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Interview with Christopher Dean, CEO at Swrve

People often jump on the displacing humans narrative. In reality, throughout history, automation raises productivity and output.

Know My Company

Tell us about your journey into the mobile tech industry.

Our very first customers were mobile games—the pioneers of mobile marketing. If you recall, before smartphones games were CDs that you purchased for $60 in a store. Post-smartphones, games were free-to-play apps. In this world, only 0.19% of players were responsible for most mobile revenues. So these companies urgently needed solutions that could identify these individuals, and personally market to them. To this day, this remains the nucleus of Swrve.

How do you prepare for an AI-driven world as a business leader?

Artificial intelligence is a broad set of software capabilities that make your software smarter. A16Z summarized AI succinctly:

“We’re in the very early years of putting AI in all our software in the same way we put databases (can you think of a company whose products or services that aren’t enabled by databases) in all our software, and this trend will unfold over decades, not months or even years. AI is the new relational database, about to get into every important piece of software we write.”

There are three principal areas of investment:

  1. A data infrastructure to ingest user datasets across most customer touchpoints and in-house systems
  2. Build and train AI/ML models—of which there are many—make connections that translate data into insights.
  3. Ability to incorporate results into your marketing stack and campaigns

This is why it is so attractive to use cloud-based vendors to help execute on an AI/ML strategy.

Tell us the AI engine driving your Swrve 3.0. How does it put Mobile Marketing in an autopilot mode?

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology pervades the Swrve 3.0 platform. It enables marketers to predict individuals whose behavior shows a strong propensity to churn, as well as to optimize mobile experiences with A/B resource testing.

Churn is super-important. Reduce churn by 5% and profitability increases between 25%-95%.

Most of our enterprise customers have multi-touchpoints for the same customer. They can reach them via email, via SMS, via the app, the website, and in the immediate future over social messaging channels such as WhatsApp, line, FB messenger.

The Autopilot AI feature delivers messaging on the optimal channel for that customer, and at each customer’s optimal time of day, and on their optimal channel.

How is mobile automation platform different from industrial automation?

The key word is automation. Automation is the creation of technology to control the production and delivery of goods and services— tasks that were previously performed by humans. People often jump on the displacing humans narrative. In reality, throughout history, automation raises productivity and output.

What are the foundational tenets of your mobile automation platform? How does it work for marketing teams led by humans?

What used to be predictable lengthy sessions of consumer behavior on a computer have been superseded by multiple short bursts of mobile activity throughout the day. There are hundreds of these moments every day. These I want-to-know, I want-to-check, I want-to-search, and I want-to-buy micro-moments are game changers for both consumers and brands. In these moments, consumers’ intent and need is highest.

When these connections exist you can micro-target—precise audiences based on shared observed behavior—

Swrve lets marketers unlock this real-time flow of actionable customer data across touchpoints to deliver a truly personalized consumer journey and win more moments of engagement that matter for your brand with your customers.

What is the state of ‘AI in Mobile Automation” in 2018-2020? How can companies better benefit from leveraging Swrve?

We are focused on two areas where AI/ML is uniquely positioned to help—Relevance and Reach. 84% of consumers say the communications sent to them from businesses are irrelevant. 52% percent say they switch brands because of this.

AI/ML–operating in real-time– marketers can understand behaviors at scale—what people do, when, where and across mobile, web, apps, TV channels— and make connections that translate data into insights.

Second—the reach challenge— we can deploy AI/ML to trigger an interaction at the optimal time, and optimal channel on a customer-by-customer basis.

Our core goal is to make this super intuitive and easy for the marketer. Effectively just tee up campaigns and turn on autopilot.

In a video-focused industry, what’s next for cross-channel marketing platforms?

Assuming this is media-streaming…

I believe that Netflix viewing patterns vividly paints why media streaming industry is the first native omnichannel industry.  The company recently disclosed that it often signs up viewers on non-TV devices. Forty percent of new signups come from a PC. Phones account for another 30 percent.

But over time, viewing patterns change. Six months into a subscription, 70 percent of viewers have moved from their smaller screens to the biggest one in their house. Netflix isn’t an outlier. YouTube said that its live TV service, which it had pitched as a mobile-first offering, was generating more than half of its streams on TVs.

This is why here at Swrve we invested last year in bringing our capabilities to any TV streaming device be that Apple TV, Android TV, Roku or Samsung and LG.

Tell us about your AI research programs and the most outstanding digital campaign at Swrve?

Swrve clients entrust Autopilot optimal time delivery to handle 70% of all scheduled messages. That’s literally billions of people and billions of messages. Each message is individually tuned to each person. The scale of it is mind melting. Using this AI feature, most clients achieve double or triple response rates compared to “broadcast” approaches

The Crystal Gaze

What AI and machine learning start-ups and labs are you keenly following?

To go back to the broader point, AI will get written into all our software, just as relational databases go written into every app and service.

Which technologies within AI and computing are you interested in?

Propensity Scoring and Reinforcement Learning

As a tech leader, what industries you think would be fastest to adopting AI/ML with smooth efficiency? What are the new emerging markets for AI technology markets?

The one requirement is this—AI/ML require large continuous streams of user data to train models. So AI/ML is applicable in verticals such as consumer finance, gaming, gambling, media. Also within verticals,  there are differences that matter. For example in telecommunications.

A pre-pay customer will typically interact with the carrier over 200 times in a year. A contract customer, under ten. The pre-pay customer is ideal for modeling. The contract customer less so.

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

Create a filter for all incoming email. Any mail with the word ‘unsubscribe’ is sent to a dedicated folder. It removes 95% of spam.

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

Christopher Dean is the CEO of Swrve, Inc. Swrve is a leading mobile marketing automation platform for apps. He has over 20 years of experience in the technology industry and brings experience in strategy consulting and corporate and business development. Before joining Swrve in 2014, he has served as chief revenue officer at Urban Airship, chief strategy officer and other executive positions at Skype and leadership positions at several other companies, including
Actiance, Epoch Partners, smartage.com, and Regis McKenna. He earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Vassar College and his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Swrve Logo

The company provides SaaS-based, real-time marketing automation software to increase customer engagement through dynamic campaigns across mobile, email, web, TV and emerging digital channels.

Digital marketing and product teams use the Swrve platform’s real-time behavioral analysis and machine learning engines to micro-target messages to millions of segments of one at scale while triggering those interactions in microments that matter. Swrve collects customer behavior and attributes from its own SDKs and through flexible integration to virtually any external system or data service.

With the Swrve platform and expert marketing and technical services, brands win more moments of engagement so they can onboard, retain, convert and monetize for lower customer acquisition cost (CAC) and higher customer lifetime value (CLV).

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