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AiThority Interview with Igor Volzhanin, CEO at DataSine

AiThority Interview with Igor Volzhanin, CEO at DataSine

Know My Company

Tell us about your role and journey into Technology. What inspired you to start at DataSine?

I founded DataSine in 2015, after moving to London to do a Ph.D. in Psychology and Computer Science at the University of London. Prior to that, I spent five years working in International Development, and have lived in New York, Frankfurt, Tirana, and New Delhi.

I am quite passionate about constant innovation and bringing my research to life, so forming DataSine was an organic evolution of this. In fact, I was inspired to found DataSine during the early stage of my Ph.D. As a part of the research process, I uncovered an unmet need in the market, large enterprises, namely banks, have so much data and yet they rarely make use of it. With all of that precious information in hand, they were still yet to tailor any communications or interactions with me as a consumer.

I decided that blending Machine Learning and Psychology could be the answer. And, after several successful collaborations with banks and insurance providers, I realized that this was not only a viable business but a potentially game-changing concept, that could be rolled out to help any company build meaningful relationships with customers at scale.

What is DataSine and how does it fit into a modern Marketing Technology stack?

DataSine is an AI-powered marketing technology company, bringing together psychology and Data Science to help marketers pick the right content for their audience.

Our first product, Connect (previously called Pomegranate), is an automated content personalization platform that combines Psychology and AI to help marketers connect the dots between each customer and their preferred content. Connect uses data-driven, interpretable and actionable insights to identify the most impactful marketing content, both visual and written for your specific customer base. This means that marketers can tailor the digital experience at scale while maximizing acquisition, engagement, and conversion.

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Which Markets and Industry groups are you currently selling to?

We work with large enterprises across multiple industries globally from finance and telecoms to retail and automotive, DataSine helps companies connect with their customers on a personal level. Over the years, we have worked with many leading financial organizations, including BNP Paribas, Hello Bank!, and Tinkoff Bank. We also have experience working with E-commerce businesses, such as The Kairos Collective, which increased its CTR of a newsletter campaign by 36% using the platform.

Which businesses are fastest to the adoption of AI for Retail and B2B marketing technology?

From our own customer base, we’ve seen most use coming from marketing agencies and e-commerce platforms. It seems those businesses that rely heavily on differentiation, or optimization, are also embracing AI the fastest.

That being said, all businesses should be looking at AI to drive efficiencies and cater to growing audiences. Current AI technology can boost business productivity by up to 40%, according to Accenture. AI for personalization specifically has a solid track record in doing just that; Netflix saves up to $1billion every year by using Machine Learning to make personalized recommendations.

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How does it impact digital campaigns across channels for e-commerce businesses?

DataSine’s Connect helps brands tailor their content to individuals, so they can better resonate with different audiences, segments, and individual customers. Its predictive AI works with first-party historic customer engagement data from each brand, enabling marketers to gain instant, scientific, and data-driven content insights.

This helps them pick the best possible assets and tailor content for every marketing campaign – from text and images for landing pages, to email campaigns and call center scripts. For instance, we found that changing a single adjective within the subject line of an email could improve open rates by more than 10%.

Tell us how you stay relevant to personalization trends. How do you see new AI ML and Automation tools impacting e-commerce businesses in the coming months?

When dealing with innovative technologies, you need to constantly evolve in order to predict the needs of customers and stay ahead of the competition.

In my experience, the best way to overcome this is by hiring great people who have the skills and the passion to stay ahead of the curve. Our team is a true testament to that we come from a range of backgrounds, from software development, Quantum Computing, and experience in founding and growing start-ups to offer different levels of expertise and viewpoints.

I think we are going to see software become ‘smarter’, in a sense that it will begin to provide intelligence suggestions to businesses on how processes can be optimized. For example, we’ve already reached the point where use journeys can be orchestrated down to the smallest detail, with AI we are going to start seeing user journey optimization where AI will start providing recommendations and suggestions for the marketer to accept, or decline.

