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AiThority Interview with Darshan Shankavaram, EVP and Global Head of DCX at Capgemini

AiThority Interview with Darshan Shankavaram, EVP of Digital Customer Experiences at Capgemini

Hi, Darshan. Please tell us about your current role and the team / technology you handle in the company.

I joined Capgemini in 2013 as Vice President & Global Deputy of Mobile Solutions Service Line. Since then, I’ve had several responsibilities in Technology areas, including Global Digital CoE Leader and DCX India Leader. At present, I am Executive Vice President and the Leader of Global Digital Customer Experience Practice. In this role, I’m globally responsible for overseeing, building and delivering Capgemini’s Digital Customer Experience portfolio, in the domains of marketing, sales, service, commerce and front-end.

I have a deep technology background, and retain a couple of patents in mobile commerce against my name. I have over 27 years of industry experience, with more than 10 years of experience within digital and mobile domains. In my tenure at Capgemini, I have been able to leverage my tech knowledge with industry/domain exposure, to build large scale practices in niche and specialist technology, delivering value at scale for our clients.

What is Capgemini’s greatest achievement during the pandemic phase? How did you associate yourself with this movement?

The pandemic has taught organizations across the globe several lessons about resilience and business agility. With lockdowns and hygiene concerns, more and more people have turned online to discover and explore new products and services. Because there is so much out there, it can be hard for brands to cut through the noise and to retain customer loyalty, as they switch from product to product in search of something new and interesting.

We help brands to create signature moments – unforgettable customer interactions that boost brand affinity and keep customers coming back from more. Direct to Consumer (D2C) has seen tremendous acceleration during this time and we have helped several brands go online, directly selling to their customers. Another area, where this is becoming more prominent is Conversational interfaces. We know that 77% of customers expect to use more touchless technologies to avoid physical contact during the pandemic and beyond. This is a great opportunity for our clients.

Some of our clients have adapted quickly to the situation, and as such have seen a tremendous surge in their topline, and some have revamped their sales and marketing channels – we are proud to be their partners as they make significant shifts in their business.

Also read: AiThority Interview with Jonathan Yaffe, CEO and Co-Founder at AnyRoad

What is the most contemporary definition of Customer Experience marketing platform that you use to differentiate solutions and services at Capgemini?

As a result of rapid digital transformation, marketing and IT teams face big challenges today, including managing complexity, reducing time to market, and being accountable for growth. Our approach helps organizations build the Connected Marketing platform they need to overcome these challenges.

Our suite of end-to-end Connected Marketing capabilities and services enables organizations to respond effectively to the new era of marketing with a differentiating customer experience.

Marketing teams must longer work in siloes. Through our Connected Marketing offer, we empower our clients to customer obsession by delivering contextual, personalized experiences to all their customers, known and unknown. Using real-time data, supported by creative content, faster processes and the right marketing technology, we ensure our clients are just as quick as the customers who are engaging with them.

Could you tell us more about Capgemini’s Connected Marketing solutions and how it could accelerate digital transformation for various Business processes?

Connected Marketing is the orchestration of every element of the end-to-end marketing value chain, embracing both traditional and digital media. It’s about managing every facet of customer data that is created and stored, in real-time, to create meaningful insights that drive brand success.

There are so many interactions and conjunctions today. For example, the line between sales and marketing are blurring because marketing outcomes are becoming measurable. This complexity and convergence can be overwhelming for CMOs to extract valuable insights from. We believe that the way forward is a Connected Marketing model, focused on the end-to-end ecosystem. MarTech is the differentiating pillar that underpins this approach: delivering an enhanced value proposition across the entire customer lifecycle and for all domains of customer experience management. It empowers our clients. Gartner research reveals that by 2022, CMOs who utilize 70% of their MarTech stack’s capabilities will achieve 20% better marketing ROI than peers.

Our offer is based on a framework that brings everything together: from data capture systems, automation capabilities, social media monitoring and content management, to data storage and data activation. It is based on five principles: Personalization, Relevance, Brand Driven, Responsiveness and At.scale.

How do you measure the performance of your customer’s platform adoption?

Measuring a return on investment is important for attributing profit and revenue growth to marketing activities, and to continuously evaluate the impact of marketing initiatives and give insights which can improve budget allocation.

Through our Connected Marketing ecosystem, we help businesses with everything from business-driven design, through to the set-up of the technical foundation, to the implementation of tools such as advanced dashboards and predictive analytics. We implement toolkits to better structure the marketing budget across channels and measure related effectiveness. Our advanced dashboards and predictive analytics support effective decision making and the continuous optimization of marketing investments.

