Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Ramya Parashar – Chief Operating Officer, MIQ Digital India Pvt Ltd

Connecting data from multiple sources to unlock interesting insights for clients

“Trust your genuine and real you and quit second-guessing yourself!” – Ramya Parashar, COO of MiQ Digital

These days, running online advertisement or campaigns have become a cakewalk all thanks to the inexpensive internet and the IT revolution that began in 2016 ever since Indian conglomerate Reliance introduced the country with unprecedented internet tariffs. Many firms have mushroomed in the last few years that run advertising campaigns for their clients. But can you imagine how tough it would have been for clients to have such campaigns way back in 2010? Adding to this, it was more difficult to fetch insights from the data provided by clients because not many tools were available in those days. However, there was a firm – MiQ Digital India Pvt Ltd – which addressed clients’ need and came up with a unique solution.

The co-founders of the firm – Gurman and Lee Puri- founded MiQ Digital on 1st Oct 2010 in the UK, London to understand clients’ data better, in order to derive maximum value from the insights their data provided. The vision of the company was to inspire through insights, with the aim to enable businesses in making better decisions from insight, which ultimately drove growth. They specifically looked to address the above inthe field of online advertising, and ultimately took advantage of a new programmatic and real-time advertising revolution already occurring within the sector. Their solution was simple: convert the insights they drew from data into better-targeted and better-performing digital advertising campaigns.

The value for the customer was a best-in-market return on investment from their online adspend, backed up with superior market-leading insights. These insights ultimately provided a solution to the

bigger problem, which was a lack of transparency within the online advertising sector. Today, MiQ Digital is a leader in data science, analytics, and programmatic trading. They connect data from multiple sources to unlock interesting insights and ensure their clients are always making the right media investments. The programmatic advertising space has not only been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but also by the rise of privacy-first initiatives. These initiatives are aimed at giving users greater control over their data, which is the lifeblood for most marketing campaigns.

Developing one-of-its kind proprietary analytics technology platform

While programmatic advertising is set for an evolution, it will nevertheless retain its role as an essential digital marketing tool. Constant focus to future-proof their business, build advance capabilities around In-housing programmatic campaigns, sunsetting cookies and first party data solutions, Growth of CTV, advancement in DOOH, Mobile gaming, Programmatic audio and few more are areas where they constantly evolved and accelerated their capabilities over the years. In 2010, there was a clear gap in the market for a superior analytics technology platform that would transform campaigns and enable this transparency for advertisers. “This led us to the development of a one-of-its kind proprietary analytics technology platform, which has been at the heart of MiQ’s success ever since”, asserts Ramya Parashar, COO of MiQ Digital.

Ramya Parashar is the Chief Operating Officer for CoE. She spearheads CoE strategy and execution. She heads the Operations for MiQ Bangalore CoE that includes creation of Vision, Strategy and People first initiatives at scale. This spans from designing and implementing business operations, managing bottom line, establishing policies that promote company culture & vision. A graduate in Electronics & certified Digital business Strategist and Organisational performance expert from IIM Bangalore. As part of MiQ’s global operational board and representing the voice of India, her role is to enable teams to consider the bigger picture and think about multiple angles on how to deploy MiQ solutions that drive competitive advantage.

She looks to operationalize the strategy and approach to business from a creative point of view by driving operational excellence at all layers, be it spanning from design to implementing operational rhythm, managing bottom line, establishing policies that promote company culture and vision. A few of the challenging aspects of her role include overcoming the gaps in hybrid work strategies relating to the future of work, enhancing operational efficiencies, driving top-quartile business problem-solving capabilities, and fuelling greater market/ customer connect for their Center of Excellence in India.

Having a view in the rare view mirror but also an eye for sustainable long-term growth

Over time, MiQ has remained an independently funded organization, and has grown organically on a global scale. MiQ has proved that unlocking actionable insights can make a large difference to clients globally. Their biggest strength has always been their people proposition. A deep bench of home-grown talent, backed with market-leading training, process and compensation. “We believe in providing equal access to opportunity, belonging and autonomy as key to hiring, retention, and talent growth. We want to be the leading programmatic media partner for agencies and advertisers. We also aspire to create an environment where our people get to work with the best minds in the industry, solve the best problems, earn the best”, adds Parashar.

Their business strategy is to have a view in the rare view mirror but also an eye for sustainable long-term growth. Their defined vectors of growth building on strong track record consists of organic and in-organic streams. It takes the right culture, mindset and processes to excel an organization and they are breaking those barriers and creating a head way. The company operates in divisional organisation structure where every department is tied to either market based, product based or geo-based structure. This has helped them stay flexible, promoting autonomy, and a customized approach. This allows for a quicker response to industry changes or customer needs. The more unpredictable the environment, the greater the opportunity—if we have the leadership skills to capitalize on it.

They have a diversified customer base of >2000 advertisers with 89% net revenue retention rate. “We take pride in the diversified and people centric culture our co-founders have established in MiQ. Every leader has continued to amplify and evolve this culture forward, this creating a psychologically safe environment for our employees.”

What makes them stand out from the crowd is to Future proof their business by constantly focussing on building capabilities, enhancing our agility, resiliency and finding new sources of business growth. They have also adopted new strategies in CoE which is to build a Forward-looking Talent practice that drives Inclusive High performance at all levels. To this, they have strengthened their data driven decision making pillar through robust, real-time insights on their workforce and culture at all levels.

