Mawarni Adam (pictured), head of brand, marketing and communications, Berjaya Sompo Insurance, is no stranger to the marketing world, having taken on positions on both the client and agency sides. She jump started her career as a marketing coordinator at Dow Chemical Company before heading to McCann Worldgroup.
Thereafter, she went on to helm leadership roles at Citi, Tune Insurance and AirAsia BIG Loyalty. In 2015, she founded brand and marketing consultancy firm M Consulting Asia, which is now dormant with Adam at Berjaya Sompo Insurance.
As a marketer who is well-versed in brand development and management, online to offline customer experience and omnichannel marketing, among others, Adam tells A+M what her first digital role was like and why she is excited about AI.
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A+M: What was your first digital role like?
Adam: Before the first full digital role came along, it was the simplification and digitisation phases that came first, probably more than a decade ago. It was during my time at a global bank where I was tasked to digitise the monthly promotional booklet in order to cut cost, simplify it the best that we can to have speed of information delivery and to make it “lightweight” enough for ease of consumers to understand and consume the info.
With the exception of the monthly credit cards statement, this piece of collateral was one of the costliest, key monthly printed production at the time. Once we managed to digitise this customer touch-point, we then had to find ways to distribute it effectively through the available digital channels at the time. This was pre-social media and the dawn of digital marketing as we know it and website, emails, SMS and MMS were the go-to channels at the time. So, I guess back then, unbeknownst to me, as it happened quite organically, it was essentially the first foray into digital for me and the team.
A+M: What was your biggest tech booboo?
Adam: I wish I have a spectacular story to tell but I don’t really have one. But I can tell you that no tech planning and execution is perfect. They all come with lessons and learnings. The reason for saying so is that tech changes consistently and it’s close to impossible to have the latest and most up to date info and trends even if we try.
I’d say the biggest tech booboo is not really a booboo, but would be to not being able to act or react fast enough, which sometimes can be within my control and sometimes not.
A+M: How did you overcome it and what did you learn from it?
Adam: As a team, we overcame it by doing the best that we can, with the info that we have on hand and by verifying the data with multiple sources before coming up with a recourse action. This usually involves multiple stakeholders, the back-end tech, the digital and finally the customer-facing teams.
For the back-end tech infra, we have to identify the problem quickly and rectify it. Meanwhile, the digital team will look at it strategically in terms of the digital ecosystem and its impact to the business. Finally, the customer-facing team will have to respond swiftly and calmly to either pacify, to buy time and/or provide alternative solutions to the consumers before it escalates into a crisis.
I learnt that a solid end-to-end management of tech execution can be a defining factor of making or breaking the customer experience.
A+M: What are some of the common challenges you face with digital today?
Adam: Finding the right talent and then keeping them motivated.
Tech is a great enabler, but we still need people to understand it, plan it holistically and integrate it across the channels to drive the business.
Knowing how tech works is one thing but the biggest challenge is to immerse it with customer centricity, make it part of our DNA so we are able to be more human and bring more value to our customers – not just seeing it as robotics or automation.
A+M: Are there any digital trends which excite you or that you are wary of? If yes – why does it excite you/give concerns if any?
Adam: I am excited about AI. I’ve been reading a lot about it, the power of it and the potential it can bring to our civilisation – both the good and the bad. The latter although imaginatively and fictionally created by Hollywood movies, as well as predictions by some experts and thought leaders in the field, may be far-fetched to some if not most people, but I think it may hold some truth.
If so, I believe if AI is abused, it may bring more negativity than positivity to us all, and I’d be very concerned if that happens.
A+M: Any top tips for marketers and brands embracing digital?
Adam: Start small, find a community or a business case that needs solving, don’t overthink digital and embrace the adventure. Be ready to fail and of course, celebrate the small wins!
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