Sudha Kumar's Prayag Consulting helps high tech companies to strengthen their marketing
After eight years at Infosys Technologies when the restlessness bug bit Sudha Kumar, she could have simply moved on to another role within the IT major itself or perhaps to another company. Kumar chose to do neither. An electronics engineer from Anna University, Chennai and a post graduate in business management from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. Kumar saw a huge opportunity in offering marketing services for high tech companies. Armed with her experience at Infosys, Kumar decided to venture out on her own and set up her own strategic marketing consultancy firm, Prayag Consulting, specifically targeted at the IT and high tech industry.
Says Kumar: "Marketing was and in fact still in a very under leveraged function in the Indian technology industry. Most companies don't realize that the strategic quality of their go-to-market plan and the ability to execute this plan is what determines the winners and long-term players."
This is a lesson that Kumar herself learnt from Infosys founders N.R.Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani during her tenure there. It was in 1993, after a four year stint with management consulting firm A F Ferguson that Kumar joined Infosys to set up its corporate planning function. At that time Infosys was a small company with barely 400 employees. It did not have a formal corporate planning division and the role was being handled primarily by the founders themselves. With the company aiming for high growth, Infosys felt the need to define this function more clearly and brought in Kumar to head it.
In 1997 Kumar moved to a marketing role within Infosys where she was actively involved in conceptualizing, planning and implementing a global marketing programme with particular emphasis on building the Infosys brand. Recalls Kumar: "At that time when the sales people went knocking on the doors of prospective customers nobody knew of Infosys and my main role was to help build the Infosys brand."
During a four - year period Kumar was responsible for launching various initiatives. She put together a systematic market-tracking programme, a framework for launching new services, multi-pronged client relationship, global analyst and media management, internal branding and brand metrics etc.
At Infosys, Kumar got an insight into the ecosystem of the IT industry in the US and she felt that just like the Indian IT companies had proven that outsourcing and off-shoring could work, there was tremendous scope for working with technology companies, both Indian and global, in a partnership model on the marketing front.