CTO Mike Anderson Describes Product Development Core Beliefs

 In Under the Hood

To keep up with evolving technology and customer behavior, it’s essential for companies to work with partners sharing similar long term approaches to address current and future challenges. Read below to learn about Tealium’s guiding product development beliefs that help ensure new products and features deliver significant value.

Part 1 of a 7-part Series. Read other parts here: Part 2 | Part 3Part 4 | Part 5Part 6Part 7

Matt Parisi, Interviewer: With how fast technology and consumer behavior/expectations change how does Tealium know what to build?

Mike Anderson, Tealium Co-founder and CTO: Key thing is that we understand the market very well because we were pioneers in the market itself. We’ve been leading the market down the path for a long time. But then you think about the need for better customer experiences and how data drives decisions— real-time data fuels systems that can take action. This is something people will need. Amazon is a leader, so looking at some of the leads that they put out there makes sense.

Mike Anderson, Tealium Co-founder and CTOMy mantra— stay close to the needs of the customer, stay close to challenges of the customer and build solutions that solve that problem and you’ll build a great business. The advantage of being a CTO and CCO is I have a strong connection to the customer.

MP: What approach does Tealium take to product development to ensure we’re constantly innovating in a way that’s effective for our customers?

MA: Backing up before delving in to product, more around deciding what we’ll build. Strategy is two ears, one mouth— listen more than you speak. That’s why we have people like Jay Calavas and Chris Slovak, Chris Andres, Sales Leadership, Marketing, Customer Success— the idea is to always be listening when having conversations with the customer. Their pains and what they need. This is why our product management is driven by committee. We never know where a good idea is going to come from (ie: Barcelona, Tokyo, NY, etc).

Then beyond that, trying to stay open to the customer having the product ideas board, allowing customers to submit their ideas and then through committee or community the customer can vote on the enhancements they want to see most. Our job is a nice symbiotic picture of where we want to take the customer in a specific direction and listening along the way to see what re-routes and turns we need to take.

MP: What are Tealium’s core beliefs?

MA:  We measure our product development ideas against our core beliefs to determine priorities and direction. Tealium’s core beliefs are;

    1. Customer at the center. How we decide what to build, what problems to solve— stay as close to the customer as we possibly can. Provide better customer experiences for their customers with our software.

    2. Real time. Essential for providing the best possible experience. Strike while the iron is hot. If you have a system that’s an hour delayed or 24 hours delayed you don’t have that capability. Even if you don’t use real time, having the capability to be real time is very important. As customers get more sophisticated and try to dig into their experience and relationship with the customer, they find real time has a very important place.

    3. Data readiness/data integrity. More companies need to be data driven. If you’re going to be data driven, you have to have data that is of the highest possible quality and be able to consume that data in many different fashions (ie: off the shelf analytics platform, homegrown data warehouse you build on your own, visualization studios where you need the data to be somewhere and you use your own analysis).

    4. Privacy, Governance, Compliance, Security. These are big pieces. As you start working with customer data and people’s history, you need to respect their right to be forgotten, you need to respect their wants because they’re part of the customer relationship too. Building trust is only becoming more important. You can’t just use all of that data haphazardly. In some cases if you go into Europe, and probably soon in the US, some things with data you become a criminal. If you don’t properly display to a user what you intend to do with their data, you could be a criminal. Also, if you have data going off to different places you eventually get to a point where the governance and compliance is a much easier job (and cheaper) if you can look in one place to see what data transfer, usage and rules are to see who gets what. A single system to do this makes it easier.

    5. Omnichannel. As you’re trying to build customer experience the relationship you build is not just about the online, website, or mobile relationship. The customer may interact with your call center, support portals, brick and mortar— customers go into facilities where you’re advertising (ie: concerts, festivals) and you’re displaying your brand there. This data you don’t necessarily collect about a customer but you infer it off of the data you collect.

      As you bring in data about a customer, most other vendors have been places where the data goes to be part of a report. It’s at that point you make the manual decision of where the data goes after that. Are you reporting or taking action on data? If you don’t take automated action you’re missing out on a tremendous opp. With automatically sending data back into systems you now have the closed loop— collecting data about a customer’s behavior, passing that data into a warehouse, infer insights about that data (attributes, behaviors, etc), and now this analysis has the capability to be activated. Omnichannel data can now go back into Tealium and take action.

    6. First-party data. This is where you have the opportunity to build a direct relationship with a customer. There have been a lot of software solutions over the years that have tried to infer that because you’re interested in candles and horses, for example, that you’re probably likely to be interested in swimming pools (ie: based on clustering algorithms and looking at overlap). We see a lot of this in iTunes and Spotify— people that listen to Foo Fighters probably will like Nirvana and other types of bands like that. That’s good, but when you have that 1:1 interaction with the customer where they’re visiting a store, coming to a website, using call center and mobile app, whatever touchpoint— you start to gain some very refined information about customer behavior and the state of that customer and how they want to interact with you, which is far more sophisticated than clustering.

      This third-party vs first-party world— go back to governance/compliance. As you’re shooting that off to third party vendors, the end user doesn’t know what’s happening with their data or where it’s going. So all of these core beliefs work together and are mutually reinforcing. If customers are going to a website and building a first-party relationship, companies should be listening based on behaviors and purchases.

End of Interview Part 1. Continue reading Part 2 here. More parts: Part 3Part 4 | Part 5Part 6Part 7

This was part 1 of a 7-part interview with Tealium CTO, Mike Anderson, about how Tealium’s core beliefs guide product development. Please check back for future installments of this interview.

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Interview with CTO Mike Anderson, Part 2