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Speed is the new currency in a mobile world: Rahul Welde

The continued evolution in the media landscape has opened up new opportunities and given birth to important channels of communicating with consumers. For marketers, a key challenge is differentiating and prioritising channels that matter. In the eyes of Rahul Welde, Vice President – Media (Asia, Africa, Middle East and Turkey) for Unilever, media such as mobile is critical for marketers at present, but he urges that the guiding principle should be about keeping people first versus digital first or mobile first.

“We are a people first company. In fact, I believe many successful brands including the likes of Facebook and Google have people at the centre. Technology and platforms are tools and devices to reach people,” commented Mr Welde.

In a conversation with Rohit Dadwal, Managing Director, Mobile Marketing Association APAC, Mr Welde, divulged that even for the most senior brass, in a company like Unilever, what was happening for media such as mobile mattered. The company recognises that in the current scenario, the mobile code remains unsolved. Consequently, mobile requires a disproportionate investment to enable strategic thinking, talent and innovations.

“The digital universe is vast and well placed to be transformational for business. We are committed to that. We are investing very aggressively, and in a structured way, on start-ups that we see focussing on future tech. Our culture is rooted in a bigger purpose and making greater products. We have to see how we make this pioneering spirit come alive while leveraging technology,” explained Mr Welde.

Mr Welde’s views bear a wider advice to the business ecosystem not only from a consumer viewpoint but also from an overall company perspective. Any change management requires a combination of organic and mechanics, coupled with capabilities, processes and devices. He believes that involvement of a company’s legal teams, tax teams and others such is critical to survival in a digital world. “The more people you include, the more value can be added. Rules of the digital and mobile world are very different from traditional media and it is important to understand this from all angles if we are truly trying to make a difference to businesses at large,” said Mr Welde.

Another point that he makes is the world is living in the here and now. “Most businesses today are under pressure of performing and chasing targets. If a marketer pushes a discussion to the future, the new companies and service providers are unlikely to wait. Speed is the new currency in such a world. Instead of talking to ourselves, we have to broaden the conversation and talk to each other. We have to get into the action mode and discuss how we achieve the growth we often discuss in closed forums,” he stated.

Mr Welde, who was speaking at the Mobile Marketing Forum in Singapore on May 22, reiterated that real time management and agile thinking had become basic necessities of the business, and for marketers such as Unilever, the discussions have already made way for training and working on live brand projects.

Digital Market Asia is MMA’s media partner at the forum.

Noor Fathima Warsia

A veteran journalist in the Indian marketing, media and advertising fraternity, Noor Fathima Warsia took on the role of Group Editor -– APAC for Digital Market Asia in May 2013. Noor has focussed on tracking trends and developments in the Indian media industry.