Rise of the Data Cloud

Your Personal AI Search Engine with Scott Holden, CMO of ThoughtSpot

Episode Summary

This episode features an interview with Scott Holden, CMO at ThoughtSpot. Scott was previously a VP of Marketing at Salesforce and a Senior Manager of Logistics at Walmart.com. In this episode, Scott talks about how ThoughtSpot is revolutionizing the relationship between Artificial and Business Intelligence, the importance of leaders using data in decision making, the future of self-driving analytics, and much more.

Episode Notes

This episode features an interview with Scott Holden, CMO at ThoughtSpot. Scott was previously a VP of Marketing at Salesforce and a Senior Manager of Logistics at Walmart.com.

In this episode, Scott talks about how ThoughtSpot is revolutionizing the relationship between Artificial and Business Intelligence, the importance of leaders using data in decision making, the future of self-driving analytics, and much more.


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Episode Transcription

Steve Hamm: [00:00:00] well, Scott, it's good to talk to you today. I noticed you're wearing your ThoughtSpot. T-shirt I'm very stylish. And I thought, I think you mentioned something about an anniversary. Tell me about that a little bit.

Scott Holden: [00:00:13] Yeah. Hi, Steve. It's great to meet you. Thanks for having me on the show today. I am wearing my ThoughtSpot. T-shirt I'm proud to represent the brand. Today, especially given today is our eighth anniversary at ThoughtSpot. It's a, always a special time of year. It happens to coincide with my wedding anniversary, which happened a week ago.

So it's easy for me to remember. And, uh, I've now been at ThoughtSpot for about five and a half years. So, it's been an awesome journey so far and always good to commemorate it once a year.

Steve Hamm: [00:00:51] So just to go down memory lane a little bit, I noticed that you minored in philosophy at Colgate. And I think that's really interesting, you know, there's a lot of people dump on the humanities, but I actually, I was an English major and I, I tell people that, that my, my college education has served me every day of my professional life.

So I'm curious about philosophy. How have you used that mental framework in your professional career?

Scott Holden: [00:01:17] You know, I absolutely loved my philosophy classes in college. It's probably my favorite subject across the board. And. The thing that drew me to it initially was logic. There's something about philosophy that just teaches you how to think and break down arguments, structure them.

I think when you're young, you're trying to figure out the world and put it all together. And so I, you know, I liked the structure and the logic behind it. I came from a, a long family of lawyers. And, I did not go that way, but I think the, the thing it taught me most is that it taught me how to, to think, write and communicate both with clarity, and concisely.

And that's something, you know, if you think about most of the college papers I was asked to write, oftentimes they'd be. You know, 20 page, massive book reports. Whereas the philosophy papers were always intended to be short, you know, try to convey your key points in a few pages. And if I think about how that applies to marketing, it's actually incredibly relevant.

I'm not a, I'm not putting trial arguments together, like my relatives, but I'm making, you know, trying to make. Clear and concise arguments in the form of messaging and positioning and even in the world of copywriting. I mean, everyone in today's world is trying to get a clear message in a small bite sized packages they can get.

And so believe it or not, I think, you know, my background and philosophy in some way or another helped, me in what I do today.

Steve Hamm: [00:02:59] Yeah, well, that's interesting. I had never thought of marketing in that way as an argument, but you're absolutely right. You're trying to convince somebody of something and usually to buy something.

I see you had quite an impressive stint for more than seven years at Salesforce. What was it that took you to ThoughtSpot?

Scott Holden: [00:03:16] Yeah, I had an amazing run at Salesforce. It was, um, you know, I joined the company. It was about 1500 people and I left seven and a half years later. It was almost 20,000 people. So I saw it through just tremendous growth and got a world class education, marketing education throughout that I. Was lucky enough to lead the product marketing teams for, you know, their core sales product for their platform business, for the collaboration business.

There basically wasn't any job at Salesforce did. I didn't have, I ran industry marketing solutions, marketing. I even started out, you know, building the keynote presentations for the CEO, Mark Benioff.

Steve Hamm: [00:03:59] you know, I, I've known Marx practically since he was a baby in a way. I, I was a journalist in Silicon Valley all through the nineties. And I first met him when he was running the quote PC division, which I think was about 10 people at Oracle was probably at about 1994, 95. And I remember my first impression of him.

I went in and most Oracle people at that time, you know, wore suits, but I went and he was wearing cowboy boots and jeans, and I think a tee shirt and which, you know, isn't strange these days for companies, but at that time it was, it was kind of bizarre, but. He had kind of a twinkle in his eye. And I think he always knew he always had a good sense of where the opportunities were and he certainly has shown that in the intervening years.

