Webinar Recap: Business Growth With Direct Customer Experiences in the Age of Privacy

25 days ago
Webinar Recap: Business Growth With Direct Customer Experiences in the Age of Privacy Image

In this discussion, CEOs Tim Hayden of Brain+Trust and Brad Weber of InspiringApps took us inside the world of customer data, privacy, and security. 

You can watch the webinar replay or skim through the conversation explored below.

The Importance of Data, Privacy, & Customer Experience

It’s a bold new digital world. AI and IoT are disrupting big tech, social media uncertainties abound, and security and privacy challenges continue to grow. Changes in data regulations will make it more difficult to learn about your customers in the future.

Whether you’re on the cusp of building your next app, maintaining a current app, or introducing an app into the marketplace for the first time, your digital product and your brand must connect with customers in ways that build trust and create engaging, personalized experiences.

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About Brain+Trust: Brain+Trust is a strategic consultancy empowering brands to compete at the speed of the customer and grow revenue. By helping brands and leaders make sense of an evolving marketplace, they can better understand their customers and grow their business. Brain+Trust Partners counsels companies and organizations with strategic consulting, governance and compliance, automation, product development and more.

About Tim Hayden: With more than 20 years of marketing and business leadership experience, Tim Hayden has been a founder of new ventures and a catalyst for transformational progress within some of the world’s largest brands. Part social anthropologist, part strategic business executive, Tim studies human behavior and how media and mobility are reshaping all of business. From operations to marketing and customer service, he assembles technology and communications initiatives that lead to efficiency and revenue growth. A past and current investor/advisor to technology startups, Tim works with entrepreneurs and ventures to capitalize on opportunities and shifts across many industries. He also proudly serves in executive board and volunteer leadership positions with non-profit organizations.

About InspiringApps: App development that makes an impact. InspiringApps builds digital products that help companies impact their employees, customers, and communities. Yes, we build web, mobile, and custom apps, but what we offer is something above and beyond that. What we offer is inspiration. Our award-winning work has included 200+ apps since the dawn of the iPhone. Our core values: integrity, respect, commitment, inclusivity, and empathy. Our guarantee: finish line, every time, for every project. Get in touch at hello@InspiringApps.com.

About Brad Weber: Brad Weber has more than 25 years of software development experience. Brad received his MBA from the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado and spent several years with Accenture before striking off on his own adventures, including the successful founding of four different technology companies. With a passion for software artisanship, Brad founded InspiringApps to build a team that could tackle larger app development challenges than he was able to handle on his own. His leadership creates an environment where the most innovative digital products continue to come to life.

Read the Transcript

Stephanie Mikuls

Welcome everyone. We might have people joining here, but we can go ahead and get started. Thank you for joining us today on our webinar: Business Growth with Direct Customer Experiences in the Age of Privacy. This is a joint session between InspiringApps and Brain+Trust partners. The first webinar in a series where we’re talking about the current landscape as it relates to businesses navigating changing privacy restrictions, evolving AI, and more. We’ll see where it takes us. I’m Stephanie, I’m the Marketing Director here at InspiringApps. Just a few notes as we get started, we are recording this, so I think you’ll see a notification pop up if you haven’t already. Hit OK, and then we’ll have time for some questions at the end. So throughout the webinar, if you want to enter any questions into the q&a panel, there’s a little modal at the bottom bar. And then Tim and Brad should take some questions at the end. I’ll kick it over to you guys if you want to introduce yourselves and share a little bit about each company, and then we can just dive into today’s discussion.

Brad Weber

That’s good. After you, Tim.

Tim Hayden

Thanks for that, Stephanie, and thanks to everyone who’s joining us or watching this and watching the recording. I’m Tim Hayden. I’m the CEO and founder of Brain+Trust. We’re a consultancy that helps organizations and brands leverage their first-party data. We see it as the order of the day, and that includes customer data platforms, hybrid cloud environments, and working with partners like InspiringApps to make what’s next possible.

Brad Weber

Awesome, thanks, Tim. I’m Brad Weber and the founder and CEO of InspiringApps. We design and build custom web and mobile apps for funded startups and large enterprises. As Stephanie and Tim both alluded to, we are here to talk about data privacy today and the challenge that brands face in maintaining or establishing relationships with their customers in that environment. So that’d be helpful to set the stage, provide a little context as to how we got here and where we are today to frame this discussion. I think if we if we go back long enough, the relationship between brand and customer was extremely personal. Tim, I know you have a story you’d like to share about that if you want to kick it off. 

Tim Hayden

Sure. You know, Brad, as I share with a lot of folks, I’m a recovering mobile strategist. Back in 2008 to 2013 or 14, I was really focused on companies building mobile experiences. Many times that was apps, and that was text messaging. But you know, everybody, I think that’s when some of the first conversations about personalization really started to bubble. And with it, I’ve started to remember back in the days of being a child and going with my mother to the grocery store, and the folks at the checkout line are back at the meat counter. The Butcher would actually know our names, would know our favorite cuts of meat, would know where I went to school or if I was playing T-ball, baseball—whatever it was. To me, that was the epitome of a customer relationship, right? It’s the reason we kept coming back because it was empathetic, and it was personalized, and obviously, where we are today with digital technology, I think we’ve really relegated ourselves to transactional clicks, shares, web traffic, you know, time spent listening. We try to quantify that as a customer relationship, and really personalization means more than that, and I think you agree.

