iConcept Software Services – Blog

If you get down to fundamentals, the fundamental premise behind every dashboard is simple. When you “see” pictures containing statistical graphics, you “hope” that they trigger reasoning out the quantitative information encapsulated in it. And if you’ve spent a good amount of time in the Enterprise world, you would know how far we are from realizing this promise.

Trust the “da Vinci of Data“, Edward Tufte, to sum up the current state of affairs.

“vast wasteland of pretentious banality”. That sounds poetic and scathingly accurate.

As a Product Manager, I have learned this from the trenches: Building a product is kind of like making a stew.

You need the right set of ingredients. You need a robust domain model, a functional interface design and a sticky core loop. And to hold all of them together, you need a good broth. Data visualization is that broth in which all the ingredients you hold dear about your product will be simmered in.

If you ask me, the broth determines everything about the success of your product.

Over the last few months, I have begun working on the broth, learning from the bible written by the masters of the craft like Edward Tufte. I have a long way to go. It hasn’t reached yet the kind of taste and texture I would like to have.

However, I would like to share the beta version we have launched with our agri-input clients Limagrain, Bayer Crop Science and Nufarm, who have been using the Marketing Intelligence Module of neoInt (formerly known as Productive Market Cluster).

I’ll start progressively from the obvious to the not so obvious.

1) Activity Progress for the last 30 days:

When a Territory Manager logs on to our Field Marketing module, he starts off his day with a dashboard that categorizes field marketing activities in the below manner.

Although these category groups are flexible and can be regrouped differently, (see the image below), we’ve seen that marketing executives prefer this categorization by default.

Push activities are sales-driven and largely focus on trade selling with incentives to channel partners. Pull activities are demand driven and focus on farmer-education and farmer marketing. Market Intelligence activities provide insights to organization about the prevailing dynamics in the market. In our experience, we’ve seen the following kinds of activities being implemented on the field, most of the time.

As you can imagine, when a Territory Manager looks at these dashboards, he looks for insights on the traction of push and pull activities, operating in the ground by pareto principle. In their book, “Agri-Input Marketing in India”, authors Pingali Venugopal and Ram Kaundinya state that companies spend around 5-7% of the sales revenue on pull activities. Pull activities spread word-of-mouth among farmers, showcase the real benefits of the product vis-a-vis competitor and also drive significant brand awareness.

In my field visit, I’ve observed that Field Officers more often spend the first half of the day (when farmers are most likely to be busy at work) with pull-activities and the second half with push-based activities.

Understanding the lifecycle of an agrochemical product, brand awareness, active ingredients used by competitors help you plan the cadence of these Push and Pull activities.

2) Village Profile

When a Territory Manager assigns field marketing activities, he wants to first identify the villages to be targeted. He wants to know the top crops that are being grown in the village. When he wants to plan the volume of sales target across geographies and its distribution, net sown area gives a better insight into the planning process. When there is a greater share of irrigated land, there are more selling opportunities in more than one season. When the Territory Manager understands the demographics, there is a better sense of understanding of the labour scenario in that particular village.

3) Retailer and Activity’s Sphere of Influence:

Although we grouped field marketing activities broadly earlier, when you get down to the dirty details at the ground level, it is quite obvious that each activity is unique in its sphere of influence it exerts over a territory. A Field Demo activity exerts a larger sphere of influence than a Field Visit and Harvest Day activity exerts even large influence than Field Demo.

How do we better map these differential areas of influence so that we can understand dispersion of marketing?

Spatially, ofcourse.

If you place a retailer in the center of a node, and start mapping the field marketing activities ( denoted by balloons of different colours) around the retailer, you get a map that looks like this

This is my favourite dashboard, for obvious reasons. Among other things, it helps you see from the eyes of an agri-inpretailer selling your products.

In my previous blog post, I had written that

Most of the Agri-Input Retailers have sophisticated knowledge of the crop cycles and the agro-climatic conditions of the cluster of villages they operate in. However, they are kept in the dark about the marketing activities that are done by field-staff of agrochemical companies.

Although Agri-Input Retailers don’t have access and don’t need access to these dashboards( for they know through their long experience and informal social circles), it is important to have Territory Managers access these dashboards, before planning for the Field Representatives to meet Retailers as a part of the latter’s daily beat.

What makes this dashboard more interesting is how it applies point system to these differential areas of influence. If you look at the dashboard above( populated with dummy data), you would notice that the number of activities don’t have a first-order relationship with the score that accompanies them. The score takes a weighted approach taking into account the number of activities, and the influence each activity exerts on the territory.

In an excellent blog post diagnosing the current challenges in product promotion in agrochemical firms article, Industry leader Pran Arora challenged a common assumption held by agri-input firms:

Promotional efforts , especially these BTL/ATL activities, have never contributed meaningfully to the success of any of the product in our industry .

This needs to change. We need to equip marketing leaders with the right set of decision aid systems that can make promotional efforts more relevant, and tie them back to the business ROI.

As someone who is six months old in the #Agtech space, I know that there is a great deal of potential in bringing the best of technological solutions to address many of the pressing challenges faced by the agri-input players. Our recently launched neoInt is our baby step towards this direction.

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