The Future Is Now: Tasso Argyros Of ActionIQ On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The Tech Scene
An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Trust your instincts. When I feel something is wrong, it usually is. Early in my career I waited too long before I would do something, because I wanted to be certain something or someone is a problem. Not anymore.
As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tasso Argyros.
Tasso Argyros is the Founder and CEO of ActionIQ. Tasso left the Stanford PhD program to start Aster Data, which was acquired by Teradata for $325M. At Teradata, he continued to solve big data problems for Fortune 500 enterprises. Tasso’s passion for empowering business users led him to start ActionIQ, with the mission of bridging the gap between data & action.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My father is a Professor of Mathematics, and since college I have been searching for ways to use Mathematics to make an impact in the world. Turns out it takes a lot of math to do proper data work, and that was the answer I was looking for. So, I became obsessed with data, and the systems we use to capture, manage and analyze it. The beauty of data is that you can abstract it and then use mathematics to extract knowledge and information from it. Customer data has its own opportunities and challenges, and we are just getting started in terms of figuring out how to make the most out of it.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I am not sure about the most interesting, but I can tell you that the most rewarding is when a customer that has made a bet on our company and product, generates so much success for their company that they are promoted, largely because they selected ActionIQ.
And similarly, when old employees of mine become experts in their field under my watch, or even become entrepreneurs themselves. My job is to build great products but at the end of the day it’s all about the people.
Can you tell us about the cutting-edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?
The world is changing fast — third-party cookies that marketers have come to rely on are going away, both consumers and regulatory bodies are driving increased privacy and security protections, while consumers and B2B customers are becoming more hesitant to spend money in the face of economic downturn and instability.
To survive, enterprise brands must focus on their existing customers — one of their biggest assets and a big challenge. They must undergo a customer experience (CX) transformation — to place a strategic focus on CX and ensure their CX systems and processes can unify all the brand’s customer data, democratize intelligence and orchestrate personalized customer experiences at scale and across all channels. Moreover, companies need to be flexible and agile in meeting their customers’ needs.
Not an easy task, given that there are more than 10,000 martech solutions alone. With this many solutions, the capability gap to meet the CX requirements is closed. The biggest challenge now is closing the agility gap — automating and scaling data-intensive processes across teams, channels and use cases. Governing them, maintaining them, seamlessly adapting those processes to remove inefficiencies, gain speed and capture the fleeting revenue opportunities.
The core of the CX stack — the axis that all operations revolve around — is what we call the CX Hub. ActionIQ is the only CX Hub powered by a CDP that leverages all customer data, actions on the intelligence insights and orchestrates powerful experiences to operate at the speed and scale demanded by the enterprise. The result? A single user-friendly solution that delivers the performance, agility, and actionability not possible with channel-centric solutions or legacy marketing clouds.
The AIQ CX Hub empowers organizations to leverage the solutions flexibly and securely they need to power personalized customer experiences at scale. Our solution offers the best of both worlds, with technology teams able to retain control of the data and governance, while business users can securely access the customer data, they need to become more independent, data-driven and effective in orchestrating both real-time experiences and omnichannel customer journeys for the right audiences.
This is a huge breakthrough for enterprise brands in an environment where personalized experiences are a key differentiating factor.
How do you think this might change the world?
Our mission is to help make every customer interaction useful, engaging and fun. This can lead to better day-to-day experience for hundreds of millions of people that are touched by our enterprise customers. What builds brand loyalty and increases CLTV is CX.
Even before the current business downturn many companies realized that they had to offer impactful, personalized experiences to their customers if they were to retain them and increase customer lifetime value (CLTV, a key metric of driving revenue and profits). This is what will help future-proof these enterprises and help them stand out from their competition.
CX transformation is no longer a luxury — it’s a business imperative, and what will separate winners and laggards is how effectively they can close the agility gap in delivering personalized, differentiated customer experiences at scale.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
Customer experiences depend on the quality of customer data, and with third-party cookies going away, that means brands must have a solid first-party data strategy in order to create personalized experiences at scale. There has to be a solid underpinning ensuring data security and privacy. ActionIQ has a long-standing commitment to privacy and security — safeguarding our clients’ data is our top priority as an enterprise Customer Data Platform and something we will never compromise on as we move forward as a CX Hub.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?
