IT services provider Wipro said it will invest $9.9 million (Rs 63 cr) in marketing consultant Harte Hanks and will jointly offer end-to-end marketing technology services to customers.
Harte Hanks specializes in omni-channel marketing solutions including consulting, strategic assessment, data, analytics, digital, social, mobile, print, direct mail and contact center.
“Wipro’s investment in Harte Hanks reflects our continued commitment to offer leading-edge marketing technology and digital services that cater to the needs of Chief Marketing Officers and marketing professionals, across industry segments,” said Srini Pallia, President, Consumer Business Unit, Wipro Limited.
“This investment strengthens our existing partnership with Harte Hanks and enables us to address a key industry challenge by offering ‘Marketing as a Service’.”
‘As-a-service’ offerings require no long-term commitment or heavy initial investments from clients, and are therefore more easy to try for companies. They rely heavily on the Internet for delivery and co-ordination with clients.
Many facilities are now available as a service, including offices, IT infrastructure, customer service, warehouse management and human resources management.
“Wipro’s strong understanding of industry verticals, cognitive & analytical capabilities and process automation combined with Harte Hanks’ established agency expertise, strong MarTech capabilities, customer insights and customer experience offerings, will offer unparalleled value to clients,” the Bangalore-based company said.
With the infusion of technology into marketing in recent years, both traditional marketing companies and traditional IT services companies have been forced to encroach into each others territories more and more.
IT services companies like Wipro, for example, talk as much with the Chief Marketing Officers or CMOs of their clients as much as the CTOs or Chief Technology Officers.
Harte Hanks CEO Karen Puckett said companies can no longer rely on traditional avenues of marketing, such as advertisements, to target new-age customers.
“Brands are now defined by the blend of all the experiences they deliver to their customers,” she said . “It is marketing technology that facilitates the proper interactions at scale.”
“Enterprises and brands are working hard to better understand their customer’s buying journey and are deploying technology to help them interact with customers in relevant, meaningful ways. However, CMOs are increasingly concerned about marketing’s capability to acquire and manage technology effectively. This partnership squarely addresses those opportunities,” she said.
The acquisition follows the familiar theme of large Indian services companies making strategic investments in, or tie-ups with niche digital services firms.
Besides Wipro, Infosys has been especially keen on such deals.
Wipro and Harte Hanks already work together. They jointly market Opera Solutions’ Signal Hub platform, an advanced big data analytics and machine learning platform for improving customer experience.
Wipro, with over 160,000 employees, in trying to adapt to a world where most of the core IT functions, such as creating and maintaining applications, is increasingly being done by software, making large armies of IT engineers redundant.