An all-encompassing global marketing company, Epsilon harnesses rich data, groundbreaking technologies, engaging creative and transformative ideas to get the results clients require. Today, Epsilon supports hundreds of clients including 15 of the world’s top 20 brands, helping them find, acquire and retain customers. With numerous industry accolades across the company’s offerings, Epsilon is the market leader for email, data, loyalty and digital marketing.
Recognizing the immense technology talents in the country, Epsilon created a new India chapter in September 2015, setting up operations in Bengaluru—the technology hub of India. Associates in India will play a key role in providing insight and strategy support for Epsilon’s global clients focusing on strategically combining rich data, analytics, creativity and technology, to create powerful marketing campaigns. Epsilon currently employs over 100 associates in India and plans to continue to grow the number of associates in the Bengaluru unit over the next several years.
Here’s an exclusive interview with John Young, Senior Vice President and Head of Analytics at Epsilon.
[dropcap size=”2″]AIM[/dropcap]Analytics India Magazine: What are some of the main tenets (philosophies, goals, attributes) of analytics approach and policies at Epsilon?
[dropcap size=”2″]JY[/dropcap]John Young: Our goal is simple – we deploy a variety of analytics to help our clients improve customer experiences and drive better business outcomes. Analytics ensure that our clients get more value out of their other Epsilon investments – whether it be by enabling data-driven creative through segmentation from our agency services, or more effective campaigns as a result of predictive models leveraging rich data in our marketing databases. As such, we strive to include analytics in all of our client engagements.
AIM: Can you brief about some of the analytics solutions that you work on?
JY: Our solutions fall into three broad areas – segmentation & profiling, predictive modeling, and measurement.
Within the measurement area, there is an increasing focus by many our clients on multichannel attribution in order to better understand how various marketing communications across channels are driving results. We developed a unique, proprietary approach to multichannel attribution in response to this growing need.
With the explosion of unstructured data – aka Big Data – there has also been growing interest in text analytics. We have recently developed text mining capabilities that analyze various sources of unstructured data to help clients understand what is important to consumers and how they feel about their brand. With this deeper understanding of consumers, they can better engage and improve brand experiences.
AIM: Why is analytics needed in your organization? When did your organization adopt analytics and what has been the benefit till date?
JY: Our Analytic Consulting Group has been in place for over 30 years. The mission of analytics is to enable our clients to achieve better business outcomes by better managing their most important assets – customers. This is accomplished by providing a range of services that help optimize the marketing mix – improving audience targeting, pinpointing the best offers and communication content and frequency, and determining channel preferences. In today’s marketing, the focus is on improving the customer experience and deepening customer engagement. Companies that achieve this will win and analytics is a critical enabler. It’s not unusual for our larger clients to see topline revenue growth as well as cost reductions of tens of millions of dollars a year as a result of our analytic solutions.
AIM: What are the key differentiators in your analytical solutions?
JY: Our solutions are highly customized for our clients needs, leveraging not only their first-party data, which we often host in Epsilon-built marketing databases, but also rich demographic, behavioral, lifestyle and trigger data which Epsilon has compiled.
AIM: Please brief us about the size of your analytics group and what is hierarchal alignment, both depth and breadth.
JY: There are over 170 analytic professionals on staff. This includes programmers, analysts, statisticians and analytic consultants. In addition to deep analytics domain expertise, the more senior members in the team have deep industry knowledge.
AIM: What is the planned next steps/ road ahead for analytics in your organizations?
JY: We will continue to grow this practice area to ensure we deliver full value to clients with our marketing solutions. One area in particular we will invest in is digital analytics to better support clients as they continue to shift dollars to online marketing.
AIM: What are the most significant challenges you face being in the forefront of analytics space?
JY: An ongoing challenge is attracting and retaining top talent as the competition for quality analytic professionals continues to intensify. We also need to continue to expand and evolve our analytic solutions to meet growing client needs.
AIM: What kind of knowledge worker do you recruit and what is the selection methodology? What skill sets do you look at while recruiting in analytics?
JY: Desired skill sets vary based on the specific position. Generally we recruit people with a blend of hard and soft skills. Hard skills include knowledge of math/statistics and programming languages and the ability to work with large and complex datasets. Soft skills include collaboration, creativity, the ability to architect analytic solutions given the marketing challenge and the ability to communicate those solutions to diverse audiences.
AIM: How do you see Analytics evolving today in the industry as a whole? What are the most important contemporary trends that you see emerging in the Analytics space across the globe?
JY: Analytics will continue to grow in importance. In fact, a recent Ad Age survey of CMOs indicated that they will increase their spending on analytics by 83% over the next three years. Harnessing Big Data to develop a deeper understanding of consumers will be an ongoing theme. In addition, as online marketing becomes more prevalent there will be a growing need for recommendation engines that deliver targeted messaging and offers in real time.
AIM: Can you brief us about a specific use case in analytics that has brought significant value to organization?
JY: Predictive modeling is the single largest use case for our clients and thus the most prevalent analytic service delivered. This is attributable to the continued importance of robust audience targeting in clients’ marketing programs.
AIM: What are your thoughts about Analytics in India? Where does it figure in your whole analytics strategy?
JY: Epsilon is aggressively expanding its offshore resource pool in Bengaluru. This expansion will include analytic capacity, where growth rates will exceed that of overall Epsilon staffing to keep pace with demand.
John Young is Senior Vice President and Head of Analytics at Epsilon, where he oversees a team of over 125 programmers, analysts, statisticians and consultants. In addition to general management responsibilities, John provides thought leadership and helps architect analytic solutions that address clients’ marketing challenges.[/spoiler]
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Bhasker is a Data Science evangelist and practitioner with proven record of thought leadership and incubating analytics practices for various organizations. With over 16 years of experience in the area of Business Analytics, he is well recognized as an expert within the industry. Earlier, Bhasker worked as Vice President at Goldman Sachs. He is B.Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Varanasi and MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow.