Artesian CEO on AI and RegTech / RiskTech

The Artesian Opportunity View ties together Salesforce Opportunity data by stage with Artesian Sales Triggers, helping surface key opportunity insights in context.
The Artesian Opportunity View ties together Salesforce Opportunity data by stage with Artesian Sales Triggers, helping surface key opportunity insights in context.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Artesian Solutions CEO Andrew Yates and discuss topics including artificial intelligence and risk tools they are integrating into their social selling service.  This is the second in a series of interview excerpts I am publishing this week.  On Monday, Andrew discussed Artesian’s 2016 entry to the US market.


Michael: You have recently begun to introduce AI capabilities into your platform.

Andrew: What we’ve done in our first incarnation of bot-driven AI is we’ve created something that we call an “insight agent” that, through an API into Salesforce, can build you a view of threats and opportunities within your pipeline. Which, in itself, is pretty damn useful; much more useful than a forecast report or a dashboard which is the way you see it in Salesforce today. Then we’ll lay out all of those deals by stage and value and overlay today’s new social and demographic context on top.  That’s pretty useful.

With the latest release, we’ve created a bot which literally reads and interprets the news in relation to the stage of the sales process that you’re at. And, where it sees a particular trigger that has meaning in relationship to a particular stage, it flags that. Most organizations have implemented the concepts of sale stages when they’ve implemented CRM.

Typically, when I ask somebody, “how many stages do you have?” They’ll say, “between five and seven.” The system automatically builds you a view depending on how you’re implementing Salesforce, however many stages you’ve implemented and what you call them. Then what the bot does, is it crawls all over the news looking for things that could impact those opportunities at the stage they are at.

Let’s say, I’ve got a six-stage process where stage six is closed and stage five is a negotiation.  Artesian’s insight agent finds out about a CIO who has left the business. The insight agent will notify the user that there’s a potential problem with the deal in their pipeline. The agent will tell them why there is a problem and how it’s been categorized.  There’s half a dozen next-best actions that we bundle up with the insight as we deliver it. That’s our first attempt at taking the concept of machine-based learning and natural language processing, combining it with an AI bot, and trying to make that useful for customers.

We’ve introduced the ability for the user to customize their own topics, keywords, and trigger events. We offer a bunch out of the box, and we also wrap a managed service around it and easy implementation to every customer.

We’re also seeing a lot of activity in the “RegTech/RiskTech” arena with the growth of cybercrime and terrorism, and the sensitivity around regulation of any financial, FCA [UK Financial Control Authority] regulated [business]. There are regulations that organizations need to comply with. We’re increasingly being asked by our financial services customers, particularly the banks, to get deeper into being able to provide those capabilities inside of Artesian.

Organizations want to mitigate risks. They want to fall within the arena of whatever the regulation is and comply with the law, but they also want to exploit the technology as best they can to make sure they write the best business that they can. We’re doing some work at the moment in conjunction with one of our demographic data suppliers. What we’re looking to do is extend the capabilities in Artesian to provide some of the capabilities that our customers are asking for in the RegTech / RiskTech environment. We’re going to introduce risk agents. Risk agents look at the real-time present and it looks at the past. It specifically looks at things that are in-line with the regulations and also in-line with the stated risks that the customer has mapped out.

What that translates into is a service that is not only compelling in terms of customer acquisition, customer retention, and yield, but also compelling from a kind of, you don’t go to jail if you’re using Artesian because it’s doing the regulation and risk job for you as well.

Michael: When you say risk app, are you talking more about supplier risk, compliance risk, credit, reputational?

Andrew: There are 40 or 50 pretty big companies doing this thing already. What we’re talking about is company-centric intelligence, but also the people associated with that company and the intelligence that we’ll need to derive around whether something is risky or not. It could be the performance of a business. It could be some adverse news in relation to that performance. Or it could be that an individual who has a beneficial ownership, more than a 5% stake in a business, happens to be on a naughty list in terms of the PEP [Politically Exposed Persons] or sanctions.

