Agency versus consultantcy is the wrong focus: Nikki Mendonca, Global President, Accenture Interactive Operations | Interview

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Updated: November 1, 2019 10:07:24 AM

Success in today’s digital-first world depends on a marketing organisation’s ability to create and activate hyper-relevant, data-driven and omnichannel customer experiences, says Nikki Mendonca.

Nikki Mendonça, accentureNikki Mendonça

Accenture launched the India hub of its marketing arm Accenture Interactive Operations in September. Nikki Mendonça interacts with Venkata Susmita Biswas about the role of its India hub, the changing marketing paradigm, and the need for data, insights and technology to make marketing effective. Edited excerpts:

What will be the function of the experience activation network hub in Mumbai?

Accenture Interactive Operations will bring together six state-of-the-art sites worldwide dedicated to powering brand experiences that deliver marketing-led growth. Mumbai will serve as the centrepiece of the entire network. As part of the investment, Accenture expects to add a few hundred marketing activation roles to Mumbai, where we currently serve leading brands from more than 75 countries. We’ll continue partnering with clients including GlaxoSmithKline, Radisson Hotel Group, Shell and more, to drive experience-led growth.

What gives consultancies an edge over advertising agencies?

More and more clients are looking to design new, more effective and efficient marketing operating models — leveraging in-house, hybrid and full outsourcing to give them a competitive edge. It is not about agency versus consultancy; that is the wrong focus. Success in today’s digital-first world depends on a marketing organisation’s ability to create and activate hyper-relevant, data-driven and omnichannel customer experiences.

Whether the creative is delivered in-house or by an outside agency, our differentiator lies in that next step of bringing the idea to life. We help clients deliver hyper-relevant experiences seamlessly and efficiently with agile operating models to adapt to evolving market drivers.

To deliver the best results, you must have robust data, the ability to derive insights, the latest technology and expertly managed marketing operations powered by a human-machine model that provides unrivalled speed and agility to scale globally. We leverage all of these to help leading brands transform their experiences across the entire journey for a customer, employee, patient or citizen.

Advertising agencies are often bogged down by requests of reducing the cost of marketing. How do you tackle that?

Increasingly, brands are looking at how to make the marketing engine more efficient and agile through a blend of in-house and outsourced capabilities. Companies are looking to ensure that their best ideas can be applied quickly at scale every time.

We help our clients leverage marketing as an investment by helping them reinvent marketing operations through technology, talent and industrialised business practices to deliver the agility and scale needed for better business outcomes.

The advertising fraternity believes that its understanding of the consumer and creative storytelling give it an edge over consultancies such as yours. Your thoughts…

With marketing commanding a significant portion of the business budget, there is an even greater demand on CMOs to demonstrate positive returns. As per an Accenture study, only a small cohort of CMOs (around 17%) today deliver hyper-relevant experiences at scale. Those CMOs that are leading the way with innovative methods generate shareholder returns 11% higher than those of their industry peers. We believe in applying both creativity and science toward the shared goal of sustained, marketing-led growth.

You lived the agency life until 2017; what prompted the move to Accenture?

I was particularly excited by the opportunity to reinvent the legacy marketing supply chain, leveraging the operational excellence Accenture has already honed in back-office functions, such as finance and inventory management, to add more control, trust and transparency to marketing operations. It’s a clear, new and much-needed differentiator that clients are looking for in this increasingly complex, multi-touchpoint landscape. In this role, I have the opportunity to make a significant change in the efficiency and effectiveness of how marketing is being done today.

What are the new cardinal rules of marketing in today’s evolving digital paradigm?

The customer experience today begins long before a shopper enters a store or visits a brand’s website or app. Companies need to understand how to use digital platforms to amplify and customise the experiences they provide to customers.

We expect traditional advertising spend to continue to decline in lieu of digital platforms that can reach our target audience where they spend most of their time. Marketers are also able to hyper-target and leverage insights on how to attract, retain and grow customers due to the increasing amount of data available.

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