TechBytes with Robert Johnson, CTO, Interana

TechBytes with Robert Johnson, CTO, Interana
TechBytes with Robert Johnson, CTO, Interana

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

I’m co-founder and CTO at Interana, a platform for behavioral discovery and analysis. We work with data associated with sequences and patterns in time. Unlike other platforms, ordinary business users can ask questions and get immediate insights into what their users and customers are doing. Our aim is to give anyone who interacts with customers access to this information.

How much has the Advertising Technology landscape evolved in the last two years?

The biggest change is the increased adoption and importance of digital, which has led to a massive increase in the range of things about which we have specific, regular data. It’s giving marketers visibility into their customers that previously was impossible to achieve. Much of this data is gathered at the point of sale — and companies are constantly improving at collecting data — but the most exciting development is IoT. With IoT, things we could never see before are lighting up online, from vehicle tire wear and tear to audio speaker setup. There’s a lot more opportunity to understand how customers are using and interacting with products and services.

How do you leverage your expertise from Facebook at Interana?

At Facebook, it was obvious very early on that to be successful we had to understand our users in a very specific and granular way. Averages and counts are great, but we needed precise information to determine exactly what about an interaction makes it sticky. Second, it was also really important that this understanding be available to everyone in the company, not just to data scientists. We eventually got more than half the company using these data tools, which meant that people stopped making decisions based on their gut or intuition, and instead looked to the data. Seeing how a data-driven culture can transform an organization was really powerful, and we wanted to bring this capability to the rest of the world.

What makes Interana different from other time series data analytics companies?

First, Interana is able to operate at a high speed and large scale, so we can ingest all the records in a very granular way: every swipe, every transaction. Even better, this data is immediately available to be queried. In other systems, it’s cumbersome to use that much data, so you end up having to sample it or pare it down. Because we can bring in all that information, you can ask whatever questions you want, and you don’t have to decide beforehand what you want to ask. You can start really broad, for example, by inquiring about why online sales are down in a region. As you dig in, you might find that there’s a sequence of actions in the checkout process that no longer works, which you can fix.

Second, we’re very behavioral. We can tell you where people get stuck in a flow; what happened before and after; which experience leads to more upsells or less churn. Interana doesn’t just enable businesses to understand what’s happening — we help them understand why it’s happening.

Which businesses are better suited to benefit from leveraging Interana?

Interana can help any business that touches a lot of customers and cares about optimizing the experience those customers have. These experiences are often complicated with multiple touch points, especially as omnichannel becomes more common, and we’re effective at helping businesses identify where the customer experience and product flow are working well and where they aren’t.

How could the Marketing and Sales Technology customers benefit from Behavioral Analytics?

There’s nothing more important to a marketer’s job than to understand what drives their customer and how to optimize their experience to maximize sales and increase their satisfaction. That’s exactly what Interana provides.

Do you measure the sentiments of customers? How does it impact buying journeys?

Our software doesn’t measure sentiment. That said, if people are measuring sentiment around events, we can provide additional insight. For example, whenever someone writes a review, one might do a sentiment analysis to determine whether it’s positive, neutral or negative. Interana doesn’t do that part, but once you’ve coded events with sentiment, we can show which events lead to a negative or positive review, and how these events differ.

What does your product roadmap look like for 2019-2020?

We’re really excited to be announcing v3 in March. This is a huge step forward, taking what we’ve learned from years of working with people on the questions they have. We make it really easy to ask questions around engagement, flows or retention in a really interactive way. Further, in the future, we’re also looking at ways of folding AI and Machine Learning into our experience. It’s still going to be a very human-centric experience, but we’ll use Machine Learning to help guide it.

What predictions do you have for the maturity of data aggregation platforms?

The industry is currently turning a corner on how many people and roles in an organization are able to use big data and expect access to data analytics. In the next few years, almost everyone in the enterprise will be looking at data as a part of their day-to-day work.

Where do all the data analytics on content intelligence point at?

Data analytics can provide content marketers with visibility into what’s working and what isn’t in very specific situations. For example, they can determine that a piece of content works well with heavy readers, but not with casual readers. But that may not be the whole story. With Interana you can immediately drill down further, and you may find that those casual readers who do interact with the content for a long time eventually become heavy readers.

Tell us more about the “Future of Marketing” with current roadmap into intent data and person-based targeting. Which technologies would make further inroads into the industry?

As marketing becomes increasingly personalized, it’s even harder to measure and understand what’s working and what isn’t, because messages, content and experiences are so highly tailored. From our point of view, personalizing your marketing well requires excellent visibility into the long-term effects on the customers. In other words, not just looking at what’s getting a click right now, but what what creates long-term engagement and goodwill toward your brand.

Which start-up ideas and companies are you keenly following?

What’s most interesting right now is IoT. It will have such a huge impact on the data world, and we’ll be able to collect data on things we never had visibility into before. Especially when it comes to omnichannel marketing, IoT data will play an enormous role in helping to optimize the experience.

Thank you for answering all our questions!

Bobby is Co-Founder and CTO overseeing the technical aspects of building the world’s fastest and easiest-to-use system for analyzing event and time-series data capable of handling trillions of records in seconds. Prior to joining Interana, he was Director of Engineering at Facebook where he led efforts that helped the company scale from a few million to nearly one billion users. Robert holds a B.S. in Engineering and Applied Science from CalTech.

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Interana is the fast and scalable event-based analytics solution to answer critical business questions about how customers behave and products are used. Interana allows users to analyze and explore the key business metrics that matter most in a data-driven world – such as growth, retention, conversion and engagement – in seconds, rather than the hours or days it often takes with existing solutions. Interana allows customers to discover and investigate these key insights easily through its visual and interactive interface, which makes data analysis a natural extension of everyone’s workflow.

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