The newly created role will see Bansal based in Singapore and reporting to Arvind Sethumadhavan, chief innovation officer for the region. He was most recently head of services for Dentsu Aegis Network Singapore. Prior to that he was CEO of ZenithOptimedia Singapore.
The move is intended to put in place strong leadership to drive the network’s joined up data strategy.
Nick Waters, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Asia Pacific, said agencies’ success will be increasingly defined by the strength of their data capabilities.
“In Arvind [Sethumadhavan] and Vikram [Bansal] we have two top class data experts with decades of agency experience able to apply their brilliance to our clients’ business and brand challenges,” he said in a statement. “The opportunity to innovate through the smart application of data is immense, and that is where we will focus our efforts.”
In early 2014, Dentsu Aegis Network announced the launch of two regional centres of excellence (COE) in real-time media analytics and creative technology innovation in Singapore in partnership with the government’s Economic Development Board.
Bansal led the analytics COE and in less than 18 months built award-winning analytics solutions, according to the network.
Commenting on the appointment, Sethumadhavan said new technologies like wearables, smart home solutions and virtual reality gear are creating new data streams with fascinating possibilities for connecting real and virtual worlds.
“Vikram [Bansal] has a proven track record of helping clients navigate data opportunities and his role is pivotal to building new solutions that help our clients benefit from Asia’s digital disruption,” he added.
Speaking to Campaign Asia-Pacific, Bansal said that there were two main challenges to overcome in this new role.
“The first is ‘joining the dots together’, as far as the data itself is concerned, as there are a lot of diverse areas where data is developing,” he added. “It needs to come together to be a coherent and cohesive resource, so that whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
The second challenge is ensuring that the network stays ahead in a space that is dynamic and constantly evolving.
“By staying ahead we will be in a better position than our competition,” said Bansal. “And by competition, I don’t mean just agencies but also ad tech players as well.”
Bansal said that the level of maturity in using data effectively varies widely across clients, but when it comes to how partners are treated or evaluated, it’s still “an open field.”
“Clients are very open and they are talking to everybody,” he added. “So whoever is able to provide more clarity and a comprehensive plan to build upon data assets will be the ultimate winner.”
Bansal said that the network was “fortunate enough” to be considered among the experts in this field, and that the role of the agency partner has changed immensely over time.
“I do see the possibility of agencies becoming the main data custodian in the future,” he added. “But there won’t be one partner doing everything, instead there will be one that takes the lead in terms of high level consultancy. A central lead role that I believe we are in a good position to fulfil.”