Irrespective of whether you think marketing is a science or an art, data is critical to the debate. Think about it, data is necessary to build case for either situation. But using it is easier said than done; pick up any market research report and see what you make of those figures laid out with vision-blurring, precision.
Sensibly, companies have now started outsourcing this data-crunching exercise to specialists. This is where 34-year-old S Ramakrishnan - 'Ramki, as he likes to be called - CEO Marketics Technologies, comes in. His venture is to get sense out of data, and it's an interesting story, read on:
The late Nineties is a good start, just around when the Internet and dotcom buzz started. Ramakrishnan - by then well entrenched at P&G India's brand management team, did something that was not so unusual for many raring young individuals at that time - turned a 'Net' entrepreneur.
Catalyst for the atypical decision is S.P. Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai, from where Ramakrishnan claims the bug got him: "It was a rather unorthodox MBA training that encouraged entrepreneurial abilities."
Part of the new-technology wave, where people across categories harboured sweeping visions of what the Net could do, Ramakrishnan egged on by his friends, also co-founders - Vinay Misra and Shankar Marwada - launched Intercept Technologies in 1999.
Prophetically christened, to say the least, we see Intercept Technologies being cut in its stride by the dotcom bust. All we hear from Ramakrishnan of the crash, is the furious effort to reboot.
The trio knocked around with some ideas, unwilling to call it quits: "After all, it were our clients - the dotcoms - that went bust, we still had a concept going," Ramakrishnan says - asserting all the reasons why things should have worked.
To cut it short, Marketics Technologies is what we now know of, of the trio's act of defiance - which is gearing up to be a Rs 100-crore (Rs 1 billion) entity. There appears a huge thrust on role definition, for instance, the company works on latent marketing skill, initially concentrates all efforts on the US market and works on its belief in the Net and uses it as a core platform for interface. End product is well-analysed, marketing intelligence given to clients to draw decisions from.
Significantly, Marketics has eschewed from tapping the market for funds, "we started on a shoe-string budget, which involved some of us not taking our salary for sometime," says Ramakrishnan. He's game to various options in future, including short-time collaborations.
But most critical of all these decision has been the collective choice to stay focussed on the US market - initially: "It's easy to be lured and go tapping every 'expression of interest,' that comes along. But not all turn out to be solid business propositions. We decided to conserve our talent to make an impact in one area, before we could address other geographies," says Ramakrishnan.
Today, Marketics Technologies has made a foray in UK and is seeking to spread into Europe and is even looking at prising open the home turf here in India.
On board are some of the top-Fortune 100 companies in different industry segments. Non-disclosure agreement prevents Ramakrishnan from actually bandying client names, save a few such as Universal Studio and RCI (part of Windham Worldwide).
Finally, it's interesting to note that Marketics has managed to capture the US market with just 10 people servicing (including Ramakrishnan), and two back offices in India.Interestingly, Coimbatore is chosen for its 'surprising' cost-effectiveness in comparison to other Metros, "we found excellent technical talent there," says Ramakrishnan. There is also a big office at Bangalore and all together the team is 250-strong, winning against all the odds.