Notes from the MarTech Battlefront | CDP Summit 2022 (India)

  • August 16, 2022
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Lemnisk hosted a Customer Data Platform (CDP) In-Person Summit for the India region on June 15th, 2022 at Hotel Sofitel, Mumbai. The CDP Summit’s aim was to make enterprise marketers understand how they could create exceptional customer experiences using CDP-led hyper-personalization and increase their digital engagement and conversions. It comprised of two insightful panel discussions with leading industry leaders. This article focuses on the second panel discussion titled: Notes from the MarTech Battlefront.


The Panelist details are as follows:


  1. Gagan Singla, Managing Director – Digital Business, JM Financial
  2. Sandeep Gambhir, Head – Marketing & Digital, ICICI HFC
  3. Vadiraj Aralappanavar, Vice President Of Product Management, Acko


Panel 2 - Notes from the MarTech Battlefront | CDP Summit 2022 (India)


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Here are some of the key insights from the discussion:


Notes from the MarTech Battlefront


1. Is there a new normal or are things just going back to where it was before as far?


Sandeep Gambhir

Stakeholders such as customers, distributors, and employees have reacted differently to digital. There was definitely a search in adoption but I would say that a lot of them are moving back to their old ways. Employees have certainly embraced it and they continue well. I can also say that they really don’t have an option anymore because the moment you cut off the physical pipeline the only thing that is left for you to do is digital. So that’s where you’ll see the maximum adoption.


Also, a lot of impetus is on the organizations to make sure that all the platforms that you have created in that search that happened, you consolidate. Because now there are too many platforms for your employees your customers your distributors to deal with. Coming to customers, I think customer payment is one thing that looks very sticky which customers have accepted wholeheartedly. There are some other aspects of journeys whether it is onboarding, etc. I would say from a tier 2 perspective, things have gone back to where they were.


For distributors, it’s a mixed bag. Again in tier 2, there are some distributors who are still comfortable with the physical model. They would want to visit a branch, they would want to have a chat with your sales force. Hence, I would say that’s a mixed bag when it comes to the option of digital and staying back where it was post-COVID.


Gagan Singhla

I think it’s different for different customers and different businesses. Even though there are a lot of companies, these service providers had moved to digital and many have not. But the customer side was a challenge because they would always expect the service. Some of that has eased out in my view. 


The customer side has started now getting okay with online and so on. From the company side also, there is this divide. A certain set of people will say that physical will always remain and then a certain set will say the future is digital. So I think the percentage has drastically increased on the latter.


One thing I’d like to add is that certain things might remain physical forever. If you have to buy stuff that is to be experienced physically, that will not be digital fully. That part is also kind of getting set out. So actually the divide or the thing which is very grey now is kind of getting black and white. On the employee side, I think all of us know there is a lot of a divide there and it is there at all levels globally. 


Vadiraj Aralappanavar

As a D2C brand and an insurtech provider, consumers are getting comfortable with acquiring goods digitally. That gives Acko a good impetus from an insurance standpoint. I’m seeing a very interesting trend where I think once people have bought something, their whole customer experience and how you are engaging with them plays a very important role. We have seen that if they’re comfortable with that experience, then irrespective of whether physical or digital, it becomes a kind of experience that governs the whole transaction. So we are not seeing as much in terms of a huge difference. 


The demand over the last one and a half years has increased now. The effort is on our side to kind of keep that base demand up and then how do we make the experience better and more affordable? Hopefully, all D2C companies will have that way, it plays very differently for different segments, different contexts, and use cases.


2. How are you looking to combine data from various sources and what kind of things do you do? And specifically, have you adopted a CDP? If so, what’s been your experience regarding a CDP’s ability to do all of this, and any best practices you might want to share?


Sandeep Gambhir

I’ve been using a CDP for eight years or more. So that’s the answer basically if you want to stitch your data together and create a one view. In the insurance segment, while acquiring a customer seems easy (because ultimately we are offering loans), it’s not like insurance has to be a push sale here. So it’s easy to acquire a customer. 


But then thereafter, selling to a customer is a challenge. How do you make sure that the data is updated? Because after you acquire a customer, you really don’t have a relevant offer to make. So how do you keep updating that data in this kind of segment?


