Episode #27: How to Accelerate Your Digital Transformation, with Marshall Kirkpatrick

Part 2 of our special Coffee Club crossover edition (if you haven’t listened to Part 1 yet, here’s the link). Marshall Kirkpatrick and I talk about eating your own dog food (or, drinking your own champagne, as we like to call it), and offer some strategies for accelerating your digital transformation efforts.

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PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Grad 
Okay, okay, here we are, the CXM Experience. This is part two of our special edition of my interview with Marshall Kirkpatrick. Marshall runs the Sprinklr Coffee Club videocast. He does an amazing job bringing influencers and important people and great thinkers from across the world to talk about the new modern channels and the way the world is changing. And he also had me on. So we had a great time. If you listen to part one, you’ll see there’s great energy there. Feel free to listen to that already if you’ve not had a chance. This is part two. So we’re going to pick it up and go to the end. That’s a two parter. And for now, I’m going to introduce myself, CXO at Sprinklr Grad Conn, with Marshall Kirkpatrick who leads the influence and analysts team at is Sprinklr. So enjoy.

Grad 
You know, I do think this idea of some people call eating your own dog food, we call it drinking your own champagne. I’m sure there’s many others out there. But the idea of living your own product and living your own truth is far more compelling than many people realize. And I think, one of the things that was disconcerting to me when I first got to Sprinklr, was… people weren’t doing social marketing. They’re buying lists, and they’re doing programmatic display. And it was like… well, it hadn’t really done what we expected it to do. And so there’s this kind of like, must move on. And like, No, we can’t do that. I mean, we have to be the world’s best social marketer, and we’re going to have to learn our way to it. And you know, what, I think we’re pretty close to that now.

Grad 
I mean, if you think about what we’re doing today, if you look at what we’re doing with the community, and what we’re doing with advocacy. What we get out of our advocacy product, we’ve got more than 60% of our employees now posting three and a half times a week. Like Imagine, if you were a large company, you got that going. That alone is worth millions of dollars in advertising. And so we’ve figured out a lot of these things that we were not focused on before. And now we can go to market and we can talk in a way which is, with authority. We can talk about how we have been able to do these things that are powered by our product, and really, really work. And you can do it too. And here’s the proof. And I think that’s the… transformation can’t occur I think if you don’t… if you’re a hypocrite, right? I think it’s hard to tell someone, they need to change the way they’re doing things if you haven’t changed the way you’re doing things. People smell hypocrisy very quickly, and it’s concerning to them, right? And you’ve got to go in there and you got to live it.

Grad 
There’s a great story from Salesforce where in the early days, some of the sellers were going in and showing senior management, their sales on an Excel spreadsheet. And then the management’s like, what are you doing showing this on an Excel spreadsheet? Like we run Salesforce? So even Salesforce, right? And so then there was a mandate, you can only show me your sales figures in Salesforce. Well, you know, I can’t show you this, I can’t show you that, it doesn’t work for this, it doesn’t work for that. Well then get it fixed. Get it fixed. Right? Oracle’s another one, they’re amazing at this. Oracle’s they have products aren’t even finished yet and they force everyone to start using them. And they go through and, again, this idea that getting everyone who cares the most about the product to use it.

Grad 
There’s a last one of these — sorry, I’m on a tear here because this is such a constant theme in business. So Alan Mulally, who was the CEO of Ford, and he led the 777 project at Boeing is kind of this legendary manager and credible figure. There’s a great book called American Icon, which if you haven’t read American Icon, you got to read it. It’s one of the greatest business books ever written. And there’s this great story of Alan Mulally on his very first day at Ford walking… he parks his car, he was driving a Ford Fusion or whatever. Parks his Ford Fusion in the executive parking lot at the Ford building. And he’s almost written it a bit like a diary. And so his observations as he’s driving up to the building was the main Ford building did not have the Ford logo on it. Hmmm. Interesting. Doesn’t have the Ford logo on the Ford building. Used to — they took it down. And se he gets in the executive parking lot. Noting that there’s an executive parking lot. I don’t believe in those either. We didn’t even have executive parking lots of Microsoft. But gets in the executive parking lot, kind of looks around. And he notices that none of the cars in the executive parking lot are Fords. There’re sometimes are companies that Ford may have an interest in, I think they had a partial interest in Jaguar. There’s that kind of thing. But none of them are Fords.

