Interview with Ben Lamm, Founder & CEO, Conversable
Tell us about your role and how you got here? What inspired you to start a conversational platform?
My co-founder Andrew has had a long career which began in chat in the 90s. He was actually the one that was adamant about the power of messaging and what conversational interfaces could become.
The space was a natural evolution for me creating successful products and observing the rise of mobile and social applications in customer care. There’s also a real need in the market to realize real value from machine learning and AI, so I co-founded and built Conversable with Andrew to help businesses have conversations that matter across whichever platforms their customers choose.
How does Conversable enable brands to build conversations with their customers across voice and messaging platforms?
In today’s digital-first world, it’s imperative for companies to be able to automate communication with customers over whichever channels they prefer (like SMS, Twitter, Facebook, Alexa, or on-site chat windows). Global brands and Fortune 500 companies are using Conversable’s technology to enable conversational commerce, resolve common customer requests, and deliver content on-demand to reach their customers where they are.
One of the things that Conversable does better than anyone else is operationalizing actions at the intersection of AI and messaging.
How should CMOs formulate their content automation and personalization strategies, based on AI-driven conversational platform?
CMOs should partner with a solutions provider who has the insight and data on what works and what doesn’t for their respective brands. Beyond that, it all starts with identifying your unique customer’s intent: what do they most need help with? You shouldn’t be developing bots that can tell them what the weather is in their city. Identify the platforms where your customers already are and what gaps in information already exist.
Start there…but most importantly start. Voice is a platform that’s going to change how we exchange with technology on the level of point-to-click and touchscreens and the brands that get started early have first-mover advantage.
Would you tell us more about AQUA and the way it filters dark data?
It’s true companies are collecting more and more data as the potential value is increasingly becoming more apparent, but still the percentage that actually gets used or filtered up is very low. AQUA helps users to review potentially useful information buried inside the dark data that would be processed by Conversable’s machine learning algorithms, surface it, and then use it to train the models.
What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
Other than Conversable? Interestingly, I think a lot of those leading innovation in this industry are actually the big players: Apple, Google, Facebook, etc. There’s a major shortage of talent, so that’s a bottleneck for innovation in the industry overall, but in general I want to see more startups getting out ahead of the pack and building pragmatic AI software approaches to the problems of today – not just of tomorrow.
What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017? (If you don’t wish to name the vendors, you may choose to only suggest the categories you are using them for (Automation, email, video, SMS, collaboration, etc.))
We’re seeing most of our partners focus on Facebook Messenger and voice assistants like Alexa more and more. Those will probably continue to dominate in 2018, with voice platforms and skills development growing rapidly.
Would you tell us about your standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success?)
One great example is a Facebook Messenger bot that we built with BET for their BET Experience, a four-day festival in Los Angeles that culminated in the BET Awards in June 2017. The target audience was their audience, largely millennials. The bot answered common questions about set times, locations of stages, and shared GIFs of memorable moments as they happened. It was unique for how it helped BET bridge a physical experience with a digital one. Engagement was our primary measure of success. The most successful campaigns are aligned with a targeted use case, otherwise, the technology just becomes a gimmick.
How do you see the conversational platforms evolving with the maturity of AI/ML technologies?
That’s a great question. As the technology matures it will be less about futuristic potential or experimental investment. The platforms will need to be implemented more strategically and intelligently. They’ll also be built around customer intent and business goals, rather than the other way around so they can actually use the collected data in ways that actually advance the systems and achieve the business’s KPIs.
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Twitter. Slack. Evernote. Keynote. Pandora.
What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Use email subject lines to convey actual information and actions. In real time, I also either read, respond, or star an email for later.
What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
In addition to reading numerous AI related blogs and sites, I am a huge space nerd. I am constantly reading online space resources such as NASA’s blog. I find the most interesting articles on Twitter and share my favorites. In addition to online reading, I just picked up Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry which is great by the way.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t be afraid to be fired either by a client or at a job – this allows you to be you and fully do your best.
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Thank you Ben! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Ben Lamm is a serial technology entrepreneur that builds intelligent and transformative businesses. He is currently the CEO and founder of Conversable, the leading AI-driven conversational platform that helps brands reach their customers through automated experiences on all major messaging and voice platforms.
Most recently Lamm founded Hypergiant, the Office of Machine Intelligence and serves on the Board as Executive Chairman.
Lamm was also the the founder and CEO of Chaotic Moon, a global creative technology powerhouse acquired by Accenture. During his time at Chaotic Moon and as a Managing Director at Accenture, Lamm spearheaded the creation of some of the Fortune 500’s most groundbreaking digital products and experiences in the emerging tech world of IoT, VR, Connected Car, Mobile, Tablet, and Wearables.
Conversable is the leading conversational intelligence platform. We power the intersection of AI with messaging and voice. Our AI-driven platform helps brands reach their customers with automated experiences on all major messaging and voice applications. Global brands trust our technology to enable conversational commerce, resolve common customer requests, and deliver content on-demand to reach their customers where they are.
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.