Bangladesh Brand Forum is organizing the Digital Marketing Summit 2014 in Dhaka on September 20, 2014, where Manan Mehta, SVP & Head of Business in India, Razorfish India, is going to deliver a keynote speech. Manan is a veteran in the creative industry with vast experience in both on and offline marketing. WebAble Digital is the social media partner of the summit. After an insightful interview with Micheal Leander last week, we reached out to Manan with a request to share his thoughts ahead of the summit.

1. What drove you to specialize in digital marketing?
I have been in the agency business throughout my career. The most fascinating part about being in the agency business is to get the opportunity to understand consumer behavior across different categories.

I get excited with new ideas and approaches to do the same old things. I switched to digital marketing because I believe digital is the way forward for businesses and that’s where the new breed of consumer is.

2. From your experience, how does Southeast Asians’ online behavior differ from that of the Western audience?
I think the biggest difference that stands out is the pace at which the consumers are adapting to digital in this region. Social platforms like Facebook have seen unprecedented penetration in countries like the Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia compared to the Western markets.

The behavior is very different and driven by native mobile users. Although the digital consumption behavior of both the audience might add up somewhere, specific mass behaviors like mobile commerce will take their time to peak in Southeast Asia.

3. What do you think is the biggest challenge for companies to implement digital transformation?
I think the term digital transformation is very broad and it’s important to look at it from the perspective of who is holding the baton in the company to drive it. For an architecture-driven digital transformation, I would say the weight has to be borne by the Leader – CEO.

However, in a marketing-centric digital transformation, the responsibility is on CMO or CDMO’s shoulders. I think the biggest challenge faced by companies today has dual forces – internal and external, and both are interdependent:

Internal: An established structure and mindset do not always allow the nimble-footed approach needed to be at the forefront of digital transformation.

External: With the ever-evolving digital adoption by customers, companies will always have to play catch up and evolve. This is the game companies should be willing to play and do it well.

4. What measures should companies take to speed up and solidify their digital transformation?
There is no single formula, and in digital, it’s more of a journey rather than a destination. I would suggest the first thing companies should do is assess the opportunities in digital by looking through the lens of what they will miss out on if they do not undertake this transformation.

The fortunes of companies have changed for good when they underwent digital transformations. I am confident that many companies will identify their scope of transformation immediately. It could be as small and simple as their corporate website that needs to be built with a mobile-first approach. Even identify a big opportunity by connecting the dots on Social + CRM. Today, leading digital agencies have the capabilities to help companies go on the discovery journey and companies should start with them.

5. What would be your advice to fresh graduates exploring a career in digital marketing?
I think I consider myself a fresher too as this discipline teaches you new things every day. I can only suggest that one should fanatically believe that digital is the future and behave as a student of digital forever.

6. How should digital agencies differentiate their services and stay ahead of the competition?
The only factor that really matters in our business is ‘Thought Leadership’. Agencies need to demonstrate how they can add value to a client’s business and not just the brand. As an agency leader, I wake up every day with the thought of how would my learning curve be steeper than that of my competition?

So expose yourself to all and sundry stimuli. Be aware of everything. Learn only specific things. Master what matters to your clients’ business.

7. What is your inspiration? What keeps you going every day?
Professionally, my biggest source of inspiration has been my colleagues. Their collective curiosity really affects me positively. I have also been fortunate to work/have worked with people like Agnello Dias, Santosh Padhi, Arvind Sharma, Nitesh Tiwari, Ray Velez to name a few. They are not only the brightest minds in the agency business but also fantastic human beings.

Personally, my family is a big inspiration and keeps me going every day.


You can follow Manan Mehta on Twitter and join him at the Digital Marketing Summit 2014, organized by Bangladesh Brand Forum. WebAble team will be there, live-tweeting, follow us on Twitter, and use #DMS2014 for all updates from the summit.