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Exclusive - Jamie Beckland of Janrain Talks Analytics and Donut Fried Chicken Sandwiches

Jamie Beckland is a technology and web entrepreneur, built his first social media community in 2004, and has worked with a wide range of organizations from pre-revenue startups to some of the largest, most recognized brands helping them grow and transform their digital business. He is the VP, Marketing and Product with Janrain Inc., a customer analytics SaaS organization that empowers their clients to build a unified view of their customers across all digital platforms and create personalized, one-to-one engagement.

icrunchdata News speaks with data analytics leaders in our space to learn about their career in data, where they see their industry headed and chat about their interests outside of the office. We recently sat down with Jamie to discuss his top 3 daily priorities, where he sees customer acquisition and retention analytics headed and his passion for travel.

Jamie, thanks for talking to us today. Here we go…

You’ve spent that last four years at Janrain Inc., a software-as-a-service company that enables clients to acquire and retain customers across all devices. What has been the biggest shift in the organization since you joined in April 2011?

Honestly, the biggest shift is watching a huge market mature. In 2012, we really started to see marketers and technologists talk about the entire customer experience in a new way. Mobile was the big driver – all of a sudden, digital was as fragmented as traditional marketing! Janrain’s registration solution had been built to work across all channels and devices, so watching the huge wave of mobile come crashing in was a lot of fun. These were the days of debating whether to create HTML5 experiences or native apps – even Facebook got that one wrong! So, seeing the organization really drive these new mobile experiences was incredibly exciting.

You are currently the VP of Marketing and Product. What are your top three priorities that you focus on each day?

  1. Understanding the Customer: I see a lot of marketing technologies that are useful at the margin, but do not materially improve the lives of technology teams and the marketers they support. So, I wake up every morning thinking about the problems that our customers face. The pressure on these businesses to show impact is massive, and there is so much upside still in marketing efficiency. But, every customer has their own set of priorities and unique challenges, and understanding this nuance is my first job.
  2. Janrain’s marketing funnel: My job takes me down the rabbit hole – I’m a marketer, and I market software to other marketers to improve their own marketing. So, I spend a lot of time working on continuous incremental improvement in our own marketing processes, putting into practice the tools and concepts that we build our own products to deliver. Some days, that’s looking for single-digit percentage improvements on one particular landing page. Other days, it’s tearing down a whole process, and re-building it from scratch.
  3. Mapping a path to the vision: Customer identity will fundamentally re-make every marketing experience. But, there is not a straight line to get from mass marketing to personalized marketing. So, I spend time each day calibrating how our current priorities work together to realize our vision of one-to-one marketing.

Where do you see customer acquisition and retention analytics headed for web companies in the next two years?

We have been hearing about data lakes for about a year – large pools of data from multiple sources. Many teams have been focused on putting the infrastructure in place to collect customer data. The next two years will see more and more organizations using data to drive decision-making and marketing actions. That will come in many forms – from real-time ‘decisioning’ engines, to better reporting for humans to decide campaign directions. But, 2016 and 2017 will be where mainstream marketers really begin to experience the promise of all this data collection.

You have been in data, analytics and the web for your entire career. If you were forced to take a completely different career move outside of technology, what would you choose to do?

If I did something totally different, I would probably be a housing inspector. I think it’s fascinating to see how all of the separate systems of the home – HVAC, plumbing, framing, exterior, design, and construction – all come together to create a unique, safe, inviting ecosystem. Today’s marketing is similar, as we all look to create integrated experiences.

You earned your BA in International Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point before getting your Masters in International Commerce and Policy at George Mason University. Stevens Point is located right in the middle of Wisconsin so describe what it was like walking across campus in the middle of January.

Have you ever had your nose hairs freeze, just from breathing? That’s a Wisconsin winter. There was a raffle every year where you could bet on which spring day the first car would fall through the melting lake ice. The English language does not have a wide enough vocabulary to describe this level of cold!

I’ve heard a lot of great things about Portland but I’ve never been there. Let’s say that I have just landed at the Portland International Airport and have an eight hour layover. It is noon on a Saturday and it’s a perfect summer day. What do I do to check out Portland for the next eight hours, where do I eat and where should I grab a drink?

My neighborhood is Hawthorne, and I would recommend heading over there to see the street life of the modern hipster (including potential sightings of the fire breathing, bagpiping, unicycling Darth Vader). There’s a Blue Star Donuts in the neighborhood, which I like even better than Voodoo Donuts – get their donut fried chicken sandwich. Then, head to Portland Cider House, where they have more than 30 ciders on tap. No one drinks beer anymore, handcrafted ciders are all the rage. Sonoma’s Anvil is bourbon-casked, and there is a lot of complexity to it – highly recommended.

You are an avid traveler. What is the most adventurous trip that you have been on so far?

I once was held hostage in Tangier, Morocco. That one probably takes the cake.

What are your must-haves in your carry on when getting on a 10+ hour flight?

The only true must-have is a fully charged iPhone.

If you had to live one year outside of the US, what country would you choose to live in?

I’ve lived in South Korea, Spain, Poland and Honduras, so if I weren’t going back to one of those places, I would probably settle in Cambodia. They have strong infrastructure for Internet connectivity, so I could still work and stay connected. And, they have hundreds of thousands of acres of jungle ruins that have still not even been explored. Plus, desolate white sand beaches and easy access to world city centers – what’s not to love?!

Wow, we've covered data lakes, fire breathing Darth Vader, being held hostage in Morocco and living in Cambodia. Jaime, I think we will end it there. Thank you very much for talking to us today.

Article published by Todd Nevins
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