Aabhinna Suresh Khare shares his views on being a data driven marketer, deriving value out of data and the importance of ethics in business.

It is a common problem to feel the pressure of coping with multiple roles, each competing for your attention, and the effects of this can be extremely adverse.

Not for Aabhinna Suresh Khare who is “multi-hatting” three portfolios.

Aabhinna is the Chief Marketing & Digital Officer at Bajaj Capital, and is also responsible for setting up the future strategy of the organisation in the capacity of Head of Strategy.

But isn’t it like having entirely separate leadership personas for different moments?

“Strategy requires you to think ahead and plan for the future. Marketing calls for execution to a great extent while the digital role involves a lot of optimisation,” says Aabhinna.

And he has been holding all the three responsibilities in good stead presently.

Till December 2021, Aabhinna was leading the Digital Product division as CDO and was instrumental in leading several new initiatives like creating the all-New MF platform, enabling Super RM app and delivering India’s most comprehensive Investment Report- EDGE.

On being a data-driven marketer

The technology and marketing landscape was already changing, but the pandemic accelerated this transformation.

In order to stay relevant, Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) and Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) along with their teams have to be in a constant learning mode, today more than ever. Digitalization is moving fast, and the shift to data-driven marketing is happening quickly and in real-time.

“The marketing world has modernized. While artistic sensibility is essential, marketing requires both discipline and a curiosity about your customer,” shares Aabhinna.

A powerful synergy between digital technology and advanced data analytics has created a massive transformation in the world of marketing in recent years. It is bringing discipline and the arousing curiosity, allowing organizations to leverage techniques such as mass personalization, automation, social listening and data-gathering at scale.

On unlocking data value

The digital age is forcing companies to relook at their customer-centricity promises.

“Today, companies from other industries sometimes have more insights about our customers than we do. Consumers no longer benchmark products with just a competitors’ products,” Aabhinna informs. Personalization can only happen with better data understanding and profiling of customers. This brings delight and also the company that offers this gains a lot of trust and value. “Amazon is a great example of such a company,” he says.

Despite the rapid evolution of AI, the basic expectation is still not met. For example, there are several cases where people having a credit card with a leading private sector Bank, still get calls from the salespeople offering them a card from the lender.

With data, more than ever, becoming the lifeblood of business, how does one ensure to get the best value out of it, and what challenges does it present?

“There are two kinds of companies. The first kind are those who are data rich and insights poor. And there is the second type, what we call as the new age companies, like Amazon, who have put right data to use, starting from day one. So, the first step is to have clean data, and only then can one create great experiences for their customers, build trust and drive business growth,” says Aabhinna.

On the ethics of data

Business/data ethics has always been one of the most complicated and contentious subjects. The relationship between doing the right thing and making money has been studied by both academics and business leaders for years with little consensus reached.

“In the ideal scenario, customer data needs to be used based on the company’s value system and not merely to gain profitability,” says Aabhinna.

For example, consider a high-risk mutual fund product to be launched by a company. Should it be sold to a customer who is the sole earner in a family of four people?

“There is no right or wrong answer to this question. If my intent is to think only about this customer, I will not make the pitch. On the other hand, if I think of only profitability, I will sell it. The question is whether we are building long term customer relationships or looking at short term gains. There has to be a balance,” Aabhinna shares.

Just before winding up the conversation, Aabhinna adds that it is extremely important to remember that CXOs are also role models for their respective company values. “We should always be on the alert for things that are going well or going poorly around us and look for things that need attention or recognition. There is no conflict if the intent is right,” he concludes.

Intent is everything. It is for leaders to break the silos in the service of customers, and rise above internal complexity. And it is in the interest of the company to see and manage the whole picture from the customer’s point of view.

By Ashwani Mishra

Ashwani Mishra is the Executive Editor at DynamicCIO.com and DynamicCISO.com. In his previous role he was the Editor at The Economic Times (ETCIO.com and ETCISO.in). He has around 17 years of experience in the IT Media space, and has also worked in senior editorial positions at The CTO Forum (now CIO & Leader), CXOtoday.com and UBM (Network Computing).

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