Earlier this year, Sysomos separated from Marketwired and named you CEO. What have you been focused on?
We have been hiring a lot of technical talent. I will double the number of staffers at the company by the end of the year. This is part of a strategy that is going to take us into the next two to five years. All of our products are predicated in data science. They will begin to be amplified together so they can give full scenarios of suite-like capability. It will be about bringing the product together with advanced data science to create actionable learning.
What are your plans in the next year?
We are going to use social intelligence to get into new areas and products. We have two major product categories, but if there isn’t five by this time next year, I would be surprised. We’ve always had a strong focus on data science in our existing research, monitoring, and analytics offerings, so a natural extension is to move more deeply toward predictive advertising, influencer engagement, and social marketing management.
We are releasing products in a tight time-line, with quarterly announcements. Expect to see a new produce from us by the end of the summer, as well as major updates to existing offerings throughout the year. We take customer feedback and see and understand the scenarios they are trying to address. We then advance user interfaces by how customers are using them.
How are you communicating about Sysomos’ new strategy and offerings?
I’ve been making sure we have complete transparency with customers, partners, and the press. We’re picking up speed as we introduce our strategy, products, and vision to the marketplace, analysts, and the public at large.
We have formed an evangelism team that will go into the marketplace in the next year providing a roadshow capability where people can engage one on one with us. We will be doing event venues in major cities, bringing together partners and customers. There is nothing better than getting face to face with people and communicating correctly. We also have a small in-house comms team of five and we work with Bateman Group.
What is Sysomos’ approach to social media?
It’s funny, because when I do an internal event, for example one about internal numbers, I have to tell my staff, "No tweeting."
Our staffers are inherently social. We push each other to use internal messaging platforms, and we tweet outside at multiple levels, from talking about different things we have done with data, all the way down to servicing customers via tweets. We also use our social media pages to communicate company news so all of our customers know what is going on and share great case studies on things that will help the industry progress forward.
On your company blog, you use Sysomos technology to analyze timely pop culture events, such as Barack Obama finally joining Twitter and the season finale of NBC’s The Voice. What is the strategy behind this?
We do this to showcase the interesting things that happen as a result of the use of our products. The common interest of that data for the larger consumer body is of particular interest to me. At the end of the day, we are creating data insights so we can enhance consumer lives. To do that, we have to give that data back in a way that is consumable.
What is an area of the company you are focused on improving?
One of the things we have to do is deepen our understanding of the end-consumer and how they want to experience services from the industry. Five years ago, innovation was driving how consumers adopted. Now it’s the other way round. Because of that, our industry’s ability to innovate is contingent on our ability to truly understand what consumers want and address those wants in a high value way.
In an intensely competitive market place, how do you differentiate your company?
We are about data science and actionability. Because of that, we want to make sure we provide marketers, partners, agencies, and consumers with a value-for-value proposition that is predicated on actionability.
If a great marketing brand wants to reach a set of consumers, I want to make sure that is the most targeted, vast use of that consumer’s time when they get that targeted ad. I want to understand who is listening, what communities they are a part of, and how they are digesting the message.
You have been in many leadership roles over the years, including your time as corporate VP at Microsoft. What is your golden rule in terms of how to lead?
I believe in driving accountability and responsibility deep into an organization. A management team at the top should not control everything that happens in a business. We are not doing brain surgery. My mantra is some things will work, some won’t. If you fail fast, you get to the right answer quicker.