How do you make sure that you keep updating the data and keep going back to the customer in those small branches to collect new information about the customer which you can possibly use later to make a new sale? And all of this obviously cannot go in a data lake. It has to go in a CDP to be stitched together and make sense for a sale.


Vadiraj Aralappanavar

I would say the whole customer life cycle, one source of truth of the customer, and all of these concepts have been there for years. But I think over the last two years, what has become important is digital journeys and how you get all of that together and have one stream for decision-making and insights.


Talking about Acko, I have been spending significant time in the last 1 year to kind of see what all can be done with a CDP. And given that it touches upon the whole life cycle right from acquisition, retention, and activation, to the whole engagement and life cycle you can actually have CDP use cases cutting across.


I think insurtech is not as much as a sale that you can continuously engage and keep customers engaged every day or every week. It has a slightly more different context to it. Our whole journey started where I think the basic infrastructure has been there. The data lake, the data warehousing, and all those systems. 


Our first effort was to see where the whole data is flowing and we took customer acquisition especially on the buy side of things to see how we can stitch that together. As we see in the last six to eight months, I think we are progressing there. It’s a task that must be project managed across different work streams. 


I would say the real art of a CDP would lie in the long term. What level of prioritization would you do and how do you pull in all your teams as well to get all of this because no one team can possibly get everything? Each organization is structured in a different way and they will have different teams of marketing operations, technology products, and all. Take one stream on the buy side then try to crack that to get the metrics up and moving, see the success, and then move on to the next level of blocks.


Gagan Singhla

A pure online securities business does not have that many partners. The problem is completely opposite because the amount of data is unlimited. It is much faster than any other data in the world and therefore, at any point in time, the amount of signals we are getting is pretty large. 


Even the stickiness of customers is obvious if you are doing well as a company and if the customers are really active they will be on your platform every day. So every good stock market app has most of its active customers on the platform. So stickiness is not a problem but the problem is too much data and too many signals. 


The signals are too much both from your first-party data which is your customers’ continuous transactions, continuous browsing on your trading app, and enough signals from the outside. So the amount of data that gets produced both structured and unstructured for the economy and the markets is unlimited. The problem is completely different as compared to the rest of the financial services.


So for us, building a CDP is very different. We are building a CDP, not for acquisition. A lot of CDPs are used for acquisition in the industry because acquisition is the biggest cost. For us, it’s a different model as revenue is the biggest challenge. Hence, we are doing a mix of buying and building a CDP. We have our own team building a very complex CDP in my view because it is complex by nature for revenue not for acquisition. Our full focus is to look at a CDP from the perspective of building stickiness and review.


3. Any best practices or specific learnings you would like to share for people embarking on their data/martech journeys? What’s your one big takeaway?


Sandeep Gambhir

I think you need to do it in phases. Don’t try to take a bigger bite because there is so much data available. Start with obviously first-party data because that is the purest form of data that you have. Make sense of it first and then move into phases towards the other forms of data. I think we get lured by data. And then when you start to make sense of it, it becomes very very difficult. 


Vadiraj Aralappanavar

I think a CDP is a very powerful platform in terms of what it could do. Each business and company context will be different. So how much of it you can chew and how much you want to chew in each quarter is something that needs to be strategized. The second thing is that the scale at which you’re operating should define how you also do CDP and kind of implement that strategy.


The same thing which works for a 10 crore company will not work for a 500 crore company and it may not work for a thousand crore company. Some companies would have built a lot of in-house infrastructure. Therefore, when you start implementing a CDP strategy, one of the first things as a guideline and practice is to look at it holistically. 


A CDP acts as a nervous system for all different systems right from getting a single view of the customer to touching and integrating with a lot of other existing in-house or third-party products. Now the art there lies in not just stitching all of that. That will be the first part of it. The second part will be how do you actually take that and kind of feed it into the real insights and analytics that you want to derive?


That’s the real business outcome. That can happen only when you stitch it end-to-end and see how those analytics and insights can be drawn out of it and what are the efficiencies one can get by finally integrating into the fabric of the whole digital infrastructure. 



By Bijoy K.B | Senior Marketing Manager at Lemnisk


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