David Raab, Anand Thaker, and Chitra Iyer analyze what the latest announcements in MarTech mean to marketers.  Featuring the latest CX news from Adobe, Verint, Adobe, Sprinklr, Freshworks, Wipro Digital, Rational Interaction, Thunderhead, and Lytics.

Gartner’s recent prediction asserted that 89% of companies will compete solely on CX - the market for CX spending is growing exponentially. And today’s analysis is about that.  We first set context on the scope of CX and the core components needed to create a comprehensive ‘CX ecosystem’.

Here are the recent CX news, trends and concepts we analyze on the show:

1. Wipro acquires Rational Interaction-a digital CX consultancy for $52 million. Interesting because technology vendors get the ‘tech’ but probably need help getting CMOs to see how the story and the tech are connected. As Rajan Kohli, President of Wipro Digital says, “[The acquisition] bolsters our end-to-end proposition for CMOs. We’ve combined Rational’s ability to engage and delight through the customer journey with Wipro Digital’s technical expertise and scale”. And Kahly Berg, CEO of Rational adds, “In terms of MarTech, customers need a unified human story and connection built into the technologies that support their experience as consumers”.

2. Sprinklr Releases 400 New Features across its 5 Products-the platform’s 5 components each address a core CX component - marketing, advertising, customer care, social media (which they call engagement) and research/data. The simple structure is nice, in the context of marketers being able to better visualize marketing applications and outcomes of tech investments.

3. Verint Expands Its Adobe Partnership to Support More Personalized Customer Journeys -Verint is focused on collecting VoC data, and Adobe experience cloud enables all aspects of campaign delivery. We talk about the additional value this could create for Adobe users.

4. Thunderhead Announces Automated Individual-Level Journey Design-The customer journey orchestration engine announced an AI-driven platform to create individual-level optimized cross channel journeys. David explains “The system deals with the interdependencies among events, history, time, and path which overwhelm conventional methods”. Here’s what it means to marketers.

5. Freshworks, a customer engagement software company, acquires AnsweriQ Inc., a provider of ML and AI for enterprise-scale-Basically this AI to inform customer service – helping agents sound much smarter and well informed, but also to sell more, and better. Could it be a game-changer if it actually works?

And in CDP news this week:

1. Lytics Integrates with Google Cloud BigQuery, To Enhance Its Customer Data Platform-David clarifies what it means for enterprise marketers to move massive amounts of customer and raw data into Google’s cloud-based data warehouse environment for real-time analytics.

Other latest CX news to check out:

1.Habu launch-a new marketing intelligence solution that their CEO describes as addressing the “privacy-personalization paradox”. Habu CTO and backer is the former CTO of Salesforce Marketing Cloud (who moved there from Krux)

2.In CX funding news, Leanplum, a Customer Engagement Platform Raised $27M in Funding-interesting because of their focus on mobile devices for message delivery.

3.Salesforce Signs Agreement to Acquire Vlocity for $1.33B-which provides cloud and mobile software for 6 specific industry verticals (communications, media and entertainment, energy, utilities, insurance, health, and government organizations) where Salesforce may want to expand into.

4.Latest Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report from NTT-highlighting the call center/ customer service perspective of CX and where it stands with the C-Suite.

Follow us on SoundCloudSpotify,  Google podcast or leave us a review on iTunes. Have a great week. Thank you!

Chitra Iyer 0:00 Welcome back. Last week, we spoke about all the news and interest in identity resolution and privacy tech. And this week, we're focusing on customer experience, because we've seen quite a few interesting announcements in the news this week in that space. Recently, Gartner predicted that 89% of companies are going to be competing solely on customer experience. And obviously spending on CX is going to increase exponentially to meet that need.

Chitra Iyer 0:27 Let's look at some of the interesting announcements we've had this week from companies like Freshworks Sprinklr, Wipro, and several others. You will find the links to all the stories we're going to talk about in our show notes. But let me start by asking David and Anand to set the context for today's discussion by telling us a little bit more about this complete customer experience ecosystem that marketers are striving to create with their stack today to deal with this future that's driven by cx one of the essential components of that.

