British sales intelligence vendor Artesian Solutions announced that it received £3.5M in expansion capital from Columbia Lake partners. The funds will be used to refinance current debt obligations and provide working capital for “further growth and expansion.” The refinancing also provides better terms and business flexibility after the firm reached a profitability milestone in July.
Artesian has begun integrating artificial intelligence into its tools. Earlier this year, it launched Insight Agent, “the first step in a series of intelligent chat bots aimed at automating many of the tasks carried out by B2B professionals” along with Arti, the firm’s interactive digital assistant.
“This is an exciting milestone in our company’s history and positively reinforces the leadership position we have attained. We are constantly looking at the ‘what next’ scenario, pushing boundaries to establish our business as one of the leading innovators in B2B software for commercial teams, this has paved the way for our new risk mitigation capabilities which will be released in the New Year.”
Artesian Solutions CEO Andrew Yates
The firm has recently shifted its positioning from social selling to “A.I. powered sales intelligence.”
“Social Selling sits at the heart of Artesian’s founding principles,” explained Yates. “But as sales best practice has evolved, so has Artesian. Our goal is to be at the forefront of technology evolution for enterprise B2B, delivering a suite of A.I.-powered tools to make prospecting, engaging and closing deals easier. As our forthcoming risk mitigation capabilities demonstrate, we will continue to evolve to ensure we remain a trusted partner of our enterprise customers and to maximise the impact of their business relationships”
Artesian offers products for both the British and American markets.
British social selling service Artesian Solutions launched their new Arti chatbot (artesian.ai) this month. According to their press release, “Arti enables intuitive customer interaction in a relatively human-like way, answering questions about Artesian’s capabilities and providing expertise in real time. No longer do customers need to search through content on the company’s website, instead they can now interact directly with Arti and uncover the information they need in an instant.”
The Arti screen is split into two with the user keying questions on the left. A text response is displayed alongside the question as a British voice reads the answer. If there is ancillary content or videos, it is displayed in the right window.
“Our business is all about pushing the boundaries of web-based technology to deliver commercially valuable and immediately actionable insights for our customers,” said CEO Andrew Yates. “Telling the user what they need to know and the action they need to take, at the right time, means client facing teams can capitalise from every business moment. Arti is a great example of how the application of AI can be a significant enabler of productivity, lead generation and importantly enhanced customer experiences.”
A quick test proved disappointing with Arti misunderstanding basic questions such as “Which countries do you cover?” or “do you publish financials?” Many of the responses are tangential answers usually suggesting a “meeting with the team.” Of course, AI tools are able to learn and the content and response sets should improve over time. Thus, Arti users are likely to have better results in the future.
And as evidence of learning, the system has been updated to provide the following answer to “do you publish financials?”
We provide access to Experian credit ratings directly within Artesian, along with lots of other valuable information such as corporate family tree, shareholdings and detailed financial information.
“Arti is more than just a bit of fun, although we’ve certainly had fun building it,” said Director of Marketing Stuart Newton. “It has the potential to be an incredibly powerful marketing tool for us. Arti will continue to get smarter the more our customers engage with it, learning from previous conversations to become more effective and valuable to our web visitors. I am delighted to place Artesian amongst some of the leading brands in the world, leveraging chat bots to connect with customers. It will change the customer experience by replacing clicks with sustained conversations and personalised interactions.”
This is the last of a series of blog posts containing interview transcripts between Artesian Solutions CEO Andrew Yates and me. This excerpt discusses how Artesian drives high engagements rates across their multi-platform social selling service.
Michael: You quote an 89% daily user engagement rate for your platform.
Michael: Having looked at competitors, nobody is close to that rate.
Andrew: I know, that’s true. It’s because we go beyond the 80/20 rule*. We work really, really hard to make sure that the interdependency with Artesian isn’t limited to a desktop or web app-based user interaction. We’ve invested a ton in things like optimization for mobile devices, smart calendar apps, real-time alerting, actionable insights from an alert and an action center that sits midway between the web app and the mobile app. Consequently, we keep people interested in using the service on a daily basis because there’s so many different ways to interact with it.
