CIM Sri Lanka to empower marketers with insights into ‘Disruptive Innovation’

Tuesday, 14 June 2016 00:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Sri Lanka is all set to hold its 16th Annual Conference titled ‘Disruptive Innovation’ later this month, bringing together more than 450 professional and business community of Sri Lanka to one forum. It is the central meeting point where topical themes, strategies and trends of marketing are reviewed, discussed and celebrated through a panel of international and local experts. CIM Sri Lanka Chairman Sanjika Perera and Vice Chairman Brian Selvanayagam took time off to share more insights to this year’s Annual Conference as well as CIM Sri Lanka’s success as the leading professional marketing body. Following are excerpts of the interview:


By Charumini de Silva

Q: Give us an overview of this year’s theme of ‘Disruptive Innovation’ and why?

2016-06-14-ft-01Sanjika: The 16th Annual Conference is scheduled to be held on 28 and 29 June under the theme ‘Disruptive Innovation’. The conference will be inaugurated on Tuesday, 28 June and the technical sessions will be held on 29 June at Waters Edge Battaramulla. Every year we tend to talk of something which is pertinent to the marketing and the business fraternity. The topic that we chose tend to be timely, which could support our marketing and business community as well as our members who are our key focus group in this Annual Conference — to provide them new knowledge, ideas, networking opportunities to broaden their horizon. Last year we went to the basics of branding, year before it was value innovation. Therefore, every year we come out with a theme which is relevant with the times and trends. 

There are lot of new players; new buzz words that are happening in the market, some of them grow to be the next Google while some fades away after couple of years. But it is how one manages it and inculcating that new way of thinking into the marketing and business community is really what we want to emphasise during this conference. From a conference perspective, we are targeting more the corporate sector. Traditionally, disruptive innovation is where somebody in a garage or college student who will convert their idea into a product with venture capital. 

Here, what we are also trying to do is, because our members cater to large corporate conglomerates, how to be not entrepreneurial, but within an organisation how they are able to take on some of these ideas or the learning’s and apply it within their organisation, so that they can be more competitive. It may not be a revolutionary idea that will change the entire landscape of Sri Lanka, but an idea that will provide the competitive advantage over their competitor. 

Brian: A lot of people get confused with the disruptive innovation in the digital space. People always think of it in software, Facebook, Whatsapp, but disruptive innovation could occur in a non-digital space. If you look at Tesla for example, is known for electric vehicles. The concept of some of these technologies has been there for some time, it’s just about using the existing infrastructure and actually creating consumer need, targeting it. In terms of disruptive innovation another interesting area is you don’t need major resources to start it up. All these start ups have been able to come forward and challenge the big boys’ industry and have done far better as well. Now established companies are able to look at nurturing those ideas and responding to these new technologies as well. The theme this year is very interesting, some people can relate to it. It doesn’t take $1 million to start it up and look at taking it to a well-established level. 

Q: What are the key highlights of this year’s Annual Conference?

Sanjika: Like every year, we have managed to get a good mix of academics and practicing professionals to come in as resource people. Dr. Prafulla Agnihotri, Founder Director of IIM Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, will deliver the keynote address this year on ‘The Concept of Disruptive Innovation and Applicability into Marketing’. Then we also have Prof. Poh Kam Wong who will speak on ‘Nurturing Disruptive Innovation,’ while Prof.Gemma Calvert will share insights on a new field of marketing called ‘Neuromarketing’. It is also new knowledge that we are trying to introduce, not just examples. 

Chairman of the Unilever Sri Lanka Carl Cruz will be the Chief Guest at the event and the Guest of Honour would be Chris Daly, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.  The potential is humongous once somebody really gets the idea of doing something new to change the world, that’s the kind of spark we want to really create at this conference. 

Brian: All these forums are supplemented by panel discussions as well to provide a local perspective on how these theories and international models could be applied to the respective businesses. This year we are looking around 450 people at the inauguration and for the technical sessions around 350 participants.

Sanjika: In addition, we have two forums on 29 June. The morning session is focused on innovation, where new innovators discussing their ideas, while the evening session is focused on CEOs to share corporate leaders’ perspectives and insights. We are also trying to do something unique this time, in collaboration with the Innovation Council to have an ‘Innovation Zone’. There are many small players who have introduced new concepts, which will disrupt the way people would do the business. The Innovation Zone will exhibit products and concepts. This is an open invitation to all innovators in Sri Lanka to display their innovative concepts at the two-day conference. One other highlight is that Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) has been with our conference from the inception. This is the 16th consecutive year of their partnership. We are extremely grateful for their support and nurturing the marketing industry and the community. 

Q: How successful has the CIM Sri Lanka office been so far?

Sanjika: The CIM Sri Lanka’s primary purpose is to provide value addition to our members and to provide them a root to Chartered Marketer status and provide them opportunity for continuous development so that they can maintain the Charted Marketers status. At present we have a very active student base of around 2,000 plus and an active membership base of around 1,000. The overall membership is over 3,000 to whom we are directly responsible for providing a value added service. 

As the world’s largest professional body for marketing, we tend to drive the marketing agenda. Apart from the annual conference, we have certain programs to impart world-class knowledge and allow networking opportunity via programs like the talking point, CEO breakfast forums. These programs provide the opportunity to network outside work and also to strengthen their business proposition as well. We have a set of corporate partners whom we deal with and we tend to work closely with them such as in recruitment process and so forth. We are also looking at creating and engaging market interest groups from different industries, where they will look at common problems that they face in terms of marketing. We are trying to launch this program by next month.

Brian: We do a lot of awareness programs especially for school children on the concept of marketing, marketing education and the career opportunities. Though many think that marketing is just sales and advertising it is getting a lot of prominence at the Board level in today’s corporate world. 

Q: From a global perspective, what are the emerging marketing trends? 

Sanjika: The biggest trend is that it is getting scattered. Marketing is finally about the consumer and how you get at the consumer. Another area is social media which is picking up very fast. None of us seems to be having a grip of how best to do it and I don’t think there is one way of saying this is the best method of doing it as it is all user friendly media. Digital and social media are a key driver in shaping consumer behaviour for consumer attitudes — that is what marketing is finally about. It no longer the way of putting an advertisement in the newspaper, a TV commercial or a radio jingle, but it is about how you engage your consumer and the most cost effective way of doing it. As a marketing person in an organisation is the interaction between the consumer and the organisation. A marketer needs to know the best way of communicating and dealing with the consumer, that’s where the disruptive model of elements comes into place.   

Q: How can the CIM qualification help marketers climb the career ladder?

Sanjika: The CIM qualification happens at three levels — Certificate, Diploma and Post Graduate. Our range of professional qualifications along with our many membership benefits are designed to support a person to develop their knowledge as well as career pathway to excel and realise their full potential. If you look at the CIM qualification, it tends to have more exemptions for MBA programs than any other professional qualification or undergraduate qualification because it makes you think in a strategic manner. 

Q: What are the future challenges for marketers?

Sanjika: I think the biggest challenge is to stay up-to-date. One of the areas that we see growing is mobile penetration. At present most of the people are doing their research on their mobile phones, and it is no longer to make calls only. Looking five years from now, even mobile will not be the device, it would be a smart watch, smart spectacles or any other new device. How you market your value proposition and get the share of voice in that scattered market is important.