On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us about your role and how you got here? What inspired you to be part of an AI driven B2B martech company?
The idea of continuous learning or improvement is simple but profoundly magical. Consider the below examples.
• It takes just 7 years to double money at 10% annual growth rate, which happens to be the average return of S&P index since 1928
• It takes just 1 year to double marketing conversions at 6% monthly improvement, and some organizations get there much faster
• Put a coin in the first square of chess board, double in every subsequent square (2, 4, 8, 16 etc.), gets to 36 quintillion (that is 18 zero’s) in the last square, more than all the coins in the world
I had the good fortune to experience continuous improvement with magical results, personally and professionally, early on in my career at i2, at supply chains of several Fortune 500 companies, and latter at Microsoft, and now with some of our customers.
More often than not, I experienced the lack of continuous improvement, leading to a lot of waste and weariness. Imagine if marketing could be 2X better at 1/2X of cost. I am inspired by the potential of AI to make it easier to realize such benefits in marketing and sales through closed-loop intelligence.
MTS: How does Fiind fit into a modern CMO’s martech stack?
Fiind adds Intelligence & Planning layer to the current martech stack such as CRM and Marketing Automation. Fiind compliments the stack with closed loop intelligence facilitating continuous improvement. It starts with enriching the internal data across martech stack with external data to identify the best customer opportunities to plan and execute for the maximum return on investment. The resulting intel (segments, leads, buying signals, pitch points etc.) is published on everyday martech tools such as CRM, Marketing Automation, Email or a Browser for easy access and action.
The continuous learning engine is automatically executed with every cycle where the results are analyzed, models are refreshed, and intel is updated.
MTS: How do you see the technology evolving around contextual data management in the coming years?
Context is a function of the interpretation and validation. The interpretation technologies such as NLP are reasonably mature but the validation technologies need a lot of work, especially with false positives and false negatives. In the case of identifying a customer’s likelihood to buy, triangulation of multiple signals and effectively dealing with conflicting answers hold the keys to better contextual data management.
While the technology is important, it goes hand in hand with the process. It is as important to have a continuous learning engines and closed loop processes to allow for in-market feedback for validation (or invalidation).
MTS: What are the pain points for marketers in leveraging predictive intelligence platforms for refined sales enablement and automation?
Some of the common pain points or bottlenecks that we see with customers are:
1. Getting internal data from multiple sources
2. Bad data quality that takes time to correct
3. Human bias leading to trust issues of the models
4. Short term mindset without a continuous improvement process
MTS: 2018 is expected to be the ‘Year of Hyper-Personalization’. How should marketers firm up their action plan to better optimize marketing automation campaigns?
I would say the number 1 action plan is to have a long term continuous learning engine in place. The plan starts with a process that determines baseline metrics such as conversion rates, the ability to analyze results, refresh models and execute on changes. This ensures that the marketing optimization is always-on and not a one-time thing, allowing marketers to ride out the short-term ups and downs.
MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
Here are my top ones:
1. Essential. They are making next gen phones and home products
2. Cover. They make accessory dwelling units to solve housing supply issues
3. Astral AR builds advanced drones to save people in dangerous situations
4. Treehouse. Online tech school
5. The innovation from enterprise products such as Office 365, Azure, Slack
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
Our marketing stack comprises the usual tools such as email, CRM, marketing automation, collaboration, workflow and Fiind of course. We are excited to be dogfooding our own technology to continuously innovate, learn and improve.
MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign?
One campaign that we ran was the customer user group campaign which caught like wildfire. The goal was to get existing customers come together at digital and physical events, to share their successes and challenges, with each other, prospects and product teams. The investment was minimal, the sign ups were almost 100%. The customer satisfaction, the existing customer revenues and the new customer adds all went up significantly. It has now become a self-sustaining engine expanding from few hundred members to tens of thousands globally.
MTS: How do you see the conversational intelligence platforms evolving with the maturity of AI/ML technologies?
I think that it is unlikely for one platform to hold the keys to all the data and the intelligence. This means there is a need for more openness and interoperability across platforms so one platform could harness the strengths of other platforms. An example is such a partnership is between Alexa and Cortana. The users benefit by accessing everything through their preferred platform.
This Is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
Learning – whether it’s the work with colleagues or customers or doing something by myself, this helps me to approach every situation with a fresh lens without bias. I try to strive for the first-day-on-the-job-freshness every day.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
These are the everyday essentials like Office 365, WhatsApp, Google Maps. I try to be away from electronics/software from time to time but it gets harder.
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Meditation is my shortcut to productivity and wellbeing. This allows me to focus on one thing at a time, with minimal distraction, bias, and worries.
MTS: What are you currently reading?
I am reading a few books. Sapiens, A brief history of humankind by Yuval Noah Harari; and Shoe Dog by Phil Knight for the second time. I like to read and reflect, and sometimes re-read.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
It’s not always words but actions that sometimes can have a great impact. The best action was the unconditional love from my parents. I realized that if I did anything with a fraction of that love, it would be well done!
MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
I bring solutions to the table very quickly. Since I spend most of my time understanding and solving cross-functional challenges, it goes back to the importance of collaboration in today’s environment. The pace of change that we’re all operating under requires teams to come to the right solution quickly and then collaborate, and hold each other accountable, to deliver solutions effectively and efficiently.
MTS: Tag people from the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
MTS: Thank you Vijay! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Always Learning, Vijay is experienced in designing, incubating and scaling several enteprise software applications.
An engineer by education, Vijay started his career as architect of supply chain optimization applications at i2 Technologies (acquired by JDA) that were successfully adopted by Fortune 500 companies. As i2 grew to global leader, he got a chance to extensively travel to Asia and Europe, learning about different cultures while assessing and advising customers on supply chain strategies.
After i2, Vijay spent 10 years at Microsoft in various marketing and business leadership roles, incubating and scaling products such as Office 365 (from BPOS) and Dynamics 365 (from Axapta), with partners across industries and segments. During this incredible growth journey, he learned about and developed appreciation for using digital, cloud and data technologies for achieving better and easier ways to win customers and optimize customer value.
Seeing the opportunity to apply data and AI/ML in new ways, Vijay co-founded Fiind. Fiind helps businesses find their customers efficiently using AI – by enabling marketing and sales to tune into sales signals on every day tools. Fiind’s intelligent apps are sales acceleration engines across new, upsell and cross sell revenue streams with proven improvements in conversions by as much as 10X. Fiind specializes in sales signal store (data), intelligence with context (models) and easy access and action (users).
Fiind helps businesses find their customers efficiently using machine learning – by enabling marketers and sellers tune into signals that customers send prior to buying. Fiind’s library of over 100 million signals serves as a Customer GPS with answers to questions such as who is likely to buy (and what and why). The digital signals process data, structured and unstructured, social and nonsocial, for actionable insights. They are available anywhere, anytime on everyday tools such as CRM, Email and Browser – to help win the right customer at the right time with the right message. Fiind’s gifted data scientists, engineers and consultants are obsessed about winning customer trust. Your customers are sending signals. Are you tuned in?
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.