Brad Weber

I do agree, and beyond the conversation with the butcher, and I can remember those days with parents grocery shopping as well too, brands were starting to collect data about us. Even back then, it could have been mail order history of learning what products were going to our houses. We’ve had grocery store loyalty programs for a really long time, where our purchases are being monitored in that way. And really, even just using the same credit card for transactions over and over again give companies some data to start trying to piece together a picture of who we are as consumers. But a lot of that was educated guesses until social media came along and really took all the mystery away, and consumers were willing to share personal information. Maybe we could use Facebook as a glaring example of that certainly, not only with one another but at the same time—they’re really sharing information with Facebook about what they did on their weekend, how active they are, what kind of dog they have you know, how many kids. Things like that show up on posts and photos, and so there are 2 billion people a day that are still using Facebook and 3 billion per month on a regular basis. So we moved into a phase where there’s a tremendous amount of activity and really a pretty willing audience, or willing user base, to share that data. And with that, you know, Facebook was able to really understand us in great depth. They could provide that information to companies either selling it or making it available to the brand, and that was related to your login with sort of entry into a particular platform. But once we added mobile and you talked to Tim about your experience as a mobile strategist, that really took things to a new level. So now we have a device, you know, a phone that we’re carrying with us everywhere. We’ve got it with us at all times. You add to all the information that Facebook had been gathering about us over the years—our location, some health data, and some other really personal things that the mobile devices make possible. And as I said, there’s really little mystery left in terms of who we are as consumers. So that was big business.

Tim Hayden

Absolutely. Yeah, no, I think you’ve said it, though, at the beginning when you were really quantifying the volume of users that are with Facebook. I mean, if you think about just how you opened up that account, and it asked you where you went to high school, where your hometown was. They started off at the beginning, being able to build some semblance of a network around you and then to be able to suggest people for you to connect to that had answered questions similarly. All right. And then, of course, everything you just outlined there in terms of our behavior, as the metadata, our location, the places that we eat, or we drink, we shop—all the things that we do to leave breadcrumbs in Facebook, as it’s an app that runs in the background if we allow it. It’s an app that, if you even allow the app on your phone, I do not, but you know, at the end of the day, we’re seeing the manifestation of, you know, probably a good 15 years of digitization of our lives. And where we have basically outsourced what used to be phone calls, what used to be saying hello to your neighbor, you know, what used to be very simple pleasantries and just orders of the day in terms of how we communicated have now moved over to digital means, and with that, it’s become quite noisy in quite a mess online. And that’s kind of where we are today, and what you and I can really address is not getting it all figured out and not just talk about all this happening today to clean it up, but the order of the day and what’s happening legislatively and also from a big tech standpoint, that’s trying to clean up that mess, right?

Brad Weber

Yeah, I think that’s important. That’s a good segue into an important topic, which is that I think after an age of great data providing on the part of we consumers and data collection on the part of social media and brands, some people in recent years have decided that we’ve gone too far. And so the EU was probably the most prominent to cast the first stone in that battle and new regulations for collection, use, sale, and removal of user data in the form of GDPR. And not long after, California was the first state in the US to implement similar regulations, and as we’ve talked, five others have since fall to start in January this year, so it’s definitely a trend in that direction. Combine that with Apple requiring developers to disclose the collection and use of data in their apps, even in the app store, before consumers are downloading or making their choice to install an app. And they’ve restricted the practice that Facebook has implemented to provide data about users that they didn’t know was being shared with app developers. And the financial impact on Facebook or meta was dramatic. About a year ago, their stock dropped 75%, which was billions and billions of dollars. It was astonishing. So clearly a move—Google has joined the fight as well by killing third-party cookies in browsers that we’ve used for decades to track users. And now we’ve got Apple, Google, and others who are kind of positioning themselves as gatekeepers to this consumer data. So that is, you know, it’s a big picture, and it is a big challenging picture for brands in order to try to establish these relationships with customers. So Tim, what are your thoughts about what’s behind the regulations and this backlash that we’re seeing now?

Tim Hayden

Well, you know what, I think we set the stage there in terms of if, for those of you listening and watching this, you know, the overall volume of information that a handful of companies, maybe two handfuls of companies, have been able to collect over the better part of a decade right now. There’s obviously people within government, as Brad said, as you said, you know, you’ve got this feeling that they’ve gone too far or they’ve gotten too big. There’s all kinds of talk about antitrust and anti-monopolistic moves and measures that governments can take to try to limit or rein in these companies. But at the end of the day, what I think is fascinating is these data privacy laws, the continuity between them. There’s a few things to your point. It started in Europe, and it actually was some Scandinavians and maybe Germany as well that started to have more rigor to data governance in terms of government oversight and the policies that were in place, but the Scandinavians called it what it was, they call it digital suicide, right? Your ability to go to a company and say, forget everything you know about me, or the freedom to be forgotten. And what each of these privacy laws you’ve mentioned? The five you’ve got—California, you’ve got Utah, Colorado, Connecticut, and Virginia. Those laws look very similar to what GDPR said in its initial versions and as its iterated and manifested in what it is today. And it comes down to four or five basic things, right? It’s what I already mentioned, you know, your ability to ask a company to be able to see the data that they have on you and, more importantly, to be able to correct it. Right. And not only that, but to ask the company to pause using it. You know, it’s kind of interesting because Facebook will give you the opportunity to take a break from a friend if you don’t want to see him in your feed. It’s fundamentally very similar, right, is to say, Listen, I don’t want you putting a display ads in front of me, I don’t want you to send me any direct mail or email—different than unsubscribe. I want to be clear about that. This is different than unsubscribe. And actually, the freedom to be forgotten is different than unsubscribe as well. But lastly, is this notion that we’re giving the consumer a total control of the data that they’re emitting from their devices and from their activity on websites, social networks, and apps as it is. And I think you brought up Facebook with iOS 14, I was 14.5. It was any brand that had an app deployed for their users. They noticed all of a sudden that dashboards went over the course of just six weeks. Their dashboards went all but flat because Apple had basically flipped the switch and gave all the control to the Apple user, the iPhone user, the iPad user, and the Apple TV, which was what I think a lot of people was their first time they see it watching Apple TV. Do you want National Geographic to follow your traffic between the website and apps on Apple TV? And most people said no. Still today. I think it’s somewhere near 80% of folks have said no; I don’t want that tracking. So that’s what big Tech is doing what I just said but the data privacy laws themselves. When you think about it, what it is it’s a prescription for companies to get their data in order, to structure their data. And you and I know what that means. That means that you can with structured data and clean data, organized information, all of a sudden, you can bring automation to bear. You can bring artificial intelligence and machine learning into your organization to help automate some of your business operations and just to the point, I think we’re talking about today, how to personalize, if not individualize many of the customer experiences that your customers have. So while it may seem freaky and almost big brotherly when we talk about personalization, and others talk about it. It’s actually the thing that companies have to do in order to be able to comply with a lot of the legislative and the rulemaking that governmental bodies are putting in place.

