Monday, October 31, 2011

#DesiCMOs 4 a Smarter Planet

I started this blog when I first moved to India in 2009 as a platform to reflect on how things work (or don't) here. The inspiration for the blog was drawn The "Smarter Planet" agenda, IBM's point of view on how the world is changing - how billions of people work and live, how products are developed, manufactured and sold and how money, water, even electrons move. What I love about working at IBM (I've been here 12+ years), is that don't just talk about the Smarter Planet, we actually believe (at least I do) that what we do (and by extension, our business partners and users of our solutions) can change the world and build a Smarter Planet!
So if India makes up a large part of this planet (in population terms anyway), why can't India be smarter?!

Being "fresh off the boat" in Mumbai was a fascinating experience. After 10 years in New York City, life was on auto pilot. But in Mumbai, not only do you have to switch gears but you start using muscles you didn't know you had and you develop 6, 7, 8 + senses to get through the day! I felt like I was landing in a new world and taking in every sight, sound, smell, experience and trying to make sense of it all - some of these musings have been documented in my postings.

Over the last couple of years, I have watched and heard my colleagues work tirelessly with some very motivated and forward thinking CEOs and CIOs around the country to make things faster, easier, better. As I re-read all my postings, I realize that many of the issues I observed - getting a credit card, buying a phone etc. are still a challenge, but I know someone out there is working on it...which is comforting.

But something else happened along the way. Being a marketeer, I realized that there is a lot more that we can do to accelerate the pace of change in India. Granted many of us have the gift of gab and spend a lot of time creating (and re creating) campaigns but marketeers, and CMOs in particular, could play a critical business role as customer advocates within the company and driving not only campaigns and promotions but should be able to impact product design and own the entire customer experience along the lifecycle -which includes things like order fulfillment and customer service.

Over the last couple of years, I have connected with and become friends with many CMOs in ISA. I think desi CMOs deserve mention in the India Inc. Wikipedia entry. Afterall, CMOs are behind every TV commercial and print ad almost 1Billion people watch everyday in India so, arguably, we have fueled India Inc., drove domestic demand and ensure India Inc. didn't get severely impacted by the deepest recession in the history of the world. And that's just 10% of our day! They are brilliant and inspiring but in recent months its become clear to me that many of them are introspecting about their roles in the same way, albeit in their company's context.

This "new role of the CMO" is worth exploring and I want to redirect the purpose of this blog for that conversation. The goal is to move beyond merely reporting the State of the Smarter Planet in India (and at times complaining about lack of progress) to what my peers and I in the Desi CMO community can do about building a Smarter Planet. To make the conversation more productive, I would love for you to read the finding recent study IBM conduct with over 1700 CMOs around the world. 99 of those CMOs were from India/South Asia. If you are a LinkedIn member, you can also join the Desi CMO group I recently set up.

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