MarTech Interview with Abhi Yadav, Founder and CEO at Zylotech

MarTech Interview with Abhi Yadav, Founder and CEO, Zylotech
MarTech Interview with Abhi Yadav, Founder and CEO, Zylotech

“Using AI and ML to improve and make the customer experience more exciting and personal is intriguing.”

Tell us about your role and journey into Technology. What inspired you to start at Zylotech?

My Co-Founder, Iqbal Kaur and I spent years building analytics software and innovation engines for enterprise brands. We were both struck by how difficult it was for businesses to manage and consume their customer data. Despite heroic efforts to plan data discovery, schemas, build connectors, transform data, and do advanced customer analytics, teams were still left without a dynamic customer view, complete set of lenses and the kind of continuous intelligence they needed to ensure contextual actions.

We believed there was a better approach. Leveraging the Cloud and advanced Machine Learning, we invented a new way to address customer-centricity in action with automation. The solution was to manage and unify customer data—no matter how messy or incomplete—then pair it with advanced customer analytics to produce relevancy-based recommendations that can be activated via any Marketing engine.

What is Zylotech and how does it fit into a modern Marketing Technology stack?

Zylotech is the world’s first self-learning CDP, keeping customer data live and enriched for 1:1 Personalization, cross/up-selling, and Retention Marketing. Powered by automated Machine Learning, Zylotech’s platform continuously unifies ID level data and enables ongoing micro-segmentation and recommendations, which can be activated through a variety of MarTech tools.

Zylotech provides B2B organizations with a complete, unified view of all customer data to empower cross-functional teams with greater agility, efficiency, and consistency. This approach is leading to new operational strategies that address each stage of the customer journey to meet evolving requirements. We’ve developed a Revenue Operations (RevOps) Framework to provide the necessary guidance for B2B organizations to meet these evolving requirements and to break through Marketing, Sales and Customer Operations silos to establish alignment across customer-facing teams.

What in your view, is the current state of CDPs?

In my view, the current state of CDPs is rather frenzied. Some people call it a category of mercenaries and to a certain extent, that’s what it is turning out to be. There’s a loose definition of CDP all around and there are different interpretations of what a CDP is. There are some original CDP players but largely there are companies that are either pure-play data management companies that became a CDP or there was an Orchestration or Campaign Management tool or Personalization tool which bills themselves as a CDP.

And then there are all sorts of other companies which touch customer data in some way and have some CRM or Marketing Automation capabilities. These companies are all trying to be opportunistic and play in this space because this is the next big thing. This space is still evolving. There’s a storming, forming and norming situation happening where I believe the norming is going to evolve into some subset of CDPs or more specialized CDPs.

Some CDPs will be really good from a campaign and orchestration perspective while some CDPs will excel from a Data Science, AI, Automation and Analytics perspective – while others will be specific to compliance and privacy. I feel right now the current state of CDPs is in flux and hopefully, when the dust settles it will be about more specialized CDPs than a broad and loose category of CDPs.

Do you think CDPs will render CRMs useless in the coming years?

CRMs to this day are still most effective for B2B Sales, and not for B2C. So it’s not really a set a competitor to CDPs, but what is happening is given that the B2B and B2C worlds are merging, there could be an evolution of CRMs that have CDPs inside.

How can businesses benefit from leveraging your CDP solutions?

B2B companies use Zylotech for customer lifecycle automation, B2B account-based intelligence, customer ad-targeting, personalization, cross-selling and up-selling. After providing data unification, cleansing, and enrichment, Zylotech uses prediction and recommendation engines to develop customer profiles for micro-segmentation, with rich integrations across all information platforms, including Salesforce, Shopify, Adobe, Magento, Eloqua, Marketo, and others.

What is the next disruptive phase of CDPs?

Ninety percent of the CDPs in the market are basically DIY. So all that they’re doing is they’re bringing your data in one place, sometimes unifying them, sometimes kind of loosely, with a little bit of hand-waving to say it’s been unified. But really they aren’t unified at an ID level and on an on-going continuous basis. So it’s kind of raw unification and mostly DIY – so if you want to build a list, here’s the toolkit – you want to build a model, go build it.

Then there are skillset problems, if you are solving a churn problem, how much data should you take – many marketers today are left with a DIY problem on their hands. A lot of this is going to get automated, so it will no longer be about figuring out which data, which model, which problem – the whole pipe will become self-learning. The self-learning aspect will be huge and it’s something that Zylotech is already leading the pack in.

From a solution standpoint, we are just scratching the surface. Some key aspects when it comes to the next disruptive phase of CDPs will deal with establishing universal ID resolution for every entity, from an individual household or a company or a business. Privacy and compliance will continue to be embraced and will bring additional sophistication to the CDP space.

What is intent data for Marketing and Sales in the AI-driven ecosystem? 

When it comes to intent data, you are looking at it from various perspectives including first, second and even third-party data. From a first-party data perspective, marketers are putting beacons on their websites and not just tracking anonymous visitors but tracking existing customers to identify which customers are coming at what time and what they’re doing, and what they’re browsing. This provides them with the intent data. For example, in the case of a customer that is looking at this camera, they can also see that this individual has never bought anything.

A possible next step is to do some contextual personalized cart abandonment or maybe browsing-based behavior analysis and offer a promotion, which is contextual. It’s no longer about spray-and-pray and first-party data is also getting coupled with second-party and third-party data. When it comes to intent data, what is really critical is the speed in which you process that raw data so that you can to an actionable offer or a campaign and outreach.

