CMO Insights: Shonodeep Modak, CMO, GE Industrial Solutions Energy Connections

June 20, 2017

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Shonodeep Modak, Chief Marketing Officer for GE Industrial Solutions Energy Connections.

In this video, Shonodeep talks about

  • How GE Energy Connections, and the company overall, has been transforming form a financial industrial to a digital industrial organization
  • Running his marketing department more like a business in that he is responsible for a seamless online ecommerce experience as well lead management
  • How really understanding persona, buyer’s journey and a content editorial calendar is driving their content strategy.

Learn more about Shonodeep from his LinkedIn profile and follow GE Industrial Solutions Energy Connections on Twitter.

For more great CMO interviews like this one, please check out our CMO Insights Playlist on our YouTube channel.

Full Transcript

Jeff Pedowitz:

Hi, welcome to Revenue Marketing Television. I’m your host, Jeff Pedowitz, President and CEO of The Pedowitz Group. Today, we have Shonodeep Modak, who is the Chief Marketing Officer at GE industrial Solutions, Energy Connections. So Shonodeep, welcome to the show.

Shonodeep Modak:

Thank you for having me.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Oh, my pleasure. Our pleasure. So I guess, you know, GE is such a big company and has so many different parts. Maybe you could take a quick minute and explain what energy connections does inside of your group.

Shonodeep Modak:

Absolutely, absolutely. So of course, GE is made of a number of different companies, aviation healthcare, digital capital, although lot smaller energy connections is another business unit like, like those others and in energy connections really is responsible for a lot of different things. Automation and control grid solutions power conversion, and then we have industrial solutions. So all of those together make up, make up what energy connections is all about. So basically taking power from the power plant and bringing it into your homes and other places in the factories through many different ways. And that’s kind of what we’re all about.

And energy connections and industrial solutions is designed to help create the connections between when it comes from the power comes from the high voltage and then comes down to the low voltage products. So things that take power into say a building or commercial building, or a high rise or low rise, or even in your home, if you think about your, your, the years switchboard in your house, those circuit breakers are usually made by GE industrial solutions. And this business is a, is a legacy business. It was Edison invented the first circuit breaker and you know, right after the light bulb. And so this business has been around for over a hundred years and were responsible for making circuit breakers and controls and things that are used in machines like an elevator or a conveyor system, all the way to distribution boxes and switch gear that’s used in the Olympics, for example. So that’s kind of what our business is in a nutshell.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So given that you have such a legacy product what, what’s happening to you guys now in terms of change, because I’ve read so many articles about how GE is radically transforming all of its businesses, and it has a lot of mature businesses. So how is that impacting you as the chief marketing officer and what are some of the things that you’re doing?

Shonodeep Modak:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I would say the biggest change for us that’s that’s been impacting me is, is the, is the digital transformation. So GE is transformed from being a, kind of a financial industrial to an industrial and now a digital industrial. And there’s a lot of work being done to create kind of a new business in GE called GE digital. And that business will be working across the businesses to make sure that we’re creating software, where we have hardware and using the tool to create more value for the customer. And, you know, they talk, we talk a lot about the power of 1%, so we can get 1% more, 1% more uptime with using the combination of software with our products. Then we can do a lot for the outcomes that our customers are looking for. And I would say that’s the one biggest thing is how we’re using that capability in our products and going more going beyond what we’re used to doing in terms of just hardware. 

And then from a marketing standpoint we’re kind of in unique business, like like, like lighting is GE and what GE appliances was is that we’re, we’re dealing with higher volume products, less big, big machinery. And so we have to really marketing is, is at the forefront of what this business is all about because we’ve got to sell to a big retailer, like a home, like a hardware store, but we’d also have to go and sell to an online eCommerce automation site. And we could be selling to a manufacturing company or to an electrical contractor. And it’s a lot of high volumes, lots of transactions. I think we do like something like 40,000 transactions a day. So you know, marketing becomes a very, very big front and center point, especially as we go through this digital transformation online, as well as in our products.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So you’ve managed the marketing function there for awhile. Are you finding that you’re being asked to run marketing like more like a business than you have in the past, but jeez, of course has always been pretty disciplined in that regard, but just curious if you’re seeing a bit of a change.

