TELL US ABOUT YOUR ROLE AT ENSIGHTEN AND HOW YOU STARTED THERE.
Before Ensighten, I spent 15 years with Spectrum Equity, a leading growth equity firm in the software and internet markets. When I departed, after spending a long time deep in the operational and financial realms, I was looking for something new. Ensighten was the perfect fit as it was about to embark on its next chapter in the realm of Marketing Security (MarSec). That’s a focus that I’m excited to be leading as I help our clients tackle the challenges in the marketing security space.
WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPACTFUL EVENT IN TECHNOLOGY FOR YOU IN 2018? HOW DID THE EVENT/MOMENT CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT BUSINESS?
Without a doubt, GDPR going into effect in May had massive repercussions for the tech space. We knew it was coming, of course, but now that it’s a reality, we’re operating in an entirely new landscape. There’s now a substantial regulatory focus on privacy and security, and GDPR is just the beginning — the start of a larger evolution. We’re going to see regulators continue to step forward to protect consumer privacy, as they’re already doing in California. Executives are going to have to be deeply focused on privacy and security in the coming years.
WHAT IS MARSEC AND HOW DOES IT FIT INTO THE CMO’S TECH STACK?
Marketing Security (MarSec) is the real-time control and management of enterprise and customers’ data on websites and other digital properties to prevent leakage of data and personal identification information (PII). This isn’t just an optional piece of the tech stack. It’s an essential component that needs to sit at the center of a marketing organization’s consumer data systems.
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES DID YOU AND/OR ENSIGHTEN IDENTIFY AT THE START OF THE 2018 AND MANAGE TO CONQUER?
Ensighten identified emerging and growing needs in the privacy and security realm back in 2017. With a regulation as weighty as GDPR, you need to be a few steps ahead. In 2018, we were focused on tackling these privacy and security issues head-on. Our phones were ringing off the hook in the lead-up to GDPR, and that continues.
Our preparedness for GDPR paid off, both for our own company and our clients. Going into 2019, the awareness of new Marketing Security needs — especially in light of all of the ongoing data breach news — will continue to grow, and we’re going to be heavily focused on educating the market on vulnerabilities and solutions.
WHERE DOES ENSIGHTEN FIT IN RELATION TO CUSTOMER DATA PLATFORMS, AND HOW DOES ENSIGHTEN BUILD ON ITS EXPERTISE TO CONNECT CROSS-CHANNEL EXPERIENCES?
Ensighten delivers a lot of the attributes and pieces of a CDP. Our focus is on Marketing Security. Everything we do is through that lens. We provide a lot of the services of CDPs, and we do so in the most secure fashion possible. And we also work with CDPs and others to secure leakage within the data flows of those platforms.
WOULD YOU AGREE THAT IT WAS A YEAR OF MEGA-ACQUISITIONS IN MARTECH? WHICH ACQUISITION NEWS EXCITED YOU THE MOST?
Of course, we saw some large acquisitions in the MarTech space this past year, and those are always interesting headlines to read. But I can’t say there’s one that really struck me as the most exciting. Our industry is constantly evolving, and acquisitions are a natural component of that evolution. We’ll continue to see consolidation in our space, but each deal is just a very small part of larger industry progress.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT AI-AS-A-SERVICE GAINING MORE TRACTION FROM SALES-FOCUSED COMPANIES? HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR THIS PHASE OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION?
AI-as-a-service — and AI in general — is still very much in the early adopter state. In a few years, AI will be a transformational force in our industry, but it’s not quite there yet. The products are still taking shape, and companies are still figuring out where AI can deliver real value. It’s an area to be tracked, for sure, but if companies race to implement solutions right now, they’re going to find that the products on the market aren’t quite where they need to be.
WHICH NEW BUZZWORD ARE YOU KEENLY FOLLOWING AND WHY?
Marketing Security (MarSec) is going to sweep the industry in 2019. That’s because it’s more than a buzzword. It’s more than a shiny object. It’s a deep, fundamental need in today’s digital landscape. It’s the table stakes that so many enterprises haven’t ponied up yet. But that’s going to change fast, both as a result of growing awareness of data threats as well as regulatory action.
WHAT ARE YOUR PREDICTIONS IN MARKETING AUTOMATION AND SALES INTELLIGENCE FOR 2019?
Marketing Automation is a fast-developing field, and AI applications in this space are in their infancy. Given all of the news around data breaches in 2018, I think 2019 is going to be a year where companies take a step back and look to really get a handle on their data infrastructures.
They’ve spent years cobbling together solutions and data flows, and the result has been sieve-like systems that have left them vulnerable to data leakage and malicious attacks. Marketers in, particular, have a great deal of access to data — too much data, in some cases — and the need to secure it has become real. That’s where they’ll be focusing in 2019.
ANY ADVICE TO THE CEOS AND CMOS OF TECH COMPANIES.
Executives cannot take Marketing Security for granted. I once had a conversation with the CEO of a major company that had just experienced a massive marketing data breach, and he told me, “I had no idea when I woke up this morning that this was even a possibility.” Executives can’t be caught off guard like that. The effects of a breach are massive and long-lasting. From an innovation standpoint, they can bring you to an absolute standstill, and no company today can afford to lose competitive ground that way.
Data security is an executive matter. It’s not something you throw over the fence to IT and assume it’s been handled. CEOs and CMOs need to roll up their sleeves and understand how their systems interact and, most importantly, where vulnerabilities exist. And they need to create a culture of prevention in which vulnerabilities are addressed before they ever become a problem.
Marty provides the strategic and operational leadership for Ensighten and brings a wealth of experience in high-growth companies. Prior to joining Ensighten, Marty spent 15 years with Spectrum Equity, a leading growth equity firm in the software and internet markets. In addition, he held senior leadership positions at venture backed start-ups and was the Director of Acquisitions at a public company. He began his career with Ernst & Young. Marty holds a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Baltimore.
Ensighten enables global brands to transform their digital business by fueling their diverse marketing technology investments with first-party customer data and profiles. Ensighten’s patented marketing data platform, anchored by the world’s leading enterprise tag management system, powers a number of mission-critical use cases spanning omni-channel personalization, mobile app experience optimization, and attribution. Ensighten delivers industry-best safeguards for data privacy and security, more than 1,100 turnkey vendor tag integrations, and direct ownership of digital customer data. Gartner Inc. recognized Ensighten as one of its “Vendors to Watch” in its 2016 Digital Marketing Hubs Magic Quadrant, while Inc. Magazine recently included the company in its annual list of the top 500 fastest growing private companies in America. Select customers include CDW, Dell, Hearst, Home Depot, Microsoft, Panasonic, State Farm, United Airlines, and T-Mobile. Ensighten is headquartered in the heart of Silicon Valley, with offices in London and Cardiff.