Interview with Jim Kaskade, CEO, Janrain

Interview with Jim Kaskade, CEO, Janrain

Jim Kaskade Janrain
interviwes
Jim Kaskade
Jim Kaskade
CEO, Janrain
Janrain

On Marketing Technology

MTS: Tell us about your role and how you got here? What inspired you to join a Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) company?
I was on a hike with John Kim, managing partner at HighBar Partners, just before New Year’s 2015. John was very excited as he described a “Portland-based identity company called Janrain.” “We’re looking at a team that invented social login,” I recall John saying. “The company has evolved over the years to provide identity cloud services for some amazing marquee brands.” As he described founder Larry Drebes and the team, it was easy to get sucked in. It was an amazing story.

But to be honest, what intrigued me equally as much as the identity space itself was the fact that the company was based in Portland. Larry, the founder, was part of Jerry Yang’ team at Yahoo! back in 1997, and later decided to move from Silicon Valley to Portland.

“Interesting, John. I wonder what the talent is like in Portland.” I found out later that not only was Janrain’s culture exactly what I was interested in, but that the Portland tech talent pool itself was less prone to chasing “shiny objects” (i.e., less likely to job hop) and much more loyal than those in Silicon Valley. I learned that the people made up the company’s competitive advantage.

My story for John was far less interesting. It was my third year at DXC Technology, created from the merger of Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) and the Enterprise Services business of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). I had just finished pulling together several disparate lines of business into one organization called Digital Applications ($1 billion in the Americas, and $2 billion worldwide). I was finishing up a big milestone for me in the DXC business, and what would later become my final chapter there.

As John and I finished our quarterly hike, I said “Happy New Year, John! Let me know how things go.” “See you next year, Jim!” That was the last thing John said until I received a phone call from him two weeks later.

“Jim, remember that company I was telling you about? Janrain? Well, we made a significant investment in them, and the founder, Larry Drebes, is really excited to meet you. Can you come into the partnership so we can talk about you coming onboard as Janrain’s CEO?”

The rest is history.

MTS: How does Janrain analyze customers’ expectations and link it to drive personalized experiences?
Janrain is in the business of making it easy for end consumers to access any and all of their digital applications, no matter which device.

I was taking my typical Uber ride from the Portland airport to Janrain’s headquarters on a Monday morning. The driver asked me, “So, what do you do?” I smiled because I love telling the Janrain story to anyone interested listening.

“What do I do? Well, let me first ask you, ‘did you happen to log into an application on your smartphone this morning, like the Uber application itself?’” The driver answered, “Sure did, I actually logged into my credit union mobile application this morning.”

Well, what if I told you that most of the largest companies in the world use our company to handle that experience of you logging in? That we actually make sure ‘you are who you say you are,’ and once we prove that you’re not the ‘bad guy’ we allow you into your application. Then based on who you are, we provide you access to certain parts of your digital world. For example, are you an Uber driver or an Uber passenger?

Simply put, I’m the CEO of the coolest digital identity business. We have over 1.5 billion identities under management—that’s about half of the connected world!

“That’s so cool! You guys must be killing it!” was my Uber driver’s last words as I was dropped off at the Janrain office. I was still smiling and nodding my head up and down.

Janrain is in a unique position because every consumer starts their digital experience with us (through Registration-as-a-Service) and then, later, is allowed access (or not) through our authentication services (Login-as-a-Service). We’ve been in the consumer identity business since Larry’s social login concept was envisioned at Yahoo! back in 1997. It was the basis for the founding Janrain in 2002.

Some companies, like our banking clients, create experiences which require a higher degree of security. These experiences may include biometrics (thumbprint, facial scan, retinal scan, voice scan, etc.) instead of a username and password; it may include asking you personal questions to gain a higher level of assurance that it’s you or “multi-factor” authentication using your mobile phone to receive a text from the bank (via Janrain) before you are allowed to log in.

Most of our Global 1,000 clients want a seamless experience, where security needs to be “hidden” or less intrusive. In these cases, we may automatically log you in (if you were in the digital application recently), or only step up your level of authentication if our fraud analytics determine that you are a high risk due to abnormal behavior.

User experiences differ based on the industry, or the application itself—does it allow monetary transactions, or simply provide access to account preferences?

We can tailor your experiences depending on what you are trying to access—normal login for access to a news article, two-factor authentication if you want access to your bank account balance and multi-factor if you want to perform a wire transfer.