Brad Weber

And we, as consumers, want some of this right. I don’t think that either one of us are suggesting that data collection in its entirety is a bad thing and that no consumer wants that. There are benefits, and you alluded to this as well. There are usability improvements that come potentially from the data that’s collected to personalize your experience with a brand or in an app, or on a website. There’s also financial reward—even if you go back to the grocery store loyalty program that I mentioned, you’re you’re sharing data about your purchases in exchange for a discount on the goods that you buy. We continue to see that pattern on both web and mobile today. So legitimate reasons for collecting it. Would you agree?

Tim Hayden

I totally agree. I mean, I think, you know, that what the responsible brands of the world are doing and the ones that are doing it right with compelling, relevant content, and, you know, user experiences and customer experiences that have gleaned insights through whatever way possible. Whether that’s surveys, it’s polls, it’s post transaction, questionnaires, and being able to understand your customers really to build, and I’ve mentioned it before, empathy, to just kind of put yourself in their shoes and ask them questions. Why are they buying from you? It goes beyond net promoter score. CSAT scores, those kinds of things. The companies that have done them, I think, are the ones that continue to have trust and confidence with their audiences. And with that, the opportunity to continue collecting data in many of the ways that they have in the past. And I think that’s where this whole notion of that direct experience, right? And if we could just peel back for a second. Think about Facebook, right? And think about Twitter, think about Instagram, Tiktok. You know, this is what the advertising world has always known that there are mediums. There is something between the brand and the audience, and we have to pay to get there. And a lot of people say I like to fish where the fish are, right? They’ve always thought that when, in fact, what the app world both with websites and with mobile apps, and let’s be honest, what else is mobile the watches that we wear today, our cars are connected, myriad channels or places and venues now that have app opportunities. Those are actually the big, I think, opportunity right now for a brand to tailor the experience, right? To provide a utilitarian not just a sales channel but a utilitarian and much more meaningful relationship with your customers. Those that you know and those that you can, you know, think about in a funnel like way that are on that journey to becoming not just a customer once but a repetitive customer, a return customer and putting some type of utility in front of them that allows you to collect data, and of course, double down on that meaningful experience.

Brad Weber

Yeah, let’s talk about building trust a little bit. So we can use a mobile experience for an example and talk a little bit about best practices there. So in my first experience as a user with your brand, what I want to see in the mobile app is the value that you’re going to provide. I downloaded this with some expectations. Now I want to see how you can deliver, and I want to experience it. I at least want to experience it enough to make an informed decision about whether or not I want to provide data to you. So one of the things that we look to do in apps that we’re designing with clients is to delay as long as possible that registration process or the initial disclosure of your data. If you launch an app, you know, like I said, you have some expectation of what it’s going to provide to you, but you don’t know for sure yet because you haven’t experienced that if the first thing you see when you launch the app is a registration screen. I think that is you’re just putting a barrier between you and that customer. So thinking creatively about how that user experience can be and how onboarding can be such that you give them a taste of what the app is going to be like and what your brand promises to deliver them before you go asking for their user information. So I think that’s step one. Step two is that once you get them to a point where now I’m interested, I am willing to share some data I’m gonna register for an account—limiting the data that’s collected to what’s absolutely critical, and especially critical to that particular experience in the app is another best practice that we promote as well with our clients. So it is easy to put a user registration form together. It just feels like it’s a normal registration form—Isn’t everybody asking for first name, last name, physical address, email address, phone number, birth dates, that sort of thing? Well, maybe, but you should have a legitimate reason for every one of those fields that you put on that registration page. And there’s one in particular that I want to pick on from recent experience of my own, and that is birthdate. And that’s an easy one where I think people can fall into the trap of thinking I want to do something age-related in my app; maybe it’s important that we’re going to segment users by decades. So are you in your 20s or 30s in your 40s? We may use it for different things in the future. So rather than just to ask if you’re in your 20s, 30s, or 40s, we’re going to ask for your birth date so that we can calculate things in the future—that’s not a good way to go. If all you need is to the nearest decade, then just ask for that. Right? And an example that I had recently on my own phone was installing an ordering app for a local sandwich shop that I like. And in that registration process, they asked me for my birthdate. And there was no security reason for this there. They weren’t going to validate that against my social security number or, you know, grant me access into nations in the future, and want to make sure that that’s correct. So I gave them a fake birthday because they don’t need to know what my real birthday is. Turns out the purpose of collecting it was to be able to give me a free sandwich as a birthday gift. When that event triggered for me, it was not even on the fake birthday that I had entered. They sent me a message on the first day of the month that they thought my birthday fell within and said anytime this month, come in, you know, show us this message, and we’ll give you a free sandwich during your birthday month. So collecting age in that example was a complete failure, in my opinion. They didn’t need to know the day of the month. They certainly didn’t need to know the year. They really just need to know what month I was born, and honestly, I would have felt much more comfortable providing that information if they’ve just given me a choice list of the 12 months, and I probably would have told them the correct month, but they didn’t need to know the day in the year. So that’s a kind of a classic example as we’re scrutinizing the data that’s being collected on these registration forms. We really want to think carefully and creatively about what we’re collecting and why.

