Interviews

Matt Preschern

CMO of HCL Technologies

Ben Somerset-How

Client Director

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Tom Holmes talks to Matt Preschern, Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President at HCL Technologies.

At HCL Matt leads all marketing functions including global business and strategic marketing, sales enablement and corporate communications to drive demand, growth & value.

Prior to joining HCL, he was Senior Vice President and Enterprise Chief Marketing Officer at Windstream, a Fortune 500 company specialising in data, voice, network and cloud solutions.

Matt has also held several leadership positions at IBM including Vice President of Marketing for the North America Business Consulting Services organisation where he repositioned the organisation for growth. Matt also played a key role in IBM’s Global ‘Smarter Planet’ campaign and earlier in his career developed the ‘On Demand Business Adoption’ model.

 

Creativebrief: As CMO of HCL Technologies, what is your primary focus?

Matt Preschern: HCL is one of the fastest growing fully integrated IT services companies. Globally it achieves double digit growth annually with 50% revenue generated in the US and 30% in the UK. My primary focus as CMO is to support growth in the business, establish and expand the brand, align marketing with sales, support top accounts and tell the story of the brand through the lens of the customer, both online and through more traditional methods.

Creativebrief: What is the biggest issue for your brand today and how are you addressing it?

Matt Preschern: I’d say the challenge is more with the category. It is very fast moving, but everyone is tackling issues in similar ways. How do you differentiate in the sea of sameness? The way HCL are doing that is by a ‘relationship beyond contract’. Our ideapreneurs engage directly with our customers to deliver above and beyond. We’re moving from B-B to B-I (business to individual) on a multi channel, multi dimensional level to make sure we’re delivering both a digital and personal service.

Creativebrief: What are the principles behind Ideapreneurship?

Matt Preschern: I should start by saying we have 100,240 employees at HCL Technologies. Ideaprenseurship means employees come first. They interact with our customers, have the opportunity to take feedback and generate ideas. Ideapreneurship involves creating a culture where employees are empowered to develop the ideas that can improve the business, whether that’s reducing cycle time, increasing revenues or streamlining processes. We have created a system whereby our employees, who feel ownership of the business, become brand ambassadors. Your employees can be your number one brand ambassadors, but that’s part marketing, part brand, part HR and part culture. If these can be aligned, there can be no disconnect between internal and external brand values. To achieve this we use online tools, videos and training to ensure all of our employees are on the same page.

Creativebrief: How is the CMO role changing and what attributes do you think are required for success?

Matt Preschern: These are exciting and challenging times for the CMO. Customers have access to information 24/7. There are conversations happening about brands all the time and they will happen whether the brand chooses to be involved or not. The rate and pace of interactions is ever increasing and brands can no longer just push/publish. CMOs must find the right balance of content in different formats for their audience. Whether that be on youtube or in user groups, content must be thought-provoking and insightful, with a clear customer experience.In the past it was all about the creative, big idea. Now there is the scientific aspect. Data insight that must lead to business impact. The multi disciplinary requirements need a new level of collaboration, whether that’s with HR for internal comms, Sales for customer engagement, the CIO for technical requirements or the CEO for the business targets.

Creativebrief: What do CEOs demand from their Marketers?

Matt Preschern: CEOs need their marketers to help achieve their business priorities. In the case of HCL, expanding the brand, demonstrating profitable revenue growth to meet external expectations and social responsibility. Social responsibility is a priority for our CEO. We support schools and IT development across the world. But on top of the CEOs demands, it is the role of the marketing to demonstrate the value you bring to the company, that you are not just a cost centre. Integrate across the company, get feedback and turn it into effective marketing strategy.

Creativebrief: Industry wide, what work has excited you most this year?

Matt Preschern: I love how Red Bull and GoPro are pushing the envelope in experience. I think Mini and Fiat have done a great job figuring out how to use humour to sell cars. It’s difficult to get right and new for the category. Virgin and Delta have really taken things to a different level in customer experience, whether it’s online or offline, app or airport. Their partnership is working because their values are aligned. I also think in the digital space, Adobe are doing some really interesting things with partnerships to increase their brand awareness.

 

Creativebrief: How do you see the media landscape unfolding in the next 5 years?

Matt Preschern: Everything will continue to develop digitally. Inbound marketing techniques will become more prevalent. A deep understanding of video will be required. Media consumption has changed; we are always on and the roll out of broadband will continue this trend. However, traditional channels can still prove very successful. Publishing magazines, radio, TV and events can all have their place. It’s about human behaviour. Your customers will want different content formats in different situations, so it’s about being present and being consistent with your brand experience. Whatever the channel, it’s paramount that the content you produce is of a high standard and that you’re not just producing content for the sake of it.

Creativebrief: Do you prefer to use an ‘integrated’ or specialist agency approach?

Matt Preschern: More and more agencies are claiming to be integrated these days, but if you look under the skin you can see where their true capabilities lie. I don’t think it’s an either/or though. If you have a specific need, find a specialist. I like to use the analogy of buying a car. You don’t buy a car because of all the other cars in the range, you buy for the qualities of that specific car.

Creativebrief: How do you stay in-touch with the industry’s best agencies and their work?

Matt Preschern: I network a lot, I’m very active within marketing communities and I meet a lot of agencies across the world. I seek advice of experts when necessary and I attend a lot of marketing industry events, probably two per quarter. Your choice of partner is such an important decision.

Creativebrief: How often do you look at new agencies or review your roster?

Matt Preschern: On an ongoing, organic basis. Not because of a particular requirement, but because it’s such a fast moving landscape and there’s constant change, it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse and challenge yourself to always be working with the best agencies and getting the best out of them.

Creativebrief: What’s your attitude to the ‘traditional’ pitch? Is there a better way?

Matt Preschern: I don’t hire the pitch, I hire the ideas and the people. Are you bringing something new in a way that fits with the way we like to work? Is there someone in the room that can come with a great idea that can move the business forward? Someone that can challenge us? The formal pitch is probably still necessary, but it’s not even my secondary priority.

Creativebrief: And finally, what would you like to be your legacy?

Matt Preschern: Legacy is a big word. If HCL can hit it’s targets, continue developing their employees, maintain the social responsibility and be known for brilliance globally, and I can be associated with that, then I’ll be happy.