MTS: How should businesses leverage social login and registration conversion analytics to segment customer data?
Enterprises have been attempting to use digital experiences to enrich their view of the customer for quite some time now. Most of our clients, a good number of which are Fortune 500/Global 1,000, have sophisticated analytics teams leveraging technologies like Hadoop, NoSQL databases and real-time stream processing frameworks to capture and operationalize their view of customer. Analytics start with segmentation because if you understand how different groups of customers behave, you can tailor your experiences, promotions and even your products for those segments of similar consumers.

Larry’s vision for social login back in 1997 called for users to be able to use their Yahoo credentials to log into their websites. Yahoo at the time was sitting on the largest social identity pool in the world. Why not simply remember your Yahoo login to access every other website? What Larry didn’t realize was that this idea would come with a host of Yahoo-based information that the website using social login could leverage for customer segmentation! That’s right, your interests, preferences, likes and a host of other social data can be used to enrich your profile for Janrain clients who deploy social registration and login.

In addition, Janrain’s identity services are unique from other website analytic services because we don’t summarize or aggregate behavioral data. We literally score each and every individual consumer with rich behavioral information that can be used for that user’s individualized or customized experience.

Brand marketers pay a lot of money to drive unique visitors to their digital properties, only to see more than 95 percent of them go away and 5 percent or less register. Then of those 5 percent registered, less than 15 percent remain active—that’s less than 1 percent of the unique total. Thus, for every $100 of marketing spend you get $1 of value in registered and active users!

What if I told you that with Janrain’s customer journey analytics, we can triple registration conversions and login activity? Well, it’s true, and that equates to almost a 10-times increase in ROI.

MTS: What is your vision of Identity and Access Management evolving with new-age regulations like GDPR? How would businesses benefit from using Janrain’s Consent Life Cycle Management to comply with such regulations?
Our vision starts with empowering end users with a simple approach to managing their own data. Our vision also includes turning more end-user control into an increased level of trust in our clients’ brands.

Can you imagine a world where more control for end users equates to increased revenue for the brand?

GDPR represents a major market opportunity for us. So much so that we are offering and engaging our customers in readiness assessments to accelerate their compliance.

Janrain’s solutions are built for a post–GDPR world. The company has adhered to the Privacy-By-Design standards that GDPR will require due to Janrain’s inherent data architecture, conceived by Larry Drebes during his time at Yahoo. Janrain allows brands to apply policy to every individual element in the consumer’s profile. We have a unique advantage over our peers in identity because we’re a data-centric company vs. those who are simply offering a transactional authentication service.

Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) solutions are inherently geared toward the opt-in–based approach that GDPR mandates. Janrain’s recently released Consent Lifecycle Management (CLM) solutions, which you mentioned in your question, will play a pivotal role in GDPR compliance by providing brands fine-grained consent forms that make it easy and clear for end users to provide explicit consent by profile data element.

If you wake up one morning and decide that you don’t want anyone to have access to your last name, your gender or your zip code, you simply change it. Users can review, validate, revoke or make other changes to their consent declarations with Janrain’s CLM, and those consent changes are immediately realized and guaranteed.

Aside from our CLM, Janrain’s Identity Cloud enables brands to meet all of GDPR’s articles associated with technology-enabled regulations, including data portability, the “right to be forgotten” and the procurement of progressive permissions, to name a few. But in the bigger picture, the real impact GDPR should have on brands is to change their mindset on how to engage their users.

Companies will no longer be able to retarget or collect personal data in a “bundled” way (i.e., collecting consent using pre-checked “opt-out”–type boxes), and they will need to view this new opt-in–based approach as an opportunity to get to know their customers better and earn their trust.

Our clients are preparing for when GDPR will become the global norm. The UK is considering its own version of GDPR for a post-Brexit world, and it’s a good bet that Canada and Australia will soon follow suit with similar legislation. Consent-based customer communication will be the norm before you know it, so brands might as well embrace the change.

MTS: What startups in MarTech ecosystem are you watching/keen on right now?
There are now more than 5,000 martech solutions, per Scott Brinker’s marketing technology landscape, with almost half of them investor-funded startups! It should be no surprise that the analytics space represents the largest category, fetching over $1.5 billion in funding! So I say analytics!!!

We’re using some real Big-Data horsepower under the Janrain identity hood now. Leveraging the domain experience of our Big-Data past, we deploy technologies like Confluent, the developers behind Apache Kafka, a real-time messaging and streaming Big Data engine. We also use Imply, which helps us collect real-time and historical events, and provides instantaneous reports through interactive visualizations, SQL or your own custom apps. Imply is powered by Druid, a massively scalable column store—it can scale to thousands of columns, billions of unique values and trillions of rows. These may seem like building blocks rather than packaged marketing solutions but, in fact, they are the future for better collection and analysis of real-time customer behavior.

