Frustration and Innovation

By Aly Richards, CEO, Odyssiant


They say that laziness is the mother of invention. I have found that frustration has made me more inventive than laziness. I have had a long career in the world of CRM and Marketing and I have delivered some big hairy projects with great financial results. I also invented some cool stuff along the way that many companies are actively using today. Around 12 years ago I started a project called Vision at O2 as the then Head of CRM Strategy & Architecture to implement a real-time decision engine. I implemented technology from a company called KiQ which was then bought by Chordiant who are now owned by Pega. This technology has since been adopted by many companies and all over the world. You would think that talking about a project that is that old(!) would now not be relevant. But it is still doing the rounds in terms of case studies as it was just recently heralded in Marketing Week. The reason that it is still relevant is that companies are still struggling with being truly customer centric and this project made very good strides in that direction and provided very good metrics as to why it is the right thing to do commercially. In the first two years of trading we showed an ROI of over 2000%. Yes, 2000% that is not a misprint. In hard cash terms that was £75m on EBITDA for cross and up sell activity and £43m for retention activity.

So why am I frustrated? Twelve years on, customers behaviour has changed and dramatically which means these results are unlikely to be seen again using this technology and approach to sales. (Good results will be seen, but not as significant as these.) There has been a perfect storm of factors that has meant that organisations will need to take new approaches to marketing and sales. And yet there have been no new solutions and organisations keep doing what they have been doing (for a while now), hoping to get a better and different result. Hope does not deliver results to the bottom line.

The challenge is that real-time decision engines help you to sell something when a customer is engaged. They do not create that engagement in the first place. So whilst these systems have been heralded as great marketing systems they are in fact great sales and conversion systems. Absolutely needed and required, no argument with that. But if you have been running one of these platforms for a while you will discover that your results start to decline. This is because you have sold everything you can to the customers that are already engaging with you. Basically, you wear them out or “fatigue” them. The answer is to engage a new audience that you can pass to the decision engine to close. (This does not mean that you simply start sending your real-time decisions out to customers via email, this is still trying to sell without engaging. It will not work. Just stating that now as that is what I have seen organisations try to do.)

So I teamed up with my brilliant business partner Scott McLean, who is very experienced in PR, audience building and communications. Scott also had frustrations, as he puts it – “We were running brilliant content focussed engagement programmes but then not doing anything commercial with the audiences we had engaged with. So, we came up with a fresh approach to using content to solve this broken link between marketing engagement and sales conversion. And we created some software to automate it and manage the engagement process through content – Odyssiant.

We have already tested a beta version with our existing customers and Odyssiant is now an integral part of their approach to content marketing and audience engagement. Now we are ready to share it with the world. We hope you like it.

That was a long introduction post, so thanks for reading it all the way through. If there are questions you have or you would like me to discuss a subject please let me know.

 

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