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As a part of a continuing series of interviews with industry opinion leaders, Origami Logic’s CMO, Steven Wastie, recently had a chance to talk with Mayur Gupta, the Senior Vice President of Digital at HealthGrades. This is the first installment of several with Mayur on the the role of data and the fundamentals of modern marketing:  

Steven Wastie: To start things off, I would like to get your perspective on the relationship between data and how that plays into different aspects of marketing, like design and a great customer experience.

The World of Marketing has Been Revolutionized

Mayur Gupta: It used to be all about great creatives, sexy looking ads and the X factor where everybody would say, “Look, I’m white and soft and strong,” or “I’m unique,” just like the other guy. Marketing has become a lot more relevant, a lot more measurable, where the CMO’s role is no longer just about communication and PR. It’s actually about driving business results, driving business growth, driving innovation, driving brand loyalty. Now, we don’t just talk about acquisition. Now marketing is responsible for maximizing the lifetime value of a customer; for creating new business models and ultimately driving top line growth.

Data plays a role in making all of this happen because without data, we go back to what it used to be. Data has provided the science behind the art that makes the overall experience more relevant, personalized and contextual to the human need. More advanced predictive models and cognitive analytics can allow brands to get the consumer what she needs before she knows she needs it. But there is an enormous gap between having data and having an ability to “apply” the data to deliver these immersive experiences that drive a behavioral change. That in itself is a journey.

The Right Application of the Data is the Challenge

The advancement in technology over the last many years has lead to an always connected and intrinsically digital world. This evolution included a radical shift in how we collect, store, manage, utilize and apply data. From the time when data and data storage was expensive, isolated and mostly structured to now where data and data storage is is cheap, it’s being generated every second and every touch-point in our lives, it’s unstructured, more connected and almost real time now.

Despite those big steps, we’re still struggling with the right “application” of data. Most organizations still lack the supply chain of data that transforms the data into information, insights and action on an on-going basis.

Most of us are still operating in what I call a data-dependent model and not necessarily a data-driven model, where data is driving your plan, your experiences, your strategies. We’re still looking at data in the rear view mirror and not leveraging data to look ahead. Successful organizations are the ones that have created an “always-on” system of engagement with data. They are “always-on” in terms of listening to the behavioral signals throughout the consumer journey, constantly understanding consumer behavior and consumer context and leveraging that context to determine the next best piece of content and communication. They are driving “always-on” testing and learning, always measuring, analyzing and optimizing. Don’t get me wrong, that is a LOT MORE WORK compared to just “reporting” on data. That’s why only a few are able to do it and make it a reality.  

5Cs of Modern Marketing

  • Consumer
  • Convergence
  • Context
  • Content
  • Commerce

I have this notion of the 5 C’s of modern marketing that is needed to deliver OmniChannel Seamless Consumer Experiences.

The first C is obviously the Consumer but not just in theory. This means everything you do is determined and influenced by consumer behavior that need to be changed and inspired as well as an understanding of the consumer need, both emotional and functional at any given point of time.

The second C is Convergence, at multiple levels. Convergence across data and breaking the data fragments and the data silos to really have a universal understanding of the consumer. Convergence across technologies to create a connected and integrated ecosystem. Convergence across experience planning; from planning by channel to planning through the consumer journey agnostic of channels. Lastly and most importantly, organizational convergence across the traditionally isolated functions of marketing, sales, technology and others as well as at a micro level within marketing itself where you are no longer organized by “channel” but rather horizontally across channels, aligning more closely to the business problems and consumer experiences that matter.

The third C is Context, which is how we leverage the data to eventually create and understand an individual’s context and using that context to inspire and influence every single piece of communication or Content, which is the fourth C. So when you use Context as the foundation for every single piece of Content, driving Commerce, or any kind of commercial behavior becomes an organic output. More often than not though, content is agnostic of the consumer’s context and does not inspire participation.  It is still mass communication where we are planning around broad segments. We need to evolve from personalization to contextualization since that drives relevance from a consumer standpoint. It is the fundamental ability to deliver the right experience to the right person at the right time. And none of this is possible without the right application of data.

Three Challenges to Address

Steven Wastie: So your contention is that it’s not a data issue. There’s a lot of data. It’s more of an insights issue and there is a widening gap between data and insights. What is holding marketers back in your mind, from being able to address that gap?

Mayur Gupta:

1) Within the supply chain of data, there are three broad areas where we are struggling. Like you said, there’s no dearth of data, and there’s no dearth of technologies either. Data storage is now cheap and easy, we are capturing and storing signals from every single touchpoint imaginable. However, more than the complexities of “big data”, our bigger challenge is “data fragmentation”. Our understanding of the consumer is broken and isolated by channels and touchpoints. One consumer is perhaps treated and managed as 10 distinct individuals, breaking her experience.

2) The second challenge is the pace at which insights are created. The pace at which data is transformed into insights that ultimately drive action. If it’s far too slow, consumers will be lost. In today’s world, the need for speed is much stronger than the desire for perfection. The modern consumer is making fast decisions. That behavior has almost redefined loyalty. Brands need to respond and engage consumers with the same agility and speed.  

3) The third piece where brands struggle within the data supply chain is even if you have the insight, what do you with that insight? The translation into content, the content curation, it’s a big gap. I come from a world where we made massive progress in transforming data into insight, but the process to take that insight and optimize the experience for the consumer took forever.


About Mayur Gupta, 
Senior Vice President of Digital at HealthGrades

A self starter, digital evangelist, marketing technologist and innovation thought leader, Mayur has more than 15 years of experience in leading digital transformation on both the agency side and the Fortune 100s. Before HealthGrades, Mayur was global head of marketing technology and innovation for Kimberly Clark, where he created and managed the global marketing technology group. He was responsible for building global digital capabilities and the marketing technology vision, strategy and roadmap. He successfully lead a number of breakthrough initiatives at Kimberly Clark, fundamentally transforming the culture and mindset towards the role that data and technology plays in driving consumer engagement and experiences; adopting cloud based technologies to gain agility and speed, introduced the notion of agile marketing as a fundamental model to go to market, the need for disruptive innovation across product, channel and promise as well as bringing concepts of data convergence, killing data silos and fragmentation, principles of big testing and big learning needed to drive connected, personalized and omni channel experiences.Earlier in his career, Mayur spent almost 13 years at SapientNitro and lead the largest production studio for the company for a number of years before becoming the marketing technology thought leader for one of the North American business units.

In 2014, Mayur was recognized as one of the “40 under 40” leading marketers in the industry by BrandInnovators and also received the CMO Programmatic Award by the CMOClub. Harvard Business Review (HBR) and the Economist profiled him as the model Chief Marketing Technologist in 2014. He sits on various Advisory Boards including the IBM’s CMO Council, BrandInnovators and Global MarTech Conferences besides being a mentor for a number of start-ups. He frequently writes for AdExchanger, The Economist and the CMOClub in addition to CMSWire; and has co-authored a number of e-books besides publishing on his own blog inspiremartech.com.