Prashant Kumar is positioning Entropia for the future

Entropia recently celebrated its third anniversary, and the rise of this company within the Malaysian marketplace has been meteoric at the very least.

MARKETING Magazine had the pleasure to catch up with Prashant Kumar, founder and senior partner at Entropia, on the journey so far for the trailblazing company.

Prashant Kumar, seated, 4th from the right.

Firstly, thank you for taking the time to talk to MARKETING Magazine Malaysia. We are now in July of 2019, how are things with Entropia so far?

Well, we just celebrated our third anniversary. This year we have gone from a start-up to a grown-up.

With the most stable leadership team in the industry – most of us have worked together for years now, we are suitably solid, stable and mature.

Also, like other holding groups in our industry, finally the organization of all our conflict entities – Noir, Blanc, Rouge, Sentient etc. within Entropia group came alive bringing reassurance for our clients.

Also, our data consulting offering – Sentient – seems to have taken off in a big way. So has ROXY – our personalized marketing offering.

Aladdin, the new IOT service we launched, continues to be a fascinating promise.

Our rapid growth has meant that we are close to two hundred people now, yet we frequently talk about leader’s scale, challenger’s attitude.

And our competition is not the usual competitors, but the future itself. So, we take the challenges the future brings head-on and relentlessly seek to overcome them.

So, in a nutshell it’s been a stimulating year. However, while we are happy about where we are, we are also humbled by where we can be.

A recent news piece by Nielsen found that investments in precision marketing by advertisers in Asia are likely to increase in the next year to about 20% of marketing budgets, going beyond social, search and mobile towards newer applications. What’s your take?

Well, we had anticipated this three years back, and some of our offerings have been introduced towards this trend. ROXY – which delivers cross-platform creative personalization would be one, Integrity planning that brings together campaign, CRM and eCommerce in one strategic process is the other.

In fact, we launched Elon last year, our Journey mapping tool that leverages unified data architecture to offer extraordinary abilities to attribute right away.

It has been said a rise in short-termism is giving rise to a decline in creativity across the board, and the recent awards show in Cannes did to some extent showcase this predicament. What are your thoughts?

Well, the truth is due to the advent of UGC platforms and easy access to creative tools, the world as a whole has become a lot more creative.

The copy a great copy writer can write, and the design they can produce regularly competes in people’s heads with WhatsApp forwards, Instagram photos & YouTube virals.

While there is some truth that business have become a lot more short-term, it is also important that creativity better learns the language of digital accountability that Silicon Valley has built its edifice on.

It is important that best in class creative technologies are deployed. A creative leader can’t be dependent on a strategic planner, to be strategically relevant, as that might be his only true differentiator vs. the randomly conceived, but creatively brilliant UGC.

The vocabulary of creativity can’t continue to be full page full color. If you see many of the winners in Cannes this year, they sit at the cusp of creativity, data and technology.

That is the only road of redemption that leads back to the past glory. Droga5 has sought that road too.

That leads us nicely to the news of the recent acquisition of Droga5 by Accenture, and it looks like the advertising marketplace is getting a refresh. There has been a lot of talk of how consultancies could reshape the business of creativity going forward….

Consultancies are where they are, because they realize that CEOs and CFOs live and die by numbers & processes.

They are adept – in a very left-brain way – at deploying the right thinking and technology to make that happen.

The DNA of advertising has been the exact opposite – the right brain.

Now we see at some levels, the two cores coming together in tiny ways (most acquisitions right now are very small relatively and have a ‘cherry on the cake’ status on top of the behemoth consultancies).

The question is if a consultancy starts proffering a true whole brain solution across the value chain by a comprehensive re-invention of their internal organization, processes, talent and tools, would it still remain a consultancy, or would it become more of an agency.

It reminds me of Theseus paradox – whether an object which has had all its components replaced remains fundamentally the same object.

At Entropia, we talk of a hybrid creature called ‘Consulgency’. We want to be that organism and we are trying to conceive us as such in an organic way, rather than force transplant inorganically acquired silos to achieve that.

When it comes to technologies like 5G, AR, VR and IoT making a real impact on advertising these days, is there a danger of diluting creativity for the sake of efficiency and immediacy?

Not at all. Technology is changing new tools to play with every day, and it makes our lives so much more interesting. It allows newer toys, newer degrees of freedom for creatives to play with. If your car is romancing your fridge, imagine how it can fire up your peeping instincts.

Entropia started on the 1st of July 2016, so how are things 3 years later? Has the advertising marketplace in Malaysia changed since?

In certain ways ,yes. I think more media owners seem to be slowly emerging out of the chaos and shadows of disruption; and recovering their grip on what it will take to face the future.

On agency side, again we see a polarization – more and more shops have either become small standalone boutiques, or have joined their fortunes to become big groups.

Clients are now asking the tough digital Qs: does it really bring back sales? What is the interaction of online vs. offline investments on sales?

Is a JBP, a business plan for the media owner, or for me? How to get beyond last click scams to establish true attribution?

How to get beyond junk class display banners to something that’s more creative and insightful?

How do I put together an infrastructure to deliver omnichannel sales and integrated brand experiences?

So, we see clearer sharper questions emerging from the fog of future; and it’s plausible that once this age of digital plumbing is past us, we will see a resurgence of creativity.

But this time it will be more relevant, more accountable, and less plastic. After all there is no marketing without creativity.

Much has been said about how Entropia’s seamless ecosystem that fuses strategy, campaign, content, media, social, crm, analytics, web design and e-commerce in a one-stop-solution for clients. How are clients responding?

Clients are generally loving it, and it reflects in the excellent client retention rates we have, as well as the demand we see for our services among newer clients.

As a navigational partner, rather than a transactional partner, as we seek to customize our offering for individual categories and clients, it’s frequently an exciting discovery together.

Having said that the economy continues to be soft, and consumer marketplace in general getting pummeled, and the choice between today and tomorrow is a resounding theme.

In so many ways we are constantly listening to what our clients have to say to us, and allow them to co-make us.

We will never be perfect, but we ought to be highly responsive. And just as we must charge forward in our conviction of where things ought to be, we must empathize with market realities each day.

It’s a tenuous balance.

Finally, looking forward to the future, how do you see the evolution of Entropia in a marketplace where its all about being dynamic, nimble and agile? What do you see in your crystal ball?

We see a fluid organic shape-shifting leader, which feeds on future and all the new learnings it brings, getting stronger and stronger with each year passing by.

We see a workplace, where a string of industry leaders are forged continuously, attracting the very best, providing them a mentoring environment and growth pathway that can help them bring their best possibilities forward.

In the last three years, we have reinforced top talent at each level, so as to build an organization designed to last and deliver sustainable success.

We hope to be a beacon for the marketing ecosystem, pointing the way forward in how to harness the uncertainties of tomorrow and day after, to lead customer, communication and client sales performance.

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