Four centuries ago, Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?” It’s an age-old question, and we still look for answers. Recently, Ensighten named me Chief Strategy Officer, a new position on the senior leadership team, following the acquisition of Anametrix. Not surprisingly, I’ve had a host of questions since the announcement. But the main ones can be distilled down to two. What is a chief strategy officer and why now?
Last October, Ensighten acquired my company, Anametrix, the award-winning marketing analytics platform, where I continue to serve as CEO during our integration. And, now it’s a distinct privilege to join Ensighten’s executive team at this particularly vital time in martech. Our industry is at inflection point of change marked by explosive innovation and shifting market demand.
Let’s take a look at what’s driving this inflection point. The volume, variety and velocity of data across the growing number of digital platforms and offline sources is increasing exponentially. The promise of 1:1 marketing appears to be within reach. And the number of vendors vying to offer part of the puzzle is growing by leaps and bounds. Consider that the number of martech companies doubled to 2,000 since last year, and a quick glance at the martech LumaScape confirms we live in extraordinary times. An inflection point materialises as the market moves from early adopters into mainstream acceptance, a point we have very much reached, creating a tidal wave of market demand.
What does this all mean for the new tech companies establishing footholds and driving that innovation? We are familiar with the traditional growth stages, beginning with the start-up phase often supported by seed investors to later periods when new sources of investment materialise, the customer base expands and revenue stabilises. Each stage has its challenges. But with successful tech companies, the transition through these stages may be greatly accelerated as rapid innovation and increased market appetite converge to create a virtual cycle.
Ensighten embarked on its journey with the creation of just a single line of code. Since then, the company has been involved in whirlwind, three-digit annual growth (#172 on Inc 5000 in 2014). Over the course of five years, including many platform enhancements and two acquisitions, our vision has greatly expanded. We now offer an open marketing platform that enables our clients to collect, own, analyse and act on data everywhere to deliver relevant content and personalised experiences.
Such change necessitates any company to evolve its go-to-market strategy. Growth must be supported within the existing customer base, as well as market wide to meet the forces of demand and competitive change. Hence my new role to drive go-to-market strategy as chief strategy officer, focusing on the following key initiatives:
Open marketing technology platform
Marketers face extraordinary challenges today as they are called on not simply to be creative forces, but to transform their organisations into predictable revenue drivers with measurable ROI. You cannot fully comprehend nor appeal to your customers unless you track them across all channels and platforms. Learning to optimise the omni-channel consumer journey starts with data and the technologies allowing you to collect and own it, analyse for insight and take action. As the martech lumascape makes clear, no single vendor covers that entire landscape – and the ground is always shifting with the ebb and flow of new entrants and consolidations. This is precisely why it is vitally important for businesses to invest in flexible and open marketing platforms.
Fundamental to a broad technology vision based on an open platform is a strong partner ecosystem comprised of companies that are leaders in their spaces. An open marketing platform, for example, may start with tag management, but must also integrate other online, offline, and reference data sources. And it must readily inter-operate with the best tools the market has to offer to drive right-time, relevant action. That’s why building a vibrant partner ecosystem is key, as it enables customers to easily take advantage of the best offerings coming to market. A strategic partnership with LiveRamp, for example, enables Ensighten customers to syndicate first-party audience segments to more than 100 technology platforms. Maxymiser, on the hand, offers our customers testing, personalisation and cross-channel optimisation solutions for the rich user profiles we stitch together for them.
A growing technology company must also be an educator. With such rapid clip innovation, customers need to stay on top of martech advances to remain competitive. There is a direct need to help existing customers to make the most of their marketing investments. Just as important, we must also ask the question: how do we help our customers achieve more success by sharing best practices developed throughout all our customer engagements? This creates an ecosystem of innovation based on hands-on success across many customers in diverse industries.
What’s in a name? As it turns out, quite a lot. In the end our job is to help marketing organisations transform data into revenue. First step - an open marketing platform enabling them to make the most of martech innovation.