The Telecom CMOs: Ericsson's Arun Bhikshesvaran
11:00 AM -- BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress 2012 -- As more telecom marketing money will be surely spent at Mobile World Congress than any other place/time in the world this year, we decided to check in with the industry's top marketing chiefs to see how they are spending it.
First up is Arun Bhikshesvaran, CMO of Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), who we caught up with in Ericsson's cavernous Hall No. 6, redesigned this year and sporting an airy, colorful entranceway that Ericsson suggests is akin to a human spine that "is representative of the Connected Force that enables and empowers the Networked Society."
What is your core message here at MWC?
After rattling off a host of Ericsson message points (including that its share of access market increased to 38 from 32 percent according to "early internal market data"), Bhikshesvaran focused on the "Network-enabled Cloud" which Ericsson says involves the 5 Cs: connect, control, compute, create, and customize.
How does that tie into the core Ericsson brand story?
"The Ericsson brand is about technology and services leadership," Bhikshesvaran said. "The Network-enabled Cloud is a roadmap that covers both the business opportunities and technology architecture."
How much of Ericsson's marketing budget tied up with MWC?
"We're spending the most here of any event in the world."
Is your marketing budget up or down this year?
"After reporting our Q4 results, we're being more prudent and careful in 2012."
How do you measure telecom marketing effectiveness, especially at Mobile World Congress?
"We pay very close attention to interaction that we have with customers here. Every interaction that our people have on the floor is documented and tracked. There is a metric [which he declined to reveal] and it will be higher this year than last."
What's been your best marketing program in last six months?
"Our Mobile Broadband Unplugged program where we created a video and digital media program and then took it live into customer conference rooms where we had workshops to explain it and have conversations about it means to them."
What's the best marketing program from a competitor in last 12 months?
"Nothing stands out really. If you consider the broad competitive ecosystem, there's IBM's Smarter Planet campaign, which is similar to our Network Society as a high-end messaging program, only they've been doing it for more years and have more recognition."
Is social media actually driving telecom marketing, or is it still in experimental phase?
"It's still in an experimental phase," he said, allowing that most service provider executives, if they were into social media, were using it personally, not for business communications. "As we start to see demographic changes in customers and new generations start to take over, this will start the change."
How does Ericsson tie in marketing programs with service provider marketing aims?
"With selected customers, when have a major service launch with them, it may make sense to contribute with marketing skills," he said, adding that he's expecting 43 carrier CMOs in a closed-door session at MWC. "We can help with market and competitive analysis for selected programs and with some enterprise services we get into the market and go on customer sales calls."
— Joe Braue, Group Director and SVP, Light Reading