I'm at work. It's 6:00. The Clash is LOUD (Radio Clash) in my headphones, and I just discovered an injustice someone must correct (so am electing myself LOL). Normally I don't tug on Superman's cape, spit into the wind or mess with JIM, but I have a bone to pick with Gartner. Gartner being the research Superman in my analogy. Gartner released their revised Magic Quadrant BI analysis today and, as comprehensive as this TOME is Gartner forgot the most powerful Business Intelligence tool on planet earth - Entrinsik's Informer.
Fair disclosure - I did consulting work for Entrinsik six months ago, but am just a fan now. Well let me modify that. I am a fan WITH INTENTION. I'm working with my boss, Jon Jordan massively brilliant founder of Raleigh web developers Atlantic BT, on the project of my life. Ever had a sense that you are finally, in my case after 54 years, right where you are supposed to be? If you think my comment about Jon is an attempt to bury my nose you know where then you are new here at ScentTrail Marketing. There are a few nice things about having the BIG C and not going to live to a ripe old age - the need to kiss any one's anything drops to as close to zero as it can get. Even if you think I am a kisser of a certain posterior region, read on and see if you don't agree about Jon.
FoundObjects.com (launched November, 1999 and now RIP except in the Way Back Machine). Those Mondrian lines are 3 months of my life I will NEVER get back.
Learning to write HTML, learninb enough Photoshop and Illustrator to be dangerous, write copy and create FoundObjects' email marketing (had some help there but that is another post) was about as much fun as I've ever had (save riding a bicycle across America). When the money ran out and I was asked to leave the company I started (can you say PAIN), FoundObjects.com created enough trust that a tall blonde gave me a huge break. Peggy handed me the keys to her little just over a million in gross revenue ecommerce site and said, "Drive as fast as you want."
I will never forget when I asked Peggy about my marketing budget. My background is Consumer Products Goods. I'd run a P&L before as Director Dairy Sales for Nutrasweet, but NEVER have I had a boss answer that question with, "There is no budget, as long as there is positive ROI spend what you need." Imagine a person you hardly know handing you the keys to their mothballed Ferrari and saying, "See if you can open her up a little."
My team and I did open that site up a little. After some adjusting to one another (six months) and credit gets spread over about 3 teams since skilled ecommerce designers, email marketers and merchandisers are hard to keep, we rocked the house moving gross sales up 3x without crushing net return (I think the average net cash returned was 18% over seven years). I became a stock holder and life was good.
The Big C
Then I heard "cancer" and my name in the same sentence and life changed. Good news is I 'm doing great thanks to miracle of modern medicine, but I got into "No dream left behind," mode and cashed in my stock to ride a bicycle across America (so I went a little crazy LOL). This background is important so you know I have ecommerce chops. Chops that made my last employers over $25M (gross) and somewhere north of $4M (net net).
Responsys for email marketing (btw, Responsys was just name a visionary in Gartner's Magic Quadrant study the same one I am taking to task). Responsys started talking "life cycle management" using dynamic zones, segmentation and business rules to create highly relevant email marketing (cool).
"Wow," I remember thinking, "if we could understand user behavior in real time and fire those dynamic zones with segmentation and personas we could make some coin." We are always more intelligent in memory than reality, better looking too, but I was intrigued enough by the promise of such an idea to start having discussions with Baynote. Baynote is (or was I can't tell if they've made it through the recession or not), a cool SaaS (software as a service). Baynote took the Responsys dynamic zone idea and put it on ecommerce platforms, on websites. Read the cookie, watch the behavior and fire relevant content into the dynamic zone on a webpage. Cool right?
Central Junior High / Choate
Predicting Tiny Futures In Clean Well Lighted Places
In Foundation your future and my future remained unknown, but OUR futures could be known. You can argue about whether such knowledge is a good idea only IF you don't have the Big C. If you are a fellow traveler in the only tribe I hope you NEVER join, then you know how precious it would be to know a few things :). Extend Baynote and Responsys' Life Cycle Management to their logical end and you know some stuff.
The natural mathematical extension of those tools is an ability to predict the future. Granted we Internet marketers would be predicting tiny futures in highly structured environments we created, but how cool would it be to KNOW, after three touches, where a website visitor is going and the Quant certainty of their "conversion"? Ultra cool right?
There are a bunch of little pain in the ass things between NOW and being able to predict a website's future like creating some killer algorithms (have a great Quant source now), figuring out how to instantly massage petabytes of data in less time than it takes to blink an eye and a few other little things, but there is one BIG thing - INPUTS.
Sitting here with the CLASH still LOUD I can think of these inputs easily and off the top of my head:
- About 10 heuristic measures (time on, abandonment, best and worst pages, average pages in what track by which persona, etc..)
- About 10 behavioral measures (read the cookie for geo-location, keyword, referring link and fire the dynamic zones based on modeled business rules)
- Social Inputs (are related keys being searched, blogged, shared, who are major influencers, where are the tribes)
- Semantic Analysis (what are people FEELING about whatever brand we are marketing, how are those feelings becoming actions, who is creating what kind of waves and knowing the differences between snarky and compliments is TOUGH)
- Merchandise Data (what is who buying how often based on what triggers and how do they feel about it after, are they becoming advocates, on B2B sites merchandise is content so what content is leading to the biggest result)
- Mobile Data (mobile doesn't function in anyway I understand yet except to know it is going to be HUGE so I damned well better understand it soon and it has to be an input into this system)
- Game Triggers (gamification, I realize after writing my Gamification White Paper is all around us all the time so social signals and social capital have to be system inputs)
- Legacy Data (we have this weird, ancient CRM and data from there has to be an input)
- Archived CMS (every piece of content we've ever created has to be tagged and ready to fire)
- Feeds (we need high update frequencies, what I call Ping Rates, so we need feeds as part of this system)
Data Integration Can Kill You
Data integration can kill you. Data exist in all kinds of ways, file structures, data warehouses and actually physical places (drives since the cloud hasn't taken over yet). Extracting data from one system, say your ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system or your legacy database that controls customer information, order history and other critical sales flow data that your team wrote in some crazy language no one supports anymore or Google Analytics can be a pain. Extracting data from 10 systems is landing on the moon.
