Our focus is next generation story telling using customer experiences: Vincent Digonnet

Monday, 10 March 2014 - 9:06am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

The first meeting -- two years prior to acquisition -- with the Bangalore-based technology service provider Neev was 'love at first sight', says Vincent Digonnet, executive chairman–APAC, Razorfish Consulting (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. However, keeping love aside and focusing on the business aspects, Razorfish has worked carefully to ensure the acquisition works well in the long run. A year after the acquisition, Digonnet discusses with Ashish K Tiwari on the progress being made and what is in store for India operations. Edited excerpts...

How is the integration of Neev into Razorfish India progressing?
It has been extremely smooth. One of the easiest part is the complementarity that existed between what we grew organically and what Neev was bringing to the table. We were very clear from the beginning of not coming into the Indian market if we didn't have the technology to live-up to the Razorfish brand and way of working. This is because, none of the Razorfish work can be delivered without a strong technology backbone and that's where Neev came in. What we have done is split Digitas into Digitas LBI and a part of now is Razorfish with presence in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

Will it be correct to say then that the journey is looking good so far?
I would say it's looking great and we have blended well together as our cultures are very similar. From being nothing a year ago, Razorfish is now a 450 people operation and a technology centre not only for India but also the rest of the world. In fact, we are going to build some of our technology capabilities on Neev. There is the Indian market that will continue to grow under the Razorfish with key people who moved from Digitas.

The other part of it will be the ability to deliver technology for the rest of the world out of India and therefore start to compete more effectively against the systems integrator, which is one of our big business drivers and being developed through our global partnership with Adobe and Hybris for the e-commerce platform.
From a technology stand point, our focus is next generation story telling using customer experiences in mobile, browser-based or physical set up. Neev has done some spectacular work in the space for lots of US clients.

How are Digitas and Razorfish functioning in India now?
Digitas is now an agency focusing on marketing led use of digital work. They focus more on CRM, social media and creative campaigns. Razorfish does technology based transformational work for clients. Our focus will be platform transformation, system integrators, etc. We now provide a combination of both creative aspect and technology which Neev has brought. We have done some interesting work for Maruti in India and for Audi City and Special K in some of the international markets.

What areas are you look into for expanding Razorfish India operations?
There is a huge market and lot of options in the technology sector. We are looking to expand business in the mobility area and acquisitions or partnerships are an option. The start-up culture in US is developed; India is also one place which has tremendous scope for the same. Like China, India has access to 3G and 4G technology and also has a large pool of skilled talent which should look at developing mobile digital technology and apps.

Technologically, is there a huge gap between India and other countries?
While there certainly is a gap, one needs to understand that the whole Silicon Valley is being fuelled by talent from India. I think India must look at the 'east' not the 'west' for learnings. India sells brilliant technology to the world and keeps simple technology to itself! Mobile technology is huge in India but it is being used for very basic purposes and is based on simple technologies.
There is tremendous growth in China especially in the digital space and India can gain a lot from the country.

People have started speculating the death of Facebook. Any views on that?
It does sound like a scary proposition. However, there is a way to work around it. The number of people joining Facebook is good and growing but then they opened it up and any website can have a Facebook log in. I'd say Facebook should be terrified of what is happening in China in the social and mobile space. While it's recent acquisition of Whatsapp is a defensive measure, when it comes to social media the consumers want an advertising free experience.

How do you view the merger of Publicis and Omnicom?
Both companies have a very global portfolio with slightly different DNA. Publicis is way ahead in digital and Omnicom is probably the best in terms of traditional advertising creativity.

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