Sumit Virmani, Global CMO, InfosysI
n January 2022, Infosys leapfrogged IBM to take the number three position in the annual report by Brand Finance, the world’s leading brand valuation firm. In fact, its year-on-year brand value grew by 52 percent to $12.8 billion. Infosys has been recognised as the fastest-growing IT services brand in the world. It is also among the Top 25 fastest-growing brands across sectors, globally, according to Brand Finance Global 500, 2022. The company managed a monumental 80 percent leap in brand value over the past two years. Storyboard18 caught up with Sumit Virmani, global chief marketing officer of Infosys, to get a peek at the company’s brand playbook and its game plan on tennis courts, and in our virtual worlds, which has helped propel the brand into the top three globally.
Edited excerpts. Q. Infosys is now among the top three IT brands in the world. What were the factors that helped propel the brand to the top?
We were quite delighted to be recognised as the Top 3 IT brands in the world, and more importantly, as the fastest-growing large IT services company in the world. The biggest lever that has driven this fast growth is actually a strong alignment between marketing priorities and business outcomes.
As marketers, we’re obsessed from the early days with the foundational Four Ps. However, there’s another P—performance marketing. That's really what drives effective integration of the four Ps to make marketing deliver for the business.
We've built the Brand and Business Impact Framework, a guiding principle for us to drive any marketing initiative. Unless a marketing initiative is seamlessly backing business performance, it is just a good-to-have. The integration is what's driven results and impact for us.Q. Infosys is one of the few big global Indian brands. How are you looking at brand building in the current context?
Back in 2018, when we articulated our brand promise, we had a very clear focus on evolving Infosys as a brand that will stay relevant to the needs of all its stakeholders. Then, the big shift happening in the industry was around digital and we wanted Infosys to be seen as the brand of choice for our stakeholders. It determined the brand choices we made, like partnering with the global tennis ecosystem—a credible partnership where our digital technology can power the future of tennis by making it more exciting
for the billion fans of tennis around the world. Bringing technology and giving its power to the coaches and players to analyse the game and develop their strategy. Using the power of tech to provide access to broadcasters, for example, to create AI-powered highlights on the go. These are examples of how the brand choices or the partnership choices were driven by the need to bring the brand promise to life. Q. TCS has occupied running (marathons) and it is also establishing its presence in racing. Infosys has dug into tennis and you also have a fairly new partnership with Madison Square Garden in New York. What’s your strategy and what else is on the cards?
We have a long partnership with the tennis association in addition to partnering with the ATP World Tour, which conducts hundreds of tournaments around the world throughout the year. We are partners of the French Open and Australian Open
, and we have recently announced a partnership with the International Tennis Hall of Fame—a historic tournament that happens in the US, and it's going to be called the Infosys Hall of Fame Open from this year. So clearly, tennis is one game that we are very strongly associated with.
In fact, we developed the Infosys tennis platform, that is today powering all this and the technological innovations like making the experiences exciting for the fans, making analytics powerful for the players, making experiences accessible to the tournament organisers or giving broadcasters and media access to analytics
to make stories more exciting. That’s one partnership that is covering the entire spectrum. Over and above that, because of our partnership with ATP World Tour, we go into specific events depending on the market it’s happening in and try to activate the brand on the ground. Q. Tell us more about the partnership with MSG? How does that fit into your strategy?
The choice of Madison Square Garden was, of course, strategic, keeping in mind the US market and how important that is for the brand. And the fact that it is such an iconic venue, which hosts a whole series of events throughout the year. It's also home to the New York Knicks. As part of that partnership, we also become the digital innovation partner of the Knicks.
Now, what we're trying to do there essentially is bring the same digital and technological capabilities that we brought to tennis to the New York Knicks and to the arena with the aspiration for the arena to become a smart stadium.
Those were two strategic bets that we have taken at this point in time. Q. How do these partnerships impact the brand in terms of perception and value?
Because we're in the business of providing digital technology, the US, Europe and Australia end up becoming our biggest markets. Associating with these sports and tournaments which are iconic for the local audience does well for the brand and allows the brand to engage. In fact, one of the choices that drove our prioritisation of tennis is that tennis as a sport is played around 11 months of the year. The tennis platform offers the brand opportunity for consistent and credible exposure. Q. And what are you doing in tennis in India?
At this point in time, we don’t have an active partnership in India that we can talk about. We’ve had some active conversations with different parts of the tennis ecosystem in India to see how best we can leverage our capabilities to support the ecosystem, but nothing concrete at this point to share with you.Q. Let’s move to the metaverse, which is all the rage right now. What’s your take on it as a marketer and how is Infosys and its Metaverse Foundry going to play a part in creating opportunities in the space?
We've already seen the success of metaverse
in the gaming environment. We are seeing that today in the retail environment. So clearly, the use cases can be enormous and that's what triggered us to really launch Metaverse Foundry to enable this experience, this confluence of domain, design and digital technology to be available to our clients around the world to accelerate their journey to the metaverse.
The use cases are going to evolve as this is a relatively new technology. For example, when we were working with the Australian Open, we actually ended up creating a virtual environment for them last year when they could not really host their 800 partners in person. We created the entire experience in the form of a virtual hub. Roland Garros wanted to give its clients a 3D art museum experience. We ended up creating a mixed-reality environment and over 10,000 visitors actively engaged.Q. How will you leverage the Foundry to help businesses realise their metaverse ambitions, once they can articulate these ambitions, that is?
The most amount of interest is coming in from the retail sector because you see a lot of retail players go out there and experiment with the metaverse
. As the success of early experiments becomes more visible to the industry, you’ll see a lot more interest in the technology.
What will make the adoption of metaverse easier for our clients is the combination of domain, design and digital technology. Because we have the experience of doing it for ourselves, with the Infosys Virtual Living Labs, an integration of this will help enterprises take an easier start to their journeys. That's what we hope to achieve and are keen to achieve with the Metaverse Foundry.