Grad 
So Alan goes to the very first meeting, and he’s like, I’ll be really disappointed if I come in the parking lot next week, and everyone’s still driving all these foreign cars. And sure enough, everyone managed to figure out how to buy a Ford in the following week. And the next thing he did is he put the Ford logo back on the building. And people go that’s old fashioned, and it’s in the blue oval. And he’s like, well, that’s what it is. I mean, you got to own the thing you own. You know, it’s like, that’s just the thing it is. And like, yeah, we’re not ever going to have the logo that Ferrari has, okay, because that’s Ferrari’s logo, we have the Ford logo. But you know what, we’re going to make it big on our cars, we’re going to make it big on our building, we’re going to be proud of it, we’re going to own it. And that’s we’re going to be all about. And if you look at the Ford cars, in that time, they didn’t have the blue logo on them. They just had Ford in letters. And then suddenly, that logo, that the blue oval came back, and it’s a very dominant element on Ford cars again. And it’s really wonderful, actually, I think it looks really awesome. And then, again, it’s about kind of owning and being part of what you own.

Grad 
And again, the people who think that way. Now this is Alan Mulally, he’s the CEO. But he’s very much a marketing mindset. The people who think that way, and think the way I’m talking, those tend to be CMOs. CMOs, think that way. And so that’s why I think they have the opportunity to be digital transformation leaders. The other thing I think that happens to the CMO is that it’s very hard for the CMO to get their job done alone. Right, so you can do all the greatest marketing in the world, if the products not working, then that’s not going to work. If the salespeople don’t know how to sell, that’s not going to work, you know. So you’re dependent on and you’re connected to many other people. And so, the marketing leader tends to have a role which crosses a lot of other functions, more than say, the IT function, which can live somewhat in a silo and be very effective. And so I think that the other thing that marketers have going for them, or CMOs have going for them is that as cross functional leaders, they can pull a cross functional project across the line more easily than someone who is in a more siloed profession. I think that is something CMOs can leverage more.

Marshall 
You know, Grad, I wanted to tell you about the impact of another one of your blog posts on Sprinklr in terms of really owning, owning what you are, and drinking your own champagne. One of the posts you put up recently was a reading list of great books about writing. And here’s a little something I haven’t told you offline, I’ll tell you here live. In the three months, since we’ve been doing this continuous improvement intervention of daily meetings, applying the lessons from some of that great writing into our own social marketing. According to our Sprinklr dashboard, our growth rate of new followers that we have connected with on social has increased 300%.

Grad 
Awesome,

Marshall 
Big, big spike, and that in spite of a silent period that we took at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement. So the quantity of posts were down, but the quality of posts have gone up so much because we really rolled up our sleeves and dug in and applied some of the wisdom from other industries and other sources of knowledge that it’s just, it’s made a huge impact.

Grad 
Well, you led that Marshall, you’ve done an amazing job of that. And I loved when you started quoting Caples back to me, or contradicting something I’d say Oh, it should be this should be blue. And you’re like Caple says it should be red. And I’m like, oh, wow, that was delicious. Those are those are great moments. I treasure those… really great time.

Marshall 
Yeah, yeah, I do too. So Grad that’s a good example I think of how there’s always more opportunity to… even when you’re fully invested in in social marketing, for example, there’s room to uplevel the game in more and more ways. I wonder. The last thing that I want to ask you about is if you have some advice for companies at different places in the digital transformation journey. We’ve talked about how this big acceleration in digital transformation has served early adopters really well because they’ve already got a head start. But now there’s a lot of companies that have been slower to get started. They were perhaps more optimized for stability and security over time, that now have a real clear impetus to accelerate their digital transformation. What would you advise for early adopters that are in the lead to build on their digital transformation? And what would you advise for companies that are earlier in the journey just getting started?

Grad 
Yeah, great question. And the analysts have got good advice here. I’m not sure anyone’s really getting down to the brass tacks of execution. Because some of the advice is a little bit motherhoody. But focus on execution, for example, it’s like oh, really. But I do think that there is an opportunity for someone who is not really in the fray to leapfrog existing competitors. It’s a little bit like, South Korea, for example, is extraordinarily connected. Partly because they didn’t deal with copper infrastructure. They were able to leapfrog right over that, and they went to fiber and cell right away. And, you see sometimes your legacy systems create a technology debt that can slow you down.

Grad 
So the first thing I would say to someone who is early in the journey, is resist the temptation to say things like we’re going to crawl, walk and run, Oh, my God. That is such a tired way of thinking about things. There’s also the phase 1-2-3, and there’s like, stage one, stage two, stage three, that kind of stuff. And it’s just a terrible way to think about it. What you have to do is, you have to say, what would be an experience, that if I were to deliver it to my customer, they would be loyal to me forever, they would tell their friends about me, and they would buy most of my products. Think about it that way. And then just build that. This idea of like, well, first, we’re going to put up a website, then we’re going to put a… don’t do that. Because you’re never going to make it. What you’re actually literally doing is you’re literally laying down technology debt, before you’ve even accumulated it. So go to the endpoint. Just be mobile, go just to the phone, think about that payment. There’s some amazing Shopify merchants now, where I’ll see a thing, I click on it, I click on my Shopify link, they’ve got my profile, it’s purchased. It’s like two, three clicks, and the thing is on its way, to me, it’s amazing. So you’ve got to be really smart about that.