Maintaining high levels of operational efficiency and enabling the business to work like a well-oiled machine

However, not everything has been hunky dory. There have been a number of challenges as well ever since the pandemic has had a big impact on the global economy. Within MiQ it was about securing their employees’ jobs, prioritising unified global GP, embracing fluidity of talent pool and many more. “One theme that has been common across all of our operational strategy has been AGILITY and RESILIENCE. Widespread adoption of automation across the enterprise, enabling self-service has helped us maintain high levels of operational efficiency and enabled the business to work like a well-oiled machine – while still being profitable.”

The company is keen on doubling down its focus on Mergers and Acquisitions in order to drive international expansion, acquire new programmatic capabilities in areas such as Retail Media. Since the pandemic hit the industry, dynamics of MiQ India has change a lot. Programmatic advertising exists in a wide range of digital channels, including display, mobile, video, and social. Traditional offline channels are well way on their way to becoming digitized too. “We’re starting to see out-of-home channels advertise programmatically through digital screens on bus stations, shopping malls, and billboards”, says Parashar.

Previously, programmatic campaigns were reserved for larger budgets and media agencies, but the rapid rise of self-service tools gives smaller brands increased access to the technology and offers them the ability to compete with larger brands.If brands are only focusing on basic metrics like CTR, this does not allow them to optimise towards net new customers, higher value customers or customers actually influenced by their ads.

“The new gold standard is Incrementality! Broadly, “incrementality” can relate to any additive media activity.”

Connected, scalable tech and analytics infrastructure along with Access to real- time, log level data acts as enablers to modernising brands measurement in scaling them. By using their insights, brands can get transparency in how they allocate their marketing budget, they can decide how to best utilize the time and resources from their programmatic buying/advertising team to drive campaigns with the best Return on Ad Spend.

Allowing employees present unique solutions that help optimise cost, improve client or customer retention

Today’s business landscape is complex and changing. Navigating and manoeuvring it is critical. And a combination of soft and hard skills is often at the heart of this. Having a mentor, usually a person who has more experience, provides an opportunity to glean an understanding of the best ways to accomplish this.Ramya too had a mentor who supported her and helped her become what she is today. “One of my key mentors was Steve Martin, MD JC Penney India who supported and enabled my professional development and acted as a trusted ally. In my case, having his guidance and advice allowed me to take on career opportunities that I otherwise may not have”, she adds.

For any organisation to flourish in the present times, it is essential to promote creativity in the organisation. Creativity in the workplace is essential for innovation. Whether it’s creative problem solving or the flexibility to decide how work gets done, creativity is integral to the employee experience and growth.By prioritizing the value of challenging the status quo (the way things have traditionally been done), MiQ Digital allowsits employees to present unique solutions that could help optimise cost, improve client or customer retention or even create new streams of revenue. They also unlock new opportunities for business innovation and growth within their organization through this shift in mindset.

A genuine team-based environment, in which connections are forged through collaboration and social time, is essential for innovative teamwork. Instead of staying separate and heads-down on only their own projects, employees have the opportunity to interact with other colleagues in different departments and gain an informed understanding of the company as a whole. This sparks creativity, and allows for ideas and inspiration to flow freely across departments.

For an idea to drive innovation, it must not only be executed, but it has to provide value to the organization. We believe that good ideas come from great questions and from all levels. Every time we share an idea that gets executed, the likelihood that future ideas also get executed goes up.We focus on easy to solve problems to build problem-solving muscle. Coming up with an idea and seeing it through is a core skill that we are developing for sustained competitive differentiation.

Believe in values to behaviour as the paramount for the success of the business

Apart from this, the values of firm drive their Mission and Vision forward. They are a great believer in values to behaviour as the paramount for the success of the business. Besides, core values form one of the most vital parts of the company’s culture. “Leading by example is one of the most effective ways we use to communicate core values.We are never afraid to talk about what has worked and what we are working on to be better. Core values being the backbone of our organization, we look for it to flow seamlessly into hiring dialogues, onboarding training, performance management and growth of our employees.”

Apart from all of these, they also follow values to Behaviour concept of integrating their actions to MiQ Values and humanizing the entire organisation. When Ramya first moved into the role of Leadership, improving her network was the last thing on her mind. Cultivating coalition is so important. The main problem she faced was taking time out for networking: Prioritising the hours to guide her team through a major upgrade of the production process, think about strategic issues, devising an execution plan were on top of her mind. Meanwhile, there were day-to-day issues to resolve, the only way she could carve out time and still get home to her family at a decent hour was to lock herself—in office.

“Networking to me was a luxury that I felt I could not afford. Discomfort is understandable. However, I soon realized that exchanges and interactions with a diverse array of current and potential stakeholders are not distractions from my “real work” but are actually at the heart of new leadership roles.”

Sharing her thoughts on women empowerment, Ramya says, “While women can build an environment of female empowerment and many female leaders make a conscious effort to build a community of women who can benefit from mutually advantageous relationships, women in entry-level, junior, and middle management do not feel they are in the position to build valuable bonds. We must find new ways of defining ourselves and develop new relationships to anchor and feed their emerging personas. We must also accept that networking is one of the most important requirements of new leadership roles and continue to allocate enough time and effort to see it pay off.”

From her worldly-wise knowledge and years of experience, she has a piece of advice for our readers. She says, “People must love their business problems and drive transformational change to adapt to an ever-changing business environment.” As leaders there is a need to balance Digitization, Innovation, and Performance to stay on the right trajectory but also continuously evolve and future-proof our businesses. Trust your genuine and real you and quit second-guessing yourself. “Actin line with who you are but don’t second-guess because of fears, insecurities, or other underlying influences. Being assertive and confident is key”, she concludes.


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