, Philippines

Digitalisation revolutionises marketing, supply chain operations

Digital technologies enable companies to track data better, amongst other uses.

Adopting digital technologies is crucial not only for brands but also for marketing agencies and the procurement sector as it picks up the pace of some processes in their operations and improves their data management, industry leaders said.

Many people have misconceptions that artificial intelligence (AI) will be replacing marketing agencies. But Shayne Madamba, chief digital officer of Havas thought otherwise, saying the technology will push the industry players to focus more on important things instead of falling for the need to make campaigns for the sake of virality.

“With AI, advertising agencies are now challenged to go outside of traditional methods, because we need to be radically accountable to the results we give out,” Madamba said at a panel discussion at the Retail Asia Forum in Manila.

Marketing agencies can leverage AI for agility, she said. For example, Havas has an AI tool called Havas Pacha that connects to a company's retail data, and asset data per line, enabling easy access to products that are out of stock or want to push., avoiding the need for a three-hour meeting.

Havas also uses an AI tool that allows monitoring of overspending on biddings for online campaigns.

“There are lots of reasons where the campaign is not generating towards your expectations and we say bids are competitive,” she said. “We say no to assumptions because what is tolerable and acceptable to you, that's exactly what we put into the AI and we stop bidding if it's not acceptable based on our benchmarks,” Madamba said.

“[AI] doesn't replace us, but it allows us to think bigger as agencies, it allows us to focus on the more important things apart from being viral,” she added.

The challenge for retailers is that consumers no longer need to know more about what a brand offers as they are now particular about what they want in a product, Frankie Primavera CEO of Oddefy Agency & Proddhouse, said.

Retailers need to elevate their content and make it “value-adding and experiential” so that consumers will engage with the brands they want to discover.

Primavera cited a European shades retailer that features a virtual try-on on their website.

“Those are the initiatives that need to be cascaded down to the content that [key opinion leaders] are creating and even what we should be communicating to extend that experience and action for consumers that want to try new brands,” she said.

Storytelling is also vital in brands' creative campaigns as this responds to what customers want to feel about the brands they engage with.

“The key is to stand out and to engage but at the same time, you also try not to forget the emotional connection that you want to gain from your customers and vice versa,” Primavera said.


Data use

Madamba also shared that companies need to watch out for a “cookieless world.” Cookies are the term used for data that identifies a computer network. Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky said cookies are used to identify specific users to elevate their web use.

However, the key approach in data analytics should be hybrid, meaning that the data used should be a combination of cookies, behavioural data collected through the years, and first-party data.

“Whatever you have right now, that doesn't mean that we're going to go and get into Armageddon, and everything you've collected will not mean anything. You are in the best position if you have been doing cookie-based targeting for quite some time,” she said.


Digitalisation in the supply chain

In the supply chain industry, digitalisation is moving at a fast pace but remains expensive and complex. However, it should be implemented to improve the supply chain function as the sector is essential in boosting the balance sheet inventory, income statement and cash flow, said Charlie Villasenor, Chairman & CEO of Procurement and Supply Institute of Asia.

For example, Villasenor said that his company can supply an item in just four minutes “in a very exact categorisation of information,” much faster than the typical four-week or four-month turnaround time because of digitalisation.

“It's going to scale that most of the people working in the supply chain are going to move out from tactical or operational–this is a non-value added thing but you're still working on that and you're not doing more strategic,” he said. 

“It provides us with an impetus for moving the professionals towards what's important to them,” he added.


Need for collaboration

Villasenor also highlighted that companies can not pursue integrated supply chain management alone, noting that things could not be solved by people from the procurement sector only.

He added that in the US, several companies shut down as they were not profitable. The same could happen to small players in Asia who could succumb to economic factors such as inflation.

One of the things they can do to improve their business operations is through out-tasking and augmentation.

“You cannot do it alone. First, you don't have the resources. You don't have the skills, you don't have the scalability, you don't have the cost, and affordability to implement,” Villasenor said.

“You need to find ways to get augmented, you need to collaborate with similar organizations, you need to lower the barrier for achieving all of these best practices. You need to form consortiums,” he added.

He also emphasised that “technology is never an advantage” as new ones will always emerge.

“So what is the game plan? The game plan is to form a significant collaboration with several of your partners. You can compete with your competitors, but there are areas that we could collaborate,” he said.

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