Using Big Data as Revenue Driver: Interview with Data.com’s Andy MacMillan
We are less than one week away from the 2012 Marketo User Summit and the lineup we have in place for keynotes includes the top thought leaders in sales and marketing. One of which is Andy MacMillan, Salesforce Data.com’s Senior Vice President of Products and Marketing. We are excited to welcome him to our blog to give us more details about Data.com and how businesses can use big data to drive revenue.
Please provide a brief overview of your business. What do you do? When was it formed? How many employees do you have now? How is your company aligned to deliver/support cloud services to your customers?
Launched in September 2011 at Dreamforce, Data.com is Salesforce’s solution that is democratizing data by delivering instant access to the business data businesses need right inside Salesforce. We provide the data foundation customers need to succeed as a social enterprise by helping them easily find new customers and clean their data right in the cloud.
As businesses transform into social enterprises, they need a solid data foundation to better understand and engage customers and prospects. Data.com delivers this foundation with accurate crowd sourced contact data matched to leading account data from Dun & Bradstreet. This allows customers like Brainshark to greatly increase their marketing qualified lead opportunities.
Given the Internet, Google, social media, and the entire digital information revolution, the data universe has exploded like a super nova in recent years. How has this affected your company’s ability to deliver/support cloud services to your customers?
The cloud and data go hand in hand. Being a cloud-based solution, Data.com ties strongly into the digital information revolution. Since this super-nova, customers are sharing more information and therefore expect a new level of engagement and customization from marketers. Data.com helps our customers deliver against this need by making it easy to build targeted lists to relevant groups of people, ensuring marketers can segment their messages and enhance engagement with relevant content to prospects and customers.
Our customer, Motorola Solutions, saw a significant increase in form conversions from their email campaigns by moving to the use of targeted lists with segmented messages.
Data.com makes targeting easy by gathering complete information on all our contacts, including broad titles. This data comes from the 2 million strong Data.com community. This community makes over a million updates a month, updating data in real-time to address the rapid growth and pace of change, while also maintaining a high level of data accuracy. All of this data along with company profiles is accessed in the cloud directly in salesforce.com.
Can you comment on how big data is becoming even more valuable as our analytical and computing abilities continue to expand?
The velocity and volume of data is expanding every day, and finding ways to manage and analyze data is becoming more of a challenge to companies. We think this data presents the opportunity for more data and deeper insights, as well as the challenge of easily identifying and integrating the right data into critical business process.
The big data challenge can be broken into two categories: management of the data and consumption of the data. Salesforce has demonstrated the ability to aggregate and manage large volumes of data in the cloud. Our platform handles millions of transactions daily to service different customer data inquiries and demonstrates true success in using the cloud to manage big data.
The cloud can also offer a solution for consumption of data. Historically, access to data has been a barrier to running real-time analytics and empowering teams to take action. Once data is available in the cloud and consumed via cloud solutions, access to the right data and insights can be made available directly within key business applications.
Data.com focuses on the delivery of business big data. We equip our customers with the tools to align contact information with global company data to deliver insight integrated directly in their CRM. By combining access, unification, and alignment directly in their CRM systems, customers have been able to align and utilize resources to improve the effectiveness of their sales and marketing teams.
We recommend that you take this specialized focus for other big data solutions like social big data or financial big data to create a solvable problem and achieve results.
Big data is only a big challenge when you do not take steps to prioritize and segment. Here are some steps to make big data work for you:
1) Don’t address everything: decide what data is important to your business and find the tools to address those needs
2) Make big data accessible: by leveraging data from the cloud within your applications, you allow for collaboration and transparency
3) Take action on results: integrating with tools like Salesforce and Marketo allows you to quickly access segmented data and provide a clear process for mobilizing your sales and marketing teams to act on your aggregated data
Is it possible to actually “connect the dots” between random and typically unstructured data to create information that a corporation can act upon to drive sales and marketing results? How?
Yes! Companies today often struggle with the phenomenon of “data islands”. Data islands occur when business data is updated sporadically in disparate systems, without unification or analysis that keeps the data fresh and usable.
The solution: Deploy a system for business data management that allows for interaction and visibility for the whole organization to access, update and maintain the data. By combining access with unification, marketers have a clear sense of how to make data actionable and can approach their goals with confidence.
A great example is the Bespoke Collection, who struggled to find new resellers to grow their wine business. They used Data.com to connect the dots to the right vendors and improve sales and marketing effectiveness.
What trends do you expect to see in cloud computing over the next 12 months?
The biggest trend we are seeing is the emergence of social enterprises. Companies today are demanding social tools to build alignment, transparency, collaboration, and ultimately put their customers at the heart of their businesses.
The beauty of the social enterprise lies in this ability to integrate social collaboration with companies and employees to create a complete and relevant view of customers and prospects that is actionable across departments.
This social zeitgeist will continue to drive a dramatic shift in cloud computing as communication becomes fluid, traditional corporate hierarchies are flattened, and customers expectations for transparency and service demand personal interaction, customized products, and targeted engagement.