way of interacting with our HCPs, which suddenly turned into the form of webinars, showing an astonishing level of engagement.
How are you breaking down silos and making your tech stack interact with each other?
When I joined Abbott in 2018, I had the privilege of contributing to the creation of a brand new marketing automation ecosystem for the region based on Salesforce
At that time, the landscape was very fragmented across countries.
The journey is not complete yet, and we are onboarding more and more countries as we speak, moving away from proprietary platforms and outsourced capabilities to a standard way of reaching to our customers, all orchestrated from our integrated ecosystem.
How can brands pave their path to sustainable growth even in a recessionary economy?
Before the crisis, many brands were already focusing on improving their CX, removing frictions and implementing more digital communication channels like web chat and other messaging services.
We were also witnessing the surge of digital commerce consistently. And we already saw how all this became essential to keep the economy going (at least in certain businesses), helping consumers but also brands to close the loop between marketing and sales.
Most of the marketing activities are aimed at taking the consumer through the purchase funnel while keeping the level of engagement always high.
Having more and more transactions passing through their online store helps big time in the data gathering process and therefore giving our customers their best possible experience.
One-size fits all’ approach doesn’t work while buying MarTech – How do you evaluate the process of building your stack? What’s your starting point?
The aspects that I prioritise while expanding our tech landscape are
- User experience (for both our customers and internal employees)
- Scalability – I tend to avoid quick fixes and choose something that can take me to the next level
- Sustainability and financial viability, especially in the long term. Some solutions are easy to implement and very expensive to maintain
- How well it integrates with the other standards in the market
- A world-class support system
Is it always about technology?
Technology helps a lot; it probably drives the innovation process in most of the cases, showing us the art of possible and beyond. However, this is just an enabler.
Plugging a piece of tech in an organisation alone does not solve any problem.
People have always created magic, and it’s still the case.
So rather than thinking how a new piece of tech will bring me more business, let’s consider how our new ways of working will help us achieve that.
What processes we need to redefine, how are we going to upskill our organisation, the relationships with our partners that we need to modify, what silos we need to break to remove those frictions on our customer interactions, and the list goes on.
The way we encompass all these organisational changes is called Business Transformation, and it’s the way to see true value realisation.
Why is the Middle East slow to adopt Marketing Technology? Do you see CMOs allocating more budgets towards MarTech tools to cope with rising digital adoption by consumers?
The Middle East tends to follow other regions before giving new technology a try, and it might be routed to traditions compared to some Western markets.
However, it also presents many opportunities for brands in terms of digital communication.
Saudi Arabia ranks #1 worldwide in terms of Youtube viewership. The level of mobile adoption in the Gulf is also among the highest in the world.
And I do see CMOs and heads of businesses gradually shifting investments towards more innovative interaction channels because the consumer now is much more empowered, and they are the ones demanding the brands to adapt and evolve.
How can technology help in addressing customer data fragmentation?
Earlier I emphasised scalability and possibly avoiding quick fixes for a more sustainable future.
So as our stack evolves, one of the decisions to make is from where we are going to orchestrate our marketing automation.
In other words, how we are going to implement a 360-degree view and management of our customers.
We can’t avoid customer data fragmentation, but we must consolidate it in one place through seamless and reliable integrations.
While a standard way of consolidating this data has always been the CRM database, many organisations are choosing to use a more dynamic and real-time version of it: the Customer Data Platform (CDP).
We are considering this evolution too. Among these are different scenarios and options to implement a CDP, Tealium appears to be a market leader in this space and a comprehensive and sustainable solution.
What does your Marketing Technology Stack look like?
The core of our marketing automation ecosystem is based on Salesforce and its related components, i.e. Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Social Studio.
Our interaction channels range from websites running on Adobe Experience Manager to the most popular social media platforms.
We are also in the process of adding more messaging services using one of the market leader aggregators. We use Microsoft Power BI as the visualisation layer of our data.
But none of this can run on its own, and we need the right partners to make the most out of this wealth of technologies.
That’s why this year we have partnered with Rezultize who are taking our existing capabilities to the next level.
You are speaking at Tealium’s upcoming webinar on – ‘How Companies Use Data to Tackle the Current Situation’ what key points will you address in this webinar?
I can’t insist more on the value of personalisation. We are all consumers, and this is what we demand and expect today.
Nothing disrupts my experience more than the fact that the brand doesn’t know me, doesn’t understand what I want, and therefore is not serving me well.
What is surprising is that many companies do have my information, but they don’t use it to the full extent to personalise communication. And this also affects the company’s reputation.
If I don’t trust their services, why should I trust their products? And again, they are one click away from switching to a better option.
So more than collecting thousands of data points that we won’t use, let’s start making the most of the ones we already have to surprise our customers at every possible interaction.
And if we can automate all that, we will see the magic happen.
Cristian Ciccioli is a Business Technology executive with international experience focused on Sales & Marketing and business expansion through customer engagement technologies in the Healthcare and Consumer industries.
He is responsible for driving success by shaping technology solutions and guides the organisation through the entire cycle of the business transformation process, organisational redesign, operating models and change management.
He has extensive experience in virtual teams management across regions, people development and team coaching.