Aruba CMO on building tech resilience for pandemic-level events

Image courtesy of Edwin Hooper on Unsplash.

Change is constant, but those introduced by the pandemic are downright disruptive. Among the disciplines affected by COVID’s onset is marketing, as customer behaviour and priorities shifted nearly overnight, whether at a company level or among individuals.

To gain some insight on this profound change from a marketing perspective, Frontier Enterprise spoke with Sylvia Hooks, Chief Marketing Officer for Aruba, about working through global disruptions with technology. We also asked her regarding how the pandemic challenged her organisation, Aruba’s marketing technology stack, innovations for the immediate future, and more.

What have you observed with how Aruba customers worked through the pandemic – specifically with how they’ve used Aruba’s wireless networking solutions?

The global pandemic added more than 70 million users to the Internet in Southeast Asia alone, putting a spotlight on how digital connectivity has strained global networks. Aruba is working with our customers to manage the complexity brought about by the new hybrid workplace, potentially shorter work weeks as more markets trial a four-day work week, and a threat landscape that continues to evolve at a faster pace than we can decode and prevent.

We’re seeing Aruba’s innovation engine and mobile-first architecture resonating with customers in Southeast Asia. For instance, Aruba recently teamed up with Chunghwa Telecom Singapore to help Taiwanese enterprises expand into Southeast Asia in the post-pandemic era.

Because of COVID’s disruptive effect, especially with how enterprises do business, how has it helped your organisation think about developing resilience and readiness for other similar events?

The pandemic definitely put a heavy emphasis on digital marketing and omnichannel engagement with our customers across the world. From a productivity standpoint, it changed the way we communicate and collaborate, not just with colleagues, but with our partners and channels. Being a globally dispersed organisation from the start, we were in a fairly good position to handle remote working necessitated by the pandemic.

In a way, the pandemic gave us the perfect opportunity to showcase our technological capabilities, innovations, and value proposition in real time. Our customers looked to us to help steel their organisations against external shocks, be it the pandemic, the supply chain, extreme events due to climate change, the war in Ukraine, or any other global events causing great economic uncertainty.

Sylvia Hooks, Chief Marketing Officer, Aruba. Image courtesy of Aruba.

For example, we have seen increased interest in adopting software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) in the last few years because the benefits of SD-WAN have become more salient as more organisations embrace open and cloud-hosted environments. IDC estimates the SD-WAN market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.9%.

More organisations are also looking at automation as a way to build their resilience. A study by Forrester Consulting evaluated the impact of high-performance networking and security solutions on connected and smart high-tech manufacturing operations, and found that edge solutions, IoT applications, and networks were essential to driving innovation for 63% of respondents. Meanwhile, 69% of respondents said they were either piloting or already using cloud-managed networking and security solutions for improved flexibility, scalability, and defence capabilities.

As the world emerges from the pandemic, organisations are accelerating their transition to prioritise market and customer responsiveness amidst unpredictable market forces. And they are increasingly aligning their technology investments to ensure resilience in the long-term, such as enabling consistent network operations and remote monitoring and focusing on AI-powered software to optimise operations, implement predictive capabilities, and optimise productivity.

Looking ahead, it is crucial for all organisations to prepare for future global crises by building and maintaining a strong, modernised network that:

  • Improves automation, security, and agility to power hybrid work.
  • Accelerates the progress of digital initiatives.
  • Provides personalised experiences.
  • Drives greater efficiencies across the organisation.

Tell us about your marketing technology stack. What sort of IT infrastructure does Aruba use to support its marketing efforts?

Aruba powers its customer marketing strategy through Totango, a customer success platform, to deliver more specific and targeted messaging. For example, by using flexible design and easy-to-use templates, Aruba has risen above industry averages in email marketing to drive customer engagement and loyalty. We have definitely seen a boost in Aruba’s engagement rate, with clickthrough rates triple the industry average. By adopting the one-to-many approach, Aruba is able to deliver a personalised customer experience.

We have a very modern marketing technology stack, and I have to say that I personally love a good tool! We have marketing automation; currently we’re migrating into a new instance of Marketo. We rely on 6sense for intent data and profile matching of potential buyers, which is integrated with our CRM, We also use Drift chat to engage with users on our web pages, and Folloze boards to allow our sellers to create custom content landing pages for target accounts. And of course, to visualise our metrics, we have many Domo dashboards.

Could you talk about the challenges that your department typically faces when using marketing enterprise technology?

Not everyone gravitates to new technology, even in marketing! Introducing new martech can be challenging even when there is a clear need. At Aruba, we love trying new things, but we invest in trialling the new technology with our users, to work out any kinks.

For example, we recently deployed Welcome technology for marketing program management. This was first deployed using process documentation, and then with input from real program managers on how reality looks compared to theory, then in pilot phase, then rollout to the whole org. And then of course, we have to do workshops with users so they can easily access the technology and be productive.

Given Aruba’s focus in the network access space, what other innovations do you see in the next three to five years?

Aruba recently announced the first self-locating wireless infrastructure and the Open Locate initiative to standardise methods for sharing location information — laying the foundation for the scalable delivery of highly accurate indoor location services at Aruba’s Atmosphere ’22 SEATH & India event. With self-locating access points, enterprises and service providers can deliver location-aware applications more quickly, accurately, and at scale across the entire wireless LAN footprint, eliminating the need for costly and error-prone manual surveys.

This is game-changing. GPS does not work well indoors, which is why current indoor location services do not use GPS but rely on other technologies like Bluetooth.

I’m excited to see what’s in store for Aruba’s future and how we can help our customers be ready for what’s next.