[Posted by , Senior Mar­ket­ing Man­ager, Neolane, Inc.]

Suresh Vittal, Chief Product Officer, NeolaneNeolane rocked the mar­ket­ing tech­nol­ogy indus­try today, announc­ing that Suresh Vit­tal has joined the com­pany in the newly cre­ated role of Chief Prod­uct Offi­cer.  One of the fore­most thought lead­ers in the mar­ket­ing tech­nol­ogy space, Suresh has spent the last six years build­ing the Cus­tomer Intel­li­gence prac­tice at For­rester Research.  His research agenda focused on enter­prise mar­ket­ing tech­nolo­gies, data­base mar­ket­ing strate­gies, and cus­tomer ana­lyt­ics, so he brings to Neolane an acute under­stand­ing of the needs of mar­keters, as well as how the cur­rent tech­nol­ogy land­scape is equipped to address them.

Curi­ous to learn more about why he made the move to Neolane, what his role will entail, and what trends he sees impact­ing the mar­ket in 2013, we caught up with Suresh in this video Q&A.  We’ve also pro­vided the full tran­script below.

Video Tran­script

Q: You had a suc­cess­ful run at For­rester.  What made you decide to come to Neolane?

I had an amaz­ing six-plus years at For­rester, and I knew that I was only going to ever move for the right oppor­tu­nity at the right time.  Neolane was absolutely the best oppor­tu­nity for me.  Here’s why.  Neolane is com­mit­ted to trans­for­ma­tion of mar­ket­ing through tech­nol­ogy.  For those of you who read my research, I have a great deal of pas­sion for this topic.  Sec­ondly, I would say Neolane – the found­ing team, the employ­ees, the entire orga­ni­za­tion – was com­mit­ted to prod­uct inno­va­tion and look­ing at new ways to deliver con­sum­able tech­nol­ogy to mar­keters.  I’m very excited by that vision, and this made a great time for me to join Neolane and enable this transformation.

Q: Tell us about your role as Neolane’s Chief Prod­uct Offi­cer.  In addi­tion to job respon­si­bil­i­ties, what are your pri­or­i­ties com­ing out of the gate?

As Neolane’s Chief Prod­uct Offi­cer, I am empow­ered to do two spe­cific things.  Firstly, I want to accel­er­ate the prod­uct roadmap and inno­va­tion across Neolane’s prod­ucts and the mar­ket.  Sec­ondly, I want to work with mar­keters of all shapes and sizes to help edu­cate them on the use of con­ver­sa­tional mar­ket­ing tech­niques, and on the use of mar­ket­ing tech­nol­ogy to make them more effec­tive at their jobs.  Neolane has always had a track record of being inno­v­a­tive when it comes to deliv­er­ing cloud-based tech­nolo­gies.  My job will be to accel­er­ate that inno­va­tion.  We’re work­ing off one very sim­ply premise: mar­keters are oper­at­ing in a dig­i­tal world.  This requires dif­fer­ent tech­niques, dif­fer­ent tac­tics, dif­fer­ent tech­nolo­gies, and dif­fer­ent skills.  As an orga­ni­za­tion, I want us to be able to pro­vide solu­tions that meet that need of oper­at­ing in a dig­i­tal world.

Q: Neolane talks a lot about “con­ver­sa­tional mar­ket­ing.”  As some­one new to the orga­ni­za­tion, how do you define the term? 

For me, the def­i­n­i­tion of con­ver­sa­tional mar­ket­ing is as it sounds: pro­vid­ing mar­keters with the tools to enable them to have a con­ver­sa­tion, a con­ver­sa­tion with their cus­tomers across chan­nels, across media, across goals.  Put very sim­ply, if you were at a cock­tail party and walk­ing around the room hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with the dif­fer­ent peo­ple there, you would not go at them blast­ing mes­sages or just ran­domly mak­ing val­ued state­ments directed at them.  You would have a con­ver­sa­tion with them.  You would get to know them a lit­tle bet­ter.  You would remem­ber what they told you. You would actively lis­ten.  You would tai­lor your mes­sage to inter­est them and pro­long the con­ver­sa­tion.  That’s our goal here.  With con­ver­sa­tional mar­ket­ing, it’s about hav­ing a life­time of con­ver­sa­tions with your cus­tomers.  To do that well, you need to have access to data, you need to be able to tai­lor the mes­sage to their need, and you need to be in con­text.  You don’t want to be shout­ing at them; you don’t want to be doing this in a batch-based man­ner; and you cer­tainly don’t want to be doing this with­out respect­ing their pri­vacy and their preferences.

Q: What trends are you see­ing that will impact mar­ket­ing tech­nol­ogy in 2013 and beyond?

For me, the ulti­mate trend really starts with the dig­i­tal­iza­tion of every­thing.  Dig­i­tal is preva­lent across chan­nels, across media and that’s really cre­at­ing a cou­ple of follow-up trends.  One of them is this cus­tomer base that’s becom­ing increas­ingly activist.  An activist cus­tomer base does two things: they have access to near-perfect infor­ma­tion and they have a lot of clout and they’re not afraid to use it.  The other thing that hap­pens with dig­i­tal­iza­tion of media and dig­i­tal­iza­tion of chan­nels and prod­uct is that you have com­peti­tors com­ing out of nowhere.  You have com­peti­tors that don’t really fol­low the five forces that Porter has described in his sem­i­nal strat­egy work.  You have com­peti­tors who can move cheaper, faster, bet­ter than you can.  Now, these trends com­bine to make mar­ket­ing very, very inter­est­ing today.  You have to obvi­ously cater to a cus­tomer base that knows more about your prod­ucts than you do, and they’re not afraid to pub­lish in real time, so you have to be able to react to their needs, their demands and be true to the brand that you represent.

In addi­tion, you also need to be able to use this data that’s pro­duced out of their dig­i­tal foot­prints, use this data (and some peo­ple refer to this as big data) but use this data to tai­lor con­ver­sa­tions, tai­lor mes­sages, tai­lor prod­ucts, tai­lor offers to their spe­cific needs.  And you need to be able to do all of this in real time because batch-based com­mu­ni­ca­tions just don’t work with a real-time cus­tomer.  And you need to be able to do this in con­text; you need to be able to do this when they’re shop­ping or when they’re in the act of doing some­thing.  And that would mean being able to deliver it in mobile, in email, in social—across a plethora of chan­nels.  To me, those are the big trends: the big data trend, the dig­i­tal­iza­tion trend, and an empow­ered cus­tomer trend that’s really chang­ing marketing.

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  1. […] mar­ket­ing tech­nol­ogy provider Neolane today announced that Suresh Vit­tal (pic­tured) has joined the com­pany in the newly cre­ated role of Chief Product […]

  2. […] early April, I had the oppor­tu­nity to attend a pre­sen­ta­tion given by Suresh Vit­tal, Chief Prod­uct Offi­cer of Neolane, on the topic of “Mar­ket­ing to Perpetually-Connected Customers: […]

  3. […] Q&A with Suresh Vit­tal, Neolane’s New Chief Prod­uct Offi­cer (neolane​.com) […]