Acoustic | Enabling Innovations in AI-Driven Marketing Cloud Space


As small and big organizations look forward to maximizing the impact of their marketing efforts – Artificial Intelligent – driven solutions can enable a lot of innovation in this space.

Acoustic is an organization focused towards delivering an AI enabled marketing cloud that can future-proof organizations marketing capabilities.

Matthew Marriott, Senior Vice President of Sales and Client Success, Acoustic, Alexander Mahr, Head of Strategy, Asia Pacific and Japan, Acoustic and Navneet Narula, India Sales Leader of Acoustic – speaks with Zia Askari from about the company’s core focus areas and its plans for India.

What are the priorities that you have today as an organization at Acoustics?

Matthew Marriott: One is to stay focused on the marketer, second – we want to integrate our platform. If we can do it successfully, we’ll be the only Marketing Cloud that is built in an open way. Meaning, not a proprietary platform, a truly integrated cloud platform.

Equally, there are certain geographies we want to make an investment in so we can be number one in those geographies. It’s one of the reasons we are in India, because India has this natural crescendo and now we want to make it a much larger priority along with other geographies like Japan.

Our third priority is to just to listen to our customers and see how we can help them better.

And what is the go to market strategy that you have? Are you looking at partnering with the system integrator or ISVs to move in the market?

Matthew Marriott: Yes. Doing business through indirect channels is more important than it was at IBM. At Acoustic we focus on marketing specific partners. So us having resell arrangements, co-sell arrangements, agency relationships, and systems integration relationships are very important to us.

Some of those we’ll take with us from IBM, and of course some from GBS, one of the largest systems integrators in the world. But when we worked with IBM, we garnered relationships with Accenture, Deloitte, Ernst and Young. Some partner relations we’ll take with us, some we won’t.

We are largely a fulfilment business partner to those who really don’t have a lot of marketing expertise or interest in becoming marketing experts. Our aim is to have a marketing focused channels program.

So in India do you have any such partners in place? Or are you looking for such partners?

Matthew Marriott: Yes we do have a number of partners that we enjoy relationship with and equally, there’s not enough, so we are always in need of more such partnerships.

Navneet Narula: We have the right partnerships already available. And we aim to add more from different geographies, which will bring us specific skill sets in and around marketing.

And what kind of verticals are you looking for, by pushing your solution to the market?

Matthew Marriott: Looking historically, we’ve been strong in the distribution market, which is defined as, retail, CPG, travel and transportation where there’s a lot of reason for marketers to talk to their clients. But beyond that, we have our strength in the financial services market, both Banking and Insurance.

Beyond that, in the communications, or computer services industry, Telco’s or in utilities, marketers have a lot of reason to talk to their customers in a very intimate fashion. Equally in public market, we currently enjoy relationships with some big government entities in Life Sciences, and healthcare as well.

Specifically in the telecom space, there’s a lot of action happening, especially with new players. I think Fiber is one of the examples. So how do you see a solution that you are proposing, help them towards reaching out to customers, which had never heard about? Or what Fiber can do to their homes?

Alexander Mahr: It’s such a great example. This is very similar to what is happening in Australia with the nbn project. The nbn project, relates back to India, where you have basically a new change in the market where customers reach out, but these customers they have options for where they go. This is a fiercely competitive situation for us.

So we’ve really worked closely with the Telco’s in Australia, all of them having a strong technology front end centre that really helps them understand why in the conversion path of a customer, why they aren’t converting and why better conversion hasn’t taken place versus just looking at the numbers of customers coming through and looking at their offerings.

We want to identify ways to really focus on how do you improve that conversion funnel, and when is a great market shift is happening?

What we have witnessed translates back to India, in the telco space, where I think we see this happening already. Traditionally India works on scale and you have large rural areas where the growth of mobile market is also impacting people more and more, with mobile phones even spread into the rural areas.

Navneet Narula: But what’s happening, like you said, it is creating more market for us going into Tier 3, Tier 4 Cities, better connectivity and better businesses. So like, Alex said, marketing will not be just sending a same message multiple times. It is how a marketer can augment rather than repeat what he wants to do with the consumer.