Grad 
For people who are existing, I think you should be scared. Because you’re sitting on top of a pile of numbers and KPIs that you’re living with every day. And all the people who haven’t done it yet, which is most of the people. Okay, we’re at the early part of the curve right now, it doesn’t seem that way. But, online shopping is only about 10%. Pretty early, pretty early. It’s going to be 100% at one point. So pretty early right now, It’s going to look ridiculous early in retrospect. 20 years from now people will say, what are they thinking? Why didn’t I buy Amazon then. So, at that point of the journey, if you think you’ve got it all figured out, and you’re going to have these new competitors zipping ahead without even worrying about laying down all the tracks you’ve laid down, you get into big trouble. So I would do is I would create a second team, which is your “we’re not bounded by the technology that exists team” and set them out on a journey to build something like they’re a startup, and they didn’t have to worry about any boundaries.

Grad 
And this sounds super… I hate saying this, because it’s becoming so overused, but you do have to make sure you’ve made a significant investment in AI. Because the AI capability is going to be critical. And you’ve got to be really smart about your targeting capabilities. You know, it’s been a really interesting experience for me over the last couple of weeks. I just got engaged. And, boy without really… like a post on Facebook. A well-liked, like, hundreds of likes… a well-liked post but nonetheless, I’ll post on Facebook, telling our friends very limited, it’s not like I’m out there buying engagement gifts on Amazon or anything like that. So very limited sort of shopping. The amount of targeting I’m getting for “she said yes.” And all this kind of stuff. Pretty amazing. Pretty amazing. And that’s the future, right? Which is to know what’s going on in someone’s life without them having to actually tell you. And so pulling in that targeting be able to drive the AI, being able to think about what the offers are going to be and make it really relevant to the user. If you’ve got a million users think about a million experiences, and how are you going to deliver that? So that’d be kind of my core advice to those two groups.

Marshall 
Yeah, that’s fantastic. The AI investment in particular is one that, that I think we see time and time again, with customers. I’m thinking of the streaming customer, that they came to us and said that they had a four year target for new customer acquisition. They had been doing targeting in a much more manual sort of way. But they uploaded their data into Sprinklr applied the AI of the smart ads platform, we’re able to generate 8,000 variations of advertising automatically to go out and target people based on their appropriate profiles. And they hit their four year goal of new customer acquisitions in six months.

Grad 
Yeah. That’s an amazing story. And I would say that maybe the reason I’m so hesitant to say AI, is I think it’s overused, because people just put it out there as a blanket. Just you know, AI. And I think what’s better, is what you just did, right? Or maybe what I just did, which is less about AI per se, as it is the experience that you want to draw. And so think about what is the experience that I want to deliver, you’re going to need to use AI to deliver that. But it’s not AI itself that’s of use. It’s the experience that the outcome that you’re driving, that’s going to be critical. And that to me is the the key to all this.

Marshall 
Well said. Thinking of the experience. That’s Grad Conn, the chief experience officer here at Sprinklr.

Grad 
Thank you Marshall. That was super fun. I loved it. And I love Coffee Club. Keep going.

Marshall 
Thank you so much. Folks, thanks again for joining us here on Coffee Club. I hope you will like this and subscribe to receive all the episodes of Coffee Club. They are a consistent source of learning and inspiration. So I hope you’ll join us for episodes past, present and future. I always learn a lot and really enjoy doing it. But this has been a special episode. Grad, I hope that the rest of your day goes wonderfully. I thank you for letting me be a part of it. And folks, thanks for letting us be a part of your day.

Grad 
And there we are. That’s the end of Part Two and the end of my special edition podcast with Marshall Kirkpatrick on his Sprinklr Coffee Club. And I had a great time, as you can tell, doing with Marshall. I think Marshall has done an incredible job of gathering together influencers. If you’ve not had a chance to see a number of his Coffee Clubs, grab them. There’s some really great insights and really great thoughts from some of the leading thinkers in modern channels and digital transformation today. It’s going to make you smarter, it’s going to make you sound smarter, it’s going to make you more effective at work. And then you could also listen to the stuff that we did together. So anyway, thanks a lot for listening. That’s it for today for the CXM Experience. I’m Grad Conn, and I’ll see you next time.