MarTech Interview with Elizabeth Cholawsky, President and CEO at HG Insights

MarTech Interview with Elizabeth Cholawsky, President and CEO at HG Insights
MarTech Interview with Elizabeth Cholawsky, President and CEO at HG Insights

“Technology Intelligence is unique in that it can not only help our customers identify which accounts have the highest propensity to buy, but also, through our spend intelligence, the accounts with the greatest revenue potential.”

Could you tell us about your role and journey into Technology?

I’ve always been interested in how technology can be used to solve bigger and bigger problems. At university and grad school, and early in my career, I developed computer models to help understand various Social Science phenomena, particularly in the area of war and conflict resolution. My interest in developing better technologies to do the job led me into the commercial world where I worked in the first round of AI which was focused on expert systems and early speech recognition. That started my fascination with using advanced technology to solve customer problems. From that point on, I never looked back.

Over the last ten years, I’ve served as a GM and CEO, which has given me the privilege to lead teams who are dedicated to making our customers successful. As a CEO you do many things, but if I can make sure that each person in our company is using their time and intellect to solve problems for our clients, I know our employees, investors and, of course, our customers will be satisfied.

You’ve had a long track record of success leading change at SaaS companies – what brought you to HG Insights?

In late 2017, I started talking with Craig Harris, HG’s Founder, who inspired me about the company’s potential. I quickly understood the kind of unique assets that HG had developed and how the company was ready to grow to the next level. I talked to customers who were applying the technology information we produce to drive real bottom-line ROI. I met the team members at HG, who were passionate about the product and had a belief born of seeing many customers become successful using HG. It all convinced me that the company was one of great substance and a place I believed I could help by getting its message out to a much wider audience.

As a woman CEO in tech company, what’s the biggest challenge you face from within the organization and outside? What message do you have for other female professionals in the tech industry?

Getting more women at all levels, both in my own company and in the industry at large. We must actively work to make sure that women are interested and trained in technology from an early age. Businesses must be more cognizant of the hidden biases that may prevent women from getting same promotion opportunities as others. Though we are making progress, there’s still a lot to do.

No matter your gender, companies are run by people with diverse personalities, skills, backgrounds, and egos. My strategy has been to be driven by facts, always try and put myself in the other person’s shoes, speak up, volunteer for opportunities, and let results speak for themselves. It’s worked for me so far.

Could you tell us about the name change from HG Data to HG Insights – what drove the change?

After seeing so many customers use our technology intelligence to make important strategic decisions, we knew it was time to define our company around the unique insights we deliver. Customers rely on our insights to provide their organizations with the intelligence they need to plan more profitable sales territories, allocate resources, spot competitive trends, and analyze which markets to expand into or pursue, all of which positively impact the bottom line.

What is the Technology Intelligence you provide? Where does this position you as a company?

We provide Tech Intelligence in three main areas:

Installed Technologies: HG Insights utilizes advanced Data Science to uncover the specific hardware and software technologies that companies are using, including those that do not leave a digital footprint. We do this for more than 12 million companies and track over 10,000 technology products.

IT Spend Intelligence: We deliver the world’s largest and most granular collection of account-based IT spending intelligence. Profiling 550,000 global organizations, all linked to the D&B corporate structure, forecasting 100+ Subsegments of IT spend at a global, regional, and country-level.

Contract Intelligence: We provide the most advanced IT contract renewals intelligence on the market. Tracking 42,000 IT Software and IT services contracts giving a unique view of what enterprises are spending on granular areas of IT.  The deep and comprehensive insights we uncover for our customers, position us as the only Tech Intelligence provider to offer technology installation, IT spend and contract intelligence in one solution. When companies want to know what technology products are installed at their accounts, what their accounts are spending on those products, and what the terms of the contract are, they come to us.

Could you tell us about the Tech stack you use for Marketing, Sales, and Customer Support?