David Raab 1:07 The ecosystem all customer experience is about as broad as you can get. Because it includes, of course, all customer experience. So it's marketing, sales service, everything all pulled together, when you look at a lot of the companies that work in customer experience, they tend to specifically focus on customer service. Often those terms are kind of used interchangeably. And a lot of the vendors that we're talking about here also are really very service-oriented vendors. So there's a kind of a brave, broad definition. And that's the one that we use when we're feeling sort of full of ourselves. `We want to say yes, marketers will rule the world. And then there's that much more narrow definition that has to do with kind of call centers and you know, getting people happy when they call you and your customers call you when it's a problem. You have to distinguish that. I think what's in that ecosystem. Certainly, the narrow ecosystem is specifically the CX of customer experience software. So the service to that has to do with knowing my interactions by the CRM system would do you know, what's this person done with me before? understanding my product situation. So what products Am I selling? What do they have to offer me? And then understanding how to solve problems. So out of the knowledge in the chatbots and the robot things that look up answers to questions and resolve specific issues. Those are all kind of core components of that narrow customer service version of customer experience. Of course, when you get into the broader definition, then it's pretty much everything then it's any communication you have with the customer and the customer needs from you. So that's all your marketing automation and all your other CRM so your sales bits of it. All of your personalization allow these customer experience systems have heavy personalization, heavy on automation and artificial intelligence for predictive because that's often determining what the next best action wants to be for customer. So there's there is an extremely broad definition to it. And at the broadest it's pretty much the entire, not just mark tech stack, but the entire customer-facing stack.

Anand Thaker 3:12 Customer Experience is the new digital transformation. So I wanted to kind of add to what David was talking about without the outside of the technology piece, which I see where a lot of people, you know, set up stacks and, you know, revamp their martech. But unfortunately, it misses out when you actually have people at the retail front or sales front, actually engaging with the customer, it just becomes disconnected after that which needs to be repaired. We are really challenged by the fact that where do you start? we already have this struggle with how many technologies we have out there. But if you think about trying to pull this together in terms of being successful with customer experiences, and you start technology first. This is where actually a lot of companies go wrong. Believe it or not. The real reason many of the brands actually are successful in customer experience or customer experience efforts is one either they have a culture of people that automatically are serving, you know, customers directly. T Mobile as a really, very often cited example. You know, trying to use people over technology to try to navigate customer success or customer services, technology magnifies your efforts. It's challenging and I always recommend that people pick one thing they want to fix about a customer's experience and then go from there. If you try to do this, like broadly, especially if not done any customer experience types of efforts, then that is going to be a problem. The second big problem that a lot of companies should avoid is you cannot outsource your customer experience initiatives. You know, I'm sure consultants and agencies are probably hating me for saying that but you know, their best supporting role in a lot of this is to be able to bring experiences from other places but you have to add actually know your customer and understand you know what they're going through.

Chitra Iyer 5:05 And then thanks for highlighting that gap between technology people, partners, the last mile experience of the customer. This is actually a crucial area of building that seamless customer experience. Because, you know, you have to ensure that the technology and the strategy, the marketing strategy, and the marketing technology, the human story, as well as the enabling platforms all need to line up. And in that context, let's get to the first news item we're going to talk about this week, which is repros acquisition of rational interaction. Wipro, as we know, is a tech company, and Rational is a CX consulting firm. So this understanding of the tech side of things, plus the ability to deliver in a way that CMOs can relate to and, you know, they can take all that technical progress than in actually implemented in actual marketing outcomes. Is that something that we'll see more of from vendors in the martech space?

Anand Thaker 6:00 one of my previous companies was acquired by a similar in a technology company and one of their biggest strategies or they realized was that not only did they give them a foothold in a different area of business because now technology is much more than most of the marketing and growth is driven by some technology implementation. But to go beyond that, and to say, Okay, well, we can help you with the business side of this fence. You know, back in the day, it was marketing operations and working with, you know, trying to get the marketing, team leaders and VP's`. Now, you know, obviously, this is, you know, going Yes, is extending into that capacity. So we'll see more of this, right. So now you get agency strategic consulting firms, and now technology implementation firms vying for the same exact business. You know, my optimism is that CMOs will become high performing CEOs, right. This is a thesis of being in marketing technology for a long time. If a rational interaction can help you start that conversation and then carry the CMO into other parts of the organization. That's where there would be an incredible amount of value. You to bring in someone like that to help not only just the team, and not just the CMO in their short term goals, but a CMO in terms of their career goals later on.

Chitra Iyer 7:11 Correct.  Speaking of CMO friendly tech as well, there is also this piece of news that came in from Sprinklr over 400 new feature enhancements across their five CX platform components, so that sounds pretty overwhelming, considering how sub-optimally most martech platforms are already being utilized. Okay, with more than half the features never even being experimented with, let alone use regularly. But what I'm highlighting in this story here is simply how you know how they structure the platform itself. We were talking in the last segment about making the narrative from tech companies more user-friendly for the CMOS, and I think the way, Sprinklr has structured their product with modules. marketing advertising, social analytics and customer care bring a sort of simplicity to the structure. So it's easy for the CMO to visualize this platform and the core areas that it could possibly impact.

