Mechanisms that Matter – How India is fuelling growth for global brands 

India is home to a dominant share of the world's shared service hubs and a huge growth driver for global brands.

CVL Srinivas (CVLS), Country Manager of a 10,000-strong India team, tells Anna Hickey (AH) how WPP Open, our intelligent marketing operating system powered by AI, is fuelling a testbed for new working models, innovation, and automation.

AH: Our clients want to know how we're going to use technologies like AI to drive continuous improvements and to cut costs. How do you think clients view that technology in terms of benefits and the watch outs that they might see in us deploying things like AI for them?

CVLS: We're going through a bit of a learning curve, all of us. When AI first came in, people talked about improving productivity, creating more options for content, getting sharper insights or being able to write briefs more easily. Those were some of the benefits that we started seeing early on, and all of these started coming into our workflows. Cut to where we are today with something like WPP Open, our intelligent operating system, it brings all of this together and really sits at the centre of our offer. It brings all these different technologies together, and its Open Source so you can plug-and-play with any other technology that you may have. It really helps to break down silos, get creativity and data together, connect people together, get local and global a lot more connected and so on. So, we are seeing wherever we deployed it an amazing amount of benefit to clients, first and foremost, and to our people. AH: India we know, is a big growth driver for global brands. And so, the pressure to choose the best agency network is immense, of course. And I know you've got a huge slate of pitches on right now, so can you give us a little bit of a sense of what potential clients want or don't want from their agency partner in 2024?

CVLS: Yes, we're having a lot of interesting client discussions these days. And for us as WPP, what we really bring to the table is a combination of efficiency and effectiveness. While there's, of course, technology, data, AI and everything else to talk about, I think all of us know that even today, there's nothing more powerful than a creative idea, which can really move the needle on a business or on a brand, right? So, I think the big advantage we have at WPP is that really sits at the centre of our offer and therefore, building on that, using creativity in combination with technology and AI and data to start moving the needle on some of the business and brand parameters is the way we start approaching it.

And then obviously bring in all the efficiency levers that we have. For example, the GDC [Global Delivery Centre]. Using a lot more automation and what we like to call opti-shoring, which is, how do we intelligently leverage the talent pool that we have across the globe as WPP in a more connected fashion?

We spoke about WPP Open earlier and I think that's the other interesting place where it can come into play. So I think all of these put together, make it possible for us today to take to our clients an offer that is nimble, that's creative, that's obviously leveraging technology and AI and is fit for tomorrow.

AH: So in your role, looking after the whole of WPP in India, you're in receipt of briefs from clients looking for all sorts of solutions from media to creative to production to end to end services indeed. In those briefs that you're taking how much of the model that the client wants is defined by them in the brief and how much is defined by us in the response that we propose?

CVLS: There is this client, which is a leading CPG client of WPP globally, where we handle all the media from our very strong media operation in India. And this client has come to us saying, you know, can we help them set up a content production hub in India to service all their markets in the region, covering more than about 15 markets. And that's an interesting brief because while we have the media business, if you're able to build a content hub and then end up joining the two, we’re able to deliver personalised content at scale, in a more automated way. And we have many such briefs where clients are saying, okay, you handle one part of my business, how can we start building adjacencies and how can you unlock value?

AH: What is it about India that makes it so innovative and forward thinking?

CVLS: Well, probably there’s three reasons for that. I think firstly, just in terms of the kind of talent base that we have there, I think we have probably the largest number of engineering graduates, or STEM graduates, as we call them, graduating every year.

And I was looking at some numbers recently, even in terms of AI ready talent, we’re right up there. So I think the talent base is obviously very exciting. Secondly, I think it's to do with the digital ecosystem that we have in India. I think there's one of those unique markets where you have not just the big global tech players, you also have a very active and a thriving local tech ecosystem. And all of that coming together works very well for our business, especially because you end up dealing with different kinds of partners with different kinds of solutions. And thirdly, I think it's just to do with a very innovative and entrepreneurial culture. I think all of these put together make India a dream destination, especially in a creative industry. And, you know, increasingly tech is colliding with creativity to unlock magic for clients.

AH: Well, that's great. Thank you so much for spending a bit of time with me. It's great to see you, Srini.

CVLS: Thank you. Always a pleasure.

Anna Hickey

WPP, Wavemaker

published on

16 April 2024



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