Interview with Oksana Sokolovsky, Co-Founder and CEO, Io-Tahoe

Oksana Sokolovsky
Oksana Sokolovsky

“Visual search that ties objects to relative information will become one of the key enablers in data-driven sales.”

Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What made you launch Io-Tahoe?

I fell in love with technology after I realized how powerful and enabling it can be. My passion for IT developed in the mid-1990s. I pursued my MS in Computer Science and started my career in Technology after completing my Masters in Psychology. Since then my passion has grown as I see modern technologies constantly evolving, growing and enabling achievements that were beyond our imagination even 20 years ago. I strongly believe that technology will continue to change the world and I want to be part of driving the positive change that technology brings.

Having spent over 20 years in IT at some of the world’s largest investment banks, where I was responsible for driving transformation, I faced constant challenges related to data on a daily basis. Being unable to find a platform that could address such challenges spurred my business partner, (Rohit Mahajan, CTPO) and I, to develop a product we knew could tackle the common problems that we, and so many organizations continue to face. Now, we take great satisfaction in making our vision a reality and seeing Io-Tahoe help organizations address their data discovery, data management and data governance challenges.

How big is your team and what drives them to succeed in meeting small-term and long-term marketing goals at Io-Tahoe?

We have just over 50 employees at Io-Tahoe, with a presence in the US, UK, India and Ukraine. Our primary focus is on developing a product that will solve the problem we set out to address. The team is constantly focused on making that happen. What motivates the team is solving real-world business problems, and obtaining constant feedback from the market. Every customer we engage with relates to our product and identifies with the problem statement we set out to solve. This inspires all of us! We know that we are enabling organizations to solve a real challenge with our product. We all love the pace and high energy of a start-up environment. As a team, we work together to educate the industry on our product, actively engage with the market, customers and analysts, to help increase brand awareness and product growth.

How do you leverage AI/ML and Data Science at Io-Tahoe to scale your revenue goals?

Our product utilizes Machine Learning (ML) to discover data, extract insights, patterns and relationships that can be used to make decisions. Our data catalog is also ML powered and as such enables customers to advance their data management processes. By using machine learning algorithms and heuristics enterprises can quickly and automatically discover and untangle the complex maze of data relationships, making for a smart data discovery process.

Our platform uses machine learning to identify relationships within databases and data lakes. Mismatched column names and other structural issues are transcended, as Io-Tahoe looks beyond schema or metadata and performs ML analysis of the actual data. This analysis is supervised, allowing domain experts to confirm or reject discovered relationships, which eliminates false positives and makes subsequent analysis more accurate. Relationship discovery is a core underpinning of the platform, that powers subsequent AI-assisted Data Catalog and element tagging. This allows the business user to have meaningful interaction with the data elements and to leverage the power of ML driven discovered information about data at their fingertips. As a result, we enable smart data analytics that businesses can leverage to increase revenue and drive cost optimization.

Are data marketing technologies pushing the boundaries of present-day brand engagement and customer experience? 

There’s no doubt that technology has pushed and continues to push the boundaries, this applies not only to marketing, but also to running other aspects of a business. The advent of social media and digital marketing is an example of technology requiring marketers to re-evaluate their marketing mix. However, some traditional marketing techniques are still effective alongside next-generation marketing technologies. Marketing is increasing influential to business success, so the real beauty lies in being able to use the insights from the data points to deliver relevancy throughout the entire customer journey.

How often do you measure the performance of your marketing analytics and sales reporting?

We undertake regular reporting every two weeks, monthly and on a quarterly basis. Looking at the performance of sales and marketing consistently allows us to drive enhancements in the process and move closer to meeting our business objectives.

How do you prepare for the post-GDPR era? What benefits do you extend to your customers and employees as part of the GDPR preparedness?

GDPR is definitely here to stay. Some firms may see GDPR as a constraint, however, most view it as a positive change which ultimately protects an individual’s information. We see GDPR as an opportunity that will pay dividends to those firms that actively embrace data protection and security. Discovering where sensitive data resides across a large heterogeneous enterprise is one of the most important steps in GDPR compliance. Employing machine learning to discover and catalog that data, regardless of where it is, can make what’s been a tedious, onerous task far easier to complete.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in data-driven sales transformation?

