The challenge confronting an enterprise marketer today is one of scale. Nearly every business is a digital business that throws off a lot of data, and turning that into meaningful insight to bring the customer closer is key.
One company that is in the business of increasing the frequency of customer engagement with the brand is Blueshift Labs Inc. The firm works with a number of major enterprises, including online education provider Udacity Inc., to leverage AI and other technologies for powerful digital marketing.
“Imagine you are a marketing team of two people, and you are challenged with how to engage 20 million students,” said Manyam Mallela (pictured), co-founder and head of artificial intelligence at Blueshift. “You need a system to say: What did all of these students come for? How do I personalize the experience so that every single step of the way for a student is created and delivered at scale? That’s the kind of problem that we solve for our brands.”
Mallela spoke with theCUBE industry analyst John Furrier in advance of the AWS Startup Showcase “MarTech Emerging Cloud-Scale Customer Experiences” event, an exclusive broadcast on theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio. They discussed the history behind Blueshift’s formation, industry use cases, and the data systems needed for driving customer engagement. (* Disclosure below.)
Solutions for Walmart
Blueshift approaches the challenge of customer engagement from a history of building systems of engagement for one of the world’s most recognizable brand names, Walmart Inc. Mallela and several members of his team came from the early Silicon Valley AI pioneer Kosmix.
“We were doing semantic search, and in 2011, Walmart started their Silicon Valley innovation hub, Walmart Labs, with the acquisition of Kosmix,” Mallela explained. “Walmart had been practicing e-commerce for the better part of 12 years prior to that, but they were certainly behind compared to their peers. We had to rethink a lot of assumptions and the trends that were converging across multiple formats and channels. It took us three years to build those systems of engagement.”
The prior work for Walmart set the stage for Blueshift’s founding in 2014. The startup’s SmartHub Customer Data Platform integrates data feeds from a variety of sources, allowing users to build full profiles of the customer base. The process involves evaluation of a comprehensive list of factors, all the way down to elements as basic as an email subject line.
“How do you get fresh data, activated at the moment of experience, without delay at scale?” Mallela asked. “That’s what we solve for our organizations.”
Digestible and relevant
Another Blueshift customer is LendingTree Inc., an online marketplace offering a wide range of financial products, including home and auto loans. The challenge for LendingTree was to distill and communicate the full range of its diverse portfolio.
“There is a series of steps that an organization has to take to explain all of their offerings in a way that is digestible and relevant and personalize it for each of those millions of customers,” Mallela noted. “All of these industries who you would not think of needing to solve a digital engagement problem are now saying that’s the key to success and growth.”
Blueshift has focused its business model on providing data systems that generate insight and then offering the most suitable communications model for engagement. These systems include distributed search, distributed indexing, low-latency systems, data lakes built for high velocity, and training model inference, in addition to AI and machine learning support.
“We do the heavy lifting, data management, identity resolution, segmentation, audience building, predictions, recommendations, and then we give you the delivery piece,” Mallela said. “There is a tremendous amount of ROI you get once you are able to reorient your organizations to that.”
The digital marketing landscape is beginning to shift again with the coming of Web3 and increased focus on the metaverse. Mallela believes this will not diminish the need for AI tools to fully respond to customer interests.
“In a Nike store in the metaverse, I still need to understand what the customer prefers and keep up with that customer as they change their preferences,” Mallela said. “There are more than enough tools to know what happened. There are only emerging tools to tell you what might happen.”
Here’s the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the AWS Startup Showcase “MarTech Emerging Cloud-Scale Customer Experiences” event:
(* Disclosure: Blueshift Labs Inc. sponsored this segment of theCUBE. Neither Blueshift nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)