Shonodeep Modak:

Yeah, no, absolutely. There’s a lot more, there’s two, I would say there’s two areas that we’re, we’re seeing marketing be run more like a business one is in terms of e-commerce. So we now have a much larger digital team and that team is now responsible for a system that we have called empower, which is the transaction systems that work with a distributor. It’s almost kinda like like the pizza platform where you can order your order, your stuff, configure it, and then you can actually see when it will be delivered to is that’s a huge breakthrough platform for us that a lot of our customers are excited about. So our team is responsible for making sure that the digital experiences is seamless and and gives them kind of what they’re looking for. And also we’re learning a lot about how that works in terms of how we engage with the online, our online channels as well.

So that’s number one. Number two is really around however we’re being accountable for lead generation and lead management and pulling leads into creating content. That’s not just about our products, but also about the outcomes like safety or energy efficiency or things that customers are really looking for. And then using that as a way to bring people into our franchise and creating leads and creating pipeline. And so we’re responsible now for really managing and seeing and making sure that we’re bringing in pipeline that’s, you know, a certain magnitude larger than our orders plan is, and, and marketing is accountable for that.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Wow. so tell me a little bit about your, your team and your people. What kind of skills do you hire for in 2017 and given all the changes you just talked about, are you approaching your org structure a little bit differently maybe than you have in the past?

Shonodeep Modak:

Yeah, we are, we are absolutely are. I think if you look at the kind of legacy team that we started was a lot of folks that came from the electrical distribution industry. They were engineers, there were people in they were people involved in applications. They were very technical folks that had an inclination or pension for being commercial. What we’re trying to do now is bring in people that we’re building, we’re building more functionality or more, more functional depth in terms of segment marketing and really customer account based marketing. And I would say that we’re, we’re very much involved in bringing in skillsets that have marketing realm, I would say more commercial background, the technical background, and also maybe consultant consulting types of of, of, of experience and then you know, and then analytics as well, too. So being able to interpret data and not just data from design standpoint, but data from, you know, what do you, what does it mean to, to a customer in term and what does it mean to them in terms of how they make money or how they have another CTQ?

So that’s really the change we’re making. And I would say, you know, we, we’re doing, we’re trying to re retrain our team and we’re trying to bring in new talent at the same time.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So kind of building a ship while spying and assembling everything and doing all that. So I prefer a process standpoint, whether some of the more strategic things that you’re doing across the business to scale.

Shonodeep Modak:

Yeah. The biggest thing I would say is is the, is one thing I mentioned earlier, which is around lead generation is we’re really working with our CRM systems to make sure that we’re able to utilize the full spectrum of what it can offer to us. So we were really believe it or not. We were, we’ve been utilizing only the quotation to the actual win-loss side of the, of the CRM system that we have. And now what we’re doing is we’re expanding it into the early stage prospecting piece, which means we’ve got to train the sales team. We’ve got to give them the tools to help show them the tasks that need to deliver in order to get to that next stage in the pipeline. And then we’re also working on how do we bring in more people into the franchise through thought leadership, through creating content.

 We, for the first time we have an editorial calendar of content that we’re going to be deploying based on listing research that we did last year, that shows what our customers in these various segments, like, what would, what, what does a control panel builder care about? Do they care about safety? Not as much as they care about uptime and operational efficiency. So we’re really looking at building information that helps them achieve what their goals are specific to that sector. And then we’re trying to drive them to our web pages and to third party pages that can allow them to get nurtured on that type of information and then, and then find their way into our, into our domain.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So you already mentioned some new technologies that you guys are developing that allows you to deliver a better customer experience, but what about the rest of your, your MarTech stack or what are you doing strategically as you’re investing in technology the scale, or there’s some other elements that are part of your current plan?

Shonodeep Modak:

Yeah, I would say the biggest, the big strategic pieces of it are, are being able to, I would say this is more operational, but being able to now link better our, all of our activities across the marketing mix. So I just talked a lot about lead gen and making sure that we’re responsible for pipeline. The other things are more than the traditional side, too. For example, a customer events, customer seminars, trade shows that we’re participating in. We’re now trying to make sure that we’re linking that back to our, our, our, our CRM systems to make sure that we’re tracking leads and that we’re also, we’re also getting a return on the investment to be very honest. And then if we’re finding that the return on investment is not there, then we’re able to shift mics to things that are are better. And so we’re constantly measuring and, and reallocating things quarter by quarter versus sticking to a plan, you know, that we said, okay, January one, here, here we go. Let’s keep sticking with it the whole year through. And then we’ll readjust. We’re pivoting every, every, every, every few months,

Jeff Pedowitz:

That’s all, that’s definitely very agile. So because you have such a mature product and how much of your revenue comes from existing customers for repeat and how much is net new?