Also, our philosophy is a key differentiator. Others talk about this, but I don’t see them doing it. When we’re teaching users what to do with Artesian, we say, “If all you do is consume, then we’ve not done our job, and you’ve wasted your opportunity.” What we are encouraging you to do is think about how you can drive actions from the insight. If you drive action, good things will happen. Not only will we make it easy for you to drive actions, but we’ll also measure the outcome.
Everything you do in Artesian is tracked, as is everything you output. When you share a link or you share a piece of insight, not only does it come in a nice condensed form, but it’s fully trackable.
I know you’ve opened it. I know you’ve shared it. I can do the same thing on social media for posts to LinkedIn. I know how many people have clicked on it, how many people have viewed it. We give you all that feedback plus an influence score to really gratify you that you’ve done something great, and it’s working. That’s the big difference from just providing access to a service. What we are about is not force feeding the patient, but encouraging the user to interact with the service and really do something with the insight.
Michael: What percentage of your users have installed your Ready mobile app?
Andrew: Artesian Ready has about 25% penetration. That’s pretty good considering we mainly work with large enterprises, many of which place limitations on what you can do with your mobile device. The very fact that it’s an app is a barrier. That’s why in [the recently released version] 16.1 we’ve done a fully mobile-optimized version of the web app for the mobile phone. It’s not an app. You don’t need to download anything to use it and we don’t hit the buffers in terms of corporate [security].
Michael: And what percentage of your users are accessing Artesian through Salesforce?
Andrew: About 25%, which might surprise you, because what we found in the larger corporates is, we’ve introduced Artesian as an integrated part of our concept but people have said there’s a backlog, like a queue of apps that they want to get approved and installed. We tend to say to the customer, “Well, get going with Artesian standalone, then integrate it with Salesforce later.” That said, with the release of 16.0 which had the first Opportunity View integration, we’ve seen our Salesforce pipeline opportunities go from 20/80 to 80/20.
This is the last of four blogs derived from an interview of Artesian CEO Andrew Yates. The previous blogs covered:
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Artesian Solutions CEO Andrew Yates and discuss topics including how they fit into the sales intelligence space and being “customer curious.” 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: How do you view yourself versus firms in the sales intelligence space?
Andrew: I had a chat with [CEO] Henry [Schuck] from DiscoverOrg just recently. It took us a while to realize that we didn’t really compete with DiscoverOrg. We might compete for share of wallet. Certainly, some of the words on the website are saying [similar things]. Fundamentally, we’re two different types of organizations.
I think there are companies that make data, curate data, sell access to curated data. I would include in addition to DiscoverOrg, RainKing and InsideView.
I talked to Henry. I said, “Somebody would buy your service because they would want to get the inside track on when the projects are coming up, on particular types of initiatives. Who’s who in the zoo? What’s their phone number and email address?” The stimulus would be, “I’m contacting you to talk to you about this project on which I can help you.” [That’s] The bit where we take over guiding the conversations which follow over the remainder of the sales cycle, we can do that.
We use natural language processing, machine-based learning and AI to take data from people who already aggregate it. Then we take it through our own process because there isn’t anything out there that has anything like the superior capabilities we’ve got around topic classification, tagging, and all the things that go with our value proposition. As I said to Henry, “We’re never really going to compete directly because we’ve got no intention of hiring a bunch of people to build various specific data.”
I think he’s on fire at the moment…In the States, there’s a real shortage of quality contact insight. Where we take over is where DiscoverOrg leaves off. At the point where you’ve identified an opportunity in a customer and then you want to build that relationship and keep that relationship going over time not just maybe sell them one product or service but sell them multiple products or services and keep going back. That’s the area we’re really, really good at.
Michael: Okay. Right, so basically being aware of what’s going on in that organization and maintaining the relationship.
Andrew: Yes. That’s why we look for organizations, customers that we sell to who have a relationship management model at their heart. This “customer curious” concept came from one of our customers, NetApp. The chap that was running Europe came up with the phrase. He drew me this picture and said, “There’s three ways we can differentiate ourselves in the market. We can differentiate ourselves with products,” he said. “And NetApp’s got the same product that three or four other companies have got. We can do it with price, but that’s a race to the bottom or we can do it with service. We want to do it with service, and we want to be the best. The best company in this space. We can have a product that is good or better than anyone else’s, but we’ll differentiate ourselves by being customer curious.”