What makes your CDP different from others currently available in the market?

So, as mentioned above, Zylotech is a self-learning CDP. Traditional self-service CDPs have dominated many areas of Marketing for quite some time. However, a CDP like Zylotech, that leverages self-learning AI to automate and enhance the entire customer experience (CX) is more helpful to marketers than a traditional self-service CDP as it can handle massive volumes of real-time customer data and provide even more precise insights than traditional self-service analytics tools.

Zylotech enables marketers to collect multi-channel data about the CX and dynamically tailor content delivery. They can make predictions about customer behaviors, map the entire CX, and then scale Customer Personalization and Precision in a completely new way.

Tell us more about your data-driven solutions? How can CMOs optimize their Digital Marketing and Advertising budget using your CDP Products, Services, and Solutions?

Zylotech provides marketers with powerful customer data and embedded analytics that enable greater customer retention opportunities. It arms them with a real-time, yet holistic understanding of their customers, so they can drive highly personalized interactions across all their Marketing channels.

Our AI-powered platform enables marketers to send the right content at the right time and engage customers in personalized interactions where they are seeing on average a 6x increase in customer lift.

Which other Technology platforms like Website Analytics, Video, Contacts, Contracts, Email and Customer Service sync with your platform?

So our Zylotech Connector allows our clients to connect to any customer data wherever it lives from the Marketing cloud, to social, CRM, Clickstream, Google Contacts, Shopify, etc. Our Zylotech API Connector Library provides an extensive selection of pre-built connectors to integrate data from other popular marketing applications, databases, and Big Data platforms. Our data integration solution also allows you to use your existing visualization tools like Salesforce, Marketo, Microstrategy and many more.

Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use?

We use HubSpot, Drift, Trello, and the entire Google Suite.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in AI and Machine Learning technology for Customer Service in 2019-2020?

One key area that I believe will be particularly disruptive is the whole emerging category of emotional intelligence. The kind of AI and ML tech that can analyze human emotions for example, during a live call center call and suggest to an agent, hey, this guy is sad, or upset and recommend the next action to take. Another area that is disruptive is software that can analyze human facial expressions through video.

We live in such a diverse society these days and sometimes it can be challenging to know whether a person is angry, sad, excited, sharing a complaint or sharing feedback that is positive or negative. Using AI and ML to improve and make the customer experience more exciting and personal is intriguing. There’s a lot going on in this space and a lot more that can be done there. I expect we will see some pretty new and exciting developments in this space this year and next.

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

I would say companies that are automating data ID and open source applications that help you deploy machine learning algorithms to the cloud and scale them. Anything which makes AI more scalable, seamless, programmable, and easier to deploy.  Another area of interest is data companies. While people have invested a lot in AI and machine learning in the last few years, it’s really putting the cart before the horse.

A lot of data science teams are struggling with the availability of data. Either the data is too messy or its third party data. Take a look at the Googles and Facebooks of the world, most of the acquisitions they are doing have to do with gathering more data to train the algorithms they have built.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Business Leader?

We are all living in a super noisy society, have a certain amount of decision fatigue and face a lot of options. As a business leader, you need to be strategic, goal-oriented and have enough time to spend with your team and help build the company culture. I am a huge fan of adaptability, and of adopting technology that helps streamline menial tasks and tedious day to day jobs – from ordering a cab, paying bills to take care of logistical things that can be time-consuming.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

I think you have to lead by example so when it comes to technology I take a balanced approach when it comes to technology and adoption. It’s easy to get caught up with the latest greatest new technology. While we have to keep an eye on innovation and keep up with what’s trending at the same time we need to understand how is it helping us. So I make sure the technology we are using is helping us gain tangible benefits and measurable productivity.

Personally, I’m quite the evangelist when it comes to being self-aware and figuring out what works, what doesn’t, what we like, what we don’t like and putting it out there. While I encourage technology adoption, we each need to know what tools and tech work best for each of us.

What’s one word that best describes how you work.

Quantitative.

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

The entire Google suite. Definitely. And then my iPhone.

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

Notepad on my phone – you can add people and collaborate on the move – it’s extremely productive.

What are you currently reading?

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz.

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

Whether it’s a client or partner, have a straight-up agenda. Everyone is so busy, setting an agenda upfront about why we are meeting and what we are doing helps everyone stay focused, engaged and productive.

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

I have an unfair advantage because of a personal knack and a keen interest. I’m great at pulling together in-depth research. Throw me a problem and within a couple of days I will have dug into the business research, found and called the right people and can summarize all the moving parts.

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

Scott Brinker

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

Abhi Yadav is CEO of Zylotech, a self-learning customer analytics and data platform that he co-founded and spun out of MIT. Renowned customer analytics and data technologist, as well as industry entrepreneur, Abhi Co-Founded Prognosys e-Services and N-CARE.

He has also served in management positions at VER and GE Capital. Abhi earned his Master of Business Administration from MIT. Abhi is a Forbes Technology Council member and an Advisory Board Member to the MIT Global Startup Labs.

zylotech logoAn MIT spinout, Zylotech has been recognized by Gartner and other leading analyst firms as a key player in the fast-growing Customer Data Platform (CDP) space.

The company’s self-learning customer data platform keeps customer data live and enriched for 1:1 personalization, cross/up-selling, and retention marketing. Powered by automated Machine Learning, Zylotech’s platform continuously unifies ID level data and enables ongoing micro-segmentation and recommendations, which can be activated through a variety of martech tools. Zylotech’s cross-industry clients have reported up to a 6x increase in customer lift.

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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