(To hear more about how big brands are managing their data, join us at the Festival of Marketing 2018.)
Econsultancy: Please describe your job: What do you do?
Tasso Argyros: My job is to help brands build more intimate and productive relationships with their customers. This, at its core, is a data problem. Brands have all the data they need to deeply understand their customers. But all their interactions still come across as cookie-cutter, bland and uninspiring. This is the problem ActionIQ is solving.
As CEO of ActionIQ, my job is to build the best team in the industry to solve this problem. I am also responsible for setting the direction and strategy of the company, being the chief evangelist and making sure our customers are at the center of everything we do.
E: Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
TA: As CEO and co-founder of ActionIQ, I sit at the top of the organization along with my co-founder and CTO Nitay Joffe. I report to the Board of Directors, but in reality I report to the expectations that I have for myself to build a world-class, viable company.
E: What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
TA: I have to be a combination between an entrepreneur and a manager. My training is in technology – I studied database and distributed computing technologies at Stanford, which has one of the best research teams in the world.
However, the moment you want to build a company around a technology, it becomes all about the people. Being able to attract the best talent, and providing the environment to allow that talent be their best – that’s what it’s all about.
Finally, it’s about customer obsession. We come to work every day to make our customers successful – unless that’s your passion, building an enterprise software company is not for you.
E: Tell us about a typical working day…
TA: When I’m not out there looking for new industry talent, I am talking with customers, prospects and influencers/industry experts. Getting exposed to customer pain points is how progress is made in my mind. Thus, I make sure that not only myself, but nearly every employee in the company gets some level of similar exposure.
Looking internally, I make sure that I’m aware of key challenges and opportunities in the company, and also that our values inform our decisions across the board. My day looks like one with many meetings, but I make sure that every meeting I take has a specific goal and is worth every minute of my time.
E: What do you love about your job? What sucks?
TA: One of my core values is ‘positive impact’. This is my ability (and that of my company) to positively affect the lives of many people. The business press tends to talk about companies and results (money), but behind every company, every technology decision, every breakthrough, there are people that are passionate about doing something different and better. I have been fortunate enough to have employees of mine move on to become executives, entrepreneurs and industry experts; I have also been fortunate enough to work with clients that used my technologies to transform their companies, their industries and ultimately their careers. That is the best part of my job.
The downside is that startups are all about overcoming challenges, and challenges come with pain. But once you learn to understand that pain just signals an opportunity to improve and become better, you learn to use those painful challenges to evolve and thrive.
E: What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
TA: My top KPI is customer success. We look at metrics like: what’s the ROI our customers are getting by better leveraging their customer data? What is the satisfaction of our clients with our products? I monitor these KPIs frequently and make sure to do a deep dive if there’s anything that doesn’t look quite right.
Because customer data is so underutilized, we expect 10x ROI within months of every engagement. If that’s not there, it means there’s more opportunity we’re not tapping into.
E: What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
TA: We’re on the Google Apps suite, and thanks to Slack, we have nearly zero internal email. We also use a number of tools for everything from keeping track of projects to engineering productivity and the engagement of our clients.
E: How did you land in this role, and where might you go from here?
TA: Before ActionIQ, I founded Aster Data, a pioneer in big data that was acquired by database leader Teradata for $325M. In addition to founding Aster Data, I’ve worked with some of the top global firms across several industries to put customer data in the hands of marketers. In these roles, I found that major brands were dealing with a substantial data gap in getting customer data from the engineering team to the marketing team, and I knew it didn’t have to be this way.
That’s where I saw the opportunity to found ActionIQ and help brands fill this data hole.
E: Which companies do you admire for their data architecture?
TA: There are a few different startups I am excited about. One in particular, Databricks, is revolutionizing how predictive models and machine learning is developed. Another startup I’ve been following closely is Docker, which has developed the technology underlying the move to the cloud.
E: Do you have any advice for people thinking about a new data platform?
TA: Companies should always have an end goal in mind when looking at a new data platform. This involves having specific use cases for the data platform and specific results the company wants to achieve. By laying out specific use cases and goals, a company can ensure they’re selecting a data platform for their specific needs, and anchor their decision on metrics that will positively impact the company’s bottom line.
Related reading: What ‘data’ competencies does a modern marketing function need?
Econsultancy also runs a series of data and analytics training courses.