AiThority Interview with Rob Holland, CEO at Feedback Loop
Hi Rob, please tell us about your current role and how you arrived at Feedback Loop.
I joined Feedback Loop at the beginning of 2020 to lead the company through its next growth phase. There’s a significant opportunity in using technology to democratize research, and we’ve been able to increase the accessibility of consumer data by integrating traditional research guardrails into our technology and eliminating risks commonly associated with a DIY approach to consumer research. Our technology enables non-researchers, such as product and marketing teams, to integrate the consumer voice into the entire innovation cycle.
This is my third role as a growth stage executive. I previously served as the first Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Bluecore, and General Manager at Datalogix and Oracle Data Cloud.
Tell us about the various milestones you gathered in your career and how they help in your current role?
I started my career in finance and strategy in the CPG and retail industries, working with Clorox and Safeway. Working in the CPG world, I started to really understand how consumers think and behave. I then moved to Nielsen where I built data, technology and research products that helped to understand and quantify the impact of consumer behavior and how it can help businesses make decisions. In the past 10 years, I’ve jumped into the startup world. My past experiences have helped me in my current role to scale companies by identifying unmet needs in the market and commercializing new solutions so they can solve those problems, using data, technology and analytics. I’ve scaled companies in adtech and martech, and now am looking forward to working in restech with Feedback Loop.
Can you tell us a little more about Feedback Loop?
Feedback Loop is the agile research company that delivers rapid consumer insights so brands can learn faster and innovate smarter.
Our platform automates the process of gathering consumer feedback, transforming it into actionable insights, and applying those insights to current and future products in the market. As a result marketing and product teams can establish a continuous connection to consumers while developing and iterating on products, testing new concepts and perpetually optimizing their offerings.
We work with Fortune 500 companies like Farmers Insurance, Humana and Uber to bring the voice of the consumer into critical market decisions throughout the innovation lifestyle.
What is agile research?
Agile research is an approach to research that provides directional guidance early–and often– to lead decisions that might otherwise be driven by opinion, rather than data. Marketing, product and other business teams typically rely on research teams to provide data to guide their business decisions, but researchers’ need to ensure accuracy means that studies can take weeks to months.
Through agile research, these teams are able to generate consumer insights they can use to confidently make business decisions at a pace that is not attainable via traditional research methods. And this type of research gives researchers peace of mind knowing that product and marketing teams are getting reliable data, rather than using unvetted and ungoverned research that can lead to biased or otherwise problematic business decisions.
Why is consumer feedback so critical to business decisions – especially now?
Over the past year companies across industries experienced first-hand the effects of not understanding shifting consumer opinions, and how a lack of continuous consumer feedback can directly affect their ability to move at the speed of the consumer. In order to meet consumers’ changing behaviors and needs, companies need to incorporate their voice into key business decisions–and do so often. What consumers need now may change next week. Businesses need to make sure they’re always testing and iterating to make sure they’re consistently meeting consumers’ needs.
How is the pandemic era shaping up for the workplace collaboration landscape? What major changes do you expect to happen once companies move past the WFH technology, and make their way back into the office?
I expect it will take some time to play out, but I see companies moving into a hybrid mode where employees will work in the office or from home, based on the type of work they’re doing. For example, concentrated work can be done remotely efficiently and effectively, while time in the office can be focused more on collaboration, relationship building and training.
When you think of the workplace pre-pandemic, people would often try to find a quiet place away from their desk to get their more concentrated, independent work done. This was inefficient and didn’t provide for a great work experience.
If we can concentrate on having people do their deeper work from home, they’ll be more present when they’re doing it. And the same goes for collaboration — when people are around others in the office doing innovative work and brainstorming, they’ll be more present there. They’ll also build a deeper sense of community because it’s built on meaningful work.
This will take a few years to get right, but in the meantime we’ll likely see many different iterations of this hybrid model as companies work to get it right.
Tell us more about your remote workplace and the WFH technology your team has been using. How have they become a part of your company’s culture?
At Feedback Loop, we had many practices already in place that made the transition to working remotely full-time a bit easier. We’ve always had a flexible work from home policy, and we were very much integrated into video meetings like Zoom, for both internal and client meetings and Slack for virtual communications.
As we start to think about going back into the office we need to identify the right balance based on the type of work employees are doing. We’re thinking more about how we create curated situations for getting people physically together when that’s most effective, and working remotely when that’s most effective. We’re ready to start making that transition once it’s safe to do so and the majority of our employees are comfortable with it.
What was in our cultural DNA and how we worked pre-pandemic will enable us to create an effective way to work post-pandemic. And that will continue to change as technology and industry practices evolve.
Your predictions on the future of Marketing automation and Retail in the era of AI/ML?
We’re still in the early stages — but I believe we’ve taken a massive, irreversible step forward, especially as of recently. As consumers continue to gravitate towards ecommerce across all sectors, we’ll see an even greater demand to get the right product, in front of the right person, at the right time. The more data companies collect, the more they can apply machine learning and artificial intelligence to understand how that data is shifting. And when companies have a greater understanding of consumers’ behaviors and how they’re changing, they’re able to create more personalized experiences.
We’re going to see the whole market adapt to these changes in consumer behavior, which will force the business economics underlying retail. We’re already seeing it as retailers put more investment in technology and experiences–this will continue to evolve as retailers refine this at a rapid pace.
Name an emerging tech that you are keenly following and expect to become a major disruptor in the coming months.
We’re now digitizing nearly every aspect of humanity, and it’s fundamentally changing the way business is being done.
I’m really interested in seeing where healthcare goes, especially given the acceleration of health tech we’ve seen over the past year. As we learn more about healthcare and help people age better, we’ll see significant changes in consumer behavior, impacting every business. When we change the fundamentals of life, it changes everything. We’ve seen so much emerge from healthcare over the past few months, and I expect to see more continued advances in health tech in the coming months.
I’ve recently joined the Peloton community and am blown away how well they integrated technology and the physical experience.
What advice would you share with a young marketing professional?
First and foremost, understand your customer. Know what their needs are, what their wants are, what drives them to action and how your product/service solves those needs and wants. From there, make emotional and practical connections with your customer – the why behind their motivations.
Also realize that you’re in the fast line; the world is speeding up, not slowing down. You have to constantly stay connected to your customers, get constant feedback and do it at the pace you need to make decisions. You need to use data to drive your decisions.
Tag a person in the industry whose answers you would like to see.
Fayez Mohamood, CEO and Co-Founder of Bluecore, a great friend and a visionary in martech personalization.
Thank you, Rob! That was fun and we hope to see you back on AiThority.com soon.
Rob is the CEO at Feedback Loop. He’s an accomplished C-level entrepreneur and executive who has consistently delivered high-impact results at venture and private equity-backed start-ups and businesses throughout his career.
He has experience in global general management, as well as leadership roles at brand, retail, digital media, data & analytics, and technology & services companies such as Bluecore, Oracle, DataLogix, and The Nielsen Company.
Feedback Loop is the agile research platform for rapid consumer feedback. Fortune 500 companies like Farmers Insurance, Humana, Lending Tree, and Uber trust Feedback Loop to bring the voice of the consumer into critical market decisions. The company’s technology enables collaboration between product and research teams, so they can learn faster and innovate smarter. Feedback Loop is headquartered in New York City and backed by Crosslink Capital, Spider Capital, and Calibrate Ventures.