The Future of Retail Over The Next Five Years, with Sudha Reddy, Managing Director, India at Sabio
I had the pleasure of interviewing Sudha Reddy, Managing Director, India and VP, Product Innovation at Sabio, the media and technology company behind App Science®, a proprietary machine learning platform that pairs observations of consumer behavior to corresponding data to inform marketing decisions. Fueled by mobile data and predictive AI, App Science® offers marketers a competitive edge by quickly and accurately identifying potential customers across their life stages and need states. Sabio’s unique approach to combining mobile data, device location and consumer behaviors provides brands with more effective targeting and greater prediction accuracy.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I wish I could tell you that I dreamt of being where I am now since I was a child, but the reality is that some of the major turning points in my life happened quite accidentally. I started my career as an engineer, but even as an engineer I would gravitate towards strategic projects handling all client-side tasks, including requirements gathering, product lifecycle management, and all client support. My then-CEO suggested that I try my hand at different roles and the rest is history.
Being an avid storyteller, I quickly fell in love with advertising. I see advertising as a way for brands to share their story with the world. Enabling this to happen from a technical perspective is what I love and excel at.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Life has drastically changed for me since I started at Sabio. Within a month of joining, I gave up my apartment in San Francisco that I lived in for 10 years to become a nomad. I have now created a Sabio subsidiary in India, and split my time between there and the US.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake I ever made was joining a video call with Facebook when I was sick — without realizing that I was being projected on big screens across offices globally. After this I have become almost paranoid about how I present myself, even when it’s just a conference call over the phone.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What makes Sabio stand out is the people who work there. I have met some brilliant and smart people here, and no matter how much technology advances, it could not have happened without these beautiful minds. I invite various teams to join my brainstorming sessions every time I come across an issue that’s challenging, and each of these sessions is a story to tell in and of themselves. I am constantly being blown away by the solutions our teams suggest.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Working round the clock only leads to poor health and stress, so always try to achieve a good work-life balance. Exercise, and make sure to leave time for your hobbies and friends/family.
Work smart and always consider the impact it will have on the big picture. Don’t get caught up in small details.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Of course friends and family are always a big support, but the one person that has had the biggest impact is my best friend, Sash. He is a pillar of strength and support for me. He has helped to guide me throughout my career, and if it weren’t for him, I would not be where I am today.
When I first landed in the US, I couldn’t understand the system here, let alone excel at anything. I was completely lost. Sash prepared a schedule for me and made me stick to it. Even when I couldn’t find a job after a year of looking, he continued to coach and prep me for interviews until I landed in a role at Intel. Every time I fell, he was always there to pick me up and direct me forward.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Several on the professional front, but the biggest projects are around filtering out valid data from all the terabytes of data we receive daily, and building App Science® models to predict future trends. The goal is to predict and target high value customers, and provide useful insights to brands.
On a personal front, I have currently been involved in developing solutions for first and last mile connectivity for the Hyderabad Metro.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I am on the board of an orphanage in Kadapa, and have been involved with the organization for over 10 years. During that time, I have helped build a school and two computer labs, and encouraged them to adopt video-based learning. It’s a constant work in progress to educate and empower the surrounding small villages to care for their children, especially the girls.
Can you share 5 examples of how retail companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to shop?
1. Experiences are going to be big, be it creating a physical experience in store, an AI-based experience in-app or on site, virtual mirrors, or offering perks such as free coffee. Companies need to create innovative and great shopping experiences in order to maintain traffic to brick and mortar stores.
2. With voice-based platforms such as Alexa, Google Home and Siri gaining traction, voice-based shopping isn’t too far off.
3. Researching and buying online is already big, but soon it will become commonplace for people to buy everyday products such as paper towels, soap, etc. online and have them delivered to their homes.
4. Environmentally friendly and value-conscious products will still be a big focus.
5. Having a multi channel strategy will be a must. Brands can no longer afford to be one or the other. They need to have a presence across web, in-app, and in-store channels, as well as on social media. That way, customers could come across products on social media, research them online, buy them in-store and get them shipped to their homes.
A few others: We’ll see an increase in personalization and mini super stores at point of sale locations, such as airports and train stations. Also, people will be able to buy products directly after watching an ad or AI experience.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
In today’s world, we are going towards industrialization, but agriculture is being left behind. If I had the power and resources, I would reinvest to make agriculture a mainstream and cool industry to be in. I truly believe that sustainable agriculture can solve majority of problems in today’s world, including pollution, as it can bring together communities and have a huge impact on our overall well being. I would run it like a business and make various teams responsible for choosing crops, cultivating, managing the labor as well as selling the final crop.
To advertise, I would use green billboards that can absorb some of the air pollution.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
LinkedIn is an easy way to keep in touch with me: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sudhareddy
You can stay up to speed with everything happening at Sabio by following https://twitter.com/sabiomobile?lang=en
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!