The traditional methods of understanding and reaching out to consumers will continue to be relevant in India despite the increasing dependence on real-time data and artificial intelligence, said top marketers and industry representatives at a high-powered panel discussion, ‘Date with Data’, organised by WPP India.
The panel, which talked about ‘Decoding the consumer — Fundamentals to future’, included Pablo Gomez, Head of Media APAC, Kantar Analytics, Siddharth Banerjee of Vodafone, Tushar Vyas of Group M and Shuvadip Banerjee, Vice President of Marketing Services, ITC Limited.
The panel discussed how to understand consumers better through research and analytics and advancements in insights. Diving into the capabilities and evolution of data, data dichotomy and its landscape, the panellists discussed how to re-shape business using data.
To understand the transformation of the Indian marketing industry with the evolving and growing data, and how the data collection has been transforming, Siddharth Banerjee, Executive Vice-President of Brand and Marketing, Vodafone, said, “Earlier, it used to take months to collect and directly engage with the customers. Today, the data signals allow us to pick real-time engagement and richer signals. Data is used to supplement as a powerful incisive tool for our judgements. Machine Learning and neuro world doesn’t take away the first-hand experiences and engagement with the customers.”
As the discussion dived into future of data through Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence enhancements questioning whether we are moving away from human insights and judgements, Tushar Vyas, Chief Strategy Officer, GroupM South Asia responded, “The whole purpose of AI is to remove iterations and make decisions faster.” Shuvadip Banerjee of ITC said, “It’s important to use computational method for better results. I don’t think traditional methods are going to die. In the Indian market, everything co-exists.”
When asked by Pablo how to manage the technologies of data sources, as the sources vary, Siddharth said, “Today companies are building their own data centres. As the saying goes, ‘Owned is better than rented’, similarly the whole world is evolving with the team of data scientists. A whole ecosystem of talent is building up. Also, the expenses to put these infrastructures are cutting down as data can be harnessed on the cloud. Then there is third-party data with different models, which are serious about harnessing data. Huge cases of DMP (data management platform) built on a daily basis are trying to build together a composite picture.”
On data privacy and breaches, Shuvadip said, “With cases like Cambridge Analytica, there is constant buzz in the trends. We have GDPR evolving in EU. India is working towards the draft bill. We need to understand how things would evolve with such clauses. We need to see how much of the first party data can some of the clauses have. If this comes into play, many of the insights of customers might not reach to us. As a marketer, in ITC we want to know the insights. We don’t know customers directly. Question is would they allow us to read their behavioural patterns?”
Siddharth continued, “As business people, it is important to understand the way we want to harness the data. The era of World Wide West is over, you have legislations. More legislation is required for enriched data to build confidence in customers. Today, data is harnessed via social media for free, tomorrow that might be monetised. Future models have to evolve perhaps with more transparency than ever before.”
On losing the quality of data for data in real time, marketers how data enhances profit and adds value though judgements and insights built over the years. So there is no need for a jump, without any correlation with marketing objectives.