MarTech Interview with Glenn Shoosmith, Chief Architect and Founder, JRNI

Glenn Shoosmith
MarTech Interview with Glenn Shoosmith, CEO and Founder, BookingBug

“It’s also important not to get to caught up in the hype around AI. Like anything, the wrong use devalues the right use and AI is certainly being overused right now.”

Tell us about your role and journey into marketing technology. What inspired you to launch JRNI?

In 2008, I started working with some of the world’s largest banks, including Bank of America and Merrill Lynch and during my “out of office” time, I enjoyed playing squash. Trying to find a court near my London residence, I found it virtually impossible to find any information on Google – and when I did finally find details of a nearby court, it turned out that it had actually closed down months prior! After this less than pleasant experience, I discovered that to manage appointments and bookings at scale was actually a non-trivial technical challenge, and I decided to approach the challenge with a different philosophy: “What if you managed time as if it were a stock inventory item?”

Working alongside co-founder Greg Bock, we built the original version of JRNI’s online scheduling system. It quickly started gaining attention and traction from all kinds of small businesses like hairdressers to yoga instructors, looking to offer online services. Now, we’re a team of over 120 employees spread across 3 continents – with clients including some of the world’s biggest banks, retailers and governments.

From the time you started JRNI, how much has the SaaS-based customer journey analytics market evolved?           

I’d argue that the SaaS-based customer journey analytics market wasn’t even a thing when we first started JRNI. Looking at the e-commerce side, people were only looking at online purchasing. There was already the idea of the conversion metrics, but the goal of the conversion was the sale – once the sale was completed, the customer journey was finished and communication stopped there. Today, the customer journey doesn’t simply stop once a sale is completed – we’re focused on bridging online and offline to stay connected to the customer through the entire lifecycle.

How would a modern CMO/CIO benefit from JRNI in their marketing technology stack?

For many CMOs and CIOs, they are traditionally required to think in a very siloed way. They have a marketing and conversion strategy online and offline, but they don’t have one that bridges the two. With this in mind, their conversion metrics are showing start and finish online or offline, but there hasn’t been a way for companies to watch the customer journey for those who have started online and finished offline or vice versa.

Take the example of an online coupon that requires you to come into the store to receive 20 percent off. Marketing strategies that don’t connect or follow online to offline journeys aren’t able to see that offline or in-store sale should be attributed to an online marketing strategy. JRNI helps companies allow customers to start a journey anywhere, and end the journey anywhere, and it provides them the data about it. The data is the critical thing: not only does JRNI help the customer and company with the online/offline transition through appointments and events, but it has the physical connection that brings together both the online and offline journey through data.

What role does a Customer Journey platform play in discovering and categorizing customers in Sales funnels?

The great thing about a customer journey platform is that you’re able to discover “intent” on the customer side very early on. This also ties into the new or existing customer login, which allows companies to view more about the customer (i.e. recent purchases, sales history, etc.). If a customer has scheduled a beauty appointment, you’re able to categorize them by preference or interest. Similarly, if a customer has indicated that they’re redecorating their home, and is scheduling a furniture appointment with a decorator, you’re able to categorize them as a high-value customer, and customize the experience accordingly. Customers give this data quite willingly because they want you to know what they are looking for and want to be given a great experience. On the flip side, when a customer comes into your store with no appointment or background information and looks confused, the sales associate has no idea if they should dismiss them or ask them specific questions about why they have come in.

How do you make omnichannel marketing easier? What are the pillars of your scheduling capabilities?

For many businesses, this is the first time that they are dealing with omnichannel issues. When using JRNI , we deal with bridging the online to offline journey daily among several different industries, so we are easily able to provide them with a platform that can be adapted to solve your business problems, making omnichannel marketing seamless and having data to back it up.

The pillars of our scheduling capabilities are our adaptable templates, managing appointment booking resources, events, courses and queuing services with sophisticated capabilities and great staff experience. Scheduling capabilities shouldn’t just end on the website, and with the JRNI platform – they don’t. They extend into the in-store experience where you walk in and staff are given the tools and resources to offer excellent service with background on you as a customer and what you’re looking for in the brick and mortar.

Tell us more about your technology integration and how it can be automated with other stacks like CRM, Marketing automation and Contact centers in Martech?

Integration and extensibility of our platform has been at the core of what we do since day one. We always knew that appointment scheduling is essential because it ties into so much of the rest of your work, from CRM, marketing automation, calendar integration, invoicing and communication tools to payments and billing.

Tell us about your go-to strategies to support rapid growth, lessons learned through periods of massive shift and transition in 2018.

When we first created JRNI as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tool for small businesses, we weren’t expecting larger enterprises, retailers and even national banks to want this functionality. With this obstacle and promise for rapid growth and shift, we had to reconstitute the business to meet the unexpected demand. We were then able to build the enterprise sales function to put our feet even further into the market.

A lesson that we have learned in 2018 has been one of scale. We have expanded into new regions and markets, but are keen to maintain the culture and think about why our clients choose to come to us in the first place. Our solution has been to move members of our team to these new regions to ensure the culture continues and there is no “us vs. them” mentality.