Tim Hayden

No, I agree. And actually, in terms of the internet, right, which you had mentioned earlier how Apple requires, from a T&C standpoint, for an app maker someone in the App Store, right? To be able to disclose what type of information they’re going to collect. And the challenge there is it’s in a, you know, a five-point font, and it’s a user agreement that nobody reads, right? The big challenge in that world is what was called fingerprinting of devices, right? That big thing that happened starting a decade ago, plus that you download an app, and while you sleep at night, it crawls all over your phone and sees everything that you’ve done, right? There’s that kind of thing actually happened and, unfortunately, still is out there today as a concern. But the big thing that’s happened in the web world, too, is this idea of consent management, right? And consent management platforms, companies like OneTrust and Osano and these are companies that are basically monitoring all of the systems, content management systems, media networks, the apps that you have on your website. You think about car dealers, for instance, if you know certain browsers from Firefox and others will show you as apps are loading on a website whenever you first land on the homepage. And car dealers are always funny to me because they sometimes have anywhere from 50 to 100 different wingding apps and plugins on their websites. Well, what these content management platforms do is they monitor all those systems in real time to do two things, one to let you, the user know whenever you accept cookies or get into the nitty gritty of seeing all the systems and what they do. You can self-select that you do or do not want your data going to those systems. The other side of it, too, is being able to quantify, and Osano has a privacy monitor thing that plugs into your browser, that I love. When you land on a website, it gives you a privacy score. Things are getting better, or they’re getting worse. Well, I think they’re about the same. I think there’s only three possibilities, but they give that to you. And with that, your ability to understand that it’s not the website, but it is one or two of the systems marketing automation content management system that has been detected that maybe they had a breach or maybe they have some susceptibility from a cyber standpoint, right? So it’s not all about privacy, but it’s also just about the security of our data. I mean, and I wonder if we can talk about that for a second because this is the jam. When you talk about birthdays and cell phone numbers. Here in the United States, that’s all I need to be able to go and get your social security number, run a credit score on you, find out where you go to church, how many kids you have. There’s a lot I can tell just from those two bits of information, right? And identity graphs, there’s probably a handful of them here in the States still today. I think that’s a short-lived industry. But you know, at the end of the day, what is this about? Let’s talk about the relationship between security and privacy because that’s the other thing that we’re all realizing as we have text messages from political organizations that we never signed up for or people call us to offer us a new extended warranty on our vehicles. And we don’t even have a vehicle now. I mean, you know, it’s what I said beginning, right? The sloppiness, the mess that we have of data. There’s a matter of security, not just privacy, right?

Brad Weber

And what are you seeing with some of the bigger brands that you work with in that arena, Tim?

Tim Hayden

Well, I mean, I think that we’re seeing the table stakes, which is SOC 2 compliance and penetration testing on their systems to make sure that they can put up some type of fight and be monitored to avoid breaches. You know, avoid anyone hacking into databases. Their cloud, infrastructure, or anything else where data may reside. I think that’s the bare minimum that folks have got to do right now. We live in a world right now where you think about phishing the emails that you get that say, hey, click here, and you get a $100 gift card to Walmart, or Starbucks, or somebody else, right? The biggest rule of thumb to tell folks, and I see lots of big corporations starting to do this with their employees and also with their customers. To say listen, we don’t give anything away for free. So do not click on this, right? They already do this with multi factor authentication. When they send you a text message, give you a code, they say do not share this with anybody, and we will never, and trust me, will never call you to confirm that you get this code. So they know there’s that plausibility that somebody somewhere may be monitoring or just in a place to take advantage and exploit just a gap in the system or a susceptibility that exists within a social network or a or a company’s network, as it were, in terms of the systems they use to manage data.

Brad Weber

But email vulnerability is a big topic. We could talk for quite a while, but I’m glad you raised that. I’d like to showcase some work that we’ve done recently with one of our clients about that specifically. So you know, the phishing campaigns of old, where there’s just a simple request that you send $1,000 to the Nigerian prince or whatever the scam may be, has gotten a lot more sophisticated. And one of our clients came to us with the challenge in the mortgage space. So it’s high stakes, as people are buying, you know, potentially their dream home. And there’s a large sum of money involved. And there’s information on social media and elsewhere about the fact that you’re looking for a house. And so scammers have, sadly, compromised many email addresses, email accounts of realtors or configure out the realtor that you’re working with and create an email address that looks very much like that realtor or your title agent or someone else legitimately involved in the transaction—send you an email address or send you an email message rather, requesting funds related to your closing. But it’s not a legitimate party to that closing. So, for instance, the message would be we know that your closing is scheduled on Friday, but we’ve just heard from the bank that if you pay on Wednesday and wire your money to these accounts, we can save you 5% on your closing costs. So the money gets transferred. It can be 10s hundreds of 1000s of dollars in some cases, and it’s terribly sad, and it’s a multibillion-dollar problem that there was a terrific Bloomberg article about this last fall. If you’re up for a sad tale, you can pick that up, but the message was to try and get the communication related to those real estate transactions out of email, which is a vulnerable medium. It’s a vulnerable means of communicating and get them into an app or a website that is specifically dedicated for that purpose that all parties have little more control over the security environment, and you’re not going to see the same phishing campaigns to try to bilk you out of your money. So that’s, like I said, big topic, but just wanted to touch on that as an example.

