Interview with Shashi Seth, Sr. Vice President, Oracle Marketing Cloud

Shashi Seth
Shashi Seth

“Modern Marketing is all about having one-on-one conversations with your customers, at the right time, on the right channel, with the right content.”

Tell us about your role at Oracle and how you got here. What inspired you to join Oracle Marketing Cloud?

I am the Senior Vice President of Oracle Marketing Cloud. I joined Oracle about seven months ago. I was previously the Chief Product Officer of a late stage startup called xAd (now called GroundTruth) which is a location-based marketing platform. Oracle is one of those companies that has incredible touch points with its customers. Our customers use our Database, ERP, HCM, Sales/Service, Commerce, Point of Sale, Platform as a Service, Infrastructure, Data, Marketing and so much more. In each of those touch points are stored amazing datasets that tell incredible stories about users, and their journey. This is the fabric of modern marketing and no other company can claim to have this kind of data or access, and that is what inspired me to come to Oracle Marketing Cloud and build on that legacy.

Why should marketers and technology investors attend the Oracle MCX every year? 

Marketers and CX professionals should attend MCX to have the opportunity to interface with us and understand where we are investing our time and resources, why, and what impact it might have on their marketing efforts. This is also a great venue to hear from other customers who might be solving similar problems, taking advantage of new opportunities and using tactics that might be relevant. My favorite part of the event this year was meeting customers, getting to know them, their business, challenges, and opportunities.

How is the marketing cloud industry different from when you first started?

Well, I am very new to the Marketing Technology and Automation space. I have a ton of exposure to Ad tech having worked in Search, Video, Mobile, and Location advertising. I have watched the evolution of ad tech and it has been a fascinating ride. MarTech is going through a similar evolution. There are lots of parallels between the two spaces and I definitely see some amount of convergence.

What is the State of Marketing Automation and Analytics industry given the changing dynamic of Customer Experience?

Modern Marketing is all about having one-on-one conversations with your customers, at the right time, on the right channel, with the right content. I know people have talked about this being the holy grail of marketing for a while, but it is only true today. The amount of data, the kind of personalization, the kind of data science and AI that can be applied to optimize the results are just astounding. This living and breathing data needs to be available in real-time, and needs to be put to use immediately. The old digital analytics platforms are dated, and new platforms like Oracle Infinity that we just launched last week is the way of the future. To achieve these one-on-one conversations with your users, you need Infinity for real-time data (no hours of waiting) of all user interactions (no sampling, no heat-maps), and be able to bring in large amounts of transactional data from external sources, connect the dots, and put them to work. This is a big white space, and Oracle was well equipped to take advantage of it. This is going to be a game-changing product.

What datapoints do you work on to make Oracle Marketing Cloud more competitive for optimized results?

We collect millions of data points and put it to use. Examples being – who are you targeting, did the customer open the email or look at the push notification, when did they do it, what action did they take, how much did they put in the cart, did they check out, what kind of content do they respond to, etc. All of that is then put to use towards optimizing the next set of campaigns and do it again, and again. Our end goal is delivering better ROI for our customers every step of the way, and all this data is applied to our Data Science and AI algorithms.

How excited are you about the trends in Data Management Platforms (DMPs) versus Customer Data Platforms (CDPs)? How is the Oracle Marketing Cloud preparing for this? 

DMPs and CDPs both have an exciting future for ease of use, better matching, more data and better segmentation capabilities. For some reason, people are confused that these two are mutually exclusive. That is clearly not the case. We believe that DMPs and CDPs will sit side by side and work together to achieve different sets of use cases, and provide a platform that the next generation marketing should use as its cornerstone.

How can organizations overcome biases in marketing data analytics, and focus to increase customer-centricity?

As somebody said there are three kinds of lies “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” As long as there is data, it will be open to all kinds of interpretation by human beings. Even Data Science and AI and ML algorithms have biases because humans create them, or train them, and they have biases.  What’s interesting though is that the amount of bias in algorithms is smaller, and more consistent. Marketing is starting to take a page out of the consumer internet space, which learned more than a decade ago how to be immensely customer-centric and focused on experiences, personalization, customization, speed, goals, etc. My advice to CMOs is to always find great mathematically minded people in your organizations who take to data like ducks to water, and have various consumer digital experiences like building apps, websites, consumer internet apps, etc. That is the basic ingredient to success.

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

The marketing platform space has gone from 500 companies about five years ago to 5,000 companies, filled by lots of exciting startups. My bias is towards companies who deal with data and AI. There are too many to name.

What marketing and sales automation tools and technologies do you use?

Oracle runs a very sophisticated marketing stack that includes Eloqua, Oracle Social Cloud, Maxymiser, Data Cloud, Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Business Intelligence, etc. We “drink our own champagne,” put these tools to work, and use this as a center of excellence.

Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign at Oracle Marketing Cloud? 

We have been running a predictive intelligence based campaign that includes internal and external data sources to find the perfect balance between Fit, Intent, and Engagement. We are leveraging some of the best algorithms in the industry for this. We have seen as much as four times better performance with significant gains in win rates across a host of Oracle products and solutions.

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

As I said before, the core of Oracle Marketing Cloud is data, and building great Data Science, AI and ML algorithms at every step of the way is the basis of our strategy. Given that we own two of the best orchestration platforms in the world – Responsys and Eloqua – we continuously invest in these algorithms to keep them tightly integrated so they can continue to produce stunning results and create a massive value-add for our customers.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

Innovation and use of technology to build great products and solutions for our customers is the mantra to success. This means pushing the envelope and going for scale, reliability, speed, optimizations, and results.

One word that best describes how you work.

Diligence.

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

My iPhone, Calendar and email.

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

I find that sometimes being in consumption-only mode is a good idea. For instance, I scan all emails, read only the ones that are important and require a response but hold on responding to them. Meaning read the email, but don’t respond to it yet. Let it sink in.

What are you currently reading?

I have “Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead” by Laszlo Bock on my bedside table, but I have to admit I consume it in small doses. A lot of habits, business processes and practices were learned at my time at Google. It’s good to refresh those ideas. I read a lot of news, consume sports content, and a lot of random articles – some for fun, some for knowledge. I pretty much consume most of the information on my laptop or phone and have lots of random trivia and data in my head.

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

Find the few things that matter. Focus on the few things that matter. Ignore the rest.

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

I handle stress better than most people. I typically leave stress at work and come home de-stressed to the extent possible. I try not to take my laptop home. It doesn’t mean that I am not checking my emails – it just means that I am in consumption mode, not response mode.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Blake Irving, retired CEO of GoDaddy and my former boss, who taught me a lot of amazing things, and to whom I owe a lot.

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

Shashi is an experienced leader with broad experience in all aspects of Product Management – including Monetization, and Strategy Development. He has direct experience in the Internet Video, Search, and E-Commerce industries and a background and experience in technology. Shashi is a skilled manager with experience in building and managing teams and Strong experience in fostering innovation – both in product and strategy.

oracleThe Oracle Cloud offers complete SaaS application suites for ERP, HCM and CX, plus best-in-class database Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) from data centers throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia.

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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