Interview with JC Ramey, CEO, DeviceBits
Tell us about your role at DeviceBits and how you got here?
With a career that began in enterprise software and telecommunications, I started in research and development of 3G and 4G wireless networks at Bell Labs, and I moved my career to the executive ranks of both private and publicly held companies based in Silicon Valley. Today I focus on the rapidly growing market for Artificial Intelligence in customer service solutions. My expertise in commercializing and operational efficiency of software products has led to the successful acquisition of four ventures in the past decade. At DeviceBits, I am the Chief Executive Officer and Founder, where I am focused on rapidly expanding the brand value of the organization. Today, we are building a world-class team based in Columbus and San Francisco to serve the needs of the entire AI driven customer service industry.
Given the changing dynamic of B2B content, how do you see the marketing automation and analytics market evolving by 2020?
I see it evolving beyond just content. Sure, self-support content will play a key role in the evolution of marketing automation. However, Artificial Intelligence with the ability to better predict what the customer wants and needs by studying, tracking and analyzing previous interactions and behaviors will truly help set the course for marketing automation moving forward. Add to this the emergence of chatbots and virtual agents that also learn from previous customer interactions, as well as learning from historical usage of self-support materials, and you begin to see the power that AI will bring to organizations of all sizes.
How should CMOs leverage predictive content management and marketing tools to drive their digital transformation with greater authority?
CMOs should realize that the integration of AI principals will help their organizations better understand their customers’ needs and wants, ultimately creating better relationships with customers. Through digital self-support materials that can be accessed at the customer’s convenience, and then understanding each of those interactions, organizations can begin to use the data to better “predict” what each specific customer will want, need or be interested in, not only for existing support but also for future support, sales and cross-sales.
How should CMOs plan their MarTech stack integrations to maximize the benefits from intelligent self-service customer service solutions?
With sticking to the 3 stages (Pre-Sales) (Sales) & (Post Sales) recent conversations reinforce my belief that successful customer service (especially self-service) starts with data capture, data integrity, and categorization. Your customer data will never and should never be 100% complete, but if it is, you’re not collecting enough to understand them. So as CMO, your stack integration needs to be planned for adaptability and scalability. While Sales is seen as the “golden child” because it brings in revenue…one thing I know for certain after nearly two decades in sales engineering and sales is that we cut corners to get deals done. This happens at every company at every level of sales. So plan for that constant and instill practices that fill in gaps when possible in Pre & Post Sales Marketing. Planning for the data you won’t get will help create a self-service strategy that also helps fill in those gaps.
What startups in the MarTech ecosystem are you watching/keen on right now?
DeviceBits has participated alongside a number of startups as part of the UpRamps Fiterator® program. Fiterator is a graduate program for later-stage startups which already have a product, and are now looking for market opportunities in the global cable/broadband industry. There are very interesting companies from this program focused on the analysis of huge datasets to predict new opportunities to households but also companies focusing on Net Promoter Score (NPS) impact. These companies that are thinking about the how to add shareholder value will see success in the marketplace. Using this sort of deep understanding of telemetry, usage and personalization will be a great addition to other markets beyond cable/broadband. I think you will see companies transform from sales/marketing automation to customer experience focused organizations very soon.
What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
Being a young (and bootstrapped) company means we’ve tried and failed plenty in this regard.
PreSales/Marketing we use HubSpot, LeadLander, and Hootsuite – They have a very easy “plug-and-play” feel that won’t overwhelm a smaller Sales & Marketing team. Plenty of integrations but it gets a bit annoying that some basic features are either limited by count or pay-to-play. We are finding unique ways to build an “Agile Sales Process” around these innovative platforms and seeing great results.
The Sales Team (myself included) uses LinkedIn Sales Navigator which is a great tool and the perfect use case for “social media” for people who want to be successful. I encourage everyone, sales or not, to join. It’s an investment in yourself connecting with others to project a career or business.
Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign?
DeviceBits is working with Azumi Mobile to help create great relationships with their customers by helping predict consumer behaviors. As an example, one of the first things Azumi started seeing after implementing self-support materials and the support community is that customers who use Android rather than ios devices have different/more questions about their devices. Through DeviceBits, Azumi can tell which questions are being asked, by certain demographics of customers, which types of devices and can ensure Azumi is offering specific sets of support materials depending on individual customer characteristics. As another example, Azumi offers their devices through Amazon, and they noticed certain customers were having similar questions about specific devices. Azumi was able to upload a video that DeviceBits provided, sent it directly to Amazon so that consumers can see the video and get better familiarity with a specific type of device.