Scott Holden: [00:04:48] Yeah. It's well, it's not uncommon to see Mark, especially when he's relaxing and comfortable clothes, whether it's cowboy boots or his. Trademark Hawaiian shirts, but, yeah, I, you know, I had an amazing time there and  the company did phenomenally well, and I think I got to the point where I realized that it was going to probably continue to do phenomenally well, whether I was there or not.

And I. You know, I like feeling a sense of contribution. I like feeling like,  I have a big impact in whatever I do. And as I looked at my, you know, the options in front of me, it Salesforce, I, I could have thrown my name in the ring to go after the CMOs spot there. I could have gone and tried to be a GM of one of the business units, which at the time was actually probably more attractive to me, but I, I really just love marketing and I wanted to, you know, Continue to get my hands dirty.

And I wanted to take on the full responsibility of the CMO role and, you know, live the Silicon Valley dream, you know, start with something small, build it into something big, and see the, you know, the fruits of my efforts in a kind of linear fashion. And so that's what led me to ThoughtSpot. I met the founder and CEO of Jeet Singh.

Who's now our executive chairman and, uh, You know, when I was thinking about companies to join as a marketer, it's at least for me, it's incredibly important that buy into the vision and the story. And, you know, probably most importantly, the problem that you're going after solving in the market. Okay. And you know, my background, I started my career as an investment banker, so a bit analytical and I'd used all the different analytics products out there in the world.

And I thought they were all terrible. I'd had many, many painful experiences. And so as much as I was attracted to the market, I just. Thought that the technology would never kind of live up to what I thought it should until I met a G. And when he, you know, when he talked to me about ThoughtSpot and the vision, you know, I was absolutely sold on this vision of making analytics as easy as your favorite app, you know, it should be.

As simple as typing a question into a search box and getting an answer back out of your company data that, you know, that resonated with me incredibly well. And then the other two key components was that, you know, it's actually, it's a really hard problem. There's a reason why, you know, the company was started in 2012 and it hadn't been done before, as obvious I think is it sometimes seems to people, is that technically, it's a very hard thing to do.

And so when I met the founding team, you know, there were seven technical, co-founders four of them from Google, a lot of both UX and infrastructure chops that basically gave me the confidence that, you know, this group of folks could really solve what is a very hard problem. And then third was the culture.

And, um, you know, there at ThoughtSpot, we define our culture as selfless excellence. You know, we put the. The customer and the company and the team ahead of the individual, let's strive to be excellent in everything we do. And, you know, it's a group of, uh, incredibly smart and driven people, but also a group of just incredibly humble people.

I think that's what stands out most is that, you know, there's, a lot less ego and attitude that you might find, in some Silicon Valley companies, which is, Incredibly refreshing and, motivating for me.

Steve Hamm: [00:08:14] You know, it's interesting. I've found that to be true for snowflake. When I first started meeting the team back last December, especially the founders. Very humble.

Scott Holden: [00:08:24] Yeah. You know, it's funny, it's, I think it's a trend too, and, you know, corporate America, and, and, you know, trickling into Silicon Valley, you know, being hard and aggressive and, you know, Take no prisoners type attitude. I think served companies well for a long time, but, you know, you're starting to see it more and more in Silicon Valley where humility, and you know, leaders and executives, companies treating employees and customers like real people and being a little bit more thoughtful in our human interactions.

it's a, it's a positive trend. I'm excited to see it developing.

Steve Hamm: [00:09:01] could you start by describing thus butt's business and its technology?

Scott Holden: [00:09:06] Yeah, absolutely. So ThoughtSpot is, A next generation analytics platform. If you want to kind of put us in a category and, you know, our, our mission is to make the world a more factory in place. So we fundamentally believe that data should be more accessible. And the insights that come from that data should be easier for every business person, really every person around the world to get access, to, to make smarter decisions, and, you know, run their businesses and their lives better.

And the, I guess if you try to unpack that a little bit and get to know why we're, why we're different, why are we unique to the other analytics companies that are out there? most of the analytics world over the years has been. Built for technical people is as much as folks have, you know, tried to use the self service label, really analytics was designed for data people.

you know, the first generation of analytics was about it teams building, you know, static reporting on pretty big monolithic systems. The second wave of analytics was around, bringing visualizations to data analysts and doing it on desktops and making it more accessible for them to do it on their own.

