Q&A with Maliha Aqeel, Director of Global Communications at Fix Network World

MEDIA 7 | January 16, 2020

Maliha Aqeel, Director of Global Communications at Fix Network World is an award-winning, communication and marketing professional who helps companies harness the power of their brand to drive engagement and achieve measurable business results. 

She has developed and led content and marcomm programs for B2B companies in the financial and professional services sectors in her over 15 years of industry experience.

MEDIA 7: When did you start working and what was it?
MALIHA AQEEL:
I started my career in 1996 right after high school, freelancing as a journalist and features writer for a magazine in Dubai, UAE. Over time, I expanded my services to include scriptwriting for corporate videos and TV productions, writing and designing client newsletters and promotional collateral.

M7: What made you want to pursue a career in branding and marketing communications? What aspect about your role brings you the most joy?
MA: I didn’t consciously decide to pursue a career in marketing and communication as my plan was to become a filmmaker. However, I had great curiosity about what makes people prefer one brand over the other when a feature-by-feature comparison didn’t show a huge difference between similar products or services. I had taken a few advertising courses during university and it broadened my understanding of how powerful brand experiences and storytelling can drive business objectives. That balance of strategy and creativity is what I enjoy most about what I do and why I’ve continued to find purpose in my career.


"Marketing professionals have to act as conveners, and connect the dots so that there is alignment between stakeholders like sales and operation teams and executive leadership on what products and services will drive growth in any given quarter."

M7: How has branding changed over the years to become what it is today? What marketing metrics do you value most for brand management?
MA:
Branding used to be focused on the tactical: aesthetics of an ad, wordsmithing copy and “selling” a vision that was less about what the customer needed and more about what the brand wanted you to purchase. Much of this was driven by the rise of a consumerist society in the 1980s and part of the 1990s. But the new millennium witnessed boom-bust economic cycles, changing demographics and technological advances at a relentless pace than ever before. Gradually, the brand’s point of view started to become less relevant and empowered consumers took back control of their brand experience and their buyer journey.

Now brands have to look outward, focusing on the needs, behaviors and motivations of their end customers. They’re also recognizing that purpose and having an impact on society in a positive way is what will drive their enterprise value instead of share price alone. The institutional investors are also taking notice and aligning their investment criteria and evaluation accordingly. This was one of the outcomes of the Embankment Project for Inclusive Capitalism, a multi-year initiative that looked into making capitalism more dynamic, sustainable, inclusive and trusted. As a result, the brand metrics that I value most are outcome-focused like contribution to reputation value, net promoter score, brand perception (a combination of brand recall and service delivery) and employee engagement/advocacy scores.


"One of the most common mistakes companies make is implementing a brand strategy that isn’t aligned to the organization’s overall business goal."

M7: What are the common mistakes that companies make when implementing their brand strategies?
MA:
One of the most common mistakes is implementing a strategy that isn’t aligned to the organization’s overall business goal. This can be challenging in large corporations where there are multiple competing priorities, but marketing professionals have to act as conveners, and connect the dots so that there is alignment between stakeholders like sales and operation teams and executive leadership on what products and services will drive growth in any given quarter. And then create and implement holistic marketing campaigns that drive specific results that support the key performance indicators (KPIs) that the executives are measured on.

A second mistake is running campaigns that are not aligned from a macro or micro environmental perspective. For example, an oil company runs a social media campaign on their corporate citizenship initiatives at a time when the industry (not necessarily the company) is under regulatory scrutiny for bad environmental practices. The timing, not necessarily the content, of the campaign can appear tone deaf and unsympathetic to sentiment in society. Another instance is if a company runs an employer branding campaign about its great culture at a time when it might be going through litigation for a workplace harassment issue. To counter this, marketing and communication professionals need to create business partnerships across all layers and functions of the company so that they’re planning and executing brand strategies that are contextually appropriate and reputationally sound.


"Marketing and communication professionals need to create business partnerships across all layers and functions of the company so that they’re planning and executing brand strategies that are contextually appropriate and reputationally sound."

