Interview with Mark Smith, President, Kitewheel
Tell us about your role and how you got here. What inspired you to be a part of consumer engagement company?
I am president of Kitewheel, and began the business almost 5 years ago born out of a frustration with Marketing Automation software being stuck in the batch campaign mode of marketing and unable to serve the modern marketer who needs to communicate with customers in real-time across all channels. I had worked in the Marketing Analytics and Marketing Automation space for 20 years and saw the industry back itself into a technological corner – I was introduced to a business called Provenir who had a real-time, cross-channel decision engine, and we developed this individual level processing approach into a revolutionary approach to customer journey marketing.
How do you see the contemporary trends in customer engagement management influencing journey orchestration analytics?
Businesses today have to engage with customers on the customers’ terms – their timing, their choice of channel – and they have to deliver a fantastic experience as often as possible if they want to retain customers and grow their value. Customer Journey technology is the solution to the problem of how to manage this cross-channel, real-time engagement in a data-driven way – the customer journey is the instantiation of what the customer experiences from a brand and journey orchestration software allows a business to now manage that customer experience in a smart way, from a single point of control.
In 2018, what would be the biggest expectations from customer engagement orchestration technologies?
This technology will “cross the chasm” in 2018. To date it has been used by a small number of leading brands, pioneering the new approach. But with the launch of the first Forrester report recognizing the space and the discipline more and more companies are undertaking customer journey orchestration projects, and we expect the technology to reach the first businesses that could be described as “early majority” in 2018.
Do you think B2B marketing communities help in building and fortifying a brand safe ecosystem? How do customer journey analytics platforms contribute to this ecosystem?
I would say that B2B marketers in the MarTech world are creating real difficulties for their brand customers and B2C marketers in general. The popularity of customer journey approaches to solve the customer experience problem has meant that suddenly almost any marketing technology is being described as delivering, or helping with, customer journeys – this confusion for customers slows down adoption of technologies significantly.
What startups in the martech ecosystem are you watching/keen on right now?
Drift, Anyone in AR
What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
Would you tell us about your standout digital campaign?
Our real standout is our brand new campaign on our website, where we are delivering guided personalization to our web visitors. By studying their behavior on our website, we are then guiding them to the next most interesting piece of content on the site that would fit with their experience to date. The campaign creative centers on our intelligent agent KAI that executes learning rules for every visitor to deliver the right kind of individualized content recommendations.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
It is critical to understand what AI actually is – a statistical technique that can find patterns in data to help automate processes. AI cannot find anything that isn’t a pattern in data, and it is actually an approach that has been around in the statistical community for many years. It requires good data, and a clear idea of the “objective” for the algorithm to learn from. If the business is not clear about their key objectives, they can easily get misled by AI finding statistical patterns in data that may not actually be of business value but could be the strongest statistical pattern. If mixed with too much automation, without business checks and balances, AI can quickly run a business process out of control. But used wisely, with lots of good data, and clear business direction, AI will deliver massive efficiencies and new insights to businesses that deploy it correctly.
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Slack, Gmail, Google
What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
No longer listening to voicemails – but scanning the email/text versions
What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
New York 2140 – Kim Stanley Robinson – we need to prepare for the future changed world that we are creating.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Honesty is the best policy
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Thank you Mark! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Business leader with 20+ years global experience in Marketing Applications and Analytical CRM. Founded Quadstone – the first data mining company to focus explicitly on the analytics of customer behavior – and later moved to Boston to build the business, grow global sales and marketing teams and ultimately supporting 3 M&A activities that followed.
Now back in innovation mode as President of Kitewheel, a new-age Marketing Technology company. We focus on helping large marketing agencies and MSPs deliver customer engagement solutions for their large brand clients.
Founded in Boston’s Innovation District in 2013, Kitewheel is the world’s only cloud-based Customer Journey Hub orchestrates intelligent customer journeys by unifying decisions across all touchpoints and channels, to provide seamless customer experiences that drive real-time revenue as well as long term loyalty. Recognized as a Gartner Cool Vendor in 2014, a Gartner MQ Visionary in 2016 and a Forrester Wave Leader in 2017, Kitewheel serves its global partner and client base from offices in Boston, New York City and London. The demand for Kitewheel’s solution is growing as all brands must now compete for the attention of the cross-channel consumer by orchestrating customer journeys in real-time. Connect with us today to see how our Customer Journey Hub can transform your customer engagement and increase ROI!
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.