David Raab 8:15 But it's the customer-facing bit of it. So they're not claiming to do a lot of the backroom data processing that you do Oh, just, for example, in the CDP, or some of your other systems, right? They're really saying, we're all the places you touch the customer, you want to deliver, of course, the famous unified customer experience. So we now we give you one system that, at least theoretically enables you to do that. Now I forget if sprinkler has grown through acquisition or not. So as with all these sweets, you have to look a little closer to see how they're really in a fight or not. But we'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are so at least certainly you want to have the potential for all of your systems to be talking to each other and they do have a lot of collaboration features and content sharing features. A lot of the things that let you unify the bits of it that should, in fact, be shared across channels. So they're moving in the right direction, as you say that simplicity really is a good thing

Chitra Iyer  9:13 The least you can do is have simplicity if you just made 400 new features.

Anand Thaker 9:19 Well, it's been rare. I've not seen anybody talk about how many features in a press release in a very, very long time. So you know, looking through this, I think they still stay with their core. Right? I mean, social media interaction or very real, very real or near real-time conversations with the customers is still core that trying to go too far away from that, which I think is a good thing. If they want to as they continue, I don't think they grew too much from acquisitions. By the way, David, I think they did do they are really deliberate about the integrations and the relationships they have with those, those partners in the ecosystem, which I think is useful.

Chitra Iyer  9:56  oh! I bet they'll shudder after all this effort if they hear themselves, refer to just a social media platform trying so hard to position themselves as a customer experience platform. But you remember that point you made is very relevant. You know, I do see also this angle of, you know, having a solution that goes out and brings all that data about the voice of the customer back, which is exactly what this other news pieces about as well, you know, Verint expanding its Adobe partnership to support more personalized customer journeys. You know, it's interesting, because it's two different experience platforms that are partnering. But Verint is focused on collecting this voice of customer data across, you know, all these many, many platforms, and Adobe Experience cloud, of course, which you know, it enables all aspects of campaign design and delivery for that last mile. So what value do you think they would be creating for Adobe users with this, this partnership?

 David Raab 10:54 That's all it is. And that's all it is, is just it's a data source and it's a good data source and voice of customer data. is important data. So it's important to have that in there available to the experience cloud, but it's just one source. So I didn't pay too much attention to that announcement for that reasons like, oh, here's another, here's another line, but certainly in terms of making the data available to experience cloud that much more rich, it's a good thing.

Anand Thaker 11:21  I've worked with Verint in the past and you know, again, this is another company that's stayed very much in their core, which has been beneficial just despite whatever the market values with regards to this but obviously now it's hot, hot as heck to you know, do voice of customer and certainly be around that Adobe really doesn't capture a lot of this. So to David's point. So this type of partnership could be very valuable on both fronts for variant customers who are looking to expand you know, the customer gets customer support engagements, you know, to other parts of the go-to-market strategy for companies. And then vice versa.

Chitra Iyer 12:02  Another term we're hearing a lot about in the context of CX is journey orchestration. let's take this next news item about customer journey orchestration engine Thunderhead, which announced Thunderbay supposed to be an AI-driven platform to create individual-level optimized cross channel journeys. Okay, quite a mouthful there, David, you wrote in your newsletter as well that the system deals with all the interdependencies between events history, time and path, which typically overwhelms those conventional methods. Now, what did you mean by that?

David Raab 12:39  So that's been the problem, we've been talking about AI, kind of taking over the marketer's job and designing campaigns doing all these things and coming up with the next best action, which is the simpler way to put it for years. And an AI is really good at doing sort of one thing at a time. So can it predict what piece of content you're going to read? Yeah. Can it predict when you might respond, maybe even when you might make your next purchase? Yeah. But to take all those little bits of information and put them together to design the optimal campaign is a super complicated task. And in fact, you cannot just string them all like pearls on a string and have the problem be solved. It's because there's way too much interaction going on to actually figure out what the right thing to do is for each person in the context of all their previous interactions and all the other things that are going on. So Thunderhead is at least claiming that they have found some ways to make That larger, richer sort of contextual analysis possible to actually figure out what the two best things is. I know they've been working on this for years. They talked about that in the press release. And, you know, I've known them for a long time discussed it with them many times. So, you know, they have, in fact, done some pretty clever things to make that possible. So of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, we see other people chasing down this path as well. They're not the only ones because the problem itself has been understood to be a problem for a while, and there are other folks who were trying to find similar solutions. And you know, they make progress slowly, incrementally does not really something where there's this big flash of light or thunder, if you will, that just suddenly solves it. But slowly we are getting there and the systems are getting better design these more complicated, both campaigns, which by definition apply to multiple people. And individual level optimization, which is what Thunderhead is planning to do here is we're going to look at each customer really going to figure out It's really just next to best action. But it's not specs action in a more advanced way.