At the moment, we have risk triggers in the opportunity view. They’re not compliance risk triggers. If you’re going to a client, they need to know about key beneficial ownership.

Michael: Is that part of the opportunity view or is that a new type of view?

Andrew: A new type of view.  We have risk triggers in the opportunity view, but they’re not compliance risk triggers.  If you go into a bank, they need to know about beneficial ownership, adverse news going back three years, PEP, sanctions, real-time alerts from stock exchanges.  None of that is feasible within a generic instance of Salesforce.com in an opportunity view.

Michael: It sounds you’re looking to move beyond the sales and marketing teams to start to get to into things like onboarding, KYC [Know Your Customer], AML [Anti-money Laundering], PEP, and other compliance aspects that really go into monitoring of clients as well as the initial onboarding.

Andrew: Yes, if you go back to the whole customer curious mantra and deep relationship management, we like to say that we put the R back into CRM.  We are all about that relationship.

The conversations we are having with our large customers would indicate we are on the right track with that.


The interview will be continuing over the next few days with discussions of what it means to be a “customer curious” business and how Artesian maintains a very high engagement rate amongst its users.  Monday’s blog discussed Artesian’s 2016 entry into the US market.

Artesian CEO on US Market Entry

Artesian Solutions provides deep trigger functionality combined with word cloud and filtering, helping sales reps hone in on talking points.
Artesian Solutions provides deep trigger functionality combined with word cloud and filtering, helping sales reps hone in on talking points.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Artesian Solutions CEO Andrew Yates and discuss topics including their 2016 entry into the US market.  Artesian provides a social selling solution for the UK, US, and Canada.  Their sales intelligence is delivered via a web browser, Salesforce.com, and their Ready mobile app.


Michael: You launched in the US exactly a year ago, officially. How’s your product buildup going?

Andrew: It’s going pretty well. I have to say, most of the progress has been in the last three to six months, because it took us a couple of releases to really get the US edition right. We learned quickly that there were some nuances in terms of the way sales teams work together in the US. The US sales focus is a very contact-centric mechanism. We realized pretty quickly because contact data is so sparse and difficult to get a hold of. We doubled down on our efforts to implement. We’ve got three contact data intelligence aggregation partnerships.  We got those into the product pretty quickly which dramatically enhanced not only access to the contact intelligence but also the social profiling capabilities.

Then in the third release, we were able to start to bring in some refinements. In the States, news gets syndicated a lot more than it does in the UK, in Europe. The same story you can get syndicated and copied many, many times. We were getting an unacceptable level of duplication, and, even if the stories were similar, we hadn’t trained the algorithm to discard similar stories. Only stories that were the same.

We rewrote the algorithm and we created the ability to group stories which are similar together. What we do now is we publish one and then underneath it there’s a little icon that says similar stories. Again, these are things you don’t learn until you deploy the software for real [in the US], and customers start beating it up and giving you their feedback.

Michael: Can you provide any growth stats for the US?

Andrew: We’re not publishing the numbers at that kind of level, but in percentage terms it’s huge because we started from virtually nothing. It’s growing steadily. The majority of the growth is still coming in the UK. I don’t think we’re backward in coming forward in terms of explaining that we’re a UK-centric organization with relationships in the US and capabilities in the US. In the last eight weeks. we’ve had a number of pretty decent large corporate opportunities land and I don’t know if that’s as a consequence of one of our competitors unraveling.

Michael: How else do the US and UK markets differ?

Andrew: A big learning for us was how much customers didn’t want to meet face-to-face. We weren’t ready for that. We need to go visit these customers, and we would be flying all over the place.  I think it was four months in and somebody sat me down and said, “You know you’ve got to stop this flying around stuff.” Nobody expects that. People just expect to do things on the phone. From a kind of scaling standpoint, we’re doing a bit of scaling locally, but we’re also doing a bit of scaling remotely because to the customer, as long as the time zones are aligned, it doesn’t matter where you are.

The kind of sales pursuits we’re getting more involved in are the ones that are better suited to our sweet spot. We’ll walk away from opportunities that we think are better suited to others. We might even recommend others.