Tim Hayden

No, I understand. And that’s, you know, that is a good point to talk about customer data platforms, right? And the role of machine learning and in being able to look at a company who is using 60, 70, maybe more systems to manage customer data. But then establishing an API connection, or at least a mother’s real-time, or it’s an API call that happens once a week from a CRM marketing automation system, supply chain management systems. You know, all the different things that may have customer information in them, bringing those into a customer data platform. And with that, allowing machine learning to be able to build a record for each customer based on the disparate email addresses, phone numbers, devices, and other information that is stored and all those 50-plus systems that are out there. And what that does is it basically puts in a company in a place where they can improve the integrity of the information that they have across all their systems. It’s not just what comes in the CDP or the customer data platform. It’s what also goes back out to make sure that the records that are in the CRM are clean and accurate as well or the mobile app management tool or whatever it is you’re using, right? With that, we’ve got this incredible opportunity to deal with what I call is misinformation, not disinformation. But the bad data that exists within the organization, which will help a company be able to rein things in when it comes to things that could lead to phishing events, right? Both internally with employees, for them to be able to verify people’s identity, but also on the outbound side, right? To assure customers that you’re not going to send them and what they’ve come to learn from you that you’re going to send them three or four different emails or five pieces of direct mail. It’s all about D duping that, eliminating the redundancy. So there’s a number of things that you can do with that as well as having more empathy and personalizing the experience in a display ad, an email, or the content that is delivered through a mobile app.

Brad Weber

That’s a great point, and I think that one of the ways that organizations can improve their security stance, their security position, is to limit the amount of personally identifiable information in databases so that those are the stuff that really is personally identifiable is smaller in number and easier to manage and monitor. And related to your comments around machine learning—we don’t necessarily have to know on the server side that the data we’re evaluating through this particular record that we’re looking at is "Jane." What is important in crafting personalized experiences or semi-personalized experiences for users is to be able to categorize them in some way. So you don’t necessarily have to know that it’s Jane, you have to know a handful of characteristics about Jane, what she likes, you know, depending on the environment that we’re talking about her habits, but you don’t have to know individual transactions to be able to evaluate necessarily all the time. If, on the server side, we’re able to categorize users or create categories based on patterns that we see across users, then we can have the mobile app or the web app teaming up and keeping data on the mobile platform, so on the mobile device, and just sending the characteristics. So you don’t have to know that I’m logged into that phone. You just have to know that it’s someone using it who likes the color blue and, you know, works out three times a week. If that information is important, then send that to the cloud and get recommendations back based on the criteria that’s been shared, without necessarily having to constantly exchange the intimate details about individual users back and forth just makes the whole system less vulnerable. So I think that’s an interesting approach that is kind of emerging recently as well. 

Tim Hayden

No, I agree. I mean, there used to be an app called TabbedOut, that allows you to basically pair your phone with a POS system in a bar restaurant, and then you’d be able to pay your tab from your phone, and even more fun—you could see on social media that your friends were at a pizza place and you could then send a code to them and say: “hey, this rounds on me”, right? You could do that. But the whole notion was that all the credit card information, all your personal information, stayed on your phone. It never was shared with the restaurant. It never went there. And it’s that reality is that hackers, if we want to call them that, if we want to call what the bad actors are in the world that are trying to access our information, that are trying to reach into a system and hold it for ransom. They’re looking for hundreds of 1000s if not millions of pieces of information, credit card information, social security numbers, other personal information—that would allow them to steal your identity and go do other things. They’re not looking for you on the coffee shop Wi-Fi network for that one phone to come in and get your credit card information. They’re not doing that at all. So that’s a that’s a fantastic point. The only thing I’ll stick with Jane for one second, though. Having that golden record and knowing a little bit more about Jane, I’m not challenging you but knowing a little bit more about Jane and having that information on the supply side on the brand side. Say Jane buys something from us. We send it to her, it lands in a box, and it lands on her front porch, and the box gets broken. Jane calls us, and this is the beautiful thing about, you know, great governance of data is that you can leverage technology in a way now to know when Jane’s calling in that it’s Jane it’s caller ID, right? It’s now prompting from the customer data platform. It is pulling over to the contact center Jane’s information. So you remember, and you know the minute you pick up the phone, you have to confirm it’s Jane. But you don’t have to ask her a bunch of questions. You just say Listen, are you calling about the thing we sent to you in a box last week? Right? And that, to me, is where the real opportunity for personalization is most critical is being able to spend less time on the phone. We know bad customer experiences mean that I had to take time out of my day to deal with a problem if the time is very short, then I’m happier. In this case, Jane’s happier, and the happier Jane is, the more likely she is not only to buy again, but to run and tell her friends—you’re not going to believe this, but the box was broken I called them, it took two minutes, they immediately said they’re sending me a new box, right? So that type of thing when we talk about direct experiences, when we talk about personalization. I think most brands need to understand it’s not all about creepy display ads that are put in front of Jane and only Jane sees. It’s more about that empathy on the inbound side is just to say, Hey, I know who you are, and I have some semblance of what your needs are. In the moment I pick up the phone, and the moment we start to have an exchange.

Brad Weber

Yeah, I think it’s important to separate those business cases that you’re talking about and to remember that each one needs to be evaluated individually. So the customer service use case that you talked about is a perfect example where it is going to say both parties who were engaged in that phone call a lot of time to know exactly who Jane is. And be able to look up her purchase transactions or previous transactions to support that call. I would say, though, if we’re talking about like a recommendation engine, you know, people who purchased X also like Y, you don’t need to know this specific person for that sort of thing. I mean, isn’t the only person that bought that stereo system, or that bar of soap, like their great aggregations that we can do at that level. So often, there are large and separated systems within a big organization and knowing which ones need that sort of individual customer identity and which ones don’t is an important part of the process. You think?

