MarTech Interview with Piyush Shah, Co-Founder and President at InMobi

MarTech Interview with Piyush Shah, Co-Founder & President, Marketing Cloud & TruFactor at InMob
MarTech Interview with Piyush Shah, Co-Founder & President, Marketing Cloud & TruFactor at InMob

“TruFactor is a platform built on the foundation of truth and data with a mission to enable telcos to transform their digital assets into strategic knowledge and provide competitive advantage in a world of connected devices.”

Tell us about your role and journey at InMobi Group, and today TruFactor. What inspired you to be part of InMobi?

I’ve been with InMobi since the beginning, and I am incredibly proud of our heritage as a true innovator in the mobile advertising space. In that time, I have previously led our performance advertising business, was Chief Product Officer and have incubated our enterprise platforms for marketers. Today, I am even more excited about the ways InMobi is extending our ambition to better serve companies of all types beyond our traditional role as a marketing and advertising partner.

We are building TruFactor as an outgrowth of InMobi’s acquisition of Pinsight Media, a former wholly-owned subsidiary of Sprint, in October 2018. When we first entered that conversation, the focus was on enhancing our presence in the marketing and advertising sectors. In the past several months we have been increasingly excited about the potential for TruFactor to drive impact both for telcos and for other real-world businesses.

As for what inspired me to be a part of InMobi, that’s the same as what inspires me today. I cannot imagine working with any other set of people. These are more than my co-founders and co-workers, they are my family.

What is the new TruFactor business unit?

TruFactor is a platform built on the foundation of truth and data with a mission to enable telcos to transform their digital assets into strategic knowledge and provide competitive advantage in a world of connected devices. TruFactor’s secure data platform enables telcos to ingest, anonymize, curate and analyze data to increase user privacy, improve customer experience and drive growth.

TruFactor also serves as a data platform for applications in other industries. While there are many applications of telco data to enhance advertising outcomes, TruFactor is built on the premise that telco data can provide timely insights into all types of business decisions.

How does InMobi Group differ from TruFactor?

InMobi Group is a holding entity for business units that have interdependent charters – InMobi, the enterprise platform for marketers across verticals, and TruFactor for telcos. We see InMobi Group setting up newer business units to address specific market needs.

How will TruFactor impact the telco industry and the ecosystem overall?

We live in a digital world that’s continually creating deep, insightful records about who we are as individuals. The always-on dimension of telco data is unique in its fluidity, surpassing the fragmented data sources that are typically used today. TruFactor provides a direct reflection of the consumer ecosystem through the persistent lens of up-to-the-moment connectivity. This unaided connection of consumer behavior and location maps the intersection of truth and fact, emerging as the one true factor for helping business grow.

TruFactor, in partnership with Microsoft, is also enabling an ecosystem of experts to solve problems specific to different industries such as finance, government, real estate and transportation by combining insights from real world and digital activity. Today, these solutions include retail site selection, low latency traffic assessments and urban planning as examples, but the beauty of the system is that TruFactor is set up so that any company can ask its most important questions and get the data they need to answer those.

Why should telcos care about this in their list of priorities?

The telecommunications industry has never been more competitive. Demanding customers, rising infrastructure investments, upending of traditional business models and increasing regulatory scrutiny has meant that telcos need to take a fresh look at their business.

Managing user privacy has always been a focus area for telcos. In recent times, the issue has gained prominence given the explosion of data and the rise of data-dependent businesses. Businesses, including telcos, now have a strategic imperative to treat data with care and responsibility, or else they risk losing the trust of their customers.

With all of the recent conversations around consumer tracking, how is TruFactor different?

TruFactor deals only with anonymized, non-identifiable data sets. TruFactor neither uses nor provides access to a real-time interface to subscriber data. TruFactor’s patented model of using only anonymized and filtered data sets should be viewed as the answer to such industry concerns. 

What is the relationship between Microsoft and TruFactor?

TruFactor is partnering with Microsoft to bring its secure data platform to market through Microsoft Azure, which delivers enterprise-grade security, best-in-class machine learning APIs and global scale. TruFactor’s secure data platform will use Azure Data Lake Storage as its foundation for delivering secure, massively scalable data lake functionality that is tightly integrated with all Azure Analytics services.

