WPP digital exec on B2B, wearable technology and how combinations of innovation are helping move the industry forward

Ritesh Patel on B2B and how combination of innovations are helping move the industry forward

Global communications service group WPP announced the formation of WPP Health and Wellness back in February with the ideology of uniting its “broad capability” under one banner to “significantly advance its [offering] and partnership with clients across the spectrum of health and wellness."

Ahead of his judging post for The Drum B2B Brave Awards, WPP Heath and Wellness’ chief digital officer, Ritesh Patel explains his thoughts on Google Glasses in B2B and how combinations of innovations, like account based marketing (ABM) and new technologies enable them to upscale B2B and is helps move the industry forward.

What are the key trends in B2B?

Service and experience are the most important ones. What does your experience or service look like? Everyone is mapping out customer journeys and experiences. How do we make sure we make things fix on this.? Is there a way we can engage better?

The other piece around it is data. How much can we know about a client before we talk to them and then once we start engaging with them, what kind of data can we collect so we can be more intelligent in the production services we offer.

What is the current mood of the B2B industry?

There is a lot going on and there are new ways of engaging coming though. The newest innovation is ABM. People are using ABM principles in combination with the automation that is now there for things like customer relation management (CRM).

Where do you see the industry going in the next 12 months?

It's more around getting to know the customer better. Everybody is focused on that, what kind of data we can get and what kind of touch points we have. Then with every touch point, what can we offer to continue building the relationship and once they become a customer, how do we get them to really stay with us.

What is WPP doing that is unique in B2B?

Our view is very much around the experience. We are putting a lot of time and effort into data and understanding the customers. We have Kantar, which has a wealth of data but we are also pioneering and creating new data sets which really help us understand the customers in the B2B environment. Either the end buyers or the businesses themselves.

The partnership that we have with Demandbase is going very well. We are using their new tools and technologies, bringing them to our clients and showcasing how their technology can really start engaging customers.

Another area we are working on is the definition of the experience. Really considering how we do the customer journeys and making sure that we undertake all the touch points.

When is gathering data, too much data?

This isn't so much an issue within B2B, whereas in the B2C world, you are seeing that because of the backlash of privacy issues primarily.

I started out in banking, and we used to collect all sorts of data on our B2B customers like transactions, foreign exchange etcetera. We used to have a tonne of data and the difference now, is that it's more instantaneous. Over the last five years it used to be that you would collect it, store it somewhere, hire people to analyze it and understand it before you do a b2b campaign. The difference now is that things like Demandbase are giving you the capability of having almost instantaneous access to data to inform you to do something differently within 24 hours as opposed to a couple of months.

We can get a lot of data, but the capability of the people to then use it to make good decisions very quickly is not there. That's where the machines are coming in. AR, primarily and machine learning is looking at how we can take that and make the machines do the instantaneous decisions.

Where do you think wearable technology is going on B2B?

Google Glass has revamped itself into a B2B player. Before it was a B2C but that didn't quite work out. However, we are seeing it in the health care industry where doctors are using those glasses to overlay anatomy, help them around procedures and surgical procedures and things like that. It's morphed into a B2B player very well.

Engineers are using it to overlay engines and specifications. Not too long ago, I went to a BMW showcase and they are going to be able to provide mechanics the ability to use Google Glasses to overlay the engine. It's a B2B play that's coming of fairly well.

As a judge for The Drum B2B Brave Awards, what do you want to see from the entries this year?

I love that it is being called a ‘brave’ award. We have so much mediocrity going on at the moment and I am really looking forward to seeing something very brave. Also, in the US particularly, there is a lack of humor in the advertising campaigns that are going on, so some humor perhaps as well.

What categories are you particularly interested in seeing the entries for?

One that I'd like to see is anything related to small business. We have so much going on with the big behemoths business but there is so much innovation with small businesses. It would be interesting to see what they are doing and how they are competing within new technology. It is a great stabilizer, it democratizes everything.

How important are these awards to the industry?

There has been so much pressure on Cannes but this is all about recognition and showcasing the best of the best. Showing the industry there is potential to do something big and something brave and here are the people doing it. Awards do that. Otherwise you don’t see much. There is so much going on at the moment. Where do you find it, how do you categorize it.

It gives us pride to the people who are crating this stuff. They work hard to do it, why not give them the honor.

Patel is a judge for The Drum B2B Brave Awards. The deadline has now passed but if you still want to enter, please contact Katy Thomson at katy.thomson@thedrum.com.

Partners for the event are Think LA and sponsors are Stein IAS.

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