Tim Hayden

Oh, totally. No and I think that’s as you were delineating earlier about not needing all the data going all the way back to birthdays and just being able to compartmentalize yourself into a certain decade range, you know? With that, let’s just talk about what humans can really process, you know? People that are in marketing, and because the customer experience business, they can’t understand all the archetypes and all the different ways to slice and dice an audience. Because when you really look at it, Jane is pretty unique. She, you know, her customer journey, the way she got to us, the way she bought from us, and the frequency at which we see her. And we look at and peel it back, and we understand a little bit more about her. We don’t have any other customers look like Jane; you don’t need to know that, right? You need to be able to say—we have something manageable. And this is where I’m quick to stay is that standard persona mapping where you just ask people that are in customer facing directions, who are our customers? That practice may be dead, but being able to leverage data and be able to pare it down to that which is necessary to make great decisions. What you’re doing with content, maybe what you’re doing with product development or service development. That right there is the grand opportunity, I think, with responsible use of data.

Brad Weber

I agree, and one of the things I want to get back to the point that you made early in the conversation. You talked about the freedom to be forgotten. We’ve talked about users being able to opt out. I think another important best practice to consider is that you may not get the data that you’re asking for. So I think another classic example that I can share that I think many have experienced at this point is if you go to a brick and mortar retailers website to place an order, for instance, and maybe you want to pick up your merchandise instead of waiting for it to be delivered to you there will no doubt be a store finder on that site. And when you click the Find a store near me, the first message you’re going to see is that this site wants to know your location. Do you want to share that or not? And that is going to be a fairly precise location. It could be your house, for instance, that they would have it at that level of granularity. There is always the option, at least on well crafted sites, to opt out of that and just type in a zip code or an address or a city name. And that’s usually close enough for you to then be able to see on a map that other three stores kind of close to me. I can tell that that one’s the closest I don’t need you to necessarily know my home address to tell me exactly how many yards or miles or meters that is away. So being prepared to deal with the user declining to share that is really important. And then the other is the degree of granularity that we’re talking about. So location is a good example for ongoing data collection, and potentially, if an app needs location data for some reason—we can walk clients through we typically talk about specifically why we need that one. Do we need to collect location information in the background when the app isn’t even in the foreground. You talked about Facebook, for instance, running in the background. That’s is a perfectly legitimate use case for a fitness app that’s going to track your run, and you want to be able to see it on a map and exactly where you went. And you might be listening to music or checking email or something while you’re running; that app is going to be backgrounded, and so that makes complete sense. Do you have as the product developers, the app developer, different degrees of granularity so it works in the background or only in the foreground when the app is running? We can specify how coarse or fine grain we want that location data. So we want it to within 10 meters, which is pretty darn small radius, or is it enough to know kilometers or even like which timezone you’re in? If you’re developing an app that is a calendaring app, for instance and you really just want to make sure that your appointments reflect the timezone that you’re in. There are events that we can listen to in our apps where the operating system will tell us that there’s been a major change in location. You don’t even have to know what the specific location is. You just know from the operating system the user has moved in a way that the phone has determined is significant. And at that point, you can check one time to see where the user is at devices, update the timezone for the sake of display for for that calendar for your appointments and move on. It is not something you need to track on an ongoing basis, and it’s not something you need to track with great fine grain control. So a couple other points I just wanted to share. They’re about kind of best practices for ongoing collection data.

Tim Hayden

Well, and real quick, I know we’ve only got a few more minutes left. But I mean, when you talk about ongoing collection of data, to many marketers, that falls in the category of retargeting, right? In terms of saying, Hey, you, you clicked on something, and now you’re over somewhere else. We’re going to put another ad in front of you while you’re there. Leaving the social network and going to a new site, for instance. While that’s good in all, this year, a lot of that stands to change. As Google sunsets. Universal Analytics moves everybody to GA, for that fuse is lit for Google to finally deprecate third party tracking through the browser. So we’re not going to unpack that right now on what the cookie being killed is all about, but it is, you know, I hope that folks understand that you’ve got this fantastic opportunity through the customers you already know today to have a better, deeper understanding of the people who bought from you and who you’re looking for in terms of an ideal customer, it’s out there. Demand side platforms and media can help you in terms of identifying those audiences. But at the end of the day, just that Google is making that move, because we talked a whole lot about Apple earlier. We didn’t talk a whole lot about Google. But when you look at what Apple’s already done, and what Apple continues to do what Google is doing this year, there’s not a better time right now then to get your data in order and just start to look at those direct engagements that you can have this much more personalized engagements that you can have through an app and through let’s call it the mobile channel, which of course is not limited to the phone anymore.

Brad Weber

Yeah, that’s a good point. And also a good point that we’re winding down in terms of time as Tim and I are putting together some final thoughts here to share if there’s any questions from participants, feel free to submit those in the q&a section there at the bottom of the screen for Zoom and we’ll be happy to entertain those before we wrap up, but with that, Tim, thoughts, I guess, what’s next? You mentioned we are today; we kind of set the stage for the challenge and talk a lot about data collection and data governance on the server side. We’re kicking off a series of these conversations. Are there some highlights that you’d like to forecast that you think are worthy of a deeper dive and subsequent sessions? 