Chitra Iyer 15:05  And finally, in our CX News of the Week segment, we have an announcement from Freshworks, the customer engagement software company about acquiring AnswerIQ, which is a provider of ML & AI for enterprise-scale customer service. So AnswerIQ's ML will connect millions of customer interactions to generate automated self-service Q and A's and improve next step escalation. So basically, this AI, this is the use of AI to inform better customer service. Is this new and why should we care? David?

Anand Thaker 15:38 Usually, you have customer service reps who are struggling to give answers to a series of Yeah, I mean, obviously customers a lot of customer service reps aren't usually working with just one customer at a time. They generally are working with several at a time and try to give their attention to one and this is to make sure that there are something cost efficiencies that may or may not work depending on how well they're trained. And, of course, the, you know, the technologies they have at their disposal. But I suspect that that's what this is related to is, you know, trying to bring better expertise to each customer service person or, you know, someone to anyone who's related to a customer who is interacting with the customer service capacity, 

David Raab16:20 because the customer service rep has a really hard job and to train them all up on all your products, and all the possible solutions really is not a practical thing. You know, if you're selling anything more complex than paperclips, so you have to have the AI system, help them out and figure out what to tell the customer, both to solve the problem and then beyond just solving the problem to build that relationship and what's the next thing you could offer them and how you know, when do you make an offer when don't you make an offer? So the systems have been doing that for years, but traditionally with kind of simple rule-based trees and things that are we Hard to manage and pull down the complexity gets too great. So AI justice clearly a great solution if the AI works properly to give more intelligent answers more nuanced if you will answer then you can get out of the simple rule-based thing so everybody has to add one of these things 

Anand Thaker 17:30  go take a look at some of these screens.  it is insane. And so you can appreciate more what little bit that each little bit that can help can magnify you know the opportunities for brands to you know, elevate themselves as a customer-centric or customer experience driven company.

Chitra Iyer 17:48 Yeah, we do a lot. We see a lot these days about people talking about you know, the employee experience or in this case, maybe the CSR experience where company These are beginning to actually recognize Oh, yeah, you know, there's this whole other experience management bit to it, which is the other side of the screen, as well. And they pay more attention to that. And because of course, you know, I mean, even simple Lee, just the efficiency of the reps, you know, what you're paying them and getting the most value for that salary is really important. There's a lot of leverage in that. But again, beyond that turnover is a huge issue you talk about in training, you know, if you can reduce the turnover, and you get better-trained reps, they're vastly more productive than the people who are just starting out work. And then of course, ultimately, the effectiveness of each interaction, if you could add value to the interaction, improves the customer lifetime value by having a positive experience. Instead of a negative experience. There's a lot of leverage to be had by actually giving reps the tools to do their jobs bet

Chitra Iyer 18:49 So an eventful weekend customer experience. from multiple perspectives. We've talked about the customer service angle, the marketer angle, and some others. And there's also more related stories that we can't even cover on this episode because of a lack of time, but listeners can find more links in the show notes below. So let's also quickly wrap up. Before we wrap up, talk about one other interesting item this week from the CDP world before we also do a feel for the week. So this week, we have news from lytics about the integration with Google Cloud BigQuery, which will allow customers to move massive amounts of customer and roll data into Google's cloud-based data warehouse environment for real-time analytics. So David, what is this telling us about the direction in which enterprise CDP's are evolving? And how is the move to Google Cloud going to impact anything for marketers that actually use enterprise-scale CDP's?

David Raab 20:25  Well, because before it was a lot harder to move massive amounts of data, and detailed data, and to have the flexibility and the scalability that Google Cloud is going to provide you. So that's exactly what it does is it makes it easier to deal with large volumes of data, which we sometimes just sort of assume these days, oh, the computers are so fast and so powerful. And, you know, we don't have to worry about the mechanics of this stuff anymore. But that's really not true. It's still our big issues in how much data you move and how quickly and how cost-effective it is to move those volumes and how you can access it and process it and all that. So the Google Cloud is obviously a very, very powerful database environment. There are multiple things inside Google Cloud. So that's what it gives them, it gives them It gives their customers the option, if you're really big, to do things that you simply couldn't do before simply because of automation

Anand Thaker 21:22 has been generally talking about the platform as a service. You know, I think the Google Amazon, Microsoft or Azure, you know, kind of plays out there will be along those lines, like, Hey, we can bring your organization your technology and give it a boost or have a foundation you don't have to worry about and then you work on in the solving the specific problems that are out there, rather than trying to, you know, have it rather than Google say, trying to solve a marketing problem and a sales problem and this other thing and trying to make cloud work for that. So yeah, we should see more of these partnerships happen, and more of these types of announcements occur.