We at Janrain can say with resolve that with our experience in Big Data dating back to the founding of Cloudera in 2008, we have the most sophisticated identity data platform in the world. But our success in the this area is also a result of standing on the shoulders of these analytic technology giants.

It’s sometimes forgotten that the power of Google’s infrastructure was disclosed in a paper that was published in October 2003. This paper spawned another one from Google—”MapReduce: Simplified Data Processing on Large Clusters”—and fueled the Apache Nutch project, which was later moved to the new Hadoop subproject in January 2006 by Doug Cutting, another tech wizard from Yahoo. Well, this technology is at the core of Janrain’s massive petabyte-scale analytics platform.

MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
Janrain’s Identity Cloud includes a host of registration and login cloud services including traditional registration and login aaS, social registration and login aaS, single sign-on aaS, preference and consent management aaS, as well as a number of security and marketing analytics solutions. But the real power of the Janrain Identity Cloud is its ability to connect to hundreds of digital applications and provide a single “customer identity hub.”

Using Janrain to build a customer identity hub, on one hand, provides a seamless experience to end users no matter where they go; on the other hand, we allow our enterprise clients to consolidate those digital applications into a single view of customer across them all.

We deliver a consolidated view of the consumer (the identity profile) to any downstream marketing solution and any downstream data infrastructure, analytics and/or business intelligence platform that an enterprise has configured. So I guess, in a nutshell, I’m saying that our “marketing stack” consists of the marketing stacks of every one of our clients.

Brands build a single common identity platform with our Identity Cloud, taking advantage of our pre-integrations. We integrate with leading marketing clouds from Adobe, Salesforce, IBM, Oracle, Nielsen and others. We have blueprints which allow our clients to connect to any of the leading CRM, marketing automation, ad tech, email marketing, CMS, e-commerce and marketing analytics applications.

MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success)
Janrain and British television broadcaster Channel 4 began a journey in 2006—the latter began by launching its on-demand website 4OD, making programs available to people on smartphones, laptops and internet TVs on demand. Janrain’s journey began when it moved its identity services into AWS’s infrastructure to support its vision of becoming the largest digital identity network in the world. It wasn’t until 2012 that the two companies came together with a joint vision to help better connect with Channel 4 viewers, leveraging viewer profiles to power innovative and customized advertising, and tailor web and mobile content experiences.

Channel 4 has the third-highest reach of all of the UK broadcasters across its portfolio of TV channels, behind only the BBC and ITV, and well ahead of fourth-place Channel 5. Channel 4 reaches more than three-quarters of all UK viewers every month.

Channel 4’s digital network has grown its base of registered users to almost half of the UK population of 65 million, including a staggering half of the region’s coveted 16- to 24-year-old demographic.

Channel 4 illustrates how to use CIAM services in an ideal way to expand the customer base and bottom line. The organization personalizes viewing experiences based on the insights gleaned from each individual viewer’s unique personal identity data. The network is able to share more accurate demographics with their advertisers and help them better engage their target audiences, providing significantly more value.

Channel 4 not only has a more direct relationship with its viewers, Janrain has helped the broadcaster raise the bar for its interactive marketing efforts as well. The network has built creative campaigns, like its award-winning digital marketing campaign with Coca-Cola, which have resulted in the following highly successful metric:

  • Individual campaign reach of 11 million users
  • Campaign awareness increases of 17 percent
  • Ad recall of 71 percent
  • Purchase intent increases of 24 percent
  • Forty-four percent interaction rate
  • A 98 percent complete view rate

Imagine that you are watching a Coca-Cola “Share a Coke” advertisement on a Channel 4 property and you see your name printed on the coke bottle label as part of the video?

MTS: How do you prepare for an AI/ML-centric world as a business leader?
Simply put, every business will soon be touched by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies. So if these sophisticated analytics aren’t part of your digital transformation in the coming years, you will most likely be left behind relative to your competition (which isn’t so complacent).

These technologies are already being deployed and constantly enhanced as part of Janrain’s Identity Cloud product roadmap. Using data from individual digital properties, all properties within a single client’s domain and across the Janrain network of clients, we create a value proposition that is inherently a large part of Janrain’s Identity Cloud future.