Tim Hayden

Well, absolutely. We already talked about structured data and how that makes it easier for machines to process data right to make sense of it. We spoke about it in the context of machine learning and building golden records. But what actually that does is well as it allows you to do much more with AI. And you know, I think where we are right now in February of 2023. We’re two months in to open AI, giving us chat GPT to play with. We’ve got Microsoft, who owns LinkedIn, and over the past few weeks, if you if you’re a LinkedIn user, you’ve noticed that LinkedIn is now suggesting completions of your sentences. It’s starting to do some writing for you. That’s not open AI, even though Microsoft invested 11 billion in open AI. That’s Microsoft and what their data science team has done. There. So I mean, you know, I think where our conversations could go in the future, I think we should always give a nod to privacy, no doubt about it. We’ve got to understand that to do these things with artificial intelligence and automation that are exciting, no doubt about it. Maybe a little scary for some people, but they’re certainly exciting to do that and to do that responsibly, we have to respect privacy, and we’ve got to make sure security is in place. So I don’t know Brad. I mean that’s that’s at least one more conversation. 

Brad Weber

At least one more, yeah.

Tim Hayden

Right. 

Brad Weber

I think you make a great point. And this may seem a strange parallel to draw here, but I feel like we had QR codes for years and years, and they were modestly popular, and people understood what they did but didn’t really take off until we had a global pandemic, right? You couldn’t hold a menu in your hand anymore. And now every restaurant you went to and still today, even though we’re hopefully at the tail end of that, or maybe have emerged from it. Restaurants are realizing that maybe we shouldn’t invest the money in printing those things. There’s some business benefit to it but QR codes at their moment during COVID. And the same well not COVID related, but AI has been around for a long time. I mean, decades and decades is improving. And it feels like there was a spark for sure at the beginning of this year, where I feel like AI and machine learning is having its moment, I think, definitely worth another conversation about that.

Tim Hayden

Definitely. And I think, you know, we certainly could dive a little bit deeper into some of the current events. We’re going to be afforded more. 

Brad Weber

For sure. 

Tim Hayden

Yeah, definitely. Yeah.

Brad Weber

It’ll be fun. So we have one question here, Tim, about where people can find more information about this topic. Do you have any favorite sites? resources? What would you recommend?

Tim Hayden

You know, I encourage people to follow the Customer Data Platform Institute because that’s, you know, at the intersection of everything we’re talking about in terms of data collection in terms of personalization, and obviously everything that’s happening on the privacy standards side of things and security. IAPP is an international group of privacy professionals. They have some incredible maps and resources there for you to watch legislation, as it’s in committee, state by state or country by country, and that’s being considered and being passed and enforced. Of course, anybody can find me on Twitter @TheTimHayden, or on LinkedIn. You can find me online at BrainTrust.partners. Those are the three ways to find more about what we do. And you, Brad?

Brad Weber

Nice, yeah, I was gonna say that I could probably put words in your mouth and say that we’re certainly open to continuing conversations about this, so reach out to BrainTrust.partners and InspiringApps.com. Your friendly local app developers, including InspiringApps, will be staying on top of regulations from Apple and Google in order to be compliant to get your apps into the store and keep them compliant. So you don’t have any surprise/takedowns in your future. But yeah, I would just offer in addition to the resources that you already shared and feel free to lean on to Tim and me personally and the teams that we have behind us. So Tim, thank you so much in the Stephanie and the team for organizing this. Thank you for all those who participated, and we’ll be back with another session soon.

Tim Hayden

Absolutely. Thanks for joining, and thanks for the team for putting this together. We’ll see you next time.

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AI + Data Privacy Artificial intelligence has arrived—and the race is on. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has revolutionized how we live, work, play, and communicate. It has tremendous potential to enhance our lives but can pose significant risks if not harnessed properly.  AI technology can detect and prevent data breaches, identify cyber threats, provide secure and encrypted communication channels for businesses, and more. And yet, with great power comes great responsibility. As AI continues to evolve, it poses significant challenges to data privacy, transparency, and accountability.  Join the CEOs of Brain+Trust and InspiringApps on March 21 as they engage in a thought-provoking discussion surrounding the rapid transformation in data privacy, and provide invaluable insights into the direction it’s heading next.  This is a fantastic opportunity to gain a deep understanding of the current state of AI + data privacy and its potential implications for businesses in the future. When March 21, 2023 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time (US and Canada) Registration Don’t miss out on this opportunity to stay ahead of the curve and be part of this important conversation. Click here to RSVP for an informative webinar you don’t want to miss!

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Resources for Austin Entrepreneurs

