Tom Wilde has been chief product officer (CPO) at Boston-based Cxense for less than two months. But he's already enthusiastically embracing his role, which he describes as much as an art as a science — and creating a vision for his customers.
“The role of CPO is all about understanding product needs that will move our company and our customers forward. As we approach 2017, it's critical that we lay out our view of the future and how we continue to create return on investment for our customers in what is an incredibly competitive and rapidly evolving market," he said when he assumed the new role in September.
Product management is about balancing numerous incoming signals from the market (like competitive intelligence, as well as customer requests and feedback) with core technology advantages to create a picture of the future customers are excited to see unfold, he explained.
Succeeding in a Digital World
"The fundamental job of a CPO is to collect and synthesize feedback and information from the market and translate that into a product vision and sets of requirements that a research and development (R&D) team can successfully execute on. It also means translating what R&D has developed in terms of innovation and applying that to the set of market opportunities we have identified to build a competitive position," he told CMSWire.
While he's new to the role of CPO, Wilde is no stranger to the Cxense family. He was previously general manager for Cxense North America, a role he assumed after Cxense acquired Ramp Media, where he served as CEO and founder.
Cxense "helps businesses succeed in a digital world." Using audience data and advanced real-time analytics, the company creates content recommendations, targeted advertising and predictive search to help increase digital revenue for publishers while improving the user experience.
Advanced Personalization Strategies
It's all about personalization, he said — a strategy to boost acquisition, retention and brand advocacy.
"Cxense has created a remarkable set of technology that builds real-time user profiles and real time content profiles, and then analyzes the intersection of that data to make decisions on what to show the end user," Wilde said.
"Our customers can tailor these decisions with a set of 'recipes' to favor trending content, contextual recommendations or personalization. We also have a unique set of capabilities around video content that enables us to analyze the contents of a video and then apply the same set of algorithms to generate a personalized video content experience."
Next week, at CMSWire's DX Summit at the Radisson Blu Aqua in Chicago, Wilde will share his insights on the challenges and opportunities of customer optimization, including the effective use of customer insights for true personalization.
We talked to him in advance about his background, his visions for digital customer experience and what songs you're likely to find on his playlist.
Smarter Experiences, Better Business Models
Seebacher: Tell me a little about your career history.
Wilde: I have been in the information technology space my entire career, and have focused a lot on what’s next. Starting back in the '90s I launched a company focused on enhanced fax services, which became online services with the arrival of the first browser. I have been intrigued by how content and audience data can be used to create a better experience, and have worked closely in the search, mobile and video markets for the last 25 years.
Seebacher: How do you define digital transformation?
Wilde: To me, digital transformation is about adapting your business to several fundamental shifts in end user behaviors that include the dominance of mobile and social ecosystems, and the need to create customer data assets to deliver a smarter experience and better business model.
Seebacher: How close are we to the holy grail of exceptional digital customer experience?
Wilde: The promise of personalization has been around for a long time, but not until recently has it become possible to do this profitably and at scale.
With the ability to create and apply customer data assets, it's possible now to marry the content, advertising and marketing offers into a personalized journey that is relevant to each individual user rather than just large blocks of user demographics.
The challenges that remain include how to understand the individual user, when most now consume content across many devices and form factors. This creates a huge data stream that has to be effectively analyzed and applied to the digital experience.
Seebacher: What's the most important thing you want people to understand about digital experience?
Wilde: The digital experience begins by creating and maintaining a customer data asset that provides the “intelligence” to drive the digital experience across content, marketing and advertising.
Most customers we work with have the data they need to deliver a great customer experience, they just struggle with how to fuse the data together and apply it.
Seebacher: If you weren't doing your present job, what would you like to be doing?
Wilde: I think I would be an architect. The favorite part of my job is designing our own customer experience.
Working with our product managers and designers to make our products and technology intuitive and even fun to use gives me a lot of satisfaction. Designing great software interfaces has a great blend of art and science.
Seebacher: What six songs are on your fantasy playlist?
Wilde: A lot of Eric Church, some Guns and Roses, and some Boston flavor with Aerosmith, Dropkick Murphys and of course Boston!