The interview will be continuing over the next few days with discussions of artificial intelligence, what it means to be a “customer curious” business, and how Artesian maintains a very high engagement rate amongst its users.

Ignite Technologies Acquires FirstRain

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FirstRain Coverage of Lattice Engines includes web volume, business influencers, market drivers, Twitter trends, recent stories, related topics, and subject filtering.

Ignite Technologies will be acquiring news analytics vendor FirstRain as part of a pre-negotiated, Chapter 11 corporate reorganization.  The acquisition is expected to close by the end of July subject to court approval.  The acquisition is being funded by Ignite’s parent company, ESW Capital.

FirstRain provides a set of company-specific insights and analytics derived from news, press releases, filings, Twitter, and other open web content sets.  FirstRain applies a high-precision taxonomy to the “business web” which spans companies, industries, geographies, and business topics.  For the past few years, FirstRain has been the source of company and industry news for Dun & Bradstreet (Hoovers Classic, First Research, D&B Direct, and D&B 360), Mergent, and other OEM partners.  FirstRain also provides integrated solutions on Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and Microsoft SharePoint.

FirstRain Who to Call Panel.
The FirstRain Who to Call Panel provides insights on which accounts have Deal Threats and Accelerators, Reasons to Check In, or New Information.

“FirstRain’s leading-edge, analytics technology providing actionable insights for its clients’ sales and marketing teams strengthens Ignite’s portfolio of sales and marketing solutions,” said Ignite’s CEO Davin Cushman. “Additionally, with the close of the FirstRain acquisition, Ignite will be materially expanding our foundation of sales and marketing solutions that Chief Marketing and Chief Revenue Officers can depend on to drive their business.”

Once the acquisition closes, FirstRain will be part of the Ignite Prime product offering which provides access to enterprise software by simply paying a maintenance fee on at least one Ignite standard solution.

“Ignite has a proven track record of buying, strengthening and growing the companies it acquires, and FirstRain is excited about the potential for our world-class teams to carry the FirstRain solutions and customers forward,” said YY Lee, Chief Executive Officer of FirstRain. “Through this acquisition, Ignite’s foundation of success and innovative programs, including their unique Ignite Prime program, extends the value proposition even further for FirstRain customers, now and into the future.”

DataFox Growth and Enhancements

DataFox grew its year-over-year annual recurring revenue by 150% and trebled its presence at Fortune 500 companies.  According to the firm, “Its exceptional growth has sparked a major hiring initiative as well as plans to secure a larger San Francisco headquarters office to accommodate a growing team of engineers and data scientists.”

The DataFox CRM Orchestration service  provides company profiles and insights for two million companies.  The firm collects 100,000 signals each week across seventy signal categories.  DataFox supports both an initial batch enrichment and ongoing data refreshes.

DataFox Signals
DataFox Signals

A unique feature is their coverage of conferences which helps marketing departments identify which conferences to attend and assemble conference based prospecting lists.  The service also captures major lists such as the Inc 5000 and Fast 500 along with niche lists.

“This is an incredible acceleration point. Customers are seeing the immediate benefits of investing in our solutions that automate grunt work and help guide better, faster decision-making,” said DataFox CEO Bastiaan Janmaat. “DataFox has been able to improve the way people approach their jobs in sales, marketing, and other growth functions by helping them find, orchestrate, and leverage CRM data so they can focus on what matters most – building relationships and growing their business.”

Along with Salesforce, DataFox provides integrations with Marketo, Google Chrome, and Slack.

DiscoverOrg Startup & SMB Dataset

"Building a Winning Dataset" from DiscoverOrg Collateral.
“Building a Winning Dataset” from DiscoverOrg Collateral.

Sales and Marketing intelligence vendor DiscoverOrg announced their latest database earlier today.  The new Startup and SMB dataset covers more than 60,000 small and mid-size businesses and 400,000 executives.  The initial North American coverage profiles companies with between 50 and 1,000 employees.

