We are investing in data-driven marketing: HPE’s Jackson

Jim Jackson, chief marketing officer, HPE

Jim Jackson, chief marketing officer (CMO) of enterprise technology company Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), works closely with the sales and product development teams to focus on new growth opportunities and solidify its role in emerging markets in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain. Jackson, who was in India recently, spoke about the importance of the domestic market for HPE, the next big opportunity in digital marketing and how the company’s latest investment plans of $500 million are expected to pan out. Edited excerpts from an interview:

HPE recently announced a $500 million investment in India. How do you intend to deploy it?

This strategic investment highlights HPE’s long-term commitment to India. The investment will enable the company to grow its operations, manufacturing and employee base, as well as invest in technology initiatives and increase R&D and services exports. HPE plans to increase the workforce in India by 20% over the next three to five years. HPE will hire new engineering talent with expertise in areas of critical importance to customers such as AI and networking.

Can you please elaborate on your plans for India?

India is the sixth largest country for HPE in terms of business. We only do media investments and brand investments in six countries, and India is one of them, so it is a very strategic country for us and for our business. In marketing, we’ve made heavy investments in technology. In fact, in India, we’ve got a whole set of data scientists, a whole set of other very tactical resources that enable us to mine data and understand what’s happening with our campaigns—how they are performing, and where can we do a better job of using data to target our customers and get the messages through to them. When you think of digital ad campaigns, it’s about the creative. At the end of the day, marketing is still a science and an art. So, we’re really focusing on what I say breaking through the sea of sameness.

How is digital marketing placed in your overall strategy?

We feel our digital programme is actually a competitive differentiator for the company, given all the capabilities that we have today. So, reducing 40 campaigns down to three—that’s quite an achievement. Our view is that cloud is an experience. It’s not a destination. Many of our customers tell us that they have invested in cloud, but it’s a hard journey. We have a lot of cloud advisory capabilities. We’ve made a lot of investments there to help a lot of customers successfully go on a hybrid cloud journey.

How easy or hard is it to work with CXOs who may have their own ideas on how digital transformation needs to be done?

I think from an HPE perspective, digital transformation starts with the customer, what they are trying to do, their problems and the challenges they are facing. So, from a company perspective, we’re making a lot of investments, whether it be in technology or training our people, to offer new solutions. We recently announced that we’re going to make everything available as a service by 2022.

Big pivots are happening. From a marketing perspective, it’s all pivoting to digital. It’s really how we’re engaging our customers in a much more meaningful way, using data to target, to make sure that we’re getting the right message to the right customer at the right time in the journey.

How is HPE changing in response to the new digital demands?

Over the last three or four years, we have been on a really significant pivot to change marketing from more traditional to a modern digital marketing organization. We had to look at multiple different things; we had to look at how we thought about campaigns. Four years ago, we probably had 40 campaigns a year, now we do three or four. And those campaigns that we used to do were a set of campaigns —now it’s an 18-month conversation happening in the marketplace with progressive content that we’re adding. I think the second thing that we really had to do was bring in a whole bunch of technology—marketing technology, advertising tech, to think about how we can start to capture data and the right information in a digital world to be able to get the right messages to our customers.