How do you mentor your product marketing and B2B commerce teams at JRNI?

I’m always trying to work with our teams on how we are positioned in the market. We have a complex solution that has a variety of buying reasons and I constantly try to discuss that we can’t appeal to everyone but we must keep a focus on our key benefits even though we sell into multiple industries and they can tend to care about different things.

What does your technology community look like? Who do you meet at events and conferences to discuss technology?

Our technology community is diverse and coincides well with JRNI’s client base. When attending events and conferences, I usually meet with retail and financial technology analysts and reporters to discuss the landscape, what JRNI is doing and how we are setting ourselves apart from our competitors.

JRNI has always strived to be a leader in technology as well as in solving business problems with our open APIs and SDKs. As a lifelong developer myself and a founder of a technology business, I’ve been massively involved in the UK tech startup community, where technology events and business events help create and make up the European and UK startup scene. In the next few months we’ll be moving into a new office and we specifically designed this with a community space in mind. We want to help build the London tech community through events, meetups, and hackathons.

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

We use a variety of technology to help streamline our reporting and provide a good user experience to our prospects and customers who engage with us. We use Marketo, Salesforce, Drift, Sprout Social, Rekener, LinkedIn Navigator to name a few.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in Meeting and Scheduling?

There’s hundreds of meeting and scheduling products that are tailored for small businesses and we’re seeing large organizations, particularly in the retail and finance sectors, implementing solutions as a key part of their omnichannel strategy. The appointment products that are designed to accommodate enterprises that have invested in security such as ISO 27001 and integrations/connectors are poised to grow. There is also a need for omnichannel – particularly making the solution available on tablets as in-store and in-branch staff adopt that technology. There is a need for extensibility, for scheduling and appointments to become part of a more integrated enterprise ecosystem.

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

There’s so many great startups emerging and it’s exciting to see how fast the tech space is advancing. Right now I’m watching Drift, Babylon Health and Quantexa.

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

While a big focus for JRNI is to get customers back into the store via appointments to connect with real people, there is no doubt that artificial intelligence is becoming more ubiquitous in the business world. As a CEO, it’s important to understand and be open to the implementation of AI, but also to have real people behind the AI to know how to make it serve positive outcomes and business goals.

It’s also important not to get to caught up in the hype around AI. Like anything, the wrong use devalues the right use and AI is certainly being overused right now – people attaching AI to any business practice that isn’t truly “AI” to make something sound new and innovative.

 How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

I don’t really have to inspire the people at JRNI – they are all technologists! If they weren’t interested in working with technology daily, then they wouldn’t be here in the first place.

One word that best describes how you work.

Passionate

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

I’ve been developing code for 30 years and I’ve worked on every platform, hardware and software that’s existed in that time frame. I have an iPad and an Android phone – As a technology, I will use the best or most comfortable technology at the current time, and I’ll always happily move to the next.

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

My greatest hack is to not work on projects that won’t immediately impact the customer. It’s easy to get carried away and try to get a million things done, but those things have to benefit the customer, and have to impact the overall business. Taking time to step back, reprioritize and then execute is what helps me focus on driving significant contributions to the business.

What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)

I read a broad selection of news streams to stay current on emerging tech, politics and different views of the world.

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

At a recent CEO Conference, I learned that you will need to repeat yourself time and time again.

When you’re so tired of hearing yourself repeat the same message, that’s just about the time when people will start to listen.

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

With JRNI as such a technically driven product, my background as a true technologist and also someone who is able to drive business benefits allows myself and my team to have a unique edge on competitors.

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

After graduating in 1997 with a degree in computer science Glenn spent 10 years working in a wide variety of industries, as a developer, consultant, team and project manager, including the pharmaceutical, television and financial industries. Eventually I decided to step out and create my own company, and in 2008 started to work on JRNI

He founded BookingBug, now JRNI with the not-so-simple objective of building a platform through which time could be treated as if it were a stock innovatory item. JRNI is on it’s way to achieving that goal, and although we started with small business clients, we quickly grew to supplying technology to global retails brands.

There’s still a long way to go before we start to really achieve our goal, but on the way we’ve found ourselves a recognized source of knowledge and expertise on booking and appointment systems for enterprise companies.

jrni logo

JRNI catalyzes digital-physical customer journeys, enabling organizations to orchestrate powerful human-to-human experiences that increase revenue, customer loyalty, and CLV. In an era where companies struggle to harmonize digital and in-person interactions, JRNI is bridging the digital-physical divide.

The JRNI platform unifies digital-physical customer journeys across all channels, lines of businesses, and services, orchestrating compelling human connections that multiply revenue and deepen loyalty.

Forward-thinking executives in retail, finance, government, healthcare and technology rely on JRNI’s data-driven workflows to drive next-best actions across digital-physical touchpoints (appointments, events, concierge, queuing), and continuously optimize physical and human resources to deliver superior quality of experience at the lowest cost.

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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