M7: Which strategies do you count on to help leaders understand the value of communications?
MA:
I’m a huge advocate of data-driven decision making and offering informed insights and recommendations. C-suite executives see data analytics as a distinct competitive advantage for their business, and it can be the main strategy we use to help them understand our value. Gut instinct has a role to play in planning and execution, but to convince others and demonstrate our importance, we need to have a common understanding of business goals and use language that senior leaders will understand. Examples of this include showing how strategic communications resulted in cost efficiencies, margin improvement and contribution to revenue or increase in sales. These are tangible financial results that any executive function will recognize and appreciate. In addition to the above, I also use benchmarking data (internal and external) and forecasting as part of my communication and resource planning so that I have a framework for reporting to leadership on communication-driven outcomes.

M7: With over 15 years of progressive experience in strategic communication, what advice do you have for leaders who are trying to improve their performance?
MA:
My advice is to bring the brand promise and purpose into your decision-making process. Often, not always, performance is directly impacted by the culture of an organization. And your culture is a reflection of your purpose. It conveys why what the organization does matters; make evangelists out of your customers and convince employees to be part of the journey not just show up for a pay cheque. Research by Gallup found that highly engaged teams are 21% more productive, but low employee engagement results in 65% lower share price over time.

Communication professionals are enablers of the brand. As strategic advisors, we have to help make the connection between culture and business performance—between the intangible and the tangible. The cost of getting it wrong can have a negative impact on reputation capital, share price and even the balance sheet. Research from the Engagement Institute showed that disengaged employees cost US businesses up to $550 billion a year, which is a little over half the nominal GDP of The Netherlands in 2019 ($900 billion). That’s not a comparison that you want someone making at your annual general meeting of shareholders.

ABOUT FIX NETWORK WORLD

The Fix Network global family of brands includes collision repair franchise networks Fix Auto and Pro Color, glass repair and replacement brand NOVUS Glass and mechanical shops Speedy Auto Service, as well as the full suite of SRP glass products. With more than 2,100 points of service in over 40 countries worldwide, Fix Network is the global aftermarket services leader. The Network continues to grow internationally, thanks to a solid foundation based on entrepreneurship and innovation. For more information, visit Fixnetwork.

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Long term, IDC expects spending on compute and storage cloud infrastructure to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.5% over the 2021-2026 forecast period, reaching $145.2 billion in 2026 and accounting for 69.7% of total compute and storage infrastructure spend. Shared cloud infrastructure will account for 72.6% of the total cloud amount, growing at a 15.4% CAGR. Spending on dedicated cloud infrastructure will grow at a CAGR of 12.1%. Spending on non-cloud infrastructure will grow at 1.2% CAGR, reaching $63.1 billion in 2026. Spending by service providers on compute and storage infrastructure is expected to grow at a 13.4% CAGR, reaching $140.8 billion in 2026. A graphic illustrating IDC's 2021-2026 forecast for worldwide enterprise infrastructure spending by deployment type (Shared Cloud, Dedicated Cloud, and Non-Cloud) is available by viewing this press release on IDC.com. IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Enterprise Infrastructure Tracker: Buyer and Cloud Deployment is designed to provide clients with a better understanding of what portion of the compute and storage hardware markets are being deployed in cloud environments. The Tracker breaks out each vendors' revenue into shared and dedicated cloud environments for historical data and provides a five-year forecast. This Tracker is part of the Worldwide Quarterly Enterprise Infrastructure Tracker, which provides a holistic total addressable market view of the four key enabling infrastructure technologies for the datacenter (servers, external enterprise storage systems, and purpose-built appliances: HCI and PBBA). Taxonomy Notes IDC defines cloud services more formally through a checklist of key attributes that an offering must manifest to end users of the service. Shared cloud services are shared among unrelated enterprises and consumers; open to a largely unrestricted universe of potential users; and designed for a market, not a single enterprise. The shared cloud market includes a variety of services designed to extend or, in some cases, replace IT infrastructure deployed in corporate datacenters; these services in total are called public cloud services. The shared cloud market also includes digital services such as media/content distribution, sharing and search, social media, and e-commerce. Dedicated cloud services are shared within a single enterprise or an extended enterprise with restrictions on access and level of resource dedication and defined/controlled by the enterprise (and beyond the control available in public cloud offerings); can be onsite or offsite; and can be managed by a third-party or in-house staff. In dedicated cloud that is managed by in-house staff, "vendors (cloud service providers)" are equivalent to the IT departments/shared service departments within enterprises/groups. In this utilization model, where standardized services are jointly used within the enterprise/group, business departments, offices, and employees are the "service users." About IDC Trackers IDC Tracker products provide accurate and timely market size, vendor share, and forecasts for hundreds of technology markets from more than 100 countries around the globe. Using proprietary tools and research processes, IDC's Trackers are updated on a semiannual, quarterly, and monthly basis. Tracker results are delivered to clients in user-friendly Excel deliverables and on-line query tools. About IDC International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. With more than 1,300 analysts worldwide, IDC offers global, regional, and local expertise on technology, IT benchmarking and sourcing, and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. IDC's analysis and insight helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based technology decisions and to achieve their key business objectives. Founded in 1964, IDC is a wholly owned subsidiary of International Data Group (IDG), the world's leading tech media, data, and marketing services company.