Austin has been ranked #1 in “America’s Best Places To Start A Business,” according to CNBC. This is largely due to the significant amount of resources available state-wide. Resources for Austin entrepreneurs abound, with phenomenal resources such as Austin Startup Week, BIGAustin, and Austin Women in Technology. Austin-based nonprofit, PeopleFund, posits that more than 99% of companies in Travis County are considered small businesses—so entrepreneurs in Austin are in good company and at a great vantage point to find phenomenal support systems. We posted a list of resources for entrepreneurs in Boulder and Denver, and since we also have team members in Austin, we felt a similar list could be useful for our friends in Texas. This post will touch on the same four areas of assistance for entrepreneurs in Austin: Legal Resources: As an Austin entrepreneur starting out on your business journey, you can benefit greatly from hiring an attorney as well as learning fundamental laws that impact entrepreneurs, such as intellectual property.  Financial Resources: There are many active organizations that dedicate themselves to providing you with helpful resources to assist you in building the startup of your dreams. Networking Resources: Networking opportunities prove to be invaluable to getting acquainted with fellow entrepreneurs and immersing yourself in the tech world. Educational Resources: Austin entrepreneurs can utilize these resources to empower themselves and innovate for the future. Whether you are just starting out or are in the midst of your business journey, these resources will provide excellent value for every stage of entrepreneurship. Legal Resources for Austin Entrepreneurs RWR Legal: Entrepreneurial Law With offices in both Austin and San Antonio, RWR Legal focuses on entrepreneurial and investment areas of the law. The firm specializes in intellectual property, real estate law, and corporate services, among other legal needs of startups. As they put it: “We are passionate about building businesses—our own and our clients’—to help innovators achieve success.” Legal Garage: Business Law Legal Garage offers similar services to entrepreneurs. They cover areas of law, including filing confidentiality agreements, trademark licenses, and website terms and conditions. The company wants to ensure that entrepreneurs can find the legal services and resources they need at an affordable price point. Lawyer Referral Service: Lawyer & Community Resources Although not specific to entrepreneurs, the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas also offers a way to find the right lawyer for your business. They have an online form for an immediate referral, or you can contact them to ask questions if you need clarification on the type of legal help you need. CooleyGO: Legal Assistance Finally, as noted in our blog post about resources for entrepreneurs in Denver and Boulder, CooleyGO is a valuable online resource that can help you to identify and create all the key legal documents you need to get a business started. Whether you want to incorporate or want to protect IP with a non-disclosure agreement, you’ll find their free, easy-to-use document generator indispensable. They also create and curate outstanding content on everything from creating a board of directors to selling your company. Financial Resources for Austin Entrepreneurs CTAN Austin: Helping Startups Get on Their Feet Financial concerns weigh heavily on many startups. The most active angel organization in the US, Central Texas Angel Network (CTAN), helps young startups get on their financial feet. The group helps entrepreneurs secure early-stage investment. CTAN also offers mentorship opportunities and business resources. CTAN operates through a dedicated group of local business people who dedicate their time to helping entrepreneurs but also has a full-time executive director and an investment associate. BiGAUSTIN: Assisting Austin Entrepreneurs With Financial Options BiGAUSTIN is another excellent resource that has a quarter century of experience supporting local small businesses. A micro-lender, BiGAUSTIN helps entrepreneurs find the right loans and financing options for their startups. The nonprofit organization understands the unique financial needs of entrepreneurs during each step of building a company. Likewise, BiG houses Women’s BiZ Inc., a group specifically geared to support the female leaders of Central Texas. Accion: Providing Loan Advice & Assistance Similar to BiGAUSTIN, Accion assists entrepreneurs and small businesses with loans. Just fill out their hassle-free online application that outlines your business goals and the type and amount of financing your young company needs. Need help determining what kind of loan or the amount you need? Accion provides one-on-one advice and solutions. SCORE Austin: Answering All Your Business Questions SCORE Austin, an organization that offers free counsel in multiple cities, assists local entrepreneurs in confidently tackling financial questions. They do everything from pairing you with a mentor in the business world to helping you enroll in workshops on a variety of topics to providing free financial resources. SCORE relies on a dedicated group of local business people who volunteer their time and experience to help those just getting started. Mentoring is free and entirely confidential. USDA B&I Eligibility Map: Checking if You Qualify for USDA-Backed Funding Small business owners/entrepreneurs may want to know if they are eligible for a business loan or a specific loan in relation to what they do. To do this, they can check out a USDA B&I eligibility map to see if it is available in their area. The USDA B&I eligibility map finds out if you qualify for funding in a matter of seconds. Networking Resources for Austin Entrepreneurs Austin Chamber of Commerce: Nonprofit Member Organization It’s always so helpful to “find your people,” and that’s never more true than when faced with the challenges of startup life. Austin Chamber is a nonprofit organization that helps entrepreneurs meet other startup leaders while focusing on developing businesses as a community. Part of the mission of the Austin Chamber is the growth of the local economy; they believe that when entrepreneurs thrive, so does Austin, and thus are eager to help create community. Capital Factory: Entrepreneurial Co-Working Space Capital Factory is a prime co-working office space home to many entrepreneurs and startups. Beyond offering desk space, they sponsor numerous community events, many free of charge. Whether you have just started down the entrepreneurial path or want to expand your startup, Capital Factory provides valuable workshops and networking opportunities to help your business excel. Expansive is another shared workspace and is a personal InspiringApps favorite. Expansive is just as it sounds—an expansive and thriving workspace. Networking Austin, BuiltIn: Local Professionals Club Networking Austin is a club of local professionals from various industries and companies worth checking out. Membership is broader than just entrepreneurs, but the events offered can still help you build your business and make quality connections. BuiltIn Austin is a tech-oriented meet-up to meet new people and build relationships LinkedIn Local Austin Networking has a strong membership and is a great way to expand your network. Austin Technology Council is a fantastic group with which to network, engage, and share ideas. Educational Resources for Austin Entrepreneurs Austin Technology Incubator (ATI): Bootcamps for Startups Austin Technology Incubator invests itself in the tech solutions of the future. Part of the University of Texas at Austin, the ATI enjoys access to university affiliations as well as corporate partners. You can attend a diverse set of boot camps and workshops with ATI, such as their “Health Care Startup Boot Camp” or “The Art of Combining Social Purpose with Profit.” The City of Austin also has a Small Business Program that offers “business training, educational events, and coaching to empower entrepreneurs.” Events cover topics from how to hire the right employees to understanding business loans. Their website also includes a comprehensive list of outside resources for entrepreneurs. Utilizing Your Resources as an Austin Entrepreneur As you continue to grow your business and face new challenges, we hope you keep some of these resources in mind for future use. No matter what stage you find yourself on the entrepreneurial path, these legal, financial, educational, and networking organizations are great places to turn to for guidance and assistance. We encourage you to utilize these resources as a starting point to connect with other techies, immerse yourself in knowledge, and attend leading events. At InspiringApps, we believe shared collaboration is the key to creating immersive and transformative solutions. Looking to dig deeper? We created this free eBook on app development from a business perspective geared to help innovative entrepreneurs like you succeed.

17 days ago

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