All of the contacts are editorially verified and will be maintained via the same sixty-day review cycles as their other contacts.  Executives cover “all key departments, including IT, Engineering, Marketing, Sales, Finance, HR, and Operations.”

“DiscoverOrg’s data difference is its team of 250+ researchers who constantly augment and verify the data in our platform,” notes Henry Schuck, DiscoverOrg CEO. “Unlike other vendors that provide SMB lists with thousands of irrelevant contacts, companies, and incomplete and duplicate records, the DiscoverOrg Startup & SMB dataset is as rich and accurate as our enterprise data.”

CMO Katie Bullard said that DiscoverOrg has “aggressive plans” to invest in SMB dataset development due to customer benefits.

With more companies, our researchers won’t have to skip over Triggers that they find through their research. We’re able to return a greater number of companies that use a certain technology, and our predictive tools like AccountView and DealPredict have larger reach with more matched accounts.

  • DiscoverOrg CMO Katie Bullard

The initial dataset is limited to North America as that is where they have the greatest current demand, but DiscoverOrg plans to internationalize the Startup and SMB dataset in the future.  While the goal is to cover all firms with at least 50 employees, the initial dataset consists of firms requested by their customers.

The press release noted how difficult it is to find reliable, actionable intelligence for SMB sales teams.  Along with company and executive profiles, the database provides 6,000 “research verified buying triggers” per month.

In smaller businesses without media coverage or press releases, almost none of the buying intent triggers that DiscoverOrg gathers – including planned investments, key projects, personnel moves, and internal spending budgets – is made available to the public. This is where DiscoverOrg’s team of researchers provides a clear advantage: While there are millions of registered companies in the US, the difficulty is identifying and gathering intelligence on the small percentage of these companies who are 1) legitimate entities and 2) have true spend / budget. By continuously verifying contact info, conducting interviews, and engaging in research activities, DiscoverOrg overcomes the shortcomings of web-scraping for hard-to-find data on the SMB space, ensuring the intelligence customers receive is highly relevant and immediately useful.

  • DiscoverOrg Press Release

“Sales and marketing teams that want to reach the SMB market have had a very difficult go of it,” said Nancy Nardin, President of advisory firm Smart Selling Tools. “There’s been a real dearth of verified, accurate data on SMBs, quite simply because it’s harder for data companies to get. DiscoverOrg is solving for this very real pain point by bringing their best-in-class research verification model to the SMB space. You can expect the same high-quality data you get from DiscoverOrg’s broad datasets. ”

Across all databases, DiscoverOrg now covers 1.5 million executives and 90,000 companies.  Customers may purchase access to the full database or various databases by job function, company size, or region.

 

Sparklane €4m Funding Round

Sparklane Lead Scoring
Sparklane Lead Scoring

Sparklane, which describes itself as “a publisher of sales intelligence SAAS solutions,” announced that it received a €4m funding round from XAnge and Entrepreneur Venture Investment Fund.  The round raised its total funding to €7m.  XAnge also participated in Sparklane’s previous funding round.

“We were won over by Sparklane’s disruptive positioning and the impressive performance of its management team, prompting us to offer them our renewed support as we participate in this fundraising initiative alongside Entrepreneur Venture,” stated Guilhem de Vregille, Deputy Director of XAnge.

The round allows Sparklane to continue its European expansion.  The French company established itself in the UK in 2016 and is currently eyeing the German market.  The funding will also be directed towards expanding its artificial intelligence capabilities, and growth in their sales and R&D teams.

According to Chairman Frédéric Pichard, the funding round is a “real vote of confidence,” in the company.  “Our goal remains the same: to help marketing and sales people identify their future customers more quickly using Artificial Intelligence.”

Sparklane offers predictive lead scoring and prospecting tools for sales and marketing teams in the UK and France.  Their Predict platform processes client CRM data to define an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), apply predictive lead scores, and identify look-a-like prospects.

Sparklane supports nearly 350 clients across banking, insurance, technology and business services.  The firm was listed in Deloitte’s 2016 EMEA Fast 500 list of technology companies with 265% revenue growth between 2012 and 2015 (three-year CAGR of 54%).