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Matt PreschernExecutive Vice President and CMOHCL Technologies
HCL Technologies is a global technology outsourcing firm headquartered outside of New Delhi, India, with offices in more than 30 countries. Matt Preschern, HCL’s executive vice president and CMO, has spent close to two years transforming the company’s marketing organization to help it effectively compete under the market dynamics of an increasingly digital world. Prechern spoke with eMarketer’s Bryan Yeager about how he is changing HCL’s marketing team structure and its approach to hiring in support of his transformation efforts.
eMarketer: What are some of challenges that your business—and by extension, your marketing team—are facing today?
Matt Preschern: When we look at a 21st century enterprise, we find if companies want to survive—and I literally mean survive—they have to be take into account the user/consumer/customer experience across all channels at every touchpoint, they have to be agile and lean, they have to be increasingly service-oriented and they have to really tap into their ecosystem, [with everything] designed to be outcome-based.
As a CMO you reflect upon that, and then you say, “What does this mean for marketing? What does this mean for customer engagement? What does it mean as to how you organize your company and your marketing function? What are the kinds of skills do you need to attract?”
eMarketer: How have you worked to adapt HCL’s marketing organization to meet the dynamics of today’s digital world?
Preschern: When I first joined HCL [in September 2014] it had a phenomenal growth story with a very strong, employee-led brand and corporate culture competing in 32 markets around the world. But the marketing [department] was slightly bifurcated.
We had a strategic marketing function that was led by the New Delhi [office], and then we had what’s called a business marketing function, which was pretty much aligned to sales organizations in their respective geographies. We had practically no centers of competence. The teams were working on specific efforts. Many teams were working end-to-end, and it was working quite well.
But [we wanted to] become experience-centric, agile and lean. [We needed to learn to] drive experience across our ecosystem.
eMarketer: What have you changed?
Preschern: What we’ve done since then is move to a marketing “competency level” model. We’ve created one team in marketing, with competencies around brand, digital marketing—which includes search, mobile, web presence—and content marketing. We’re putting in place a competency for what we call a demand gen center, organized locally in India, which ties directly into everything [related to] marketing tech. It includes our Eloqua deployment, which we started integrating with our CRM system, Salesforce. We have a competency around analysts and advisors, and we’ve built a strong competency in field marketing.
eMarketer: How do you ensure that HCL’s marketing organization has the right skills to support your competence-based model?
Preschern: What we see in marketing on the one hand is the ongoing need for high-level creativity. But we’re also moving to a world that is increasingly analytical and fact-based—and that is more the science of marketing. On top of that, there are all the different digital channels.
As you build the marketing function, chances are you’re not going to find all of those skills within one person at any given time, especially if you work for a larger global organization. So you have to find balance [between the art and the science of marketing].
eMarketer: What else has become important in the current marketplace?
Preschern: The second thing I would say is that marketing today is a team sport. This notion that you can go off and do your own thing, that’s long gone. It’s not coming back.
If you want to build an authentic brand with your employees as brand ambassadors, you’d better be aligned with human resources. If you want to truly build a technology-enabled organization that can provide analytical insight, you probably need to be pretty closely aligned to your CIO. If you want to build a sales engine and have a healthy lead gen engine that also converts into real business, you need to be aligned with your sales leader. If you want to truly demonstrate your return on investment from a marketing perspective, you’d better be closely aligned to the head of finance.
All of this needs to happen [while honoring] the priorities set by the CEO of the company.
eMarketer: What other skills do you look for in marketing professionals?
Preschern: In addition to functional expertise, it’s increasingly important to have what I call the soft skills. Can you deal with adversity? Can you collaborate? Do you have the drive to explore new areas? How do you bounce back from potential disappointment? How do you work with people in different cultures and different functional areas who may be speaking an entirely different language than yours?
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