Shonodeep Modak:

Yeah, I would say a majority of our revenue comes from existing customers. And for the main reason is that the sales cycle time for our customer base can be anywhere between 12 months to 36 months. And so if you think about a circuit breaker, it’s gotta be tested, it’s gotta be approved. It’s gotta go through studies. It’s gotta be then tested on the design. You know, they’ve got to do stress testing with the product once it’s in the field. So there’s quite a bit of time duration to be able to win a customer. And so we’re able to you know, we’re, we’re growing to new channels, but I would say that most of our business comes from extracting more business out of our existing base.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Okay. And how do you handle attribution? Cause I know a lot of people that we talk to that manage these multi-year development cycles have a hard time figuring out. So what exactly did marketing do and when for the attribution and how do you, because these contracts roll out then over multiple years with revenue. So what do you do? What are you doing to kind of measure? And what is, what is your management asking you to measure

Shonodeep Modak:

Really? I mean, it goes back to the pipeline and pipeline velocity. We’re also looking at the actual customer experience post the sale, but I mean, maybe that’s something you know, we could get some help on is, is the attribution side of it. I would say we’re, we’re still, we know that’s an ad, it’s an area we’ve got to really get better at. We’ve just been trying to now get to the w w you know, we, we look at where we are in the spectrum of, of being a true digital marketing company. And we’re probably the digital marketing function rather. And I would say we’re need to really think, think about taking that on as a next step.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So as someone that’s been a marketing executive for a number of years, what do you, what do you see as the next big thing? I mean, cause there’s always some trend going on the marketing. Right. But what, what, what do you think is going to really impact our world over the next year?

Shonodeep Modak:

I really think, you know, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve talked about this before in some of my presentations. I really think the next wave is going to be the digitization of, of our products, meaning that I think it doesn’t have to only be, say software on your, you know, on your shampoo bottle or something like that. It doesn’t have to be like that. But if I can, if I can figure out how some trends, you know, transactions around my products and I can do digital, I can help do an analytics around that forecasting, predictive analytics for my customers, and then use that in my e-commerce space. In terms of being able to deliver more of an optimist optimized optimized targeting, and marketing, and even value creation for the customer. I think that connectivity between the digital digitization of the product around the product, and then the digitization of those of those insights into the way I go to market is going to be a big trend. And that’s huge amounts of data. You know, everybody says they can go and analyze it and do it I’ve yet to see it being done really well across that space. And I think that people that can figure that out first are going to be the real winners here.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Absolutely. So as someone that’s been through ongoing transformation, some of it, of your own making, some of it kind of present it to you, what advice would you give to your fellow CML about how to approach change and driving transformation in his or her business?

Shonodeep Modak:

Yeah, I mean, you’ve got to, you know, I think for anybody you’ve got to, you’ve got to stay on your toes and I would say, keep, keep, keep looking at how do you keep on improving the skill sets of your base team, but look at, look at where do you bring on the next skill sets or the next type of roles that are going to help take you to the next to the next level? Like if I look at our team, you know, not even, not even a year ago, we had a team that was heavily dedicated towards the traditional marketing trade shows, events, brochures, and collateral. And we’re far from that today. And I think that allows us to move faster and we get more information about our customers through these new processes. And I think you’ve just got to keep reassessing and looking for new tools that are out there and figuring out how those things fit in your, in your, in your model, because it really is, it really is rapidly changing and you know, you’ve gotta, you gotta make sure that you’re keeping open to that.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Fantastic. Shonodeep, thank you so much for your insights. It’s always exciting to hear the things that you’ve been working on, and we really appreciate you being on the show today. Thank you

Shonodeep Modak:

As always, Jeff, thank you for always for these opportunities. Appreciate it. You bet.

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