Martech rewards those who persevere with passion and purpose, says Shweta Sharma, Partner & CBO at Adglobal360

Martech rewards those who persevere with passion and purpose, says Shweta Sharma, Partner & CBO at Adglobal360
Martech rewards those who persevere with passion and purpose, says Shweta Sharma, Partner & CBO at Adglobal360

Martech evolves rapidly, and it’s your hunger for knowledge that will keep you ahead.

This is an exclusive interview conducted by Santosh Vaswani, Editor at CIO News with Shweta Sharma, Partner & CBO at Adglobal360 (AGL), a member of Hakuhodo International

Can you share the pivotal moment when you decided to embark on your journey in Martech and how that decision shaped your path to where you are today?

Looking back on my 15-year journey in retail and digital commerce, a pivotal moment arrived when I transitioned into marketing technology in 2015 upon joining AGL. Despite my non-technical background, I foresaw an opportunity in the nascent eTail market, driven by AGL’s spirit of challenging limits and exploring new niches. This vision led to the creation of eBuX, our first proprietary e-retail analytics solution. eBuX has been transformative, enhancing the digital customer experience and providing actionable insights, thereby revolutionising online sales dynamics.

Diving into the uncharted territory of Martech was a significant decision, shaped by my unwavering growth mindset—the belief in continuous personal and professional evolution. eBuX became a game-changer for AGL and propelled our niche into a Martech powerhouse. Notably, eBuX attracted renowned CPG clients like Reckitt, Colgate, Palmolive, and Nestle, placing immense trust in our capabilities.

This journey is a testament to the synergy between vision, determination, and a team that believes in the power of innovation. I’m deeply grateful for the trust industry leaders have placed in us, and it reaffirms the transformative potential of embracing challenges with a growth mindset.

In the ever-evolving landscape of Martech, eBuX has made a significant impact with some of the biggest CPG clients. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind eBuX and how it has transformed AGL’s journey in Martech?

The inspiration behind eBuX was born from recognising a crucial market need: the challenge of digital shelf management for brands. eBuX was conceived to empower these brands with actionable insights and strategies, enabling them to thrive in the eCommerce arena.

The impact was profound, not only for AGL but also for our clients. It reshaped AGL’s trajectory in Martech, establishing us as pioneers in the field. Through eBuX, we offered our clients a cutting-edge tool to optimise their digital presence. Its success was undeniable when esteemed CPG clients embraced it, entrusting us with their digital growth.

eBuX went beyond increasing our visibility; it also empowered brands to excel in the digital landscape. Moreover, we’ve undertaken the mission of training professionals worldwide to become eTail experts using eBuX, spreading its influence globally. eBuX played a pivotal role in the eTail industry, pioneering the significance of content attributes and influencing how online marketplaces operate.

This journey propelled AGL onto the global stage, as eBuX is now trusted and utilised worldwide, shaping not only our path but also the entire martech industry.

You’ve often emphasised the importance of embracing challenges as opportunities. Could you share an example of a particularly challenging moment in your journey and how you turned it into a stepping stone for success?

Embracing challenges as opportunities has been a guiding principle in my journey. One particularly challenging moment that stands out was when [personal input about the challenging situation and initial obstacles faced]

This experience reaffirmed my belief that challenges are not roadblocks but stepping stones towards innovation and growth. It’s about finding solutions, pushing boundaries, and emerging stronger on the other side.

Among the many such challenges, the one that was toughest and is now dearest to me was getting the technology made for eBuX.

I come from a non-technical background but had to rely a lot on a team of developers to build a solution that would help in managing my client’s business. I invested in learning a bit of Agile project management principles and also interviewed a lot of clients before arriving at the requirements that I gave to the tech team. We eventually ended up building a scalable solution built on microservices that could be customised very quickly, and clients loved it.

What makes me super happy is that since I was an outsider, the limitations of what the tech could or could not do did not deter me from creating a requirement that would fulfil my client’s needs. I was also lucky to have a tech team that rose up to the challenges and delivered a super-slick product.

AGL’s strategic pivot into Martech is impressive. What motivated this shift, and how did you manage to create tools that now assist multiple industries, including CPG, CPD, fashion, and lifestyle?

AGL’s strategic pivot into Martech was motivated by our unwavering belief in the transformative power of technology. While eBuX was a groundbreaking tool, we didn’t stop there. Challenging the limits of possibility, we kept pushing the boundaries of Martech, creating a suite of tools designed to assist multiple industries.

