Alum Author: How to Discover Customer Value – Parthasarathy S, PGP 1994
Parthasarathy’s latest book “How to Discover Customer Value” is a result of two years of intense research and analysis. He developed India’s first SaaS based software solution to manage apartment complexes that has grown into a mini-vertical.
As the current head of the IIMB Alumni Relations function, his office is dedicated to sustaining lifelong relationships with alumni by providing opportunities to engage with the institute and the community.
In this exclusive interview, Parthasarathy talks about his latest book release and the story behind it.
Please tell us something about yourself.
I completed my PGP in 94 from IIMB and I have more than three decades of industry and entrepreneurial experience. I worked with ITC Classic Finance in the Merchant Banking function for a couple of years soon after IIMB. I was on my own for over two decades. I have developed multiple web-based software solutions, run a manpower recruiting business, and continue to be associated with a firm in the parenting space. I developed India’s first SaaS based solution to manage apartment complexes in 2008 that has spawned into a mini-vertical. I am currently heading the alumni relations function at IIMB. I published my first book through Rupa Publishers titled “Unmet Needs of Entrepreneurship” in 2018.
I am a pacifist by choice and in awe of the diversity of the world around us. I continue to be fascinated with my childhood interest in amateur astronomy.
Can you please tell us about your latest book: How to discover customer value – Tools to grow your business.
This book has been two years in the making. During my various interactions with entrepreneurs and marketers, I realized that very few of them had a structured way of discovering what the customer truly wanted. It was an intuitive process that was not transferable across teams. I went through relevant research papers, HBR articles, case studies, etc., and I could not find any comprehensive tool that could help in connecting various dots and bring clarity to this important subject. I could not find a structured process for discovering customer value.
The questions that got me thinking were – “Where does customer value reside and How to find it?”. I reflected on these questions and realized that the unit of analysis to discover value must reside in the various constituents of any customer action. This led me to the idea of introducing concepts such as value nodes, catalysts, criteria, customer value pyramid, five-stage value discovery process and the development of a tool called the “value discovery canvas”. The Value Discovery Canvas is a tool that can help entrepreneurs, leaders, marketers, and B-School students develop deep customer insights through a collaborative exercise called “value storming”.
Who will benefit most from this book? Who is the book for?
The ideas introduced in the book can be used by start-ups in different stages of growth and also by mature businesses. It can aid in the development of new products or solutions and also in incremental innovation. B-school students, academicians and practitioners can also find great value in the thoughts shared in the book.
What kind of research went into writing this book?
I went through research papers, HBR articles, case studies, the internet, and textbooks to help me structure my thoughts and look for evidence to support the ideas in the book.
Will you like to share any special experiences during the writing of this book.
Writing an article on Linkedin and converting the ideas into a 260+ pages book is a huge mountain to climb! I shared my basic ideas on Linkedin and gradually worked on converting these ideas into a book. It was truly daunting. I am not a professional marketer or an academic or a researcher and I was a bit unsure about getting into a space that could attract criticism or severe judgments! But my two decades of entrepreneurial experience helped me get over my initial reluctance. My aha moment came when Professor Das Narayandas, a celebrated Marketing Professor from the Harvard Business School and Senior Associate Dean of Harvard Publishing found the ideas in the book refreshing and interesting. His subtle nudge gave me the confidence to go ahead and refine the ideas. Professor Das insisted on going through the full manuscript before endorsing the book and was kind enough to call me and give me personal feedback. I later realized that he had written a book on Value with other academicians and had taken numerous sessions for CXOs across the world on Value Maps. He was an expert in this subject. A compliment from him was very valuable, useful, and memorable.
Can you tell us about your previous book – Unmet Needs of Entrepreneurship?
My second book is an extension of some of the raw ideas that I had covered in my first book. The first book looked at the role of needs and its impact on various aspects of entrepreneurship.
What is the one aspect that you enjoy most about writing?
Contributing ideas that allow the reader to look at things differently resulting in an enriching experience is the single most exciting moment for an author. If the perspectives are unique and make the intended audience reflect and ask questions, my objectives as an author are met. Leaving a lasting legacy stems from contributing to the existing body of knowledge. My attempt was to provide some new perspectives to an age-old topic!
Any advice for aspiring writers?
The two books I wrote are non-fiction genre. People are motivated differently while writing a book. The hardest part of writing and publishing a book is getting a reputed publisher to back your book. This is a time-consuming process. One requires a lot of patience. My recommendation to any aspiring author is to keep the audience in mind when writing a book. Some people look at writing as a creative expression of one’s ideas with no role for the reader. However, I would like to believe that the author must be mindful of the interests of the reader and the publisher.