MarTech Cube: Interview with Managing Director, The Lumery – Rajan Kumar

MarTec/ Opinion

5 months ago by Andrea

“CMOs need to go deeper into the stack and solve some core challenges. They need to move beyond the channels – the nirvana of a connected customer experience isn’t going to be solved by swapping out your email platform or buying a DMP.”

Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here?
I’m Rajan Kumar and I’m the Managing Director of The Lumery. I’m passionate about bringing to life the ultimate customer experience by helping brands unlock the full potential of their MarTech and AdTech investments.In my role as Managing Director, I’m responsible for setting the overarching vision and strategy for the business, then laying out the path to get us there.

Managing an organization from start-up to one that is scaling for growth, means wearing lots of hats – sales, marketing, operations, legal, contracts, account management. Running a fast-growing business requires me to be a bit of everything – and that’s kind of fun!

I’ve been in the marketing technology industry for the best part of the last decade, and together with my co-founders, we identified a real challenge that most marketers and digital leaders are facing. Brands are investing a tremendous amount in technology procurement, yet very few are achieving the customer experience outcomes they desire. Our hypothesis was that companies haven’t had access to a partner that can help them unlock the value of the technology investments they’ve made. We bring some of the deepest levels of experience in MarTech and AdTech, in turn helping companies to build the capability required to deliver on their customer experience vision.

I’ve always been inspired by entrepreneurs and people that have the guts to back themselves and build their dream. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and business owners – as a kid I always knew I wanted to run my own business, I think subconsciously I’ve always been building towards The Lumery.

Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?
I have several perspectives on how the MarTech space is evolving – here are a few:

1) We’ve seen a tremendous amount of ‘over-spend’ in recent years. Some I would consider borderline irresponsible. Organisations are realizing that simply throwing technology at the customer experience isn’t the answer – it requires a considered approach to building capability around the technology that’s tied to tactical outcomes.

2)I’m seeing organizations take a much more measured approach in terms of new investment, and are largely more focused on driving value from what they already have – which is core to The Lumery’s approach.
I expect organization’s to focus more on the foundations of the MarTech stack – things like identity resolution and decision management to drive mass personalization, rather than channel-based execution platforms.

3)I also think we need to reframe MarTech itself. The leading brands we work with are leveraging MarTech to drive the entire lifecycle – sales, services, marketing, ops etc. It’s not just a marketing anymore – this is really ‘Customer Experience Tech or CX-Tech’.

What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
The easy answer here is AI and Machine Learning – and yes, they’re going to impact our lives drastically – they already are. The way we operate as a society will change as these technologies develop and mature. For me, it’s the use cases and real-life application that sit above this technology that will be so impactful. For example, I’m really excited about ‘Voice’ and how people are changing the way they seek and access information. I’m a late adopter of techs like Siri, Google Assistant and alike but I can already imagine my son – who’s just 6 months old – yelling out questions in the middle of the lounge room and getting instant responses. Homework is going to be a conversation with Alexa for him!

What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?
For me, it is two-fold – solving the fundamental challenges with customer data and building capability with great people and skills.
CMOs need to go deeper into the stack and solve some core challenges. They need to move beyond the channels – the nirvana of a connected customer experience isn’t going to be solved by swapping out your email platform or buying a DMP. Let’s get real.

We need to get serious about solving the core challenges of digital identity, channel agnostic decisioning, data streaming and delivering content at scale. The legacy CRM solutions, data warehouses and campaign management platforms simply weren’t built to deal with the scale, agility and variety of data we now need to harness to deliver the experiences consumers expect. This is tough because the conversation moves beyond marketing and what a CMO is – on paper – responsible for.

Talent is arguably one of the hardest things to find, and foster. As a business owner I experience first-hand what it takes to build great teams. As CMOs build their MarTech stack, more importantly they need to build an empowered team that can harness the technology. This means hiring talent that brings a mix of marketing and technology expertise. CMOs also need to hire across the customer lifecycle and across all channels – paid, owned and earned. Then think about analysts, modelers and planners. A marketing team looks nothing like a marketing team did 10 years ago and is constantly evolving.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
I’m a mac guy, so gestures are my best friend. Swipes, scrolls, pinches etc. Boring I know, but it’s the simple things.
From a day to day perspective, I find using my morning commute as a time to check in with people really productive. Getting a few calls out of the way can really help free up valuable time throughout the day. Oh, and walking meetings – I’m trying to do this more and more. Getting out of the office helps in so many ways.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
Stay focused on what’s ahead and drive value from your existing investments – then layer in AI where it makes sense. The AI hype around marketing truly amazes me. If you’re still manually launching campaigns and struggling to connect data sets – stop talking about AI and get back to work!

What is the core capability of your firm that you bring to a marketer? Where does your product fit in vis-a-vis the customer lifecycle?
The Lumery is a full-service customer experience agency, with the deepest specialization in ‘MarTech and AdTech.
We partner with organization’s to help fulfill their customer experience vision, through tactical delivery across the entire marketing technology stack. We fundamentally believe that you can’t solve customer experience by looking at a single channel, or life cycle segment – we help organizations resolve customer identification all the way through to delivering experiences where their customers choose to interact.
Core to our belief is being vendor neutral and working with marketers to drive value from the investments they have made. This means we’re more focused on driving outcomes that the business is going to care about – revenue, profit, yield etc.

What is your take on the massive explosion of MarTech across so many categories?
The MarTech explosion is not surprising to be honest, but I think it can get very daunting when trying to figure out what you need in your ‘stack’ as a marketer. My advice is always to put yourself in your customers shoes. How do they interact with the brand? Where do they consume experiences? How would the like to be communicated to? Focus your investment on the technology that has the most impact and work from there.

Can you share a screenshot of the homepage of your smartphone (iOS/Android/other)? It would be interesting to see some of the apps you personally use on a daily basis to get things done and stay on top of your day.

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