What should the priorities be for CTOs in 2022: Myron Sojka, CTO, Epsilon

The pandemic has mandated businesses to either transform or perish over the past two years. Enterprises need to now focus on the needs of their customers and adapt accordingly at a fast pace. Along with changing customer needs, businesses will also have to keep in mind the advent of new age technologies such as meta verse that are completely transforming the IT landscape. When such is the scenario, the role played by a chief technology officer could be most pertinent in determining the success of an organisation. Along the same lines, Myron Sojka, CTO, Epsilon recently spoke to Dataquest on what chief technology officers need to focus on over the next year.

DQ: How has consumer expectations changed especially post-pandemic?

Myron Sojka: The pandemic has drastically changed consumer behaviour, transformed consumption patterns and led to changes in brand loyalty. There have been fundamental shifts in the way people interact with businesses today. 

For one, customers today are significantly expecting a lot more from brands. A HubSpot survey had 90% of customer service leaders reporting that customer expectations were at an all-time high. Consumer service on the other hand, has considerably declined, with companies struggling with covid-induced challenges including supply chain disruptions and talent and infrastructure crunch.  It is extremely critical now, more than ever, how brands not only meet, but surpass these expectations, and make their consumers heard and valued. PwC states that 32% of customers will stop doing business with a loved brand after one bad experience. The stakes will only go higher.  

Secondly, the transition to remote work has had a distinct impact on the customers’ psyche, and in turn, their buying habits. Now, when they see a product, they view it from multiple lenses and have multiple considerations apart from its intended benefits. For instance, when ordering groceries online, one could specifically opt for contactless delivery. Or when buying laundry detergent, another could look for variants that kill germs. 

Thirdly, the rapid adoption of digital has given rise to multiple formats and channels, making it more critical for brands to stay relevant across multiple touchpoints than before. Lastly, customers are also showing loyalty to brands that are working to genuinely make a positive difference in the world, making sustainable and inclusive growth a key differentiator. 

While the conditions over the last two years have been unprecedented, transformation is inevitable. And the rules are changing fast. Businesses will have to adapt to changing needs, accelerate their digital transformation journey, invest in relevant technologies, and most importantly, be empathetic in how we connect with customers.

DQ: How do you think the Metaverse will reshape the digital marketing landscape? How is Epsilon poised to respond to this demand in the future? 

Myron Sojka: Metaverse is not just a buzz word anymore. It’s here to stay. An industry report predicts that business and consumer spend in the metaverse could reach $5 trillion by 2030.

At Epsilon, we view this as a real opportunity and have begun tapping into its incredible potential at a group level, thanks to our integrated model. Publicis Groupe, our parent company, recently appointed a Chief Metaverse Officer, which is actually a digital avatar called Leon. This new interface will further help our clients understand, navigate and develop Web3 strategies. This builds on the expansive set of existing capabilities, skillsets and talent that currently resides within Publicis Groupe, with a focus on deep Web3 expertise in both blockchain use cases – inclusive of NFTs, smart contracts and decentralized applications – as well as metaversal technologies like VR/AR and artificial intelligence. In addition, four executives on our Publicis Media Content & Innovation team will now focus on Web3 investment and blockchain. 

As Arthur Sadoun, Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, said in a recent press release, “The metaverse isn’t a destination, it’s a real-time learning moment for all.”  Businesses that ramp up their metaverse strategy now can secure the first mover-advantage, just like some did with the internet in the 90s. It can be a game-changer for the marketing industry as well, enabling brands to connect with consumers and create newer kinds of experiences. For instance, brands can leverage virtual billboards on the metaverse for advertising. 

But the metaverse is not devoid of challenges – data privacy, navigation and understanding of the metaverse. These could just be teething issues that that get resolved as more brands adopt the new world of the metaverse and find newer and innovative ways to engage their customers. 

DQ: What should the priorities be for CTOs over the next year?

Myron Sojka: Continuing to strengthen the organization’s technological prowess in order to solve increasingly complex customer problems. Delivering tangible results by focusing on capability-building programs. Providing a consistent hybrid work environment to the workforce, keeping in mind the needs of our people and the business. Testing our resilience in order to become future proof. Continuing to build agility around infrastructure. Pushing the pedal on innovation. These will continue to be focus areas for CTOs beyond next year. 

Automation has become an important instrument to keep a company from wasting the limited, precious work hours of their workforce on repetitive and monotonous tasks. At Epsilon, we see a groundswell around automation and optimizing how we work. We have identified 26 major projects where we see a huge potential to save time, increase quality and reduce time to deliver. This has already resulted in 20,000+ hours of savings and has allowed the organization to invest in their people, steer their focus to more strategic projects and enable them to explore all that technology has to offer.  

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