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APPLICATION INFRASTRUCTURE

Runecast partners with SVA Software, Inc.

Runecast | June 29, 2022

Runecast, a leading provider of patented, predictive analytics for on-premises, hybrid and multi cloud environments, today announced a strategic partnership with SVA Software, Inc., a leading IT infrastructure services provider. The existing relationship between parent-company SVA GmbH, of Germany, and Runecast is now expanded to include SVA Software, Inc. and further the reach of both companies across North America. The SVA Software portfolio includes mainframe optimization solutions, VMware license assessments, infrastructure analytics, data archival and a disaster recovery runbook. SVA models its business on its software and service solutions scaling to meet the needs of its customers' stages of growth and to assist customers in making sense of the data that their systems produce. Customers therefore gain in-depth insights across their systems, enabling them more control in negotiating the next ELA with a vendor. "The strength of our partnership with SVA GmbH in Germany made it an easy choice to extend that partnership also to SVA Software, Inc. in North America. "Having a channel-first approach to market means that we rely on finding the best local partners to enable Runecast growth." Ched Smokovic, Chief Revenue Officer at Runecast Runecast has evolved to be the go-to solution for stabilizing and securing mission-critical IT operations ranging from online shopping and banking to emergency call services and air-traffic control. Runecast is an enterprise platform which brings a proactive approach to various areas of hybrid and multi cloud management and protection. Runecast provides automated best practices, actionable insights and proactive monitoring for VMware, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Kubernetes, as well as OS-level support for Windows and Linux. Coverage for Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is planned for its July release. Recently, G2 reviews ranked Runecast a 'High Performer' in the Spring and Summer 2022 G2 Grid® Reports for the categories Security Risk Analysis, Cloud Workload Protection Platforms (CWPP), Vulnerability Scanner, Cloud Compliance and Cloud Security. "We are happy to add Runecast's unique solution and strength in the VMware space to our portfolio," said Lisa Schwab, VP of Sales and Marketing. "The partnership confirms the commitment in extending an award-winning platform like Runecast to the North American market. Runecast is a perfect complement to SVA's BVQ data analytics platform providing customers with a robust set of solutions to maximize and optimize their IT infrastructures." The Runecast vision for the future is to stay ahead of the challenges that organizations face in a fast-paced and rapidly changing IT environment, to provide the best possible proactive means of mitigating vulnerabilities and maintaining security compliance and uptime – which aligns well with the SVA approach to business. About Runecast Runecast Solutions Ltd. is a leading global provider of a patented solution for IT Security and Operations teams. Forward-focused enterprises like Avast, DocuSign, and Merck rely on Runecast for proactive risk mitigation, security compliance, operational efficiency, and mission-critical stability. Headquartered in London, U.K., Runecast is a Gartner Cool Vendor and has won Computing awards for Cloud Security Product of the Year and Best Place to Work in Digital. About SVA Software, Inc. SVA Software, Inc. is a 100% subsidiary of SVA System Vertrieb Alexander GmbH, a German company. SVA Software, Inc. was founded in 2016 selling SVA GmbH developed solutions combined with value added services. SVA System Vertrieb Alexander GmbH is the largest privately owned system integrator in Germany in the fields of Datacenter Infrastructure and is the largest global IBM Systems Integrator. The company was founded in 1997 in Wiesbaden, Germany. SVA GmbH now employs more than 2,200 employees at 25 branch offices throughout Germany with a revenue of more than $1.3 Billion (2021) servicing over 3,000 customers worldwide.

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