As the predictive space heats up, it’s important to understand the DNA of your technology partners and be comfortable that you’re aligning yourself with the vendors who will win. In our case, we’re proud that Infer reflects our collective experiences at both Google and Salesforce. With three founders hailing from Google, and key advisors and early employees from Salesforce, we’ve learned a ton from these hugely successful companies.
What’s in our Google DNA?
Google won the battle for search in large part because it was focused. While AOL and Yahoo! viewed themselves as portals that happened to have search boxes, Google focused their energy on delivering amazing search results. After our founder Vik looked at all the different challenges B2B companies face, he took a similar approach and focused in on the one where we could unlock the most value.
From the very beginning, his vision was to create a predictive app that delivered value and scale it to thousands of companies, so he resisted the temptation of starting with really big customers. While there was a lot of money to be had, he didn’t want to build a services business, nor did he want to accumulate the technical debt associated with one-off features. He knew we’d be able to run faster and unlock more value if we focused our energy on repeatability.
In addition to the consulting companies we’ve already seen turn into predictive vendors, we’ll inevitably see other big players dip their toes into the predictive pool. But the challenge they’ll inevitably face is that of the innovator’s dilemma. Just as we saw in the search wars, it’s hard to be #1 in a category if it is not the top priority for your business.
Simplicity is also paramount, and Google knows that people need to get value quickly and easily (hence the nearly blank Google.com page). They also understand that they need to meet users where they live, and so they’ve put Google search boxes in the browser, in third-party sites, and of course on mobile phones. This principle of simplicity is a core value we apply to everything we do at Infer.
Building a predictive model needs to feel effortless for customers, so we keep the IT complexity in the back room. We’ve built connectors to Salesforce, Marketo, Eloqua, and Pardot to meet users where they’re already working, and plug our scores into existing workflows and reports.
3) Model Performance
People trust Google because their search results are consistently better than competitors’. They have the best and brightest engineers, and are vicious about acquiring data. They’ve gone to great lengths to make sure their search algorithms are the best on the planet, and Infer is taking a similar tact.
We believe our engineering team is second to none and we’ll stack our models against anybody’s. We’re leveraging sophisticated Google-like techniques to crawl the web, acquire data, match records, and spot patterns.
What’s in our Salesforce DNA?
To be successful in enterprise software, we also believe you need an appreciation for existing automation systems. That’s why Vik turned to Tien Tzou, Salesforce employee #11 and its first CMO, to be an early advisor to Infer. And that’s the DNA that I’ve (Jamie Grenney) worked to infuse. Prior to joining Infer as employee #7, I spent 11 amazing years at Salesforce. During that time the company grew from 140 employees to nearly ten thousand. I developed many of the company’s inside sales processes, started the online community, and re-wrote many of its marketing playbooks.
Some of the key lessons Infer has learned from Salesforce include:
1) Customer Success
At Salesforce, nothing is more important than customer success. That was a core differentiator compared to its client server competitors, and ultimately customer evangelists were what fueled the company’s amazing growth. At Infer, we’re taking the same approach. We deliver value faster and create deeper successes than any of the other predictive players.
When we onboard customers, we identify our success story upfront and create plan to achieve measurable results within the first quarter of use — and often enough ROI to pay for the whole project. Our dashboards monitor model performance, and create intelligent recommendations by looking at your data and providing simple, actionable tips for using our scores to unlock even more business value. In addition, we’re sharing the best practices we see with certain customers in order to inspire others.
One of the reasons Salesforce is so successful is because it attracts customers that push the product to its limits, and help the company innovate faster. It brings together an amazing community of like-minded users who gather both at in-person events and online to network and work through common business challenges. We’re forming that same type of community at Infer through regular VIPs events and casual meetups with the smartest minds in predictive sales and marketing.
At Salesforce, this became the most important value on our V2MOM — customers need to know that their data is in good hands and the company’s services are reliable. This is another value we hold high at Infer. We isolate customer’s data, aggressively update our services, and encrypt traffic via SSL. We’ve passed some of the most rigorous security audits out there and will continue to over invest to protect the integrity of our customer relationships.
This look behind the curtain should offer a good perspective on what Infer values and which experiences have shaped our company into its current form. By learning a bit about our roots and our leaders’ mindsets, you can infer (no pun intended) how we’ll make choices that affect our customers as Infer’s business and product evolves.