TechBytes with Michael Brackpool, VP Product, Vizia, Brandwatch

Michael Brackpool, VP Product, Vizia, Brandwatch

Tell us about your role at Brandwatch and the team/technology you handle.

I’m lucky enough to be responsible for the overall strategy and direction of Vizia, Brandwatch’s Reporting, and Command Centre product. The broader team comprises design, development, product management, and product marketing specialists. They are a sharp bunch and keep me on my toes.

Our view is that there has never been greater demand for customer data to inform decision-makers, yet when you dig in you realize that most business decisions aren’t truly made with data.

When you think about the countless hours spent consolidating and analyzing data and the cost of the tooling it becomes obvious that the workflow for reporting vital business information isn’t fit for the job. We want to change that.

What is the overall state of Social Listening in the tech industry?

There is no doubt that the industry is consolidating, there has been a lot of activity in the last 12 month (not least our own merger with the wonderful team at Crimson Hexagon) and I expect there to be more events coming up.

In terms of the tech, we have seen a move away from the marketing promise of AI and ML to the practical application of technology to complete meaningful, useful jobs for our customers. At Brandwatch, this has been championed by Rebecca (Bex) Carson, our Chief Product Officer, and is evidenced by the development of new tools such as Iris, which automatically analyzes large conversations happening online and explains what caused them.

We can also see that the data itself is being put to work in some incredibly effective ways when it is combined with other data sets that our customers hold to create new ways of challenging previously held assumptions. There’s no doubt there will be more of that in the future.

As a product leader in a fairly nascent technology, what are the biggest challenges that you face on a day-to-day basis?

In relation to Vizia specifically, we see the challenge of integrating a number of MarTech tools that perhaps haven’t solved how they integrate as efficiently as possible or don’t resource this part of their organization or product organization effectively.

One of the key challenges is building an ecosystem with the best of breed tools that do specific jobs very well but haven’t necessarily thought about how they play nicely with other systems. That is a technology challenge that we are trying to make easier with our Vizia for Developer Framework and an education piece. But we expect that this landscape will change a lot over the course of 2019.

How important is Social Media Monitoring? What is the value addition towards a brand when they involve in your product?

If you believe that customer experience is critical then it stands to reason that you want to be where they are and understand what they value and what they don’t. This is the job of Brandwatch Analytics, to collect, monitor and analyze billions of conversations to better understand what your customers think, with a set of tools to segment the data into meaningful information. There are a ton of critical core use cases that our customers practice every day: spotting customer issues and resolving them, researching new product opportunities, identifying potential brand risks and many many more.

Then Vizia’s role is to take these insights and make it quick and easy to report to whoever in your organization needs access to the data, wherever they are, putting it to work. The platform collects the consumption data of the reports themselves and makes it available in the admin UI so the report creator understands how their stakeholders consume information and can then optimize the next time.

How important is the role of Artificial Intelligence in your domain?

When you deal with the huge volumes of data that our platform handles, then making sense of it quickly and accurately is key. The internal mantra at Brandwatch is that we use technology to make the complex simple. It should not just be interesting, but useful.

What technologies do you experiment with for new product development?

We are prototyping several new features using techniques from statistical learning, which will allow us to understand the seasonal and trend components of a user’s business data and confidently make accurate future predictions, as well as automatically and robustly detect different kinds of anomalies, as they occur.  To generate human-readable insights for the communication of these findings to users, we are looking into a variety of state-of-the-art deep recurrent neural network models.  These are an early stage but exciting things to experiment with.

What Sales and Marketing Technology tools does Brandwatch currently use?

Google Analytics, Wrike, Salesforce, WordPress among a ton of others I’m sure!

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

Slack, Google Analytics, Intercom, Mixpanel, and Salesforce.

What is the best piece of professional advice that you have received?

Always focus on performance, if you do that, the results will take care of themselves.

Thank you for answering all our questions!

Michael is VP of Vizia, Brandwatch’s leading data visualization platforms, with responsibility for the overall strategy and performance of the products.  The Vizia team is on a mission to change how information is socialized within organizations — putting insight more effectively to work.

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Brandwatch is the world’s leading enterprise social intelligence company, allowing users to analyze and utilize conversations from across the social web. It is the perfect platform to make sense of the chatter about your brand online.

We crawl the internet, archiving social media data from over 90 million sources in 27 languages. Users are then offered the chance to search this data in Brandwatch’s web-based interface, both proactively and retroactively for mentions of their brand or keyword, using a sophisticated and powerful query creation process.

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