This becomes even more interesting when identity analytics are applied to consumer and Industrial-Internet-of-Things (IIoT) use cases. Janrain already powers more than 50 IoT applications, including IP-connected toasters, smoke alarms, pet devices, scales and coffee makers, for consumer IoT and healthcare devices such as CT scanners.

A Janrain-enabled experience starts as I’m driving home in my new Tesla Model 3. I’m coming back from my usual travel week, listening to easy-listening music. When I drive up to my connected home, my home and my Tesla communicate. My identity is associated with both my Tesla and home devices, of course.

My Google Nest cameras notice that with high probability “Jim is home” through visual recognition as I walk across my front stairs. My wife and two sons are not home yet, so the house quickly enables my preferences—lower lighting with my Philips Hue lights, warmer temperature with my Google Nest Thermostat, Spotify music on my Bose Wave® SoundTouch® music system which, of course, is set to my easy-listening Spotify station at a medium volume.

As I place my thumb on my Locstar digital doorlock, the house locks in—“Jim has been 100-percent authenticated. All preferences are permanently set.”

Had it been my wife, of course, the lights would have been bright, temperature cold and music set to modern rock!

Savvy folks with Identity Cloud offerings like Janrain’s quickly realize that saving and transferring state from one digital application to another is one of the many benefits of having a centralized real-time profile. Moving my easy-listening station from the Tesla to my mobile device to my home entertainment system is a simple use-case for those using Janrain’s Identity Cloud.

So how does AI and ML apply to this? Well, just imagine the identity analytics associated with preference management, security and recommendations for an improved customer journey. Learning about my “favorites” is something we’re doing today with many of our retail customers. Analyzing anomalies with user behavior to apply adaptive authentication is something we’re doing today with our financial services customers.

Not long from now, multichannel experiences will include dozens of “things” in addition to the typical web and mobile properties. A single consumer might soon have over 100 touchpoints, and Janrain’s Identity Cloud will ensure that each individual has a seamless, deeply customized and secure experience across every one of them.

This Is How I Work

MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
Passionate.

MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Google applications (Android, Google Docs/Sheets/Slides, Gmail).

MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Using IFTTT to text me when certain customers send me emails (customer response time is one of my pet peeves).

MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I’m reading two books, “People Over Profit,” by Dale Partridge, entrepreneur and CEO of Sevenly based in Southern California, and “Customer Success,” by Nick Mehta, one of my favorite peer CEOs here in the San Francisco Bay Area who founded Gainsight.

I consume information through many different channels including my morning Netvibes RSS feed review, Ubersocial app on my Android (tweets from those who I follow) and Google news feeds (which ping me with daily summaries), to name a few. Judging by how quickly my new Samsung S8+ battery drains with alerts from various applications, I’m somewhat overconnected.

MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Wow, that’s a powerful question! My life in business has advanced manyfold through an inner circle of about 15 other CEOs, whom I meet with every month for a full day. When I relocated my family from San Diego to Silicon Valley, where I live today, I took the advice back in 2010 to establish a mentor network of peer CEOs. It has been seven wonderful years of being challenged by CEOs who run $1 billion to pre-revenue startup companies.

MTS: Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
I’m curious about what our famous Jeffrey Preston Bezos is dreaming of these days. His impact has been nothing less than phenomenal.

MTS: Thank you Jim! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

I currently lead Janrain, the category creator of Consumer Identity & Access Management (CIAM).

Prior to this I led CSC’s newly formed Digital Applications business in the Americas, a team of over 7,000. The convergence & mutual reinforcement of disruptive technologies such as analytics, mobile, cloud & cyber security were leveraged to help our clients become digital businesses. Prior to this, I led CSC’s global Big Data & Analytics (BD&A) business unit, CSC’s fastest growing business.

As a senior executive/CEO, I’ve built companies in Big Data, Cloud Computing, Software as a Service (SaaS), Online & Mobile Digital Media, Advertising, & Semiconductors. I also spent 10+ years in leadership roles developing enterprise data warehousing, data mining, and business intelligence solutions.

janrain
Janrain makes it easy to know your customers and personalize every interaction. Our Customer Identity and Access Management Platform helps companies build a unified view of their customers across all devices by collecting accurate customer profile data to power personalized marketing. The platform encompasses social login, registration, customer profile data storage, customer insights, single sign-on, and engagement. Janrain powers customer identity management for brands like Pfizer, AMC, Samsung, Whole Foods, Fox News, Philips, Marvel, Mattel and Dr. Pepper.

The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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