And in this third generation of analytics, we're seeing, you know, business people actually get to interact and ask questions of their data without the help of an expert. And they're able to do it with all the, you know, kind of perks and the governance and the scale of the bigger systems in the first generation.

and that's being enabled by, by cloud and enabled through technologies like search and AI. and so, you know, ThoughtSpot, you know, we call ourselves a search and AI analytics product, and ultimately what, you know, if you think about what that means for people who use our product, we want to make analytics as easy as your favorite app.

Essentially, you know, it's often described as, you know, Google for numbers. We're, we're sitting on all this company data, but it's still shocking how hard it is for people to be able to get answers and to get them quickly. I, you know, we talked to a lot of C level executives. They're like, shouldn't, I just be able to, you know, talk to Alexa or Siri or one of these, just ask a question and get an answer.

I was talking to a CEO of a famous. A furniture company just the other day. And, and he said, if, if another person tells me that they're going to get back to me in a day or a week with an answer, I'm going to throw my chair out the window. I can't, we just, can we just ask, you know, ask a question like Google.

And so that's what, that's what we're doing for our customers. And, you know, we're working with some of the largest companies in the world today. The Walmart. So the world, you know, Hulu Diamler seven 11, Caterpillar, it's a who's who, of some of the biggest companies trying to transform how they use data.

Steve Hamm: [00:11:58] So who is the typical user and how do they use it? Kind of a step by step way?

Scott Holden: [00:12:03] Sure. So a typical user, and this is the, this is the key thing is it is a business person. It's somebody like me, like you, who, isn't a data analyst who isn't. Incredibly technical. And doesn't want to sit in a three day training class, learning how to use a highly sophisticated product. you know, most of the advancements we've seen in analytics, you know, these, these tools have done wonders.

There's amazing visualizations you can create, but they're really hard to learn. And so ThoughtSpot, if you can, if you can use a search engine, you can ask questions of your data and get an answer. And better yet. The, the next kind of big evolution in our industry is what we call AI driven insights. And that's where you can actually get an insight served up to you before you even have to ask.

And that's where, you know, basically the system is constantly monitoring, large streams of data understands. You understands your preferences, understands the types of questions that you tend to ask, and provides you with insights about what you would care about before you even have to, and that, you know, for business people, if you think about.

A lot of us, you know, you can kind of get stage fright and being, you know, looking at a blank search box. So what, what do I want to know? And, you know, AI has an incredible power to be able to, you know, start the ball, rolling down the path of data discovery and to do it in a really efficient way, over lots of data volume.

Steve Hamm: [00:13:33] It seems like there's a convergence between kind of machine learning, AI people and business intelligence people. And I believe that your company in the early days was, was classified as a BI tool. How do you classify it now? And, who do you compete with? I mean, I recently on the podcast, we've actually talked to Dana robot, Dataiku and Tableau, and it seems like things are kind of bleeding one into another.

Scott Holden: [00:14:02] Yeah, they certainly are. And I'll, I'll try to unpack that and give you a sense for where, where we stand. So, We traditionally, we are in the, you know, BI and analytics category. So we're an analytics product. And, you know, as I said, it's our, what, what has made us stand out is that we've targeted very uniquely a business person who.

And this is the big difference. In most analytics products, the business person is a passive consumer of analytical. The site's created for them by data analysts in our world. We see business people being the hero of the narrative, where they should be able to ask their own questions and actually be a creator.

Of their own insights and that that's a fundamental shift from where the analytics market has been. And so, you know, we're still an analytics company. We're just trying to be a, you know, one that's a hundred times easier to use than something like a Tableau. I probably Tableau or power BI. Those are the two biggest companies in the classic BI space.

Those would traditionally be the companies that we would compete with, but we're going up. Things just very differently from them. And so oftentimes you'll have, you know, companies that we work with, they already have. Tableau, they already have power BI. And if they're still struggling to get, you know, answers on the fly to business people, because it's, you know, they're waiting on analysts, not everyone has an analyst at their Beck and call particularly on the front lines.

And, um, you know, typically the C suite. Likely has an analyst that kind of at there that does their bidding. But if you think about all of the salespeople, the marketers, the customer service people, the folks managing the logistics out in the warehouse, they don't, and for them, they likely won't get ones all that soon either.

And so if you can make analytics easy enough where they can get there. Answers themselves or have AI serve them up answers without them having to ask you fundamentally change the volume of insights that are floating around an organization and can make, you know, a business, more factor in smarter and all the goodness that comes from using all this data that we're sitting on top of come to life.

Steve Hamm: [00:16:19] how would a manager of a physical warehouse use your tool?

