“In the coming years, I believe that the proliferation of MarTech ideas will turn a corner. We’ll start to see ecosystems of interlocking best-in-class software providers, that knit together into consistent, powerful stacks of complete services.”
Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here. (what inspired you to start a martech company)
Originally I was a scientist, focusing on genetics, ecology and behavior (notable super-geeky interests in synthetic biology and mathematical modeling of reef fish ecology). This gave me a huge appreciation for empiricism, and an instinct to always use evidence, data and real observations to make conclusions. I then spent 9 years with McKinsey & Company, leading teams across almost every industry sector, in over 25 different countries. During that time I also studied at Harvard Business School, graduating in MBA class 2010. Everywhere I looked in the business world, I was horrified to see incomplete data, missing information, an absence of facts and the presence of guessing. It made my inner scientist realize that something was missing, and there was a chance to help companies make far better decisions, much more often. If only there was a new technology that could bring new data and real consumers into every decision, all guesswork and bias would be gone. Existing external data sources were too slow, too complex, too static; constraining the ability to improve.
…and so Attest was born, combining a love of science, with a wide and ubiquitous business need. Hence our mission: Great companies put consumers and data at the heart of every decision. Attest exists to make that simple and available for anyone at every business, continuously, at a global scale.I’m also on the Board of a charity that works to support and improve state primary schools across the UK. I think it’s a human responsibility to help create opportunities for others, and I can’t think of a more important and relevant place than in our schools.
Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?
Fundamentally, Marketing = Revenue generation… and who doesn’t want more revenue? This is why I believe MarTech is the most exciting space right now. Other sectors may be cooler or sexier, but nothing is more useful and relevant to a modern business than the new advantages MarTech can deliver.In the coming years, I believe that the proliferation of MarTech ideas will turn a corner. We’ll start to see ecosystems of interlocking best-in-class software providers, that knit together into consistent, powerful stacks of complete services.
This trend is already happening in the early-stage startup world; Slack (internal communications), Stripe (payments), Google Analytics (analytics), AWS (hosting), GitHub (source code management) are now a default no-brainer purpose brands that fit together perfect. I believe we’ll start to see MarTech going the same way.
What’s missing from these stacks is typically any form of consumer insight, because it’s never been tackled as a real technology solution before. Modern companies demand unlimited, on-demand and real-time access to data, that can be accessed in the same way as a CRM or analytics platform – easy, always-on, accessible (often via the browser). This is how we build Attest, and we believe it is that simplicity and universal relevance are the traits that drive the evolution of MarTech.
What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?
Very simply: Data-for-value 2.0 (DfV).
Individuals are increasingly aware that their data is valuable. Companies are increasingly aware of the value they can create (and destroy) through the same data. The oppo
rtunities for getting this right are huge… so are the backlash and fines for getting it wrong.
The idea of data-for-value isn’t new. Harrah’s Casinos famously were among the first to offer players special rates and gifts, in exchange for regular loyalty card usage and keeping casinos busy during low seasons. Nectar Card, Boots Advantage Card and Tesco Clubcard followed related models in the UK (and $1-3bn worth of Dunnhumby was born).
In 2018, the equation is shifting from ‘covert data capture’ to ‘overt data-for-value exchange’. From the implicit ‘Use loyalty card, receive benefits’ hook, to an explicit ‘Share data, generate value’ proposition.
A great example is insurance.
That crash you had last year… was it a minor incident outside of your control, or a reflection of your terrible driving? Can we have your consent to use your working hours in calculating the risk of fire damage to your home? The answers to these questions hold major value to insurers, and the data is often unavailable (consumers aren’t obliged to give the answers, and often have no clear reason to provide significant details). Unique access to this data could give one group of underwriters unique insight into the level of risk of this customer and in turn a much more accurate price for that customer. The better driver would receive a better price. The worse driver, a worse price, so they’d probably take their risk elsewhere. Either way, a better outcome for the insurer (and a more honest view of the customer), so why not help the customer potentially create this value by sharing some value in return?
Would you provide the details on a few extra questions, in exchange for a potential ~20% reduction in your insurance premiums? …and more importantly, what sort of customers wouldn’t?
Personally, I believe this is the biggest change that will be impacting marketing models over the next few years. New approaches to creating new value with new forms of data, based on new models that clearly benefit both companies and consumers. The winners will be the organizations that find formulas to unlock the most valuable data, in ways where consumers feel that they’re sharing in that value. The losers will attempt to persevere with the covert approach, and will soon look ever less friendly and less responsible in the way they create value from data.
What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?
In a phrase: Bridging the Chasm.
Helping organizations to update old models, to adopt new marketing technologies earlier. Not only letting them cross the chasm to adoption but providing them with a bridge that makes it easy.
This is a problem for MarTech companies to solve. We need to make MarTech so compelling, and so easy to try, that crossing that chasm is a no-brainer. Achieving that right now is, I believe, the biggest challenge for CMOs who have so many competing ideas (and technologies) to choose from.