Chitra Iyer 22:00 You're actually right that there's more here than just the data management, the AI capabilities and visualization capabilities that you get with coggle flater are a major, major advantage. But I think we're seeing here is, at least about analytics point specifically is the thought that well, you know, there's this core CDP functionality of managing data, kind of the mechanics, and we can throw in the AI. individualization is also a sort of core capability. And then there's the CX angle, if you will, of, you know, campaign development and, and orchestration, all the things that we do after we built the database. And, you know, some CDP's, of course, just build a database and some CDP's have those broader set of functions. And Linux is definitely in the category of the CDP's of the broader set of functions. So what they've done is they've said, You know what, let's let Google Cloud handle that data management bit. And because they're going to do it better than we are anything Now and more cost-effectively. And so let us focus on the customer-facing bits, the campaign bits, and the advanced analytics because Linux certainly has its own analytics. It's very good that I predicted and such. So so it's going to sort of have a bifurcation of the CDP market we've talked about for a long time, where some vendors focus more on the customer-facing bits, and some vendors focused on the data bits. And it's Linux, in particular, saying, Yeah, you know, we're going to do that we're just gonna let Google be Google and do what they do best. And we're going to do it. And we'll focus on the stuff that we really want to do best.

Chitra Iyer 23: 37 So is this the first time that a CDP is actually doing this moving these volumes of data onto something like a Google Cloud?

David Raab 23: 44 No, no allow these guys to have integration with those kinds of platforms. From a conceptual point of view, it's just another data destination, right? You pull your data in, through whatever your collectors you have your connections, and then you got to put it someplace and you can put it internally A lot of these guys will push the data off into any of the big clouds that the Big Data Service a lot of them sit on redshift or s3 buckets for unstructured or, you know, Big Query, whatever the vendor is, that's actually pretty common. So the fact that these guys have done that integration in itself is not unique. But again, it's a good indicator of people realizing that they're going to focus a little bit more on their particular capabilities rather than trying to build out everything themselves.

Chitra Iyer 24:31 So let`'s end with you know, a fail for the week. data breach shows Clearview AI sold facial recognition to private companies a bit of irony in this story as well. David, you covered it on your newsletter. so let's hear it from you.

David Raab  24:47  So clearview  AI for those of you who have been focused on any of the number of other disasters we have to worry about these days, is a company that scraped 3 billion faces from Places like Facebook and Twitter and so forth, basically in violation of their terms of service. But somehow those guys didn't notice and didn't cut them off. We don't know how that's possible and built a big database, apparently using some very powerful facial recognition technology that was way better at dealing with faces that were partly obscured or at a bad angle or, you know, weren't basically mug shots, and then turned around and sold it to police forces all over the US, which was a little controversy on the New York Times found out about it, there was a big front-page story. And they suddenly became very controversial. But part of their defense is, oh, we're only selling this to, you know, the local police and your local police are, of course, your friends. So then someone ironically, and of course, they were totally secured and you know, we have the best security in the universe No one can ever possibly break into our databases. Well, somebody stole their client list. And we don't know how that happened, and released it to the press. And it turned out that a lot of their users were We're not local police. They were the immigration agency in the US. They were foreign intelligence services. They were private companies like Macy's and Walmart and a bunch of other ones who at least were testing it. A lot of them were free tests. They weren't necessarily paying customers. But so there were shown to be at least trying to sell their product way beyond what they were claiming that they were selling before. So yeah, there are some sales going on here. These are not people that I'm buying lunch for any time soon.

Chitra Iyer  26:34 Sobering Indeed, the irony doesn't really take away from the enormity of that film. With that. It's a wrap this week, we will be back soon with another selection of martech News concepts, trends that matter. So until next time, thanks for joining us.

The Podcast Team

David Raab

Founder, CDP Institute and Principal, Raab AssociatesWidely recognized independent expert in customer data platforms, marketing technology and analytics; David specializes in marketing trends, technology strategy, and vendor

Anand Thaker

Martech Industry and Growth AdvisorA recognized MarTech, decisioning and AI/ML expert; Anand advises growth and go-to-market leaders and investors for global brands and funds while also being active in the startup ecosystem.

Chitra Iyer

Editor-in-Chief of Martech Advisor Editor-in-Chief of Martech Advisor and marketing veteran is the host of the show.