Spend increases but the skills gap remains: the state of martech in India

The Drum 08 Apr 2020 08:11
India presents an exciting landscape and market for brands and marketers with increasing government support.

80% of Indian marketers expect to raise their marketing technology (martech) spends over the next few years but a lack of expertise to operate the technology may hinder growth, according to The India Martech Report 2020.

In India, there is increasing spend on technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning to support digital campaigns. Marketers in India are at the dawn of full-funnel thinking claims Smita Salgaonkar, the country manager for India at S4 Capital’s MightyHive. For the longest time, low-cost performance media drove easy gains and easy wins until the performance marketplace got cluttered and costs per acquisition reached a ceiling.

“That is when the need for full-funnel thinking, great creative and meaningful personalised positioning for every customer started gaining attention and favour,” Salgaonkar tells The Drum.

Vaibhav Odhekar, managing director of India and the Middle East at AnyMind Group agrees, and points out it is very crucial for marketers to stay abreast of the latest industry trends and tools for customer acquisition and engagement.

There's been support for such spend from the government. The Digital India initiative launched in 2015, throwing up significant widespread opportunities. Neeraj Mohan Sharma, the general manager for India at Nativex suggests marketers also have to work to improve brand affinity, awareness and sales.

“Through these tools, marketers will also find it more efficient to gather and analyse consumer and marketing insights that can better guide brand offerings.”

Despite the increasing of martech spends in India, the report found 64% of marketers seeing a lack of internal skills as a hurdle to martech growth.

He says India is no different and given the scale of organisations, layers and people in the country, it is a larger problem to deal with and must be broken down into specific roles and domains or even projects.

“There are those with massive budgets with a scarcity of knowledge and thus the need to have skilled people or training and development in those domains to be done. India Inc has seen in the last few years a lot of the teams being even sent to foreign universities and training courses with technology partners to come up to speed.”

“Each department needs to understand the utility of digital and data in their lives. They need assistance in designing their own vision of what they want and align it with the organisation’s vision. Thereafter, with the right access and guidance on action, everyone starts to participate,” she adds.

Agreeing, Sharma adds driving growth for the business will require all business units in the organisation to understand how data informs all decisions and in turn, to understand how martech can better harness this data to create actionable insights that help market the company and its offerings better.

Wary of emerging tech

This is because wearables are expensive, have a small screen, limited interactivity and an even smaller user base, explains Salgaonkar. She notes voice promises exclusive reach at scale and applies very selectively to complex, feature-rich products and services like insurance or education. That means voice marketers, like everyone else, follow the technology adoption curve.

Odhekar does not think it is an India specific problem but has to do more with human tendencies, which are universal. For any technology or medium to be an effective marketing platform, he notes it has to cross a threshold in terms of users.

“Marketers need to be sure that there are sufficient users on a platform and the communication medium and means to reach them are suited to the user journey. The usage of technology in all aspects of life in India is ubiquitous and very few countries see such percolation and innovation for a variety of use cases. We have led brave tech.”

However, these technologies have come at a higher premium price, which then necessitates careful considerations before making the choice to invest - exacerbated by bigger scrutiny by CFOs on marketing spend amid tighter budgets.

Business results are driving marketers’ martech decisions

What education and exposure, have changed though is the nature and timing of the outcomes, she continues, and a first, businesses expected marketing to create transactions immediately.

India also has always had a very high rate of tech adoption, along with the confluence of creativity with innovation because the country has evolved as a market for solutions that go out to other countries. The sensitizations on emerging technologies have helped and people have also understood the role of a creative technologist very well here.

When adopting three classical lenses to look at martech - planning, execution and measurement, execution in India is never a challenge given an abundance of capable talent with demand not requiring automation as an always-on capability.

Pre-Covid-19, planning and execution were the front and centre for chief marketing officers, where budget deployment and utilisation was key to support a full-funnel.

Read the full report here.

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IndiaSalgaonkarOdhekarblockchainSmita Salgaonkar
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