ISB CBM - ThinkOn 2020

ISB - CBM is a unique platform for B2B research, collaboration and showcase for successful case studies. The Centre got the new year off to a flying start with Think On 2020 – a stimulating dialogue on Growth and Profitability in B2B markets. Held at the ISB campus on the 16th of January 2020, the attendance and response to the event is proof positive of the pressing need for advanced academic study in the B2B sector.
Hosted by B2B veteran and Director, CBM, Prof. DVR Seshadri, the event drew a highly decorated list of guest speakers. Prof. Seshadri delivered a brief introductory address on the critical need for B2B leaders to understand the value of creating a virtuous loop of concept - practice - concept, in order to stay competitive in the face of ferocious global competition.
In attendance to hear these senior industry experts discuss their insightful experiences was an equally accomplished audience, who both listened and participated eagerly in each talk on the future direction of the B2B industry. Of the many luminaries present at the event, these industry leaders took to the stage to share their experiences and learnings:

  • Ajay Kumar Mishra - CMO, Tata Steel;
  • Aman Rishi - Senior Director, Stryker;
  • Virginia Sharma - Sales Director, LinkedIn India;
  • Devika Sachdev - Senior VP, Aditya Birla Group;  
  • Professor Sundar Bhardwaj - The Coca Cola Company Chair Professor of
  • Marketing at the University of Georgia and visiting professor at the Indian School of Business;
  • Professor Ram Nidumolu of the Indian School of Business.

The speakers engaged the audience with meaningful discussion on interesting case studies from both their own businesses, and from other leaders and innovators in the B2B sector.

Ajay Kumar Mishra, Chief Marketing Officer of Tata Steel, spoke about the beginning of the new era of B2B 4.0. Laying particular emphasis on the fundamental truths of this new age, he stressed on how these should act as an impetus for inspirational leadership, spur digital transformation and help take the business beyond conventional barriers. He ended his talk with a call-to-arms to all present to collaboratively create ecosystems built for the business potential of tomorrow.
Aman Rishi, Senior Director at global medical equipment major Stryker discussed how the business took a tough decision of focusing on complete leadership on single products. Adding exponential value and preventing the commoditisation of their product portfolio in the brutally competitive medical equipment manufacturing business, this decision has made and maintained undisputed brand leadership in each of their product segments.
The Sales Director of LinkedIn India, Virginia Sharma took to the stage to discuss how some of the fundamentals of marketing still applied to the digital era, but how subtle differences in the B2B market can make a large difference to brand outcomes. She concluded her talk with the importance of challenging received wisdom, referencing in particular to the In It Together marketing campaign by LinkedIn, which was a significant departure for the social platform for professionals.
Devika Sachdev, Senior VP, Aditya Birla Group, delivered an impassioned address on the merits of mutually beneficial collaboration between B2B brands and B2C brands. Showcasing various examples of bold campaigns of how Ingredient brands had partnered with Host brands, with what was effectively a commodity, she proved that it is possible for B2B brands to forever embed themselves into the consumer consciousness as a B2C brand. Her insightful address highlighted the opportunities B2B marketing could be leveraging to great success.
Professor Ram Nidumolu spoke about the vital need to understand the blurring of the boundaries between B2B and B2C thanks to digital. Digital transformation in B2B marketing then, becomes not a choice but an inescapable imperative for businesses according to the Professor. And achieving effective digital transformation is entirely a function of the processes that are implemented to achieve it.
The session ended with a closing note on creating and sustaining profitable value chains by Professor Philip Zerrillo, Deputy Dean, ISB. The audience’s enthusiastic engagement with each of the speakers is just a taste of things to come, showing us that although Think On 2020 has concluded successfully, the journey of academic discovery for B2B majors in Asia has just begun.