We are coding a new halo for digital world

Written by P P Thimmaya | Updated: Mar 31 2014, 08:19am hrs
The global IT outsourcing and offshoring industry is actively talking a new languageembracing technologies in the areas of cloud, mobility, social and analytics and companies are formulating their marketing strategies for this emerging digital world. Cognizant, the Nasdaq-listed $8.8 billion IT services company has embarked on its Code Halo digital marketing strategy to assist their customers in navigating into this emerging market opportunity. In a recent interaction, Malcolm Frank, executive vice presidentstrategy & marketing, Cognizant tells PP Thimmaya that companies that will make the transition to the next level are the ones which will listen very closely to what the digital economy is saying. Excerpts:

What is the Code Halo digital marketing strategy of Cognizant

One should view it in two perspectives from our customers. One is when they deal with their customers; they just do not want to deal with them just as a physical person but also want to deal with them online. Code halo is to do it in a highly individualised way as it creates a unique individual experience. For example, when one goes to Amazon website, there is an entire shopping history of individual preferences and most of our clients want to do that.

Second, our clients want to build the software that surrounds an individual product. If one also looks at Nike company, they are used to sell clothing, shoes and other accessories but now they are also selling things which measures movements of the body by putting sensors in the shoes which are connected online. In Code Halo strategy, we believe that there is a physical being but there is an individual who has a virtual presence and we are seeing our customer getting invested in these.

As digital strategies are early days, will this require thought leadership

We have to do thought leaderships. Today, customers are aware of digital strategies and want to know what steps are needed to get them there. Hopefully, in two years it is going to be different and customers are going to say what they want. Now it is more of an educational sale about how we can get there. We have seen a big shift in last four months as customers are now saying lets get this started.

The question is what is our message and how do we get it out there. We have to really listen and know what is going on in the marketplace. If the message is not working, kill it and move on. There has to be communications with the marketplace and if one is doing that properly then marketing is going to be pretty good. Markets have become conversation, if you are doing that properly, they are going to tell you. Customers are not bashful of telling what is not working for them. If you are really engaged in the conversation, then I think you are on the right path.

Are clients with long relationships adapting to this change

What they are looking for from firms like us is that they recognise that there is a big change and they need somebody who is going to change with them. The clients are looking for new catalysts, methodologies, pricing models, technologies, etc. that is what they looking for. Cognizant has traditionally grown with the customer first mentality and is very flexible. These values have served us well. Under Code Halo we have created a new architecture which is open, transparent and clients know how to engage with us.

Will marketing strategies keep pace with fast changing technologies

What is core to marketing are your values and they dont change. That is central. We need to externalise who we are and what is our philosophy of the business. When they work with us and they know what they can expect from us. From a client perspective there is inherent promise whether they work with IBM, Accenture, TCS,or Cognizant, they know what they are getting. We have our own personalities and values that clients know and trust. Marketing done well will define those values and externalise them.

Will the Indian IT industry make this shift to digital strategy

India is going to navigate this transition quite easily having gone from labour arbitrage to intellectual arbitrage. Lot of firms including Cognizant, have reached a level of customer intimacy and know what are their requirements. The industry built a level of institutional knowledge which will serve them well but not all the firms are going to get there. The best thing about India is that this industry has captured imagination of the entire generation. So the best and brightest come into this business, which is not the case in the West. India has to recognise that and there is an incredible level of talent that keeps coming into the industry. It is no longer labour arbitrage but intellectual arbitrage.