On the creative side of things, we are going to start seeing AI provide recommendations to change certain text or image composition to make it more appealing to different audiences, thereby allowing content creators to create more interesting and nuanced content.

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Tell us more about your data-driven solutions. How can CMOs optimize their digital marketing and advertising budget using your products, services, and solutions?

DataSine offers a fully integrable platform for processing large datasets and understanding the personal preferences of every customer. We provide a visual, and easy to interpret analysis to make those insights actionable, for personalizing content such as emails, landing pages and call center scripts.

DataSine’s main product is Connect (previously Pomegranate), which helps brands better understand their customers and identify images that will maximize engagement and conversion.  DataSine’s business model is based on two core offerings: a bespoke Enterprise plan (targeting companies working with millions of clients) and a Pro offering, launching in Q3 2019 (targeting SMEs working with leading CRM systems, email providers, PPC platforms and tools working with other types of digital content).

The free version of Connect provides visual analysis of marketing assets for high-performance campaigns, with the first customers benefiting from a complimentary consulting service, courtesy of DataSine’s psychology and data science team. Connect’s premium offering enables users to upload unlimited images and content, gaining insight from DataSine’s bespoke Machine Learning algorithms in order to craft personalized campaigns and assess performance for their own audiences.

Using Connect, DataSine’s customers have experienced 80% increase in engagement; 59% increase in conversion; 71% increase in sales.

How can businesses maximize their ROI from investing in your platform for digital personalization?

Businesses are struggling to understand the human behind the volume of data they hold on customers and leverage it to offer a meaningful exchange. DataSine is equipping marketers with AI and psychology-based interpretable and actionable insights, to help brands connect the dots and better understand their customers – ultimately building more successful marketing campaigns.

DataSine’s Connect marketing platform helps brands tailor content to resonate with their audience, from the segment level down to the individual customer. By applying Machine Learning to historic, first-party engagement data, marketers can understand the content preferences of their customer base and receive actual content recommendations (text and images) to enhance their next campaign. In terms of driving tangible ROI, our customers’ results speak for themselves – one of Europe’s leading digital banks was able to increase landing page engagement by 7%; increase email conversion rate by 10%; boost campaign participation rate by 80%. Curated design marketplace The Kairos Collective was able to improve its campaign click-through rate by 36% after just three days. International banking group BNP Paribas was able to increase its sales of insurance products by 71% through the personalization of call center scripts.

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Tell us about your technology integrations with other Technology platforms such as Website Analytics, Video, Contacts, Contracts, Email and Customer Service.

At the moment, Connect integrates with HubSpot and MailChimp, and the company is looking to launch further integrations throughout the year, in line with evolving customer demand.

Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use?

Naturally, we use our own product quite a bit to optimize our marketing campaigns. We have also been using Hubspot quite active over the past two years, which is one of the reasons that was one of the first integrations we built.

What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in AI and Machine Learning technology for 2019-2020?

AI won’t replace jobs, quite the opposite. According to Gartner, AI will eliminate 1.8 million jobs but create 2.3 million more by 2020.

For marketers, it will help them augment their skills, as they will be equipped to interpret and digest data, at scale. The implementation of AI can remove the necessity for humans to spend time performing simple and administrative tasks, enabling them to focus their attention elsewhere. By analyzing the success and challenges of all previous marketing campaigns, marketers can drive and guide the creative process. For instance, our platform helps marketers become more creative by spending less time testing ‘in the dark’ the best images and text for their acquisition and retention campaigns and instead learn from the previous campaigns.

Rather than guessing what’s appealing to their customers, marketers and creatives are provided with much more clear options to tailor their messaging and content, while avoiding digital fatigue with end-users.

What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?

I am really enjoying the rise of fintech in the UK. I think banking will change completely in the next 5 years and that’s very exciting to me.

I am also enjoying the progress of Open AI. They are doing some really look things with language generation, which I am sure will have a transformative impact on many industries in the future.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Business Leader?