On the AI front, what are some of the innovations that you are bringing for, let’s say, the ideal kind for CMO sitting in an enterprise?

Alexander Mahr: We do believe we’re ahead of our competitors when it comes to the application of AI. But AI is a buzzword and sometimes overused too.

So first, all of our customers have very high value engagements on the digital content – forms that you need to fill out to convert, Banks, Telco the like, and see how the end consumer is engaging on those sites. Because there are so many engagements with the scale in India, it’s really hard as a marketer to find where is the issue? Why do I have this issue? And what’s the value of the impact of the issue?

So when you think about the marketer and the time spent during the day, you can get lost and drown in the noise. So we are cancelling the noise in a manner, the AI looks at these engagements and looks for patterns. Here is a pattern of behaviour of the end consumer that isn’t right. And when that happens, it can look at, how often does the pattern happen? Is it a special customer? Is it in the rural area? Or is it because they have an old phone? Or a special browser? So all these things together is what you need to look for and fix.

Going back to what Matt said when we try to bridge a CMO to this base between MarTech and AdTech. We see that a lot of marketing companies go to agencies to basically invest in trying to be smarter. So we looked at our algorithms, and let them loose, we call it Intelligent Beta. This basically helped us improve and achieve the same outcomes with 50% of the budget, which in AdTech, is a huge savings potential.

This capability is something that we’re looking to bring to the market. These are 2 examples of real AI that have direct financial impact, positive impact, but not just for the customer that deal with the company but also has a positive impact to the end consumer.

Matthew Marriott: When we’re creating a promotion strategy, we look at things that are, broad and ever changing. Watson has been well received by the market. We didn’t buy Watson so when we look at Acoustic, a lot of the Watson technology is interwoven through our products. But equally now that we’re outside of IBM, we will take all that we have learned around Watson, we are leveraging it out to our technology and product for each of the different use cases, which AI makes the most sense for us.

So this is an ever changing strategic force. IBM gave us a wonderful foundation, we learned a lot from IBM. We used all the technology available to us from IBM but now we won’t. Right now we are looking at IBM, Amazon, Microsoft technologies and we’ll augment our products as we go.

In your opinion, what do you see the future? When it comes to AI and cloud? How do you see the future applications coming in – in a market like India or globally?

Matthew Marriott: When I started my career at IBM, overwhelmingly people consumed and locally deployed their software and their applications. It was fine for IBM, there wasn’t a whole lot of enhancements that happened, the demand that consumers have right now, in terms of usability and functionality, doesn’t allow for that anymore. You need to have these applications on the cloud today, because you and I are more demanding, my girls are even more demanding than I ever was at their age.

So local deployment, while it’s necessary for some companies, in the public sector, that necessity today is shrinking. Even financial services, which are some of the most highly regulated companies on Earth, the need for local deployment, is shrinking, because they see the benefit of Multi-Tenant Cloud Deployments, where additional functionality can be released every single day, and sometimes multiple times a day, because you and I will demand it. So I don’t see that going away.

Navneet Narula: I come from that era where very few people thought about cloud. we quickly came on to mobile and pretty much jumped into an era where people were working on desktops and laptops. Now, what that means to us is, as a society, we’re always technology agnostic.

We in our campaign automation technology today, can enable customers to build segments but also have analytics that can measure a lifetime value. For you to get this you have to invest a lot of money to run on premise and get that kind of models. It’s available with us here, and they can pay for it like anyone else. And I’m just talking about my campaign automation. The second point I want to drive is looking at the scale that we see in India, there’s no better technology than AI, which can help meaningfully take that workload off from our customers.

What kind of operations do you handle in India? How many people do you have?

Matthew Marriott: We don’t release the number of employees, but I’ll say this. We have a relatively large team and absolutely plan to make bigger investments here. India is going to be a focus market for us, we plan to continue hiring people and Navneet will lead that effort. The same is true of our business partner teammates, we plan to recruit more business partners who have the right sort of focus and momentum here.

Where would you be based out of in India?

Matthew Marriott: We have operations today in Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai, where we’re going to establish our Acoustic headquarters.