Before ActinoIQ, I was the founder of a database company that was sold to a Data Warehouse leader, Teradata. At Teradata I observed how many big enterprises had massive amounts of customer data in their data warehouses — and today, in their data lakes — but the business was struggling to extract business value from it. I figured that customer data getting locked up in data systems is a huge opportunity and decided to start ActionIQ to help the business to do more with customer data.
What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
More and more enterprise brands are realizing the need to deliver what their customers are demanding — personalized, consistent CX. However, this is a crowded market, which leads to buyer confusion — I mentioned that there are more than 10,000 martech solutions alone out there. This is an opportunity for ActionIQ, where we can help bring order to the CX chaos by pulling together fragmented customer insights and putting impactful customer experiences in motion, while helping brands make every team member a CX champion. AIQ CX Hub is the axis that the CX martech stack revolves around.
What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?
We have a three-prong marketing strategy:
- Letting our customers speak for us on why CX is a key business imperative and tell their transformation stories,
- We continue to educate the market on the different approaches to orchestrating personalized CX at scale and which use cases ActionIQ is best at supporting, and
- Being a thought leader in the market. For instance, we recently published our first annual CX IQ Index — primary research on the state of customer experience from both the business and consumer perspectives. Interestingly, we found a significant disconnect — a gap of 38% — between how highly businesses grade themselves on their customer experience versus the real scores from customers.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I credit my father for helping me discover a love for science, mathematics and computers. My advisor at Stanford, David Cheriton, a brilliant Professor who also happens to be the first investor in Google, taught me the principles of building great software and instilled in me a passion for applying science to solve real-world problems. When I was considering starting my first company, I asked him if I should do both my PhD and the startup. His response was that doing both would be fun, however “the problem with doing two things is that I would be competing with people doing only one”. He has a great way of thinking about the world.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I like to think of my impact in the world is primarily through my employees and my customers. Both are groups of people that I feel both grateful for working with me and responsible for helping them succeed. On the employee side, we think a lot about training & development, having an inclusive culture, diversity in the workplace and in general creating an environment where our employees can thrive. On the customer side, I strive to create a customer-first organization, putting the success of our customers above all other business objectives.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.
- Be direct. Helps build trust and saves a huge amount of time for everyone.
- Startups are marathons, not sprints. You can push your team to work nights and weekends and that’s great when you are running a sprint. But what wins marathons is a fast, steady pace that you can maintain for a long time.
- Trust your instincts. When I feel something is wrong, it usually is. Early in my career I waited too long before I would do something, because I wanted to be certain something or someone is a problem. Not anymore.
- Operate on principle. If something has to do with a principle — e.g., the value of inclusion in our workplace — then you have to go ahead and do the right thing. Don’t try to justify it or think of the negative implications, if there are any; doing the right thing works out in the long run 10/10 times.
- The value of Why. Your team will go very far to achieve a goal if they understand why they are doing it, and why it’s worthwhile. Leaders can be a lot more effective talking about the why vs the what or the how.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I wish all of us could adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Buying fewer things (but of higher quality that last longer), using more natural, sustainable materials and getting rid of plastics, getting rid of pollution in cities and around the world. People talk about climate change, which is important, but overconsumption and pollution are equally bad. This movement exists but we need to build a lot more momentum to make a meaningful difference for the world our children will live in.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Don’t confuse luck with skills”. For example, most people want to hire employees from the most successful companies, which at some level makes sense. But I also love hiring people that did just okay but in a highly adverse or challenging environment — whether on the personal or business domain — because they had to go above and beyond to overcome that adversity and achieve even modest success. And these people, placed in an environment with more potential, can truly excel. On the other hand, some folks find themselves in the right place at the right time and become very successful with little skill or effort, and these people will likely struggle to repeat that success. Telling the two apart is difficult but indeed critical.
Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
The Customer Experience stack is being reborn, and ActionIQ has what is perhaps the most valuable role in the new world order. We have phenomenal customer retention (very proud of that), very fast revenue growth but above all a highly differentiated product in a massive, exploding market.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/tasso/
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.
The Future Is Now: Tasso Argyros Of ActionIQ On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.