I firmly believe that AI has the power to dramatically change the way most institutions operate. In the short term, I think most people would agree with me when I say that AI will revolutionize the way people interact with technology. In Financial Services specifically, I predict a striking change in the way banks communicate with their customers and vice versa.

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How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

I am not sure that people today need to be inspired to work with technology. It is all around us, and for the most part, everyone is very comfortable with using it. At DataSine, it’s not essential to be a Machine Learning or behavioral expert; a simple willingness to learn is the most important aspect. The combined Computer Science and psychology expertise of the senior team, coupled with the fact that it is a great environment for self-starters, keeps people motivated and keen to learn more.

One word that best describes how you work.

Collaboratively. (alternative: loudly)

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

I am a very simple person when it comes to software. I use the basic Mail and Calendar apps for Mac, Slack, and Zoom. I don’t think I could live without email, but everything else is just a nice to have.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

Years ago I found myself failing to keep track of meetings, tasks, and life in general, so I decided to simplify the workflow as much as possible and to create a single source of ‘truth’, where at any one point I can find everything that I need to do. That’s how email became my sole source of knowledge. I ask everyone to email me if they want me to actually do something and I flag every incoming email until it has actioned in some way. This allows me to always know what needs to be done and in what priority.

What are you currently reading? What do you read, and how do you consume information?

I just finished reading ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’, which I found to be a wonderful read. I am now back to reading ‘How nature works’ by Per Bak, which is about self-organized criticality, which is a theory that explains the formation of fractals in nature. It’s a bit of a slog, but super interesting.

Generally speaking, I read a very wide variety of books, as long as they are well-written. I truly believe writing is an art form and those who are able to use it to effectively convey ideas and emotions deserve to be read and admired.

I use my iPad mini for all of the reading, as I am frequently on the go and lugging around books is simply not practical. I always gift printed books, though.

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What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

It wasn’t so much of advice like a mantra to live by,  listen to your heart and always check the intentions behind your actions; know exactly why you are doing the things are you doing in your life.

I also believe it’s very important in life to find something you truly enjoy; most people end up doing something they don’t like, in the hope they might learn to enjoy it. We risk missing out on so much in life by just doing the things we are presented with, and by not taking chances. By letting our fear of the unknown control us, we often never find things that truly make us happy and it is so important to take seemingly big risks; otherwise, we run the biggest risk of all of having never truly lived.

Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

I stick around. If there was ever a prize for perseverance I’d probably get it. No matter what happened the day before, I always get up the next morning and show up to try again. Some days, I am lucky enough that something good happens.

Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

For better or worse, there aren’t a lot of people I know in the industry. And those that I do know, I believe would share my views as well.

Would you like us to recommend you as a Speaker to conferences relevant to your technology?

Sure. I am always up for talking about things I am passionate about and if anything that I do, or say is helpful to others that truly make my journey worthwhile.

Thank you, Igor! That was fun and hope to see you back on AiThority soon.

Igor is the CEO of DataSine, having founded the company in 2015. He moved to London to do a PhD in Psychology and Computer Science at the University of London. Prior to that he spent 5 years working in international development and lived in New York, Frankfurt, Tirana and New Delhi. A relentless innovator, he is passionate about bringing his research to life and helping companies build meaningful relationships with their customers.

DataSine uses machine learning and psychology to personalise customer experience at scale. Our fully integratable platform allows marketing, product and data teams to build advanced personality profiles for each of their customers and then automatically make generic content more appealing to individual personalities. Through DataSine, organizations benefit from increased customer engagement, loyalty, and retention; in turn, their customers feel more valued and enjoy an improved user experience. Founded in 2015, DataSine has gone on to work with leading global organizations – including BNP Paribas, SIBS, Hello bank! Belgium and Tinkoff Bank – and received numerous accolades, winning the BNP Paribas International Hackathon and being accepted into the prestigious Techstars accelerator programme.

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