What sets our tools apart is their scalability and adaptability. Whether it’s hyperlocal LQS, BAM, or any other solution, each one is meticulously crafted to shine across diverse industries. We understood that businesses in automotive, consumer electronics, fashion, lifestyle, etc., had unique challenges, and we were determined to address them comprehensively.

These tools were developed not as one-size-fits-all solutions but as dynamic, scalable platforms. They’re designed to evolve with the evolving needs of each industry, offering tailored solutions that enhance efficiency and drive growth. It’s about providing businesses with the tools they need to challenge their limits of possibility and redefine success in the digital age. Today, we stand as a Martech leader, serving diverse industries, all thanks to our commitment to innovation and the relentless pursuit of excellence.

eBuX has not only been a game-changer for AGL but has also had a significant impact globally. How does it feel to see your brainchild trusted by retail giants across different markets?

Seeing eBuX be trusted by retail giants globally is both humbling and heartwarming. It’s a testament to our team’s dedication and their trust in our shared vision. It’s not just my journey; it’s a testament to the collective efforts of passionate individuals who have come together to make a real impact in the digital landscape.

Every partnership we’ve formed with these global retail giants showcases the incredible power of teamwork and collaboration. It’s a journey that fills me with gratitude, knowing that our collective efforts have made a meaningful impact not just for AGL but for the entire martech industry. We’re truly fortunate to be part of this transformative wave, and I’m deeply thankful for the opportunity to contribute to it.

Building the eCommerce practice from scratch is no small feat, especially when the world is still grasping its strength. Can you shed light on your approach to fostering a dedicated design and content lab for eCommerce and the challenges and rewards it brought to your journey?

It was indeed a transformative journey, particularly when the world was just beginning to grasp the potential of eCommerce. Our approach was all about shaping this landscape, not just navigating it.

Putting customer experience first, we knew through our research across categories that shopper intent and behaviour in e-commerce are different from other digital mediums. While there was enough data and study available on consumer behaviour in digital mediums, there was a lack of that perspective for eCommerce. We could see that having the digital design teams work on e-commerce will blur the shopping experience with the brand; hence, a dedicated content and design team was built to focus on personalising the shopper journey across varied platforms and building consistency in the experience.

Challenges were certainly there, from resource constraints to the ever-evolving nature of eCommerce. Yet, these challenges fueled our creativity and innovation. Each obstacle became an opportunity to learn, adapt, and grow.

The biggest challenge at that time and that we still face is a lack of talent trained in the design principles and guidelines that work for e-commerce. Every eTail platform has constantly evolving design and UI guidelines; hence, we have to constantly farm and train talent from scratch in the industry to make a framework of best practices, benchmarks, and shopper journeys in order to deliver performance-driven results to our clients. Thus, we took it a step further and evolved our own coaching practices to train talent and make them eTail experts.

The rewards were immense. Watching our eCommerce practice grow from the ground up and become an innovation powerhouse was incredibly fulfilling. What’s even more remarkable is that our efforts were recognized by esteemed institutions. For instance, we were ranked 11th in the Top 50 Fast Tech Companies in India by Deloitte.

Today, the leading CPG brands are using our solution, and we’re able to make a valuable impact on their businesses. This is very satisfying and motivates us to keep at it.

It was a journey of resilience, innovation, and unwavering dedication. It has set the stage for even greater achievements in the realm of Martech, and I’m personally proud of what we’ve accomplished.

What advice would you offer to your peers and the aspiring youth who aim to innovate and experiment in the dynamic field of Martech, especially when they come from unconventional backgrounds like yours?

To my peers and aspiring youth in Martech, especially those from unconventional backgrounds, I will only tell them to ‘embrace your uniqueness’. In this dynamic field, diversity is not just a buzzword; it’s our greatest strength. Unconventional backgrounds often bring unconventional solutions, so don’t shy away from your distinct experiences; harness them.

Stay relentlessly curious. Martech evolves rapidly, and it’s your hunger for knowledge that will keep you ahead. Never stop learning, and always seek out fresh perspectives.

Collaboration is key. Don’t do it alone. Partnerships with those who complement your skills often lead to brilliance. And remember, every challenge is an opportunity. Martech, like life, rewards those who persevere with passion and purpose. So, embrace your unconventional path with pride and let it guide you to remarkable success in this ever-evolving field. Trust in your abilities, stay curious, collaborate, and keep challenging the limits of possibility.

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