Augurs On The Town: Episode #3 with Kevin Bauer

Curious about how Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) can use data to adapt to change?

In this episode of Augurs On The Town, Josh meets with Kevin Bauer from Kessel Digital at Stray Dog in North Minneapolis to chat about how marketing decisions can be informed by digital data to make a big difference in times of change.



Josh: All right. Hello, everybody. This is Josh from Augurian. I’m here with Kevin Bauer. I’m super excited to have Kevin with me. We’re going to be talking about data. I’m excited because Kevin is a guy who’s a big thinker about data, how brands and agencies should be using it today and what it might look like in the future. Let me give you a little background on Kevin quick and then we’ll get started.

You were at Yahoo-Europe, then you came back to the US and worked for over a decade on the client side, Big Box retail stuff, e-commerce. Now, you’ve got your own consultancy, right? Kessel Digital.

Kevin: That’s right.

Josh: All right. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being here.

Kevin: Thanks for having me. It’s good to be here.

Josh: Yes. Like I said, data, that’s what we’re here to talk about. One of the things that I spoke about in my Episode 2 with Jen Swanson was this idea of speed of change. When you and I were talking prior to filming the video, you mentioned that as well. CMOs, they’re brought in to do a specific job or they have a specific formula. Change happens and innovation happens so that shakes their world. How do you see CMOs dealing with that?

Kevin: Nowadays, it is about trying to create as much agility for themselves and the organizations where they’re working. What I mean by agility is the ability for them to adapt to change no matter how rapidly it comes, or whether it zigs to the left or it zags to the right, that they’re in the position to be able to handle that fact. A lot of executives are now really starting to look at – “what is the core source of value in my organization? How do I nurture that in such a way that I can leverage that no matter what happens across the industry?”

For most brands, that’s going to start with their data. In particular, their customer data. There’s a lot of time and energy and effort being put in to understanding their data. How do brands get their arms wrapped around their data size? Do they have a complete set of data? Do they have a true 360 degree, a single source of truth and how they leverage that across the organization so that no matter what technology gets plugged in, tomorrow, no matter what change happens tomorrow, they have the data to be able to integrate and power whatever technology or methodology comes in?

Josh: You talked about data as a product where you’re almost saying it should be like a grocery store, right?

Kevin: Yes.

Josh: You should be able to go to the shelf and find what – personas and what else?

Kevin: Yes. It is a pretty apt analogy. Imagine going into a grocery store. Today, they have aisles like bread, condiments, and soda pop, or whatever, right? In a business world or a data world, those aisles might look like things like preference models. Another aisle might be targeting models. Another aisle might be attributions. Imagine creating a situation where your various employees, your various teams can go down to the appropriate aisle for them and pull a box off the shelf. It has branding, it has a wrapper, it has a set of ingredients telling them what the data is, where it came from, et cetera, and then be able to go off and use that product. That means that they don’t have to continually go back to IT, or engineering, or sciences to hardcode, to build something that can be heavy and laborious. They can just plug and play into whatever technology or whatever system or other partner they’re working with, and take the product and then go execute and focus more on the strategy side of things rather than data construction.

Josh: Can you give us an example of an industry where you see this data layer really unfolding, maybe area where they’re either really focused on accelerating towards this or their challenged because they’re getting disrupted?

Kevin: Yes. It’s a really good point. It’s happening all over the place, to be fair, I would say at the macro level. There isn’t an industry that isn’t being touched by this. Whether it is due to trying to deal with privacy regulations, like GDPR, and CCP, et cetera, or just a need to personalize experiences, do a better job of getting more performance out of them, et cetera. There are a couple of industries that, in particular, have some really unique dynamics happening, putting even more focus on this. One of my favorites, if you will, is the energy utility sector. It’s one that a lot of us don’t think about on a day-to-day basis.

Josh: I just get my monthly bill and that’s all I need.

Kevin: Correct. Get my bill, turn my light switch on. These days, of course, tell Amazon or Google to turn on my lights for me and that’s all that I ever really think about but within that very experience that you just described is a really interesting challenge happening in the market. It’s making customer data be so important and so powerful. That is, today’s utilities have found themselves being abstracted from the customer relationship by the Googles, the Amazons, and the Apples of the world.

Josh: Yes, everybody who has smart home products are taking over that place.

Kevin: Correct. In the old days, it used to be that you would look up your utility, whether that was with paper bill or however you did that, give an idea of the energy consumption. With the dominance and the growth in smartphone gadgets, all that information is now happening at the door. You get it through your Google, not through your utility.

Josh: Like Nest will give you a little green leafs when you’re doing a good job.

Kevin: Correct. It may seem innocuous, but it shifted the value from the utility into the Internet, into the technology. The irony there, though, is that utilities have more data about the customers than the Googles and the Apples ever could when it comes to their energy consumption.

Josh: But they don’t know how to get it off the shelf, right?

Kevin: Correct. Metaphorically speaking, they’re trying to figure out how to create a Nest. In some cases, they’re even doing it physically speaking, but there’s metaphorically speaking, how do they reap, how do they get back in front of Google, et cetera, to be that source of value to the customer. That’s all rooted in how they leverage the customer data that they have that Google doesn’t have.

Josh: Right. Well, I want to thank Kevin for your time today. We’re talking data again and it’s always a pleasure. So cheers.

Kevin: Cheers.

Josh: Thanks to The Stray Dog. That concludes Episode 3, of Augers On The Town. See you.

Kevin: Thanks, everybody.

Josh: Bye.

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