Azumi Mobile engaged DeviceBits with specific objectives in mind for creating the Azumi Community destination for its customers. Azumi recognized that before entering the competitive US unlocked device marketplace it needed to differentiate itself from other competitors. DeviceBits has enabled Azumi to jump-start its entrance in the marketplace by leveraging the expansive Support Predict Android knowledgebase by establishing a higher benchmark for customer satisfaction and improved “Out of the box” experience.
Azumi GTM Strategy is providing a high-quality device and components at an attractive price point. Azumi Mobile’s new device line up compares to the more popular Apple and Samsung devices for 50% less in price, targeting not only value-driven consumers but specifically the exciting “Millennial” marketplace. We see this market segment as a high growth area and recognized in partnership with DeviceBits that we had to create a destination that serves these customers across all channels of communication with predictive support capabilities. These new customers want to be served differently and we have accomplished this so far.
Specific results that have been recognized in using the DeviceBits AI platform so far have been the following:
- Improved “out of the box ” user experience”
- Increased Customer Satisfaction Rates.
- Improved Net Promoter Scores.
- Decreased call volumes into our call centers.
- Decreased NTF Returns (No Trouble Found)
- Established High Profile Brand Equity in the unlocked device marketplace.
- Has provided valuable insights on improved sales acquisition strategy.
How do you prepare for an Artificial Intelligence-centric world as a marketing leader?
The true value of AI derives from the old cliché “work smart, not hard” mentality, but that doesn’t necessarily mean building a robot to do my work for me. AI has quickly become a commodity as a platform whether to support chatbot, virtual agent or deep learning frameworks and the real impact (and Intellectual Property) will be seen in the application of those platforms in domain-specific ways.
We’ve coined the term “Practical AI” that we talk about all the time. I hear businesses every day discussing solutions so far outside their reach for today, that they overlook simple solutions that are practical and impactful NOW. We have moved AI from an academic thinking to a near plug & play within our platform and will continue to expand that over the next several quarters with domain knowledge that is novel and practical.
So I would prepare by first being realistic. Yes, it may be all possible in the technology, but take into account the current state and/or readiness of your company, your team, your customers, etc…
When I am discussing our solution with businesses and I hear asks that I believe to be “Pie-in-the-Sky”, I always like responding “Is that what your customers want or expect from your customer support today?”
9 times out of 10 the answer is “Well, no, but we want to exceed expectations.”
Which is more than understandable but our engagements show that most customers don’t expect magic, they just want resources available when and where they demand it.
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Virtual Assistant (Siri for me) and the dozen or more communication tools I use.
What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Priority is key especially as it comes to meetings and calls.
What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I read hundreds of new articles a week, and yes many tech related. But today I am currently reading a book by Phil McKinney called Beyond the Obvious
What’s the best advice you’ve ever — your secret sauce?
That’s tough because my mentors have provided some enormous guidance over the years…. I think it would still be to surround yourself with not only people that make you better, but with people that you enjoy showing up to work with every day. These are the people you go to battle with and that allow DeviceBits to have a very autonomous culture and climate.
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Thank you JC! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Sales and Delivery Executive with Strong Technical Aptitude, Entrepreneurial Execution and Organizational Development skills.
JC leads a worldwide field organization in sales, technical sales and business development. His team’s focus includes partnering with large SI companies, synergistic technology companies as well as the direct sales to clients in the Global Fortune 2000, Public Sector, and Private Sector. Leveraging my own experiences in leading software organizations and my team’s experiences in broader domains we bring credibility to a new market while evangelizing both the space and product offering.
Leading a team of exceptional people focused on changing the way people buy, download, adopt and service in the world of digital communications and delivery. Our team is delivering value to the world’s largest companies in the area of customer services saving them millions of dollars each year and improving their brand value through better customer service.
DeviceBits is a software company focused on the advancement of Customer Service for Telecommunication Providers, Service Providers and App Developers through Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning techniques applied in our Academy and CareAssist offerings. Our Mission is to change how customers buy and receive support for consumer electronics and apps through guided user journeys that leverage the vast amount of data available in knowledge-base systems and available online. With this approach, we can predict consumer behavior and adapt self-help destinations and agent-assisted programs that are provided in DeviceBits’ industry-leading products.
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.