“I’m not focused on an AI-centered world but I am focused on a ML-centered one”
1. Tell us about your role at Spectrio.
As the Vice President of Technology at Spectrio, I oversee the Software Engineering, Content Engineering, Product, IT Infrastructure, and Business Systems departments currently totaling 44 people across the company, and serving over 100,000 retail customer locations.
2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
I am relatively new to the world of in-store marketing. Most of my recent professional experience has been leading technology teams in Software as a Service (SaaS) businesses – so throwing hardware component into the product has been an interesting experience. Prior to my SaaS experience, I spent 15 years as a corporate restructuring consultant specializing in turning around the technology teams of struggling businesses. During that time I learned every way not to run a business. However, it did prepare me for the daily challenges I face in a new vibrant and growing industry.
3. How do you think technology is upgrading the marketing sector?
I may be a little biased because of my SaaS experience, but building app-based ecosystems is the most exciting new trend. Display manufacturers are making “smart” devices. Voice controlled assistants are becoming more ubiquitous. Smartphone and tablet usage is universal. Software can tie these technologies together in whole new ways to create systems of value that are greater than the sum of their parts. At Spectrio, we are investing in creating products that are tightly coupled with each other. Instead of a single software or hardware product that only does one thing, we are working toward an ecosystem of products that complement each other to create a unified customer experience.
4. How has the application of technology enhanced methods of in-store marketing?
Technology has had a massive impact on in-store marketing methods! It has created a more engaging marketing atmosphere and added an interactive layer where customers are really drawn into brands because of customization. In-store marketing possibilities are nearly endless. Restaurant owners can day-part digital menu boards so they are marketing breakfast in the morning and lunch specials in the afternoon. Hardware stores can digitally demonstrate thousands of products and provide online item lookups with interactive comparisons between models. Even waiting spaces have added branded screens running seasonal tips, trivia, and specials alongside cable or custom content.
5. How do you define your Wi-Fi Marketing?
Spectrio’s WiFi Marketing is a powerful tool that transforms guest WiFi into an engaging customer experience that collects customer data and boosts revenue. It not only allows any business to offer free WiFi to its guests or customers, but also provides valuable data and customer analytics so businesses can create engaging and personalized marketing campaigns to drive sales and repeat visits. The system is plug-and-play with a business’ current network, and it pairs with an easy-to-use portal where marketing directors can create custom splash pages and targeted email, social, or SMS campaigns that are measurable in real-time.
6. We recently covered the news regarding the acquisition of Profit On-Hold and Airwaves Scenting by Spectrio, how will this acquisition benefit your existing clients?
While Spectrio clients may not have many specific benefits from our recent acquisition of Profit On-Hold and Airwaves Scenting, the Profit On-Hold clients will certainly benefit from being able to obtain many new In-Store Marketing services – such as In-Store Music, Digital Signage, and WiFi Marketing – all from one single partner.
However, two acquisitions in 2019 really helped expand Spectrio’s services in a few different areas, which will benefit our existing clients.
With the acquisition of VS Networks, we now offer an interactive touchscreen product that is the perfect sales engagement tool for retail spaces in which large or cumbersome items, such as tractors or propane grills, are easier to browse, compare, and learn about digitally. The touchscreens allow us to offer powerful, data-driven interfaces that can organize and display catalogs containing thousands of individual pages, photos, prices, details, and other content. While we previously had the technology to handle small amounts of data in a touchscreen format, the VS Networks tool really helped expand our interactive capabilities for our clients.
Media Distribution Solutions (MDS) was another impactful acquisition in 2019 because of its vast content creator network. With the addition of MDS under Spectrio, our existing clients now have access to several new video production options, from brief highlight videos to completely custom content that uses video and interviews filmed on location at their business. We have also changed our digital signage packages to include highlight videos as an added value for new clients.
7. What features of your in-store marketing differentiates it in the market?
Spectrio offers a comprehensive suite of In-Store Marketing services, which gives our clients the advantage of engaging with their customers and reinforcing their brand messages at multiple touchpoints during the shopper journey. Spectrio has a vast content library for many of our solutions, which makes it easy for clients to onboard quickly and begin customizing their marketing to meet their needs. We also have many skilled and experienced content producers, from writers to voice talent, to graphic and motion designers, videographers, web developers, and studio engineers, who help our clients, develop and implement their marketing content. With SpectrioCloud, our clients can access and manage their account and all their Spectrio services in one convenient place, from anywhere.
8. What advice would you like to give to the technology Start-Ups?
Venture capitalist John Doerr said it best: “Ideas are easy. Execution is everything.” I’ve seen start-ups fail even with a great idea – I did it myself. My former business partner would say, “When you have a job, you show up to work every day and pull levers. When you start your own business, you have to show up for work and invent the levers.” Don’t forget to execute on the business part of the business instead of only focusing on the idea. Have an answer for “what comes after the minimum viable product (MVP)?” and “how will you scale?”
9. How do you prepare for an AI-Centric world?
I’m not focused on an AI-centered world but I am focused on a ML-centered one.
Machine Learning is being baked into every technology company and product as our ability to collect data has increased exponentially and ML is giving us the ability to develop actionable intelligence from large datasets. At Spectrio, we are working on integrating real-time customer analytics to tailor the retail marketing experience to the audience using personally anonymous ML-derived demographics. I’m not worried about robot overlords but look forward to more accurate Netflix recommendations.
10. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, so can you share with us some of the fun pictures of your workplace?
11. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
– Carrot Weather: who wants to look outside when you can get some attitude from a robot?
– Waze: because I need to get from here to there without using my brain.
– Google News and Apple News: Google gives me stories that interest me with a lot of ads; Apple has fewer ads but obviously doesn’t know who I am.
– Bear: excellent notetaking app that uses Markdown and syncs instantaneously to all my devices.
– 1Password: I’ve used this password manager for more than ten years and have 1432 totally unique random passwords for every online service I have used.
– My Disney Experience: Living an hour away and having two little princesses at home (and one adult one) means frequent trips to Disney World.
– RingCentral: Spectrio uses RC for telephony, business chat, and video conferencing and is our primary communication tool throughout the company.
– Overcast: A clean podcast app with a neat feature called Smart Speed that removes all of the short bits of silence. It’s saved me 98 hours of listening time since I started using it (that’s a lot of podcasts.)
– Audible: I’ve been an Audible subscriber since 2001 when they had a promotion that included a free Rio 32MB (yes, megabytes) MP3 player. Since then, I’ve listened to hundreds of audiobooks ranging from classics to pulp sci-fi.