There’s nothing like getting inspiration for where your headed from a customer.
Michael: This topic is near and dear to Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff: being customer obsessed.
Andrew: Yes. Being customer obsessed is where we try to complement Mark Benioff’s vision. The Salesforce platform is an excellent system of record, and I think people buy CRM expecting it to help them sell, and it does. It helps them sell by getting more organized and orchestrated with the customer at the center, but it’s not a system of engagement. That’s really where we feel we come in as a complement and supplement to that system of record.
The interview will wrap up on Monday with a discussion of how Artesian maintains a very high engagement rate amongst its users.
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.
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.
US and UK social selling vendor Artesian Solutions claimed that their 16.1 software release was their “biggest ever.” The release included functional upgrades, expanded content, user experience improvements, and new artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.
The new Insight Agents are their first step towards delivering “intelligent chat bots aimed at automating many of the tasks carried out by B2B professionals daily.” The new AI tool combines advanced natural language processing and behavioural analytics. The goal is to “deliver commercially valuable and immediately actionable insights, telling the user what they need to know and what action they need to take.”
The evolution of Natural Language Processing, Machine Based Learning and Artificial Intelligence technology is set to have a profound impact on the activities of those in commercial teams. This product release is a significant stepping stone towards an AI future, the culmination of months of behind-the-scenes R&D based on an incredibly rich understanding of the enterprise B2B landscape through the eyes of some of the biggest and most influential companies in the world. We have been working closely with them to understand what their future looks like and where the biggest gains can be made.
Artesian CTO Steve Borthwick
Continued Borthwick, “Artesian has been evolving and improving its relevance and analytic algorithms over the last 10 years, benefiting from the feedback and success that our trusted customers have provided, and that has always kept them one step ahead of the sales intelligence race.”
Insight Agents are initially available within the AppExchange as Salesforce Opportunities. This feature surfaces trigger events based upon the opportunity stage and preferences of each client. “It provides a step change in productivity and customer engagement, enabling you to focus on the most important aspects of your most critical deals,” said VP of Product Management Rich Clark.
For example, Insights for Sales Opportunities will place higher emphasis upon opportunity alerts at the front of the pipeline and risk-based alerts during later stages.
“This latest release without doubt places Artesian at the leading edge of innovation for enterprise B2B,” said CEO Andrew Yates. It delivers the first milestone on our road-map to predicting customer needs, automating and directing pipeline activities, and the delivery of hyper-personalised communications and custom marketing.”
Administrators can now tailor the trigger topics available to their users including adding custom topics and constructing a topic taxonomy focused on industry-specific triggers.
User experience improvements include easier access to topic filters, color-coded triggers in email alerts, and adaptive HTML design for improved mobile navigation and display.
Other design upgrades include the social media viewer which now surfaces social media links alongside inline blogs and tweets and a social selling leaderboard at the team or corporate level which benchmarks Artesian usage versus peers.
“Hotness” flags were added to the US service. They have long been available in the UK edition.
In the UK edition, Artesian partnered with Blue Sheep to add three million contacts and double the number of emails to 875,000. The additional executives were focused on non-directorial positions, helping expand coverage beyond filed corporate directors. The new set of contacts raised the UK contact count to 9.7 million. Furthermore, the new execs were matched against the Full Contact file, providing additional social media links and biographic relevance to contact profiles.
The expanded contacts and social media links are also available to users of the Artesian Ready mobile app which combines mobile calendars with Artesian insights. Ready helps reps prepare for meetings by supporting on demand company and executive research, sharing meeting notes with colleagues, and reviewing the latest attendee triggers and social media posts.
The firm also added Auditor Fees as a new UK select. Auditor Name was already supported.
For the US edition, Artesian now supports a “Hotness” indicator highlighting firms with recent key trigger events and improved event prospecting (see image above on right). The Hotness indicator was already available in the UK edition.
Artesian has formalized its training and certification program with an integrated leaning management system. The older training was more PowerPoint oriented but the new system is more blog-like with videos and quizzes. Along with tool certification, Artesian includes annual refresher courses.