Also read: AiThority Interview with Carole McCluskey, Chief Customer Officer at Tealium

Tell us about your ambitions for the AI ML market in 2021.

Artificial intelligence has already cemented itself as a key part of the customer experience. Now, we are seeing organizations expanding how they use it, with a focus on creating empathetic and contextualized interactions, particularly in consumer-focused sectors like retail, automotive and telecom. We know that 64% of consumers want AI to be more human-like and 62% feel comfortable with human-like voice and intellect, like the ability to hold a sensible conversation, respond to follow up questions and contribute additional information.

Until now, many organizations have been focused on low hanging fruits when it comes to AI deployments for customer interactions, like predicting behavior patterns and customer data analysis. While still an important use, there is a huge opportunity for organizations to boost the bottom line by improving customer reactions and bringing AI to the fore. Organizations are realizing this, so we should see progress in how AI interacts with customers. The result will be interactions with real-time personalization, greater contextualized empathy, making for a better customer experience for the end user.

Tell us more about the concept “Hyper Automation” in Marketing and Sales technologies. What kind of organizational foundation should a company have to adapt to hyper-automated environment?

Digitalization has opened the door for hyper automation in marketing at scale, as consumers readily share their personal data online and through social media.

As a result, businesses are looking to use automation to go beyond personalization. They are thinking contextually, trying to frame their touch points around each stage of the purchasing journey. This is achieved by using marketing technology to understand what customers want, why they want it, and what they intend to do next.

While this sounds excellent in theory, many marketing teams still rely on traditional marketing ecosystems. It’s therefore impossible for them to use hyper-automation to its full potential, as data is often siloed across different teams and geographies. There is a mix of company-owned, second- and third-party data, which must be brought together to provide a 360-degree view of the customer. Customer Data Platforms (CDP) are being extensively leveraged to bring customer data together, in one place, with a common view.

To create the right foundation and take advantage of this opportunity, what’s needed is a transformation across the entire marketing value chain, from profiling by data enrichment, to context-driven omnichannel communication using AI-driven predictions.

Your take on Low-code software development technologies?

It is easier than ever to construct applications without huge coding efforts. Low-code and no-code platforms can be a great tool for building next-generation application services. The secret is in powerful, AI-enabled tools that leverage API catalogs, prebuilt templates and automation to the fullest extent. Enterprises need to ensure that the applications are secure, built quickly and with high quality.

Your prediction on the future of customer experience transformation using Cloud / SaaS platforms

Customer Data is becoming increasingly central to CX transformation. The thread that holds customer interactions across the domains of Sales, Service, Marketing and Commerce is data. With the arrival of CDP, we can begin to imagine the quicker implementations of the customer journey, with industry specific templates. Ofcourse there will be some tweaks needed as per brands needs and other adaptations. Think of entire implementation of CX transformation on Low-code! With the entry of Cloud hyperscalers into the CX domain, all this is being accelerated.

Any advice to every CEO / CMO looking to improve digital transformation models for their company

Real-time communication between brands and customers has arrived. Marketers need to focus on managing each customer’s individual journey with the brand – in context. That’s why adopting an ecosystem approach to marketing is so important. It breaks down organizational silos to ensure previously disparate teams, functions and agencies can deliver a relevant brand experience that is the same at every customer touchpoint.

For CMOs and their teams, this is a time of experimentation and innovation. Marketing is becoming a digital function and every organization is increasingly becoming a Tech company. For success, CMOs must embrace their role as orchestrators of innovation and growth, and collaborate across functions.

Also read: AiThority Interview with Jen Jones, Chief Marketing Officer at Dataminr

Thank you, Darshan! That was fun and we hope to see you back on soon.

Darshan Shankavaram is a EVP and Global Head of DCX at Capgemini

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Capgemini is a global leader in partnering with companies to transform and manage their business by harnessing the power of technology. The Group is guided everyday by its purpose of unleashing human energy through technology for an inclusive and sustainable future. It is a responsible and diverse organization of 270,000 team members in nearly 50 countries. With its strong 50 year heritage and deep industry expertise, Capgemini is trusted by its clients to address the entire breadth of their business needs, from strategy and design to operations, fueled by the fast evolving and innovative world of cloud, data, AI, connectivity, software, digital engineering and platforms.

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