Interviews, Marketing Automation

Interview with the Chief-Product-Officer of Manthan, Sameer Narula

“The role of marketing leaders is changing – they are now defining innovative use cases that technology can enable, to provide the best value to their team and to their customers.”


  • Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here. (what inspired you to start a martech company)

As Chief Product Officer, my responsibilities include complete product lifecycle management from conception, development, market and customer adoption of Manthan’s product portfolio. I’ve been here for close to 7 years now and journey before has been a diverse and exciting mix of organizations, roles and places. What has been common is being part of highly entrepreneurial ventures and building technology led software products and solutions, which is what brought me to Manthan. Marketing as a domain has always been of interest, here I’ve got the opportunity to create solutions for it.

  • Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?

Over time and with sharper technology capabilities, I see martech evolving to become more autonomous, intelligent and self-learning. We are already witnessing a blurring of boundaries between above-the-line (ATL) and below-the-line (BTL) marketing, and as digital advances further, the two will converge. Context aware personalization will be further advance through the growth of IoT and rich customer data, enabling companies to understand each individual better. Customers are willing to pay for a superlative experience, and companies can create this experience through continuous intelligence that connected technologies enable. Amazon Go’s just-walk-out store is an example of seamless customer engagement built using IoT and advanced technology.

This deeper understanding of the customer has data at its heart, and needs to be supplemented with a strong, customer-focused data protection strategy that is rooted in best practices and regulations. Data security will become a mandatory requirement for anyone handling data.

  • What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?

The single most disruptive trend will be all-pervasive AI, and it could have various manifestations – an NLP engine that drives engaging human-like conversations, or cognitive intelligence that can understand customer sentiment and intent, or Augmented Reality (AR) that transforms advertising, or machine learning to that can drive fully autonomous and highly personalized consumer engagement lifecycles. I am certain that AI will be ubiquitous when it comes to marketing technology in not too distant future.

  •  What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?

In my view, adoption is the foremost challenges CMOs need to address. There have been some positive strides forward looking organizations are making, but its largely driven by executive mandate and buy-in, rather than a true desire to use technology. Martech investments have been increasing, but on-the-ground usage can is push-driven in rather than voluntary in many organizations.

  • One word that best describes how your work.

Unpredictable! This is such a fast-growing space that there is no time to be complacent. We must constantly evolve and provide best-in-class products to our customers, so they can stay on top of their customer preferences.

  • What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

Unmeet. Unsubscribe. Delegate. Automate.

  • How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?

As a martech provider, we constantly learn and experiment with new breakthroughs in technology. AI will impact every ambit of an organization – roles such as marketing technologist are charged with defining the technology vision and leading marketing teams to adopt the martech stacks. The role of marketing leaders is changing – they are now defining innovative use cases that technology can enable, to provide the best value to their team and to their customers.

  • What is the core marketing technology capability of your firm that you bring to a marketer? Where does your product fit in vis-a-vis the customer life cycle?

Our value proposition is in bringing together all of an organization’s customer data in order to create unified customer profiles for marketing (and potentially other groups). This includes internal and external data – across buckets such as transaction, past purchases, behavior across web and mobile, demographics, propensity, current value, lifetime value, intent signals, products of interest and so on. Through use of science and Machine Learning, we create robust customer profiles that form the basis for creation and execution of hyper-personalized marketing campaigns across channels. CDP also maintains history of customer, and this data constantly gets enriched enabling sharper customer insights. We also enable closed-loop marketing through performance measurement and data-driven recommendations resulting in higher marketing ROI.

In a recent citation by an independent research firm, Manthan is among the top 4 customer analytics vendors globally, thanks to the robustness of our customer data model and razor-sharp retail industry focus.

  • Are there any new features or upcoming upgrades that you’re excited about and would like to give us a sneak peek into?

We have a new solution coming up for restaurant marketing – QSR chains are challenged with poor same store growth and there is a natural limit to per person order size. Marketers need to drive revenue within these constraints. We have recently done work with some large fast food chains and demonstrated how AI and advanced analytics can deliver quick wins.

Feature wise, we are rolling out an upgrade that includes advanced customer journey builder that choreographs every customer interaction and can track/ course-correct each customer’s progress through their journey stages.

Another capability we have successfully piloted and now launching is around real-time mobile marketing, which uses customer’s location and actions on the mobile app to trigger personalized communications and promotions to them.

  • What is your take on the massive explosion of MarTech across so many categories? Do you see competition, opportunities to partner and/or integrate?

Competition will remain high, and we see a strong preference for players that can deliver out-of-the-box, industry specific capabilities rather than generic capabilities that take too long to customize before they are switched on. The landscape will consist of an ensemble of offerings that provide best of breed technologies and quick outcomes.

As Chief Product Officer, Sameer has been with Manthan for close to 7 years heading product management for multiple product lines. In this role, Sameer is responsible for complete product lifecycle management from conception, development to adoption. Overall, Sameer has 20+ years of experience specializing in providing technology-led business application solutions for mid to large enterprises. He also has significant experience of working with niche / start-up technology companies in founding or early-stage core team member capacity.

Manthan is a leading cloud analytics company pioneering analytical applications for consumer-facing businesses. Manthan excels in the application of decision sciences and artificial intelligence, with a restless ability to invent and bring ideas to life. Its suite of products has been recognized for enabling the shortest and swiftest path to profit. Manthan’s products are powered by AI, cloud and prescriptive capabilities and are unique in their ability to use machine intelligence to process decision contexts and respond automatically with actions and recommendations to manage every aspect of a consumer business. Manthan’s innovations aim to bring a new paradigm of auto-guided, and autonomous business decisions and actions, executed at scale. Headquartered in Bangalore with offices in Santa Clara, London, Dubai, Mexico City, Singapore and Manila, Manthan’s footprint spans 22 countries. For more information please visit our Website

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