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

MEDIA 7 | January 16, 2020

marketing metrics
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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Transfix Integrates with e2open Transportation Management System to Offer Shippers Real-Time and Spot Market Rates

Transfix, Inc | September 01, 2022

Transfix, Inc. ("Transfix"), the Intelligent Freight Platform™, announced new API connectivity with e2open's global multi-modal Transportation Management System (TMS), providing shippers with easy automated access to dynamic market rates and capacity. Transfix's new integration with e2open, the connected supply chain SaaS platform with the largest multi-enterprise network, will allow shippers on e2open's platform to access Transfix's nationwide network of top-performing full truckload (FTL) carriers for van and reefer equipment types. Shippers will have access to both real-time rating and spot market rates within the e2open TMS via Transfix's Real-Time Rating (RTR) API and the Spot Market API. "Efficiency and reliability are top of mind for our customers, and this partnership helps drive those goals forward These integrations provide access to a reliable carrier network and remove the 'rate guesswork,' allowing shippers to focus on optimizing their operations and business growth." -Tony Tzeng, Chief Product Officer at Transfix. Through the RTR API, shippers gain instant visibility into Transfix pricing; these rates automatically appear in shippers' routing guides without the hassle of maintaining contracted rates or sourcing from the spot market. Shippers can leverage this real-time information to book with confidence and speed up their spot market engagements by reducing the time from quote to tender. The Spot Market API greatly reduces manual processes, increases the response rate to spot loads, and provides reliable pricing for individual shipments. There is a long-standing void at the intersection of capacity, service, and price. The Spot Market API brings confidence and a competitive edge to shippers looking to bring their freight operations into the future, Tzeng added. Transfix's new TMS integration with e2open was built with simplicity in mind, with a setup that involves a fast and easy online process with only a few clicks and requires no IT assistance (no phone calls or emails). Visit Transfix.io to learn more about the full-scale Intelligent Freight Platform™. About Transfix Transfix drives modern supply chain impact at scale with its Intelligent Freight Platform™. By combining enterprise-grade, machine-learning technology with intuitive software and dedicated supply chain experts, Transfix is enabling organizations to deliver with high performance and high reliability, drive long-term strategy and capacity planning, take empty miles off the road, and optimize their networks, at scale. Today, Transfix connects shippers to nearly 30,000 carriers with real-time, many-to-many freight matching and the visibility they need to make their supply chains more efficient and environmentally responsible. Learn more at Transfix.io. About G Squared G Squared is a global venture capital firm that partners with dynamic companies throughout their life cycles as a complete capital solutions provider, working to create value for companies, investors, employees, and other stakeholders. The firm focuses on investments in growth-stage technology companies and has invested in over 100 portfolio companies since it was founded in 2011. The firm's affiliate, G Squared Ascend I Inc. ("G Squared Ascend I"), offers transformative private companies a path to public markets via SPAC. For more information on G Squared and its portfolio, visit: www.gsquared.com. For more information on G Squared Ascend I, visit: www.gsquaredascend.com. About e2open E2open is the connected supply chain software platform that enables the world's largest companies to transform the way they make, move, and sell goods and services. With the broadest cloud-native global platform purpose-built for modern supply chains, e2open connects more than 400,000 manufacturing, logistics, channel, and distribution partners as one multi-enterprise network tracking over 12 billion transactions annually. Our SaaS platform anticipates disruptions and opportunities to help companies improve efficiency, reduce waste, and operate sustainably. Moving as one.™ Learn More: www.e2open.com.

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TRANSPORTATION

Destination IAA: Cummins unveils new technology for zero-emissions power solutions

Cummins Inc | September 23, 2022

Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI) is showcasing its platform of zero-emissions technologies this week at the IAA Transportation show, the world's largest mobility show, in Hannover, Germany. A range of new Cummins technologies and the recently acquired Meritor ePowertrain technologies are available publicly together for the first time. With over a century of experience as a global power leader, Cummins is solidifying its commitment to providing comprehensive zero-emissions technology on a global scale."Cummins has deep application expertise, and we are uniquely positioned to deliver solutions that truly fit the needs of commercial applications," said Amy Davis, Vice President and President of New Power at Cummins. "Realizing a net-zero future will require a range of technologies. Our extensive zero-emissions portfolio is how we will meet varied customer demands across the hardest-to-abate industries and make the energy transition possible." One key zero-emissions product Cummins revealed at IAA is its fourth-generation hydrogen fuel cell engine. Designed to meet the duty-cycle, performance and packaging requirements of medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses, the fuel cell technology is available in 135 kW single and 270 kW dual modules. Scania in Europe and Daimler Trucks North America have each announced collaborations with Cummins to develop and integrate these next-generation fuel cell engines into demonstrator vehicles. The systems use fourth-generation variable pressure technology to provide higher power density, power nodes and operating temperatures for easier system integration into vehicles. They also have strong operating cycle efficiency and durability for a lower total cost of ownership. “We know our customers have diverse needs and complicated duty cycles to support, which is why we focus on continued innovation and improvement, We’re developing hydrogen fuel cell technology that demonstrates the capacity and flexibility required to meet or exceed the power needs for on-highway commercial vehicles – proving hydrogen as a viable solution to decarbonize the economy.” -Amy Adams, Vice President of Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies at Cummins. Attendees at IAA will also get the first glimpse of a drivetrain assembled with a newly introduced Cummins lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery pack, Meritor’s 17xe ePowertrain and Meritor’s Power Control and Accessory System (PCAS). Cummins recently added the ePowertain and PCAS solutions to its portfolio through its acquisition of Meritor. The ePowertrain leverages market-leading technologies in the axle, motor and inverter, delivering performance, efficiency and packaging advantages at a competitive cost. Additionally, the PCAS provides power where needed and control of necessary sub-systems while reducing packaging size and simplifying integration. Cummins is adding an LFP battery to its line of lithium-ion battery products to expand support of electrified commercial vehicle applications. The LFP solution gives customers access to faster charging and longer-life batteries, targeting the medium-duty truck and school bus markets. By using a multi-chemistry strategy, Cummins is positioned to expand its manufacturing capacity further and diversify its supply chain, providing customers with more cost-effective electrification solutions. We are giving customers options to enable them to adapt to a zero-emissions future faster, said Brian Wilson, General Manager of Electrified Components at Cummins. With the recent acquisition of Meritor and our new multi-chemistry approach, we will be able to tailor our solutions and offer a one-stop-shop for customers' powertrain needs. Cummins' portfolio includes four batteries, each of which targets a different duty cycle and use case and complement each other. In addition to the LFP option, this includes three nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) batteries – the BP95E, BP74E and BP30E. The BP95E is Cummins’ next-generation solution that prioritizes greater energy density in applications for customers who need more weight-sensitive solutions or have longer ranges. The BP30E is ideal for meeting limited-space applications and rugged demands, and the BP74E is the foundation for Cummins’ BEV innovation and progress. About Cummins Inc. Cummins Inc., a global power leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from diesel, natural gas, electric and hybrid powertrains, and powertrain-related components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, batteries, electrified power systems, hydrogen generation and fuel cell products. Headquartered in Columbus, Indiana (U.S.), since its founding in 1919, Cummins employs approximately 59,900 people committed to powering a more prosperous world through three global corporate responsibility priorities critical to healthy communities: education, environment, and equality of opportunity. Cummins serves its customers online, through a network of company-owned and independent distributor locations, and through thousands of dealer locations worldwide and earned about $2.1 billion on sales of $24.0 billion in 2021. See how Cummins is powering a world that is always on by accessing news releases and more information at https://www.cummins.com/always-on.

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