Tealium's Sav Khetan, "Businesses must ... break down silos and build strong, scalable data foundation for the entire organization."

Sav Khetan: ‘Un-Silo’ Your Data Foundation to Enable Personalized Digital Experiences

7 minute read
China Louise Martens avatar
Tealium's Sav Khetan discusses balancing personalization and customer privacy, the state of digital marketing and more in our latest DX Leaders interview.

Sav Khetan enables organizations to unlock the full potential of their first-party customer data, which, all too often today, still resides in internal silos.

“I work closely across our business to develop the best solution for users and deliver the right customer experience,” he said. “We help our customers to make the transition from channel-based to audience-based marketing through the intersection of technology, data and operational strategy.”

Khetan is currently vice president, product at Tealium, a provider of real-time customer data orchestration solutions and enterprise tag management. In his role, Khetan leverages his existing skills in marketing, technology, consulting and analytics to continue to drive the development of Tealium’s growing product suite. Prior to joining Tealium in April 2019, Khetan was vice president of technical strategy at marketing and advertising agency POSSIBLE.

Technology as a Calling

“I’ve always had a particular interest in the tech, B2B e-commerce and automotive verticals, so working in the technology field is a vision I’ve always imagined for myself,” he said.

After graduating from the University of Mumbai with a degree in Production Engineering, Khetan went on to gain an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Over the next 15-plus years, he gained experience in interaction design, product development and program management.

“I’ve led large-scale teams and projects such as the Dell.com global website redesign, Microsoft NBC Olympics Player (2008), ABC.com Full Episode Player (Emmy), Google Art Project (Cannes Lion), and the Gates Visitor Center,” he said.

Tealium is a sponsor of CMSWire’s DX Summit taking place Nov. 4 through 6 at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Chicago. Khetan’s colleague, Elizabeth Marshall, manager, solutions consulting North America – Northwest and Central at Tealium, is a speaker at the conference. She will be giving a session titled “CDPs: Choosing the Right Type for Your Customer Data Strategy,” on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

We spoke with Khetan for his thoughts on why some companies fail to deliver optimal customer digital experiences, his best practices advice on balancing personalization and customer privacy needs, and the state of digital marketing.

Tell Customers the ‘Story’ of How You Use Their Data 

CMSWire: Where are companies most challenged to provide customers with optimal digital experiences? Why do you think those organizations are missing the mark and how can they address these gaps?

Khetan: Companies are struggling to provide customers with optimal digital experiences because they lack full visibility across their organization.

Rich data is an amazing opportunity for businesses. For years, they’ve been promised a 360-degree view of the customer that will enable the kind of relevant, personalized experiences customers want. Now, all that data is on hand — it just has to be assembled and orchestrated properly.

An organization’s data foundation must be ‘un-siloed.’ Data from different channels arrive in different formats, tracking different variables. Before data can be used, it must be sorted, standardized and routed to the right places within an organization’s internal analytics systems.

Only when all departments have access to a single, independent data layer, can brands begin to deliver the types of experiences customers want — and tap into the full value of customer data. This is why businesses must be on the front lines of the fight to break down silos and build a strong, scalable data foundation for the entire organization.

CMSWire: How do you see digital customer experience evolving as technologies like AI, AR, IoT, machine learning, and VR deepen and become more ubiquitous?

Khetan: As these technologies further mature, so will the customer experience. Customers are looking for more engaging, personalized experiences, and businesses are searching for ways to feed that demand.

In today’s world, the customer is in charge. And in a marketplace of endless options and channels, companies realize they must create a differentiated human experience and deliver consistently on the ever-evolving customer expectation of brand management to stay competitive.

New technology, such as machine learning, can help brands elevate their business operations, while keeping the main focus on the consumer.

For example, we recently announced Tealium Predict, which is essentially built-in machine learning technology for Tealium AudienceStream, our customer data platform (CDP). With Tealium Predict, organizations can automatically make predictions about what customers are likely to do in the future, and design tailored programs that directly address their needs.

This is just one of the many ways in which new technologies are helping marketers and brands offer a more unique digital experience to customers.

CMSWire: How should organizations think about striking the right balance in using increasingly sophisticated personalization to respect individuals’ data preferences while complying with increasing general data privacy regulations?

Learning Opportunities

Khetan: There are several approaches that brands can take to ensure they are not infringing on consumers’ privacy but, most importantly, they must always be transparent. If a brand begins explaining to consumers how its business handles customer data, and this makes them uncomfortable, the company likely needs an adjustment in both mindset and practices.

Brands need to explain the ‘why.’ Companies should strive to tell consumers the story of how the brand is using their data to create a relevant brand experience. By making this known upfront, consumers are more than likely to share more data with a brand to create a more unique experience.

One way brands can achieve this is by rewriting consumer-facing privacy and data usage policies in concise, straightforward language. Organizations should also make sure they have a holistic view of their internal operations and ensure that data isn’t siloed in different departments, which could create a data security risk.

CMSWire: In your opinion, what’s the current state of digital marketing? What’s going well and where are improvements needed?

Khetan: Today, digital marketing is at an all-time high. Technologies and data are more plug-and-play than ever before, and launch times for new stacks are at their lowest. Measurement, analytics, modeling, and automation are seeing amazing improvements — allowing us to scale marketing efforts in ways that were never thought possible.

This emerging technology has also enabled marketers to do in-the-moment/real-time personalization across channels and devices for customers in all regions.

However, while these things are scaling so fast, the other side is becoming nebulous. Privacy, link tracking, cookies, and consent, as well as data responsibility in general, are all in need of improvement.

The speed of personalization at scale has been so fast, we didn’t stop to think about what we should and should not do with data collection, data sharing and ethical data practices.

Once businesses learn how to balance privacy and data collection, that’s when digital marketing as a whole will have arrived.

CMSWire: Which TV series would you recommend binge watching and why? Which TV or movie series have you tried to watch and failed? Do you see similarities between the loyalty TV showrunners try to build with viewers versus the engagement companies try to create with customers via digital experiences?

Khetan: I recommend binge watching “Breaking Bad” or “Stranger Things.” I’ve tried watching “Lost,” “Bosch” and “Monk,” and I failed to keep up with them.

Shows that are easy to watch and work out well tend to have a few things: They are usually relevant (topical or timeless); character-based (which makes them emotionally connected); and have a powerful story. These factors draw viewers in to care for the main characters and help them connect with something real — all while incorporating a great story line to keep them interested.

All this is very similar to a great user experience. Long-running TV showrunners usually have strong writers who are great storytellers and have a strong connection with their audience. They stay true to their audience, and make sure they remain authentic to their brand and relevant to their audience. That’s what it takes to make marketing successful too.

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