We see this again and again with our clients. Some embrace change, because they want to (or have to), and they have the ability to change. Others are held back because their ways of working can’t change to include new technologies (or they’re simply too risk averse to try).
There’s no right and wrong here. Just organizations that have the capacity and capability to make MarTech start working for them… and some that really can’t.
For example, and I’m paraphrasing here for confidentiality, about 6 months ago a client said: “We love the idea of understanding consumers and trends in more detail and in much more live ways, but we just don’t have the ability to actually act upon anything we learn”. It’s for us as MarTech companies to help solve this problem, and not avoid or ignore it!
When you’re developing a new MarTech product – wondering how to make it so different that it’s genuinely amazing and so new that you don’t have competition – you need to be conscious that you’re asking customers to magically follow your thinking and reach the same conclusion.
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
I have a secret one-liner email that almost never fails to elicit a positive response… one to talk through over a coffee with anyone interested!
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?
AI is not one thing, it’s many things. AI that can play chess is totally separate from AI that reads the news. Honestly, I believe that we’ve reached Peak AI. Most things labeled as ‘AI’ are very little to do with any technical definition of AI, and the phrase is used as a catch-all surrogate for a more specific set of ideas.
That said, to answer the question, the most useful way to prepare for AI is to be more aware of what AI could actually mean in your world – the different applications of AI technologies that could be useful to your business, the software and/or services that forms of AI could deliver for you, which versions are available in your sector/geography right now, plus your readiness to act upon thing things that you learn.
There’s also two crucial ingredients that can only come from within: (1.) Readiness and willingness to feed AI the inputs needed, across the many flavors of AI, and (2.) Commitment to act upon what you can learn from the many variants of AI; all the surprises, contradictions and new directions… with the knowledge that some of these could undermine some of your previous conclusions/decisions.
Without awareness and preparing the right ingredients, benefitting from ‘AI’ is just a nice idea.
What is the core marketing technology capability of your firm that you bring to a marketer? Where does your product fit in vis-a-vis the customer lifecycle?
Attest is on a mission to ensure that all companies can put real consumers and data at the heart of every decision. This fits across the entire customer life-cycle, and a few new areas either side (e.g., helping you understand the new details about your biggest competitors, often faster and/or in higher resolution than they enjoy!).
Simple things that you already do (e.g., measuring your brand, product/creative development, competition tracking), now available at much greater scale, power and efficiency, anytime you need.
Transforming the way you use data, to unlock new superpowers across your business (e.g., opening access to fresh consumer inputs to every single part of the business, reaching new levels of customer centricity, and beyond).
Through our platform, which enables organizations to embrace scalable intelligence, hundreds of brands and agencies connect every day to networks of 100 million consumers across 80 different countries, helping them get closer to consumers, innovate, win more business and drive growth.Clients like Discovery, Fever-Tree, EE and Twitter use Attest to know more about their markets, competitors, and brand; develop new products, test creatives and make better decisions, faster.
We bring openness and transparency to decision making. In essence, Attest helps you take the guesswork out of your most important strategic decisions, and bring new groups of customers into your business whenever/wherever they’re most valuable.
Are there any new features or upcoming upgrades that you’re excited about and would like to give us a sneak peek into?
I like to use the line “Attest can fill your biggest gaps in understanding your target markets, so easy you can start 30 seconds from now, so simple that your greatest answers are just a few clicks away”… we’ll be updating this line soon.
What is your take on the massive explosion of MarTech across so many categories? Do you see competition, opportunities to partner and/or integrate?
Right now, we’re in a period of – as you say – massive explosion. MarTech is expanding, and at the same time remains very fragmented (with a few big exceptions).
I believe that we’ll soon see a period of consolidation, both (a.) winners emerging in various newly-created sub-categories, which are able to win and hold disproportionate market share, and (b.) significant M&A activity between MarTech players to turn the loosely-connected ‘stacks’ I mentioned earlier into vertically integrated offerings that completely link together.
Exciting times to start and roll the dice right now, but the rate of proliferation of new/emerging MarTech can’t last forever – at some stage there’s always too many choices and differences – rationalisation is coming (and to quote Clay Christensen “The transition from proprietary architecture to open modular architecture just happens over and over again.”).
The world of personalized collections of loosely-related MarTech pieces will soon come to an end.
Could you share for our readers, an infographic or description depicting your marketing stack (various marketing software products or platforms your team uses or subscribes to)?
Almost too many to count (we’re big MarTech fans), but the major pieces are:
Hubspot. Intercom. FullStory. SalesLoft. Zapier. MailChimp. Marvel. Google Analytics. Mixpanel.
Can you share a screenshot of the homepage of your smartphone (iOS/Android/other)? It would be interesting to see some of the apps you personally use on a daily basis to get things done and stay on top of your day.
’Cleaning’ LinkedIn… what isn’t clean in there?!