Scott Holden: [00:16:23] Well, I mean, I think now is a, is a really good, time to look at that, right in the, in were recording the show today in the COVID era where the world's just fundamentally changed over the last couple of months and supply chains have been disrupted and businesses are really trying to figure out how to adjust to this new normal.

And, you know, I'll give you an example of, one of our customers. I won't, um, I won't share the name, but it's one of the world's largest sport shoe manufacturers. And, you know, they I'll give you an example where, it ties back to their supply chains. So during this whole COVID a scenario, they were looking to launch a new shoe.

And one of their marketing managers, you know, not a data analyst was served up an AI driven insight from ThoughtSpot that showed her that the shoe they're planning to launch has a, shoelace was being manufactured from one of the heavily impacted regions in China, where  the shipping times and the production was significantly delayed.

And that's something that if, you know, I'm sure somebody probably knew that on the, on the supply chain floor out there in China, but making its way back to the marketing manager, who's planning are all of the, you know, all of the marketing collateral and the websites and the flyers and the advertising spend, you know, that.

Person, probably wouldn't get alerted to that as quickly. And so to have a system that's running across all this data, be able to pick out an insight and say, Hey, you might have a problem here. They actually delayed the launch and, and knew that they had basically a single point of failure, the classic bottleneck in the supply chain that they needed to wait for.

If they wanted to have a successful launch and not, you know, create a, you know, a nightmare scenario where they've launched a product that their customers want it. They can't fulfill. So, overly that gives you a sense that, you know, this is a world where that probably wouldn't have happened without the advancements to some of these technologies.

Steve Hamm: [00:18:35] that's a wonderful example.  did she put it in some kind of natural language query and got this back as a result?  or was she just alerted to this by the tool?

Scott Holden: [00:18:48] , so we have a technology built into the ThoughtSpot platform that's pervasive and it's our, it's our AI engine. We call it spot IQ for all the ThoughtSpot users out there who are familiar with it. And  it's pervasive. So it's, it's in a number of different places throughout the application and I'll, I'll give a couple of examples to help bring it to life.

So, when you log in our homepage looks a lot like YouTube or Spotify, there are insights that you've looked at most recently in the form of charts or tables. There's things that other people are looking at there. You have the ability in our system to follow metrics. and you also have right there in essence, like on YouTube, it'd be recommended insights.

You know, we call them, you know, spot IQ, AI driven insights that are served up to you on your homepage. And so you can find them there and it's, you know, things it's based on the types of data sets that you tend to look at. It's based on data sets like other people like you that have a profile like you and the system look at it's based on queries, like natural language queries that you might have asked in the past.

And so we're constantly serving those up for you, right, right. On the homepage. When you log in, if you then go ask a question of ThoughtSpot and use our, you know, our, our search engine that we're so known for, right at the bottom of the search result, you'll also have related searches if you will, which are again, AI driven insights that could have, I don't know, the precise place where this woman saw it, but it could have been there related to another query that she'd asked,

we have the ability after you type a search, it'll create an answer. You can just pin it to the dashboards for like you might pin a photo to, you know, a Pinterest pin board. We've borrowed from the consumer world there. And, on our pin boards, you have, you know, also insights the popup. And then finally, there's, there's a, probably my favorite thing actually, as there's a part of the application where if you're looking at a chart or you're looking at an insight anywhere, you can actually invoke spot IQ and ask it to auto analyze a data point or a chart, or you can actually ask it to analyze an entire data set if you want.

But I particularly like to aim it at. You know, something that is specific. So it might be a trend line. It could be a particular metric and ask it to auto analyze that. And what happens in the background is that this is where the power of, of cloud and massive compute basically goes out and crunches all of the data behind whatever data point I'm looking at and will essentially run drills.

In every dimension that the data exists and then apply, you know, a number of different algorithms on top of that to highlight insights based on my preferences that. Are likely to be relevant to me. And so in a matter of seconds, it basically builds for you an entire dashboard of it could be, you know, 40 insights depending on how you've set it up.

And, you know, we often describe it as it's like having the power of a thousand analysts in your pocket. You know, it's a, you know, to borrow from the famous iTunes iPod metaphor, but it literally does. You know, the work with that was an analyst and seconds. And that, to me, if you're trying to understand the why behind why, you know, why are we behind?

Why are we ahead? You know, what caused that dip or what caused our business to go in a new direction? It's incredibly powerful because essentially it's a, it's a Y engine, at the click of a button.

