AiThority Interview with Dario Debarbieri, Head of Marketing at HCL Software
Hi Dario, welcome to AiThority interview series. Please tell us about your journey in Marketing and how you arrived at HCL Software?
Thanks. It’s great to be with you. I started my Marketing career back in 1994 at a financial firm before moving to IBM where I worked in Marketing, Sales and Strategy positions for over 25 years. I really found a home at IBM and grew into my own in the tech field. I find tech so interesting because it can support literally every industry. I sometimes feel like I work in every industry because I get to touch businesses from government to hospitality to financial services—and everything in between.
In June of 2020 HCL Software invited me to join their team, which was in a massive growing mode, and I came over to be a part of this very dynamic and people centric organization.
Can you tell us about your vision for HCL Software?
Well, I believe the digital economy is going to take on the majority of investment in the next 10 years and the exponential growth of data, digital transformation, security and AI/IA efforts in companies will drive their business agenda across all industries. At HCL Software, I see us delivering the platforms and digital capabilities our customers need to be nimble, effective and secure in this new digital economy.
My vision for HCL Software is to be seen as the secure digital partner that removes obstacles, quickly, delivers new capabilities, and solves the most difficult digital challenges for our clients. A true digital partner if you will. We are doing this now with our Cloud Native platforms that allow customers huge latitude in where and how clients host their software but also in that we are extremely open platforms that have some of the best integration in the marketplace. We are helping our clients make sense of their current tech stacks as they continue to focus on the digitization of our entire economy.
What does the future hold for HCL Software that is different from the past?
We are a young software company growing at a very fast pace. Over the last 5 years we accelerated our development and partnerships and today we work with most of the largest business companies in the world. The future is that we continue to be front and center on the software stage and grow even further. Our current software portfolio will continue to grow and we will continue to develop our platforms leveraging client partnerships to prioritize functionality and capability releases.
Boiling that down, innovation, product engineering and dedication to our employees and clients will drive the new HCL Software accelerated growth. Matching this with an incredible highly skilled, and global, workforce, our products will be strategically aligned with the future of the digital economy.
How did the pandemic years influence your marketing strategy for the future? What did you learn during Covid that you can apply moving forward?
During COVID we went nearly 100% digital in many of our business processes and we saw business shift in interesting ways. The way businesses communicated with their clients shifted into channels that were sometimes not ready to handle such a focused workload. In marketing we saw events & conferences scramble to find an all-digital identity while sales processes and information sharing became reliant entirely on the web, in many instances. There were a lot of lessons that happened during this shift but there are two I will highlight here. First, consumers will flow to the channels they have available to them for the information, products and services they need or want. Secondly, we at HCL Software can help businesses compete regardless of the market disruptions we face. We helped companies stand up mobile apps literally overnight. We helped clients change their outreach strategies to go completely digital in a matter of days and weeks. We helped clients with their endpoint management on an exponential scale as workers became remote literally overnight. It was incredible. We learned a lot about what we were capable of and those amazing capabilities are now becoming central themes in our go-to-market strategy for the future.
Please tell us about your martech stack and the tools and platforms you use for Marketing automation, Customer experience management and social media marketing.
Well, we believe in putting our money where our mouth is. We leverage our own software wherever possible because we believe it is the best software on the market. HCL Unica leads our marketing automation, campaign planning, execution and tracking customer behaviors. Our customer journey capabilities allow us to create, execute, and track and tweak curated customer journeys in real time so we always know what campaigns are working well and what needs adjustment. We always want our customers to be as excited as we are about our products and this is reflected in our NPS scores that are consistently high across our portfolio.
Digital transformation is a buzzword today. Marketing teams are rallying as leaders to digitally transform every aspect of their operations. How do you envision a digital transformation strategy for your marketing team at HCL Software?
I believe all CMOs need to transform digitally and urgently to not be left behind. Technology is evolving at a speed that is near impossible to keep up with and the effort to do so is always at or near the top of the “hardest things for a CMO to do” list. For me, digital transformation starts at “home” and, as I mentioned earlier, we use our own technologies because of the development efforts we put behind all of them. We are constantly upgrading capabilities and adopting new tools to ensure our team is an example for transformation and that is also part of the company-wide strategy HCL has in motion.
