On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here. (what inspired you to start a martech company)
We are data nerds. We honestly did not set out to start a martech company. We set out to analyze data to understand how people interact with the real world. This led to the birth of “People Intelligence”, a whole new genre of martech that leverages mobile location to get insights about people. My core team has deep experience in geostatistics, GIS, data science and machine learning. This was the perfect setup for starting a B2B SaaS company that translates mobile location into situational context, for real time and historical analysis. The line of sight applications were in mobile marketing and advertising. But we were also able to extend our platform to provide mobile data analytics and insights for smart cities, local government and civic use cases. This transformed us into a truly unique martech company that addressed the needs of both the public and the private sectors.
MTS: Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?
Technology is transforming the marketing landscape faster than ever. Below are my predictions for the evolution of martech over the next few years:
AR will become mainstream. Pokemon Go and Super Mario Run have set the stage for this, as have AR experiences from Snapchat, IKEA, Sephora and Lowe’s.
Mobile advertising fraud will drop considerably. Ads will become personalized and contextually relevant in response to the proliferation of ad blocking software.
Mobile location will become ubiquitous as the “real-world cookie”, with more users opting to share location. Brands will make physical location an integral part of their marketing strategies.
Chat bots will overcome their gimmicky beginnings, become more useful and turn into effective channels for engaging customers and generating leads.
MTS: What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
You will notice that I left out AI from the above list. At this point in the hype cycle, AI is a just a fancy domain extension that startups are scrambling for in hopes of getting funded. We have not achieved “artificial intelligence” and we probably will not anytime soon. However, “augmented intelligence” or “machine intelligence” is very real. Cheap, fast, scalable, cloud computing and storage has made it possible for companies like LotaData to successfully apply machine intelligence to solve complex problems to understand the real world behaviors of people. Watson (IBM), Sensei (Adobe) and Einstein (Salesforce) are at the forefront of this technology trend that will continue to impact us in more ways than we can imagine.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?
In the near future, data analytics will become table stakes. Organizations will have access to the data tools they need and the skills to effectively use these tools. This will gradually eliminate the need for the CDO role. Companies will start to blend the CDO function with the CMO role. What this means is, we will have a new breed of data-driven CMOs with a potent combination of data skills and marketing wizardry. As this transition starts to take place, some of the CMOs will need to go back to school (metaphorically speaking) to increase their knowledge, understand the new martech landscape, and learn to use data as the foundation for all things marketing.
This Is How I Work
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
I can’t live without the three S’s:
Slack, Salesforce, Sublime Text
In case you were wondering, I also cannot live without the three S’s defined by Chris Rock
Supper, Sex, Silence
(Editor’s note: yes Apu, we were wondering, thanks for that!)
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
My productivity hack is to focus each day of the week on a specific function:
Mondays are for Sales, Business Development
Tuesdays are for Content Marketing, Social Media, Email outreach
Wednesday are for Platform, Infrastructure, APIs, SDKs
Thursday are for Visualization, Data Science
Fridays are for Finance, Administration, Team Building, Culture
I must credit Jack Dorsey for this hack. His idea to theme each day of the week is absolutely brilliant because it helps you to focus, get into a rhythm, and and get things done.
MTS: What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading “Small Data” by branding expert, Martin Lindstrom. Like a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, he harnesses the power of small data in the quest to discover the next big thing and tiny clues that uncover huge trends.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“To build great teams, prioritize EQ over IQ” is the best advice I’ve ever received. This was recently reinforced by Henry Ward, CEO of eShares. He wrote “A high EQ organization is a community of free-flowing ideas, daily progress, and accelerating execution. Teams execute well because they love working together. And teams love working together because they execute well. EQ and execution are reinforcing. The world over-values IQ and undervalues EQ. We will do the opposite. We will never assume success comes from being smart. We will never rely on intellectual property. We will never be complacent in expertise. Instead we will make this a high EQ organization. We will treat our ability to work with one another as our competitive advantage”.
MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
Experience has taught me that hard work and persistence will upend sporadic brilliance a hundred times out of hundred. Often times the most promising companies founded by the brightest minds fail because they just run out of steam, they lack staying power, they just can’t persevere. The secret to my success and the success of my ventures is that my team and I can tough it out against all odds. This gives us a huge competitive advantage.
MTS: Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
You ask for one, I’ll give you three!
Brian O’Kelly, AppNexus
Kim Perell, Amobee
Ken Harlan, MobileFuse
MTS: Thanks Apu! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Apu, also an acronym for “Accelerated Processing Unit”, has extensive technology experience in mobile location intelligence, predictive analytics, machine learning, data science and cloud services. As the CEO of LotaData, Apu provides “People Intelligence” data analytics for mobile apps, businesses and smart cities. Prior to LotaData, Apu has held senior leadership roles at technology brands like BlueStacks, Hewlett Packard, Phoenix Technologies (acquired by HP), CNET.com and mySimon (acquired by CNET). Apu has a Master’s degree in Engineering from Stanford University and a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the University of Mumbai. When he is not globetrotting, deal hacking, or teaching tennis, Apu spends his time helping local communities. He strongly recommends the “civic tour of duty” for technology companies to invest in and contribute to the improvement of their neighborhoods, towns and cities.
In our explorations of space and time, we could not find a single unified source that could answer the question “why people are where they are and what is on their minds”. LotaData was founded to solve this problem. We provide mobile location insights and predictive analytics through machine learning for apps, cities, and businesses.
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.