Interview with Alastair MacLeod, CEO, Teralytics

Alastair MacLeod

“Telecom data is inclusive data and thus, the only source of information that captures the movements of the entire population.”

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Tell us about your role and how you got here? What led you to join Teralytics?

I’ve historically run telecom and data businesses, but I’ve never worked in the big data analytics space. After meeting the founders and witnessing their enthusiasm for changing the world, I became interested in the company.

Being surrounded by young, bright people determined to make a difference and change the world is an inspiring place. We worked together for a couple of months and then began talking about making it permanent. It’s a great company, a great bunch of people, and a fascinating time to be working here. There’s so much change and we’re right at the heart of it.

How do you define your ‘Ideal Customer’? How can B2B technology companies benefit from your mobility data and supporting technologies?

Teralytics is sitting at the confluence of huge changes in how people live and how society operates. As new technology and transportation services come along, the way people move is changing. We’re at the crossroads among governments who need to procure the infrastructure for people to move, traditional transport providers who must adapt to the changes and new mobility service providers who are upsetting the applecart with flexible, user-oriented transportation. It’s vital that all three of these groups understands how and where people move and why they chose one travel option over the other.

The only way you can get a truly holistic view is with information that originates through telecom data and here Teralytics is the world leader. Telecom data is inclusive data and thus, the only source of information that captures the movements of the entire population. Historically it’s been very hard to understand this data, but Teralytics is pioneering a new way to draw insights from this data, using the most advanced AI technology around.

How is mobility detection technology evolving with the new crop of data touch-points?

In Teralytics’ space, there are three main drivers related to new data touch points. The first is regulatory changes such as the increasing pressure on data privacy. For instance, the upcoming GDPR framework will allow significantly less intrusion into users’ GPS data. This is expected to be a one-way trend globally. Second, mobile operating system providers in the private sector such as Apple and Google are changing their policies regarding which apps can access which data. Teralytics provides aggregated insights sourced from anonymized mobile networks data that isn’t affected by these trends. Finally, we’re just at the beginning of the proliferation of new technologies — such as 5G connectivity — that will change the landscape in a completely different way. The AI technology we use and our resulting insights are enhanced as the cell density increases (as will happen with 5G). So we’ll see an improvement in geolocation precision and richer insights which will bring about new uses to mobile networks, based location insights that aren’t available today.

How do you see digital experience platforms evolving with the maturity of AI/ML and voice? What challenges do you foresee marketers will face? How do you prepare for an AI-centric ecosystem as a business leader?

In our space, the certain outcome as AI and Machine Learning matures is that getting from A to B will cease to be a task and instead it will be a mobile space where you continue your mobile life. Mobility is part of the context of digital experience platforms.

From the purveyor of the digital experience platforms, it’s another place to target you and as the consumer of the experience, it’s another place to get consume a digital experience. The first challenge is that marketers have got to figure out how they’re going to tackle that new paradigm and capture the opportunity.

At Teralytics, how do you help companies transform customer relationships through the digital landscape?

We help automotive and mobility services companies first understand how their entire customer base is moving and interacting with their products and services, be it cars, ride-sharing services, etc. Our insights help them understand the rationale of their customers when they choose one travel option over the other. We also help them build solutions based on a deep understanding of the needs of their entire target population, not just the ones using their services already.

How should B2B marketers leverage customer data and content marketing for better reach and targeting?

Take Uber or Lyft as an example, their marketers currently only understand their own customer base from the data they collect through their apps. Marketers should aim to analyze the most representative data, showing them customer behavior beyond their own user base by partnering with companies like Teralytics, that can provide them with the understanding of the wider population. The same goes for the automotive industry, which is currently undergoing the paradigm shift from selling cars to selling mobility services.

How do you bring together people and inspire them to work with technology at Teralytics?

Teralytics is the archetype of the post-evolved system, so we don’t face this challenge. We operate across three continents and four countries and we don’t even notice it. We’re used to working across long distances and we’re comfortable having meetings with people across a 12-hour time zone.

The technology isn’t something we need to adapt to, but it’s just how we work and how we live. We already are cutting edge with our technology and live the way other companies will live as they become more tech-centric.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

My smartphone. On average, I’m on the move 3 to 5 days per week and my phone is basically my office in my pocket wherever I go. If I lose my laptop or my tablet or my briefcase, I can cope with it. I just need one credit card, my passport, and my smartphone.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

I make sure to turn off all my notifications for at least an hour a day and get some work done.

What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)

I have a couple of bespoke news feeds that are sector-specific and I read the Financial Times, The Economist and Twitter. For fiction, I’m currently reading a book called “Sirens” by Joseph Knox. For non-fiction, I’m reading the “Master Algorithm” by Pedro Domingo.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

You should marry that girl.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Herman Narula, CEO of Improbable

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

Also Read: TechBytes with Robin Williamson, VP Engineering, Teralytics

Alastair MacLeod specializes in leading Big data & machine learning, data/information services firms, and fixed & mobile telcos. He has been a CEO/MD of companies have seen significant business growth, with P&Ls rising from sub $100m to more than $1bn.


The better we understand the way we move, the better we can build cities, mobility services and transportation systems to meet our needs. Teralytics offers the most advanced insights on human mobility based on cutting edge data science, proprietary machine learning algorithms and deep technology, capturing billions of signals every day from cell towers and other unique sources. We work with leading telecom companies and data partners around the globe to capture information about people’s geographical locations, movement habits and demographics; all completely anonymized and aggregated. We believe in unlocking the power of data to change the cities we live in, solve real-world business problems, enhance people’s lives, and ultimately benefit the world.

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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.