5 Questions With Rohit Prabhakar of McKesson

Rohit Prabhakar is the Head of Digital Marketing Strategy & Marketing Technologies at McKesson.

How do you define ‘digital strategy’?

A direction with a clearly defined roadmap and plan to improve the performance of the business or non-business systems using the power of technology, information (data) and skilled task-force.

What kind of mobile device(s) do you have, and what are your three favorite apps?

I am a proud owner of an Android phone. Three apps that I like the most:

  • Google Now: It is becoming slowly and slowly my personal assistant as integration with other apps and services is becoming broader and better. I look forward to the times when I will not need many apps to manage my finances, travel, health etc. and Google Now can pull data from all those websites and show it to me at one place.
  • Google Voice Keyboard: As we transition into wear-ables and our thumbs are tired of all day screen-activity, Google Voice Keyboards comes to a huge help. Especially it can understand my Indian ascent so well. I can write emails, text messages, note and much more using this app.
  • Mint: Helps me organize my finances and track the overall finances.

I have an iPad which I only use as replacement for my laptop when I am travelling. I also have a Kindle that I use for reading my books.

What do you think of the emergence of the Chief Digital Officer role?

If you are talking about the importance of digital in every organization, then I definitely believe that ‘digital’ is a C-level priority. It is a channel that cuts across the entire customer experience; hence, it needs focused resources working on making the most of all of its implications.

If you are talking about this as a new title, I am not sold on this idea. We all can agree that digital is the new way of doing things, and that every aspect of an enterprise is influenced by digital, but why should we put one person in charge of something that everyone must own?  A CMO or CIO (in a tech company) is really the new CDO of the future, as they are responsible for the customer experience.

In many organization where there is a huge skill gap I agree to having the CDO inserted as a transition type of position. But after the transition is complete, companies should hire CMOs who have an ability to be a CDO.

Irrespective of my opinion, of course, more and more organizations are hiring for this role.

What advice do you have for aspiring digital professionals?

I don’t like to give general advise as every person is different and what may work for one person may not work for the other. That said, here is what I practice:

  • Admit you don’t know everything and you will not know everything!
  • Value and respect the opinion of others
  • Be willing to fail but never quit
  • If you plan to lead a digital organization always remember that ‘Leadership is Influence’; grow your influence both inside and outside your organization – find good mentor(s) who have something that you aspire to have:
    – Network with people that interest you
    – Spend time with technology vendors to learn about the latest innovations (I learn more from a few minutes of vendor meetings than I do reading many books and articles)
  • Accept change as part of your life and enjoy the process as nothing stays the same in the digital world for more than few months

What three publications – in any format – do you read regularly?

I am an avid reader and normally I read many books and publications every month. Here are my top 3 publications that keep me updated with high-level digital trends: McKinsey InsightsForrester Research, and SearchEngineLand.


For more information on Rohit Prabhakar, follow him on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn, or read more of his thoughts on his personal blog.




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