Data-driven sales transformation is going to be key in the global economy. I think visual search that ties objects to relative information will become one of the key enablers in data-driven sales. AI will also play an important role in transforming data-driven sales and enabling smart decisions. For example, today, customer searches are accelerated based on data from previous searches and purchases. Imagine what predictive AI will do in the future when based on analysis of data? Customers are already guided to what they can potentially buy or learn and more and more companies are building next-generation AI driven technologies to make this even smarter. It’s amazing how data is powering and fuelling our world! And of course, economies.

What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?

I am always interested to see what new business may emerge in the data discovery and the machine learning space. There are so many start-ups with many interesting innovations in technology; and while I don’t want to point to any of them directly, I carefully watch to see what solutions are entering and growing in the market.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?

You can’t necessarily prepare for an AI-centric world, you need to embrace it! AI will help move us forward as we evolve and grow. As a business leader, I am glad that we live in an era where ideas that we once couldn’t even imagine are now becoming a reality. I would like to see AI driven education play a role in generating even more technological advances over the next decade.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

We work hard to create an environment where the team is part of the positive change that technology brings. I believe that every person in the organization matters. Fostering an inclusive environment that promotes teamwork and innovation puts less emphasis on organizational hierarchy and means we can definitely leap forward in advancing our technology. That’s at the core of inspiring and motivating our technology teams.

One word that best describes how you work.

Efficiently.

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

I like many apps and tools both professionally and personally, but there isn’t any particular app that I can’t live without. Our lives have changed significantly and we have become digitally enabled; therefore the mixture of software available allows us to get many things done more effectively. For example, it could be an online banking app or Jira software for development management processes.

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

My productivity hack is being able to multitask while staying focused. I believe in setting daily goals and checking actions off my list. As a CEO and Co-Founder, of course I have to prioritize – focusing on important or critical items helps with my productivity. I also try to keep meetings short – this means my teams and I can use our time efficiently during the course of the working day.

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

The Innovator’s DNA by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen and Clayton M. Christensen. I am really enjoying this book as it re-emphasizes innovation is driven by listening, observing, talking to others and advancing your own thoughts through engagement with the world around you. More importantly, it’s about challenging the status quo. I have realized that I prefer reading hardcover books. It may be considered old-fashioned, but I enjoy reading and feeling the book in my hands. I obviously read up on the news, current affairs and other various updates digitally, but when it comes to reading books I default to the old-fashioned style!

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

The best advice I have received and can therefore give is – don’t be afraid to take risks, don’t worry about challenging the status quo and become comfortable with change – it’s the only constant in life, professionally (and personally). Business opportunities can come from the most unexpected places or people, always evaluate such opportunities as they could set your career on a completely different course or trajectory.

Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

Being straightforward and true to my core values helped me throughout my career. Being able to stay focused on what is important and delivering tangible results. Being able to stay the course, even when the odds are against you; believing in my vision even when it gets tough, has truly been the secret of my success!

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

Oksana Sokolovsky is the Co-Founder and CEO of Io-Tahoe. She is an Ex-Wall Street executive turned entrepreneur. She has demonstrated strong leadership, technical and business expertise during her 20+ years working for the names JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley and more. Oksana was born in Ukraine and graduated summa cum laude with a B. A. and M.A. in Clinical Psychology and an M.S. in Computer Science from Long Island University.

Io-Tahoe

Io-Tahoe is a pioneer in machine learning-driven smart data discovery products that enable organizations to discover data across a wide range of heterogeneous technology platforms, from traditional databases and data warehouses to data lakes and other modern repositories, helping enterprises trace data elements across their systems in spite of outdated metadata definitions. The product utilizes machine learning algorithms to dramatically increase the accuracy, intelligence and speed of learning of complex data elements and data relationships throughout the entire business environment. Our product has been custom-built by a team with a deep understanding of data challenges, giving us first-hand insight and appreciation into our customers’ diverse and complex data needs. Our product is particularly valuable to businesses with large numbers of customers and diverse data sets, such as those in the financial services, utilities, retail, transportation, insurance, healthcare and manufacturing industries.

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.

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