And then there was the Leupen family. Doug Leupen, Entrinsik's CEO and Founder, started creating enterprise software not long after Gordon Moore created his famous LAW, the law driving all this digital revolution stuff, and well before there was a Google, Facebook or Twitter. His Harvard educated son Doug is no slouch either. The Leupen family has created the most revolutionary tool on earth, and no one knows about it (shows you good a consultant I am :).
Well not "no one". Educational institutions love Entrinsik's Informer. They couldn't live without its agnostic data coupling. Why hasn't Entrinsik made billions and billions for sites like Amazon, Walmart and Target? Doug started Entrinsik to sell a "Pick System". One day he shared the sad story of how Dick Pick lost the database war to relational databases. Fascinating story I will try to remember to blog another time. Entrinsik SEMtek is a Pick System with heavy penetration in educational institutions.
I attended Entrinsik's Informer User Conference (ICON 2012) this year and talked to a lot of customers. Before that meeting Doug told me how much his customers love his company. "Sure," I remember thinking. Doug didn't, and doesn't, exaggerate. Sitting with IT Directors, CIOs and CTOs from California to Florida I heard stories of LOVE for Entrinsik Informer. Informer is the glue holding disparate systems together.
These educational IT departments have to make do with less. They can't spend millions to upgrade their ERP, course management, conference and HR systems. They keep applying bailing wire and chewing gum (in the form of Excel and other random "throw away" tools that never seem to get thrown away) hoping their systems make it through the night. These hard working educators can't live without Entrinsik's Informer.
Hearing The Future, Again
My friend and Entrinsik VP Marketing Sharon Shelton pulled me out of a room at ICON 2012 to hear a man describe the future. In the front of about 20 educators a short, kinetic man with a ponytail was describing how, using Informer, it was possible to fire decision making data in real time. Better, he described how it was possible to loop data on itself creating ever tighter stimulus-response arcs.
Charles Barouch and he just completed my boss's diagram. It was clear every educator at ICON 2012 would just as soon their secret weapon stay in old brick buildings with ivy. Why hasn't Entrinsik's Informer changed everything we know about Internet marketing? Why does Gartner not even KNOW about Entrinsik's Informer? Why is Responsys voted "Visionary" when I've met true visionaries and they live here in Raleigh? I can answer these very important questions in three words: Geeks, Quants and Dreamers.
Geeks (IT departments and I mean use the G word with love :) are having a tough go lately. Information Technology departments are under tremendous pressure to open their kingdoms and they don't want to. Access has been power for a long time for enterprise IT. Let the rabble play with some minor league ad-hoc tools as long as the rabble only hit some subset of the data in very controlled ways and mostly at night. Dreamers (Marketers and sales guys) are demanding real time data now. If you listen carefully you can hear the, "Let My Data Go" chants growing in insistence and attitude.
Marketing and sales guys are reading geeky stuff now too. They don't want to hear about all the issues and problems when it is possible to Google an infinite number of things with a return set sure to come back at the speed of light. "Get with the program," these "power users" are demanding of the already hard pressed Geeks. Standing over both of them, like Switzerland in more ways than they control the MONEY, are the CFO's. There is a reason CFOs usually end up running companies - they know where and how the money is made (or stashed as the case may be :).
CFOs want sales increases but they don't want to pay for them. I've been on the opposite end of this kind of magical thinking more times than is comfortable, but every CFO I've ever worked with was willing to DEPRECIATE AN EXISTING ASSET. In fact, they LOVE it when you come in and say, "Tom I don't need any NEW money because I've figured a way to put our OLD money to better use." Say that to your CFO and see if he or she doesn't do a little dance.
You see it now right? Entrinsik's Informer upgrades every existing system for the cost of lunch (in relative terms and believe me your CFO only thinks in relative terms). A CFO is a subset of another group who must shoulder some blame for Entrinsik's status as the most powerful unknown #BI tool on earth. Quants could change their company's lives if they did the analysis I just suggested, but most Quants work for a champion, a Napoleon on a white horse and our data democracy revolution has no such leader. Until a brilliant, somber main drew a diagram and a man with a pony tail described a python of a website.
We've come to the third act of our play where Geeks are tied up in their own funk because Dreamers are raiding their pantry and previously protecting Quant/Angel (CFOs) aren't stopping the raids nearly as aggressively as they used too. We need a hero to climb atop the white horse and say, "This Direction, let's go in this direction." Maybe that hero is Jon, Charles, Doug or me, but, having seen the future, I am not letting go. And I can be quite obstinate (ask my ex :).
I will see a modeled website tuned with real time data fire relevant content into dynamic zones in my lifetime if I have to spend every last dime and day working with geniuses, Quants, Geeks and Dreamers to get it done. I suspect, much to Gartner's eternal shame, Entrinsik's Informer is going to be the "secret sauce" making this dreamer's dream a reality.
On the eve of Entrinsik introducing their new dashboards I say, "ROCK ON Entrinsik, leave the lights on we will catch up and Gartner be damned."