Ramon Kania is the CTO of omnichannel messaging solutions company Mitto.
In today’s ‘Day in the Life’, Ramon explains what his ‘typical’ day looks like, and gives us an insight into how Mitto is helping companies align with changing consumer expectations around personalised communication.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
As the Chief Technology Officer of Mitto, I am responsible for the technology behind Mitto’s suite of messaging solutions. In my role, I wear plenty of hats with a hand in product and engineering as well as research and development.
Talk us through a typical day…
Ha! Describe typical. The truth is, there is no typical day in the life of a CTO as every day presents unique challenges. I spend some mornings on the phone with suppliers in the Philippines, while others are spent doing some actual coding (this is the fun part of the job). I do try to maintain a general daily format, I suppose. In the mornings, I will take all of my meetings, one on one chats with colleagues, daily stand-ups, and will brief stakeholders on current projects.
In the afternoons, I like to block off two to three hours to focus. Uninterrupted, no meetings, time to actually “work.” Of course, this goes out the window if the CEO calls or there is an urgent matter that needs my attention, but I feel it makes me more effective as a leader when I compartmentalize this from my collaboration time. With a team all over the world, it can be difficult to manage a schedule, but what’s so great about our people at Mitto is we don’t necessarily subscribe to a 9-5 mentality. I take calls sometimes at 8pm so I can chat with our North American colleagues, or in the early hours of the morning to chat with China. Every day is a new adventure.
How do you maintain an effective work/life balance?
To be honest with you, I’ve never really much liked that phrase work/life balance. Jeff Bezos was once quoted saying something similar. His message was that the phrase work/life balance indicates a trade-off system. If you give more time to your work, you are robbing time for personal satisfaction, and I believe that people should take a more holistic look at their lives. View work/life as a circle where one informs the other instead of the other way around. Similarly, I feel like I have merged my life and work. When I am happier in my personal life, I am happier at work.
Of course, some may need a supportive partner and/or family to approach life this way, but I find it very rewarding. I mentioned in the previous question that I’m pretty much available around the clock. I do this because I love my job and want to support my colleagues, but I wouldn’t necessarily say this is how everyone should do it. It just works for me. And if I need to go run errands in the middle of the day for a few hours, that’s okay too. It’s a very non-traditional approach to work I suppose…but then again, we are all working from our couch right now anyway, so traditional has gone out the window.
How has strategy changed at your company?
When I started at Mitto, we were very much a wholesale company, and to be quite honest, we were late to market. But then again, if you are second to a market, you are late. What has changed is our approach to enterprise CPaaS. Our routing platform has positioned us uniquely to provide, in my opinion, the best messaging service in the world and at a very competitive rate. If you look at our growth numbers in the enterprise space from 2019 to 2020, it is night and day.
Now, we strike much more of a balancing act between our wholesale business and enterprise, building out new solutions beyond our traditional SMS to help serve the needs of all of our customers. The pandemic created what could almost be a new digital revolution with customers asking for things like contactless delivery, enhanced security, and a whole host of use cases to keep people safer by staying at home. We’ve put a lot of effort into talking to marketers about how they are seeing consumer behaviour changing and how we help support these new norms.
We are also shifting from just API to offering more solution-based tools, like Conversations and our Mitto user dashboard, for easily sending marketing campaigns. We’re focused now on accessibility of our solutions for a wider userbase as SMS has become such an important channel for all touchpoints in the customer journey. Because of this, more teams need to be able to leverage it, not just those with coding expertise.
How has customer behaviour (or your clients’ customer behaviour) changed during the pandemic?
Recent Mitto data found that, since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a rise in the use of chat apps for brand engagement among consumers. Mitto surveyed five countries and found that the rise has been most prominent in India (73%).
Customer behaviour has changed throughout the pandemic as not only are customers expecting brands to personalise communications and meet consumers where they are in this new, remote world, but they are also expecting companies to comment on important topics and follow up messaging with impactful actions.
In fact, a June 2020 Mitto survey found that Americans believe actions speak louder than words, as 73% said it was important that the Black Lives Matter-related statements they received from brands, nonprofits, and other organizations, were not only empathetic, but also followed by measurable action. I think it is safe to say this customer behaviour will continue as 53% of respondents said they are unlikely to buy from a brand in the future if they had a negative perception of the brand’s communication during the BLM movement.
What do you predict for the future?
The pandemic forced the world to shift to contactless experiences and I predict that this new normal is here to stay. The shift to mobile-first strategies that support the new contactless reality that consumers want touches many customer actions including payments, ordering online, coordinating interaction-free pickups and checkouts. According to new research, most digital and contactless services have seen increased adoption since April, with more than half of new and increased users reporting an intent to continue post COVID-19. Marketers will continue to leverage messaging to drive contactless forward into 2021 for everything from delivering brand experiences, preventing fraudulent payments, to sharing exclusive subscriber deals.
Additionally, I predict that customers will only continue to engage with the brands that they trust. Trust will be especially important in 2021 following a 2020 rise in phishing scams that have plagued the COVID-19 pandemic and elections, including donation requests, petitions and registration scam. As consumers will likely be more apprehensive before trusting the texts they receive, tech that enables verification and authentication will bring them more peace of mind and a better relationship with brands. Marketers must build consumer trust through methods including verified SMS, two-factor authentication, and personalisation.
What advice would you give a marketer right now?
We conducted a study recently with some of the top marketers at American B2C enterprises and the main note that I keep coming back to is that 75% of them mentioned SMS as a channel that performs better than any other channel they use or have used in the past. I find that pretty compelling, so I guess my advice to marketers is to give us a call.