DX Leader interview with Arm Treasure Data's Micki Collart: "Convenience in customer experience is about engaging wherever you are, and companies are not getting that.”

Micki Collart has always held a deep interest in information and automation systems, which she first explored in the service and support arena and more recently in marketing to help marketers improve digital customer experience.

“What I do — from the marketers’ perspective — is live and breathe in the marketing domain,” Collart said. “That gives me a leg up to talk to marketers’ specific pain and try to match our solution to their problems.”

Collart is currently senior product marketing manager at Arm Treasure Data. She joined the customer data platform vendor in March 2018 after roles at companies including Fairchild Semiconductor and ServiceMax.

Finding Tools to Improve Efficiency

After graduating with a degree in economics, Collart worked on the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Economic Forecast Project, compiling research statistics and results, opening a door to business analysis. She later returned to academia to gain an MBA from the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University.

“Back in the day [at Fairchild], I was using a lot of data, building my own databases for operational reporting, competitive analysis,” Collart said. “I was programming too, and helped put a data warehouse together.”

In her current role at Arm Treasure Data, she taps that knowledge of back-end solutions to share with marketing clients. “It was and is always about what tools can I use to make people more efficient,” Collart said.

Arm Treasure Data is a sponsor of CMSWire’s DX Summit taking place Nov. 4 through 6 at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Chicago.

We spoke with Collart to get her thoughts on the impact of emerging technologies like AI and IoT on customer digital experience; the changes she sees underway in key vertical markets; and her take on the current state of digital marketing.

AI and IoT Make Incremental Innovation Possible

CMSWire: Where do you see the primary gaps today in the digital experiences organizations deliver to their customers and what those customers are expecting? How should companies work to close those gaps?

Collart: I think some brands take it for granted, that if they build strong engagement with you as you’re out and about on your mobile phone, they sort of forget about when you’re at home. Being able to start a transaction while you’re sitting on your couch and then finishing it when you’re out in the world should be the norm.

Convenience in customer experience is about engaging wherever you are, and companies are not getting that. They think of it as two to three different realms — online on the couch; on the road in your car; and then in-store. Technology partitions the way we interact and companies need to realize that the engagement is one experience and that it needs to be seamless.

You want to seek ubiquity first and then try to provide consistency in the level of experience. What you want is for the online experience you provide customers to be just as remarkable as the in-store experience.

CMSWire: What do you see as the impact of emerging technologies such as AI, IoT, machine learning and personalization on digital customer experience?

Collart: With IoT and AI, these technologies impact what you can find out about the customer in different ways. IoT enables you to see a lot more about how a customer experiences your product and AI brings those insights to you faster.

The combination of AI and IoT is going to make the idea of incremental innovation a lot more appealing and more lucrative for companies. You can get more targeted in terms of who’s going to appreciate the innovations you make to your products and you can make more use of personalization and customization. Customers will be willing to pay more for what they want specifically.

As you’re able to customize and give people what they want, their expectations are just going to rise. Already, we’ve seen customers’ expectations in the consumer world potentially bleed over into their work lives — what you can know about a customer, you can then use to tailor products specifically for them.

CMSWire: How should companies start thinking about and preparing to take advantage of the benefits of these emerging technologies?

Collart: What all this means is that now is the time to start if you’ve ever thought about competing with other companies on customer experience. You know you can’t win customers without it and that you have to start looking at customers as individuals.

You need to start leveraging not just your own data about customers, but also third-party information too. You also want to be engaging with customers so they want to share more information with you. In lockstep, you want to be transparent about how you are going to use that information and you need to be able to communicate those data use plans very clearly to your customers.

CMSWire: What excites you about the changes underway in the verticals Arm Treasure Data serves, for instance, automotive as well as retail and CPG? How do you see these industries evolving to meet customers’ needs?

Collart: Consumer packaged goods (CPG) is an interesting one because, traditionally, they’ve been so far removed from their customers. They’re going to have to rethink how they engage with customers and deliver their products. I do foresee CPGs eventually getting closer to their customers.

Already, one of our customers, a large beer manufacturer in Latin America, has taken stakes in restaurants and bars in order to gain a better understanding of how customers are engaging with its brands.

For automotive manufacturers, with unit sales of cars in some countries not growing at all, the focus is all about creating more customer loyalty. They’re doing anything and everything to really gain an understanding of who’s ready to purchase and who’s an advocate for their brand.

There’s the saying that data is now more valuable than oil. For automotive companies, they can take the information being generated within cars and provide that back to the customers to help them drive that vehicle better.

CMSWire: What about the entertainment industry? What changes do you see likely there as companies learn more about their customers?

Collart: When we talk about entertainment, our experience is really with the gaming industry. Generally, you have individual studios creating games and then corporate entities, the game publishers, which may operate several different studios and are looking for ways to upsell and cross-sell games.

There’s a unique opportunity to use data and analytics to find out, for instance, if Player A playing a game from Studio A is the same type of individual as Player B playing a game from Studio B. It’s not so much about revolutionizing gaming, but the ability to solve a pretty hard-core issue of how to market effectively to gamers and to bring the cost of customer acquisition way down.

CMSWire: In your opinion, what’s the current state of digital marketing? Where are improvements needed?

Collart: As I see it, marketing in general, not only digital marketing, is still very siloed. Marketing has always worked in silos. True integrated campaigning is just too heavy a lift at present for companies to do it right.

The idea of integrating campaigns is that you could have someone be able to look across the entire marketing organization and all systems of engagement and processes.

In that way, they could gain a deeper understanding of all the stages of the buying cycle and where an individual customer is at in that cycle at any point in time. That’s still the future, the vision.

CMSWire: What’s holding companies back from realizing and benefiting from integrated campaign marketing?

Collart: When people try to execute now, they don’t have the organization in place to achieve integrated campaigns, but that’s where we’re going. At the moment, they can’t yet point to a process for integrated campaigning that can be automated.

I see customer data platforms (CDPs) as providing the basis of a system that becomes integrated marketing. Once people have the organization in place, they’ll have more of an understanding of what we and other CDP vendors can do for them.

What’s needed is a real recognition by companies of how much data duplication across their marketing organizations is really costing them and how they could be spending a lot less by being able to de-duplicate individual siloed databases.

You want to be able to combine your own customer data with third-party data sources to understand each opportunity in terms of who that person is and where and when to engage with them.

CMSWire: Which interest that you pursue outside of work do you find the most rewarding? Why is that hobby so satisfying? How would you encourage someone who’s never engaged in this activity to take it up?

Collart: I’m restarting my yoga practice. Yoga is just pure stress relief for me.

The whole idea that you can connect your mind to your body is really appealing to me. With yoga, I’m doing something that’s physically good for myself, and at the same time, making sure that the physical activity that I do engages my head.

For other people, I’d encourage them to do yoga if they want to engage their mind as they exercise. I’d also recommend yoga for someone who’s feeling any sort of back pain or repetitive stress in arms or legs.

If I wanted to link the worlds of digital customer experience and yoga, I’d focus on the convenience aspect. You can practice yoga anywhere — even sitting in a chair at work. Yoga’s there when and where you need it, which should also be the case with digital customer experience.

Learn more about the Digital Customer Experience (DX) Summit here.