Tell us about your role at BloomReach and how you got here. What inspired you to start a Digital Experience Platform (DXP)?
I co-founded BloomReach in 2009 together with my business partner Ashutosh Garg who is a former Google Search engineer out of the idea that all online experiences could be so much better if websites would cater to the specific needs and interests of the individual customer, using smart algorithms that gather data from all over the web and get even smarter over time. We have been building out our personalization business to the level that 20 percent of all ecommerce transactions in North America are powered by our software to increase revenue and drive customer loyalty. With great success in commerce, we felt that our class of AI/Data Science technologies could be applied to all experiences, not just commerce ones, and that involved expanding into content oriented experiences. That’s why we decided in 2016 to acquire Hippo CMS that offered one of the most sophisticated digital experience management platforms on the market. By integrating our products, we created the world’s first open and intelligent Digital Experience Platforms (DXP) for which we were recognized as a Visionary vendor in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms 2018.
What are the core tenets of your Tech Alliances? How do they benefit your customers?
With our tech alliances, we allow our customers to reduce their time-to-market by offering pre-built connectors that make our systems integrate easily. This reduces development efforts and increases agility and scalability. We established tech alliances with numerous marketing automation, digital asset management, and ecommerce platform providers like our recent partnerships with SAP Hybris, ElasticPath and Commercetools.
Given the changing dynamic of the marketing technology landscape, where do you see DXPs fitting in a CMO’s stack? How are DXPs different from the modern-day customer experience platforms?
In our vision, the Digital Experience Platform is the core platform that connects and powers all interactions between a brand and its customers. This is why we lay such a big emphasis on the ‘openness’ of our platform that allows easy integrations with all other data points within an organization like marketing automation, CRM, customer loyalty systems and product information management but also transactional systems like commerce platforms and online banking tools. By putting a DXP at the heart of your digital landscape and making sure it connects with all systems that contain relevant customer data you can remove and prevent data silos and make sure that the customer journey is coherent and unbroken across all possible touchpoints, including upcoming technologies like voice.
What does your ‘Ideal Customer’ Profile look like? How do you build your customer segments?
The ideal customer is a large enterprise looking to transform their digital experience and how they communicate with their users or customers. The ‘ideal’ DXP customer could be in Retail, Financial Services, Travel & Hospitality, Manufacturing, Education and more. Key requirements are that they are enterprise grade organizations that deal with complex digital environments and huge amounts of customer data. A good example is the British National Health Service (NHS) that is implementing our DXP to better serve their patients based on our smart algorithms that process the data collected by dozens of individual healthcare suppliers, from local GP’s to hospitals, dentists and specialized care suppliers.
What data points do you work on to make BloomReach products more competitive for optimized digital experiences?
Since we’ve been working with some of the biggest North-American e-commerce sites for almost a decade now, our algorithms have been processing enormous amounts of data making them smarter and smarter over time. With this, we can optimize our customers’ digital experience in the most intelligent way possible. We also have the most open digital experience platform available in the market.
How can organizations overcome biases to increase customer-centricity?
Customer-Centricity comes from being genuinely open-minded about the customer journey and fundamentally being open to data points that indicate customer intent. Customers are always speaking to us. The question is, are we listening?
What startups in the industry are you watching keenly right now?
We’re constantly watching tech startups that are developing technologies to improve data processing through AI, NLP, Big Data Processing etc. We’re also keenly watching startups that are developing new touchpoints like voice, chatbots etc.
What marketing and sales automation tools and technologies do you use?
We are using Marketo and Salesforce for our sales automation and marketing campaigns.
What are your predictions on the most influential disruptions in digital experience management for marketing and branding?
Artificial Intelligence, Voice and VR will have a major impact on marketing and branding in the near future. Customers are becoming more and more demanding and the last best experience they head will be the reference for all future experiences. This will increase the pressure on brands to constantly optimize their digital experience, making use of the latest in technology.
Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign at BloomReach
Our marketing team sought to explain a complicated topic in a simple way. They created a survey to ask people to describe a particular dress. The survey was targeted to site merchandisers and eCommerce professionals. The raw data obtained was then turned into a blog post, infographic, & video. We used the results in sales presentations & at physical events. We measured success in the buzz it created & generated initial interest in millions of dollars worth of deals.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
Our company has been centered around AI and machine learning from the very beginning so we are actually one of the drivers towards this world. However, in our opinion, it’s not about AI replacing humans but about AI helping humans to be more productive and creative.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
The people that work at BloomReach are generally tech-minded people so I don’t really have to inspire them but to give an example of what inspires people: we are sharing a lot of our customer success stories internally and those usually serve really well in making people proud of what they are contributing to in their daily work.
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Making use of email to manage one’s thoughts and priorities.
What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
Unscaled, by Hemant Taneja
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.
Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Thank you Raj! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Raj brought 10 years of enterprise and entrepreneurial experience with him when he co-founded BloomReach. Before launching the company, he was entrepreneur-in-residence at Mohr-Davidow Ventures. Prior to that, Raj served as Cisco’s director of product marketing and was on the founding team of telecom company FirstMark/LambdaNet, which grew to $80 million in run-rate revenue. Raj also worked in technology investment banking at Lazard Freres. He holds a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Princeton University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. His thoughts on navigating the challenges of high-growth startups can be found on his blog at DeDatta.com.
BloomReach drives customer experience to accelerate the path to conversion, increase revenue, and generate customer loyalty. In 2016, BloomReach acquired the Amsterdam-based content management software company Hippo. With applications for content management, site search, page management, SEO optimization and role-based analytics, BloomReach is a central location for all players who manage customer experience to come together and intelligently drive business outcomes.
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.