What are some notable innovations that you introduced during your time at Meltwater India which you could share with us about?
The biggest challenge as a founding team was to build a business in a country that was heavily dependent on Scissor Technology when it came to PR monitoring. This actually means traditional paper clips news monitoring. Our first job in hand was to educate the market about the importance of real-time online media monitoring. The big hurdle was convincing the media otherwise for more customised tracking as opposed to the Google Alerts tool, which is available for free. When I look back over the decade, it was an enjoyable ride, with over a million calls, lakhs of demos, over a thousand meetings and a belief worth a billion dollars.
Another highlight and a turning point for our business and me personally was my stint as Agency Partnership Director. The year 2013 was the toughest year we saw for India in both new business and renewals. We saw that there was a massive shift in the mindset of PR executives and marketing departments relying on agencies to cover more customised monitoring and analytics. As a general market norm, organisations never believed in agency partnerships, so we had reluctance in working with PR and marketing agencies, but we had to take that call. Taking our Area Director in confidence, we took that risk and we rolled it out. Our agencies loved it, and we saw an immediate impact on revenue, with our division averaging 200% in sales revenue month after month. We grew this division with the exponential growth of 156% YOY. This also changed the course of how Media Intel SaaS companies work today.
Could you briefly tell us about MW’s first offering in artificial intelligence (AI) that you helped launch?
Today’s top executives are flooded with “data, reports and dashboards”. While they might be signing off on the world’s most sophisticated software that can help their teams do their jobs more effectively. In all honesty, the CXOs literally have no time to log in to such platforms. In all this mix, social media also plays a critical part in their online reputation. If you ask any modern-day CEO today about the importance of their brand’s online reputation, 9 out of 10 would say it’s very critical to their business.
As a follow-up question, if you ask what were the five most critical things that were written on social media today which may have a direct impact on the CEO’s businesses, many would quickly want to refer to their social media teams or agencies. This was the gap we were trying to fill. We came up with a product that would use AI-based algorithms and eliminate all the clutter from social media and in real time send push notifications to the CXO’s on posts which they need to know.
For instance, Sachin Tendulkar might get thousands of posts in a day where his social media handle is tagged. Considering his busy schedule, he can’t revert or read all of them. In that mix of thousands of notifications, there would be a post from Virat Kohli too. The tool we built will ensure that Virat’s post comes to Sachin as he would not want to miss that one post of his fellow National Indian Team cricketers.
The tool also sported other abilities like Critical Alerts, GeoFenced Alerts, Alerting to post which are gaining momentum and going viral. It was the first of its kind which I had worked upon.
How would you draw parallels between your previous roles in completely different industries, such as media and journalism, to your current role in the IT field?
Many would argue that my past experience as a Film Maker, Development Communicator or a Journalist are completely different than what I am doing today. I beg to differ. I think the whole world is selling everywhere, at any job, at any time. Had I not written a good script for my film, I would have never gotten the funding, had I not convinced the street and working children about the importance of education, they would have never turned up to our contact center. So, I think I was always in the “Art/Act of Selling” since back then, and I am doing the same today.
As far as me being associated with IT industry, nothing specifically changes. No matter whichever industry you are working in, “No one buys from someone who is not excited” and “If you can sell the problem you are solving, product and company is immaterial”.
What are your thoughts on the Knowledge-as-a-Service economy?
I am very excited about “Knowledge-as-a-Service”; which explains why the billion-dollar consulting business is continuously thriving. As they say “You don’t know, what you don’t know”, and there are many people and companies who are looking for answers to their questions. As I said earlier, “Sell the problem you are solving”, in many cases, knowledge is the problem. That’s where experience and expertise come in. I personally am associated with many mentorship programs, I love to guide organisations and am always available to help out.
While I have found my passion for sharing knowledge, doing this costs me the most precious asset, i.e. time. KaaS will allow people like us experts to compensate for the time time spent on professional consulting, in place for our pro-bono efforts as well. This format will help me get more value for my time, while also serving as a bridge between talent and opportunities.