Tell us more about your vision around growing TruFactor into a powerful force in the telco ecosystem?

Through TruFactor, an entirely telco-focused business unit, the InMobi Group wants to bring to market secure and scalable data platforms, user privacy frameworks and insights – all purpose built for telcos. TruFactor helps them manage their data in a secure and responsible manner, and drive customer experience and growth. TruFactor’s mission is to enable telcos to transform their digital assets into strategic knowledge and provide competitive advantage in a world of connected devices.

TruFactor’s proposition with respect to business application and consumer privacy is unparalleled in the telco space. While there are other providers that offer solutions for the application of telco signal and CRM data, TruFactor is wholly unique in its diversity of application (core carrier usage, customer analysis, business applications, etc.) and resolute adherence to consumer privacy.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in technology for 2019-2020?

The biggest disruptions across the industry in technology will come from data and artificial intelligence (AI). In 2019, we have seen the impact of AI on the industry, which started with advertising and marketing, and we’re now seeing changes in healthcare, financial services, retail, etc.

To maximize the use of data, companies are looking to utilize unique data assets in a highly regulated way that will disrupt consumers. There is enough data out there, but there are three important aspects that companies must keep in mind:

  • The data has to be global in scale and structured.
  • Data governance and ensuring there is user consent.
  • Ability for data to be used at the last-mile level for industries not just in advertising and marketing, but also for smart cities, urban planning, financial services, insurance, etc. The challenge has been that there are no good platforms that can make it easy for telcos to bridge the gap between these industries.

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

I’m really drawn to companies that are helping to solve a problem, or an unmet need, for consumers in the world today. Companies that understand and listen to their customers, and then build products to directly address their concerns, will succeed. The best companies are able to anticipate their customers and solve problems they didn’t even know they had. Peloton, for example, is thriving in the D2C (Direct-to-Consumer) space and has brought on-demand spin classes to the consumer in the privacy of their own home, with a studio-like experience. This is particularly appealing to those who don’t live near a great spin studio, have a busy schedule and want to get a quick workout in while working from home, or between dropping kids at school and jumping onto the next conference call.

I’m also eagerly watching all the companies expected to IPO this year including Airbnb, Lyft, Slack, Uber etc. – it’s an exciting time in the industry!

How do you inspire employees at InMobi to work with technology?

InMobi employees love what they do and they are empowered knowing that the technology, solutions and platforms they create have the ability to change the way brands, marketers and enterprises interact with marketing and advertising across the globe.

InMobi reaches 1.5+ billion users per month, thousands of enterprises worldwide and our employees can first-hand see users connecting with an InMobi experience on their phones 200 billion times per month.

One word that best describes how you work.

Persistence.

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

Gmail, WhatsApp and LinkedIn.

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

A significant amount of collaboration happens through WhatsApp – across different time zones and between teams, clients, partners and investors. It’s an instant form of communication that is very efficient where you don’t have to rely on email.

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

I’m currently reading ‘Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard’ by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, and also ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama.

I consume most information and business-related news by reading content on LinkedIn.

What’s the best advice you ever received?

Struggle is where greatness comes from – you have to struggle before you can reach greatness.

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

Ability to combine:

  • Huge ambition
  • Strong grit and persistence
  • With a dose of humility

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

Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer at Microsoft

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

Piyush is responsible for the vision, strategy, and execution of all things Marketing Cloud and Data Cloud. Before taking up this role, he spearheaded the product team as the Chief Product Officer and also lead the Performance Advertising business. Piyush was also instrumental in the launching InMobi SmartPay, a mobile payment solution.

Piyush strongly believes that advertising when done right will have the perfect mix of art and science, thus making it appealing to every user who interacts with ads. Piyush takes an active interest in talking to app developers across the world and has featured as a speaker in various international forums across GMIC, Slush, Game Developer Conference amongst many others.

inmobi logo

InMobi is a global provider of enterprise platforms for marketers. Whether you’re looking to reach audiences in the U.S., China or any other market, InMobi’s 1.6 billion mobile users provide the global scale you need to grow your business.

As a leading technology company founded in 2007, InMobi has been recognized as a 2018 CNBC Disruptor 50 company and as Fast Company’s 2018 Most Innovative Companies.

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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