Salesforce is really at the core of what we do and it is our primary system of record for Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success. We also use Marketo as our primary Marketing Engagement platform and Groove for Sales Engagement. Of course – we also heavily utilize our own solutions HG for Salesforce, HG for Marketo, HG for LinkedIn and our HG Insights Platform.

Customer Acquisition and Retention Strategies

We understand that HG Insights has grown very quickly in the last 18 months. What do you think accounts for the growth at this point in time?

Several factors have come together to propel HG Insights’ recent growth. We’ve always been known for having the broadest and most detailed coverage of technology installation information at a global level. Last year, we added IT budget information and contract intelligence, greatly expanding the types of problems our customers can solve with our offerings.

At the same time, the demand from the market has grown. Market demand has been driven by the growth of sophisticated business strategists in all functions – Sales, Marketing, Corporate Development, Product, and others – understanding that technology intelligence must be a cornerstone to their planning, not an add-on.

Which group of customers are the fastest to adopt HG Insights’ various products and solutions?

Market leaders in all B2B technology groups have been first in line to embrace the solutions that HG has to offer. They have seen how adopting HG Insights data assets in whatever product form they choose gives them a big competitive advantage, helping them to grow even faster.

What are your customers’ biggest challenges and how are you helping them solve those challenges?

I really love this question because it gets to the heart of why we have been successful…and something that is really embedded in the DNA of the company. A key part of our customer journey is really getting to the bottom of not just what a prospect needs, but what they are trying to accomplish and what the big initiatives and drivers are for their business. And when we take a step back and review how we have helped our customers be successful, there are a few common themes.

Focusing efforts where they will have the greatest impact

Technology intelligence is unique in that it can not only help our customers identify which accounts have the highest propensity to buy, but also, through our spend intelligence, the accounts with the greatest revenue potential. On top of that, by analyzing the technologies a company is using, our customers are able to also derive what key initiatives and strategies are in place, which allows them to create more effective messaging for Sales and Marketing campaigns.

– Streamlining business processes

Our customers also utilize technology intelligence to streamline their existing processes. One example of this is Sales territory planning, which is another big use case we see again and again. By using tech intelligence in their planning, our customers are able to develop truly equitable territories that maximize revenue. This same intelligence can also be applied to significantly reduce the ramp time of new sellers. HG provides them with target accounts that have the right technology profiles, the right budgets, and can arm them with the right messages.

– Developing strategies for growth

And I would say another trend is really around using technology intelligence to help build strategies for growth. Whether its redefining their total addressable market, refining their Ideal Customer Profile, or analyzing global market trends for partnership expansion opportunities, our unique ability to drill down from entire markets into specific companies, and even locations, provides our customers with a really unprecedented level of strategic intelligence.

But if I had to boil it down to a single challenge,  I would say it all comes down to accelerating growth – and we help companies do just that.

How do you address GDPR and other Data Privacy issues?

A key characteristic of account-based intelligence is that it does not contain any Personally Identifiable Information (PII), and, as such, does not fall under the scope of GDPR. In fact, many of our customers come to us because they are looking to find privacy-compliant insights they can use to fuel their Sales, Marketing, and Strategy initiatives. In addition to that, when if a customer does acquire compliant contacts, we can ensure they are at exactly the right companies, making that spend more efficient.

How does your Technology Intelligence help companies be more strategic?

One of the unique advantages of HG Insights is how our customers receive access to our analyst team who can help tackle some of the big strategic challenges they face, such as identifying which markets or prospect cohorts have the most revenue potential, or developing the total addressable market and ICP for a new product launch — none of which would be possible without our unique referential entity set that allows our customers to drill down from global markets to individual companies. For many of our customers, this is why our insights serve as the foundation and starting point for all of their strategic intelligence.

How does Tech Intelligence impact bottom line results?

When I mentioned earlier that we strive to really understand what a customer is trying to accomplish, that is very much a results-based conversation…and at the end of the day, for many of our customers, the measure of success is the bottom line.
Our customers employ technology intelligence at every stage of the funnel to impact that bottom line. Whether its developing strategies that identify lucrative market opportunities, increasing the relevancy of Marketing messaging and advertising, or accelerating deal velocity and average deal size, each one of these applications increases a company’s revenue and growth.

