Hey there, Srikanth. Welcome to Marketing In Asia magazine and if I may be honest, I am more than excited to have a chat with you. Since we are here to get to know you, from the top, tell us about Srikanth Ramachandran.
For over three decades, I’ve been involved in technology consulting and international sales and marketing. I’ve had the opportunity to live in India, Oman, Singapore and Tokyo, and worked with global brands like IBM, Satyam, Ingres and Wipro. I’ve served as Director on multiple boards including Phimetrics, a global telecom audit firm, and also been an Advisor to many companies including Sriveda Emsys, an embedded software development company headquartered in India.
I love books! I have a mini library at home and whenever I have the time, you will see me reading about the latest news, trends, and any new good books. I like keeping up to date with current affairs, news, happenings and tech.
At Moving Walls you have scooped a range of Malaysian, Regional and Global Awards including the Most Promising Entrepreneur Award at the 2015 Asia Pacific Entrepreneur Awards (APEA), and not to mention you have been featured on industry platforms such as Bloomberg TV, Business FM, and The Asian Business Leaders Conclave (ABLC).
And that my friend is incredible, if not more. So, my question is, what are some of the challenges you faced, Srikanth, if any?
The biggest challenge is to stay focused, bring the same intensity to work every day and to find the balance between the highs that comes from these recognitions and the lows that comes from sales or business losses. I am inspired by a simple book I read a long time ago titled ‘The Genius of Nikola Tesla’ – the key takeaway for me was to believe in what you are doing and give your best effort every day, every minute and every second. If you can stay in that zone, the rest of it falls in its place.
Walk us through what Moving Walls is all about.
Moving Walls is a data and technology-led company that helps leading brands measure, reach, and influence consumers on the move. Moving Walls operates Moving Audiences, a patented multi-sensor approach to location-based media measurement. Today, Moving Walls processes more than 10 billion data points and measures more than 35,000 media sites across the globe.
Through measuring physical locations and people movement, this powers Planning, Buying, Verification, and Content Delivery capabilities for location-based media like billboards, digital signage, and transit media. We’re working with the world’s leading advertisers, and media agencies, to bring transparency and automation to Out-of-Home (OOH) media.
Recently, we formed Location Media Xchange (LMX) to equip the location owners, retailers and suppliers of OOH media with technology solutions to digitise their sales and marketing processes. Currently, we have more than 200 media asset owners working with us.
More recently, Moving Walls was named a TiE50 winner in Silicon Valley, USA, identified as one of the top 50 technology start-ups in the world in 2017. Moving Walls too, was named in the first Unilever Foundry30 Southeast Asia and Australasia, a list of 30 companies most likely to affect technological change in the region.
That being said, is Moving Walls foreseeing any challenges in the near future, especially when digital transformation is always accelerating, and if yes, what are the solutions?
Covid-19 has changed everything in our space. The media budgets cuts and the unpredictable people movement has necessitated OOH audience measurement. So whether you are a client who buys OOH media long term or use it sparingly at a campaign level, data and measurement have been mandatory to justify the media spends.
While research shows that OOH is a great priming medium that increases digital activations and everyone accepts it intuitively, there has not been enough evidence at a campaign level to demonstrate the same. Our acquisition of Ahoy and the seamless integration of mobile engagement with OOH will help blend OOH + Mobile into every campaign focused on delivering outcomes.
The pressure on media budgets and outcome driven campaign approach has resulted in Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning automation in the media landscape. We believe that the Digital OOH media will be bought and campaigns will be delivered programmatically.
In summary, restarting OOH media post-Covid and rebuilding advertiser confidence in the medium would be the next challenge. We have to acknowledge that brands don’t pay for locations or traffic, they pay for results. When we have standardised measurement practices in place, technology and automation of planning, buying, verification of delivery and campaign analysis will fall into place.
What is in store for Moving Walls in the future?
Whether 2054 or 2024, we are working towards that minority report dream – it has always been the inspiration and vision for us. We had to break it down into data, media and automation components and work on them with technology innovation. From an organisational point of view, we created Location Media Xchange (LMX) to focus on location, media and retail owners. We expect this organisation to facilitate and connect the next billion screens.
We started with a global aspiration that led us to establishing presence across multiple markets in Asia, Africa and North America. Even our hiring practices represent that aspiration with more than 13 nationalities working for us currently. We will continue to consolidate our current markets and enter new markets to build a global company.
Bringing the right people and talent and giving them space to showcase their capabilities has been the hallmark of our growth. More than a quarter of our senior management team have entrepreneurial experience with a few of them having been co-founders in multiple startups. The future of Moving Walls group is being built by them.
Tell us Srikanth. In today’s world, what are the gaps and challenges that marketers face?
Hype vs Reality. There is a tendency to follow the flavour of the month. While digital and social media have been great in consumer engagement, the reality is that we are hugely influenced by what we see in the real world. Real world media primes the consumers and digital media activates the consumer. The real challenge for all marketers is to measure this impact for their brands and their campaigns in a more scientific way.
Agile Skills. I believe that Ideation and storytelling will be at the heart of any marketing campaign. But the insight generation and consumer engagement process have changed significantly with “Big Data”, “Mobile” and “Digital OOH”. Finding the right talent and getting them to work together in an agile manner will decide the success or failure of any brand.
Before we end, let’s go down memory lane for a bit. Srikanth, prior to Moving Walls, you have established IBM Singapore’s e-business team, including implementing the world’s first end-to-end Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) transaction in 1996. As the Founder of Knowledge Dynamics, a Singapore-headquartered regional leader in the analytics space, you not only led the growth of the company for seven years but also led a merger with an NYSE-listed company.
Do you have a message for aspiring entrepreneurs who are trying to start their own business, and what advice can you give them as a veteran in the field of business and technology?
I believe that as humans, we need an inspiration, a spark that sets the entrepreneurial journey in motion. The first step towards any entrepreneurial journey is to let go of the fear of failure. However, what makes it sustainable over a long period of time is the ability to focus on the inputs that create value and differentiation. The reality is that these inputs may not necessarily create tangible results or outcomes in the expected timeframe. But keeping the faith in yourself and delivering the best of your energies and skills relentlessly, all the time, is probably the most important secret sauce of entrepreneurs.
Everyone has ideas. But to bring ideas to life, you need others to believe in your vision, embrace and make it their vision. So bringing the right people and talent together is the biggest challenge that every entrepreneur should focus on.
Success or Failure, you need to sleep peacefully every night knowing that you have done your best. Keep it that simple and let the rest play itself out.