Could you please tell us a little bit about your plans to increase global awareness of the HCL Software brand? Which markets and industries are you targeting to grow the footprint of your global business?
HCL Software is such a dynamic brand and we need to do more to make it a household name. So, we started a massive brand awareness effort in the last month and have some really cool activations coming up. We are aggressively moving to global platforms, both physical and digital, that will allow us to bring massive brand recognition to HCL Software moving forward. Sports is a key industry for us because of our abilities around real time customer engagement and the data capabilities from HCL Software. It’s also just a ton of fun engaging the passion of today’s sports fans, can now get engaged like they haven’t been able to for a while now. Keep an eye out because there is a lot coming in the next year.
You recently partnered with The European Cricket Championship. Please elaborate on this unique partnership and how HCL Software plans to consolidate its position in the global sports scenario.
Yes, this is a great initiative and partnership for us. We partnered with the European Cricket Network as a sponsor of the championship tournament in Spain. ECN is looking to bring cricket mainstream to the European market and we are helping them with data analytics of matches, players and the tournament as a whole. We have a site, crickethon.com, that allows fans to engage with this data in the form of questions and a contest to develop fan tools around the tournament data.
Beyond the tournament, ECN is leveraging HCL Unica as their primary fan communication tool. They are using our marketing automation to acquire and engage their millions of fans through digital communications and offers. So far it is working amazingly and we were able to get ECN up and running in under two months. That is an incredible installation timeframe.
HCL Software was recently recognized by Gartner in the Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce. How did you achieve this feat?
When HCL acquired Commerce 3 years ago, we basically started from scratch in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. We started by sharing with the analysts our strategy to build a cloud-native unified commerce platform that could be deployed anywhere and could scale and perform to meet the new demands of a digital-first era. Then we grew our engineering teams by nearly 800% so that we could quickly deliver key new capabilities like Intelligent Search with AI/ML, native Marketplaces that comes with the platform at no cost. Add to that, a low code platform for building storefronts and mobile experiences easily. This has translated into loyal customers who have seen their digital revenues increase and a growing customer base.
What is the future of Digital Commerce technology? What role do you foresee for Unica software in improving ROI derived from digital commerce platforms?
We are entering a new phase in digital transformation that will be driven by Web 3.0 and 5G. New digital experiences and virtual worlds like the Metaverse will require new immersive capabilities and new interfaces to take full advantage of the opportunity that is forecast at more than $20T by 2030. Some of our more innovative customers are already using HCL Commerce to sell in the Metaverse.
This is only the start. Marketing platforms like Unica, that are tightly integrated with customer experience solutions across the customer journey, that can deliver omnichannel experiences to customers when and where they want to engage, will help organizations sell more.
Any advice to every Marketing professional looking to grow their portfolio of digital commerce technology in their organization:
Think Data. Think Customer Experience, Think Security, Think AI and most importantly learn every day and gain control of the 4P’s
With customer privacy regulations globally continuing to evolve, marketers need to think about how they get more from their first-party data, which is probably locked up in silos across their marketing stack and their organization. As more sales and engagement shifts to digital, everyone will be competing based on their customer experience. Look for Customer Data Platforms that are designed to securely and intelligently unlock the value of data in real-time to deliver contextual, highly personalized experiences.
Any event/ webinar or podcasts that you follow and would like to be part of:
I follow a number of series but the ones I like the most really urge me to question the status quo and the norms that I sometimes hold on to tighter than I should. Tech is such an evolving space and I need to remember that advanced capabilities today become table stakes tomorrow. What am I doing to be a thought leader and how am I inspiring my teams to do the same? How can I think differently to find strategic advantages or overcome challenges in our marketing efforts? These are the kinds of speakers that I like to spend time with.
Thank you, Dario! That was fun and we hope to see you back on AiThority.com soon.
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HCL Software is a division of HCL Technologies (HCL) that operates in Software products and SaaS. It develops, markets, sells, and supports over thirty product families in the areas of Customer Experience, Digital Solutions, Secure DevOps, Security & Automation.
HCL Software has offices and labs around the world to serve thousands of customers. Its mission is to drive ultimate customer success with their IT investments through relentless innovation of its products.