What makes HG Insights’ Tech Intelligence different than other providers?

At the most fundamental level, our data assets have always had a breadth and depth unparalleled in the industry. This is due to the sophistication of the data science that we apply to the billions of documents we process every month. We have never been satisfied to simply look at HTML on a web site. With our combination of technology installation, IT spend and contract information we can solve use cases, like market sizing and territory analysis, that other data providers cannot. And unlike IT research firms, our insights are fact-based, accessed on-demand and give line-of-sight from the total market to the subsegments of the market all the way down to the individual companies that compose the market.

How do you measure the performance of your products?

Measuring the performance of our products is easy – the only measurement is the delivery of ROI for our customers. We are fortunate that our customers are enthusiastic and readily share their success metrics, such as Alfresco increasing engagement rates by 75% on their ABM programs, or BetterCloud finding 2-3x higher selling opportunities. Our website has lots more customers talking about the success they’ve had using HG Insights.

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

AI to me has always been about applying the newest innovations to solve the toughest challenges. HG Insights’ market leadership has been built on a team that challenges themselves each day to extend our capabilities and solve additional and more difficult problems for our customers. Preparing for an AI-centric world means ensuring that we continue to grow our culture of intellectual curiosity, innovation and applying those innovations to deliver value for our customers.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

The most effective inspiration is to show everyone how the fruits of their labor are being used by our customers. For example, every quarter we have a virtual customer roundtable that is watched by everyone in the company. After each roundtable, there’s a noticeable buzz in the office as teams across the company discuss how to extend the successes they’ve heard about or solve a new problem that a customer has described.

What is a word that best describes how you work?

Urgency.

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

At work, I’m not tied to any single tool or application as none can substitute for having intellectual discipline to think through problems. Outside of work I couldn’t live without my Garmin watch for swimming, biking and running!

Which superhero character/movie do you most profoundly relate to?

“Oh Lucky Man!”

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

Listening to work-related podcasts while I’m on the treadmill or my Computrainer.

What are you currently reading?

I’m usually reading a few books at the same time. Right now it’s “Traction” by Gino Wickman for business, “Happiness” by Frederic Lenoir for philosophical development, and “Reasons to Be Cheerful” by Nina Sibbe, just for fun. I read a mix of digital, hard copy and occasionally an audiobook.

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

Never, never, never give up.

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

Persistence

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

Satya Nadella

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

Elizabeth is the CEO of HG Insights. Elizabeth is a seasoned/established executive leader in the technology industry with a strong focus on growing successful SaaS-based businesses. She has led and worked with companies to build market-leading offerings, using in-house talent as well as through partnerships and acquisitions. Prior to joining HG Insights, she was CEO of Support.com (NASDAQ: SPRT), where she transformed the business from being solely reliant on outsourced services revenue to selling a SaaS product that intelligently ran large contact centers.

Prior to Support.com, Elizabeth worked at Citrix Systems where she held executive positions in the Citrix SaaS division, with leadership roles spanning general management, product management, global client services and the contact center. Elizabeth has also held executive leadership roles at market-leading companies including Move.com and ValueClick, where she used her business acumen to position companies in large growth markets and align product and messaging for maximum effectiveness.

Elizabeth holds a PhD in Political Science with a concentration in Econometrics from the University of Minnesota, and a BA (Phi Beta Kappa, cum laude) from Franklin & Marshall College.

hginsights logo

HG Insights is the global leader in technology intelligence. Every day, HG Insights uses advanced data science methodologies to process billions of unstructured digital documents to produce the world’s best technology installation information, IT spend, and contract intelligence. The world’s largest technology firms and fastest growing companies achieve a tremendous advantage by using HG Insights to accelerate their sales, marketing, and strategy efforts. This is powerful information you can use to out-market, out-sell, and out-grow your competition.

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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