Steve Hamm: [00:22:14] when something's initiated by the user, it's basically a question answering machine that the does search

Scott Holden: [00:22:20] our product is, you know, it's a search box, just like Google. but if you, , ask it questions, you type in English, you know, you know, what were sales last week by product in North America? It translates your question in English, into SQL on the backend and what makes I think what people get people get confused by on initial glance is they think that when we searched it, we're actually serving up.

The answer is that someone's built before. And while we can do that, the thing that makes ThoughtSpot such a unique and powerful technology is it's a, it's an entirely new breed of search engine that actually goes into the raw tables based on what you asked and calculates an answer on the fly pits, picks the best fit, visualization, and presents that to you all in less than a second.

And that's where, you know, the reason why I think ThoughtSpot has come into existence here in the last eight years is that it, it really required both a UX advancement plus a computing power advancement for, to bring these two things together. And we just didn't have the compute power to be able to do this type of analysis before.

Steve Hamm: [00:23:33] So it's computing power and it's a tremendous amount of, variety of data that we're able to bring together.  are you mainly operating on the cloud or do you have on premises versions or kind of what's the, how are you seeing the cloud develop and the data cloud development?

Scott Holden: [00:23:51] Yeah. So You know, we started off, you know, offering choice and we, you know, we've always believed that, especially with our client base, the large enterprise, some of our customers have, you know, their, their data warehouses on premise. some of them, you know, run them on their own private clouds.

Some of them are taking advantage of the move to SAS and pure play cloud offerings. And so we've, we've sort of evolved with the needs of our customer base. And, you know, we started in the, on prem and private cloud worlds and are now as a company moving towards SAS and in, if I think about our partnership with snowflake.

One, there's a kind of a key learning and the reason why our whole partnership developed in the first place, and it's really driving a fundamental shift in the marketplace, which is when we set out to build ThoughtSpot. We actually, you know, wanted to deliver this, you know, Google like search experience on company data.

And the problem with it is that we just couldn't find basically databases that were fast enough to do it. And so after lots of searching, actually the founding team decided to build their own in memory database to speed up queries on top of slower databases that our customers had. And so that was sort of our initial.

Go to market motion. And then with the advent of snowflake , we've actually realized that the speed was there to be able to send our queries that we, you know, translate from English into SQL directly into the source data warehouse. It's a product we call ThoughtSpot embrace where we embrace the external data warehouse, like snowflake and query that.

Data directly and serve up answers in that same, you know, sub-second consumer like experience that people expect. And so it's been, um, you know, it's been a real, fantastic transition for us as a company and partnering with snowflake to be able to do something that when I joined the company, you know, just five years ago, wasn't possible.

and this is, and I think this is what, you know, I think everyone's always thought that the world is going to cloud. It's just a question of how fast. And even a couple of years ago, you know, I was sitting at a Gartner conference and, you know, the last two, three, four years watching the classic question, get asked where people raise their hands and say, you know, are you planning to move to the cloud?

And it was really last year where I saw a meaningful uptick where I think, you know, companies like snowflake have proven that. People are ready because they see the speed. They see the flexibility of the pricing model, the elasticity, the consumption based pricing. And it's just fundamentally changing how people view, how they're going to access data.

And we're partnering with snowflake to take advantage of that. And we basically, you know, typically sit on top of a data warehouse and make accessing all that data easy for the nontechnical folks, as we've been talking about.

Steve Hamm: [00:26:57] So I would imagine that this COVID-19 crisis is really accelerating the migration of data to the cloud. Are you seeing that in your business?

Scott Holden: [00:27:08] And, you know, it's been eye opening and I think that's been one of the biggest things that we've done is that, you know, analytics and data. Is something that even in a crisis companies need, they just tend to, they might perhaps have slightly different things that they want to look at.

And so we've spent a lot of time working with our customers on, you know, workforce management on business continuity on, you know, working capital supply chains as we talked about. So, really kind of helping them with the things that are most pressing, you know, they're all, I'll give another example.

We're working with, a company that it's a provider of revenue management for hospitals and HMS, and basically helps them collect, you know, their accounts receivable and manages that part of their business for them. And so, as you can imagine, during COVID a lot of these hospitals, you know, some of them have been under incredible duress, but a lot of the doctors aren't working because hospitals have elected not to do.

elective procedures. And so , it's a shame because a lot of our best healthcare workers are actually sitting idle in places where the COVID hasn't hit as hard. And so that's really caused these, these hospitals to look at both, you know, where are where's our cash collection coming from?

And. And also then try to plan ahead to say, when we do open, what procedures are we going to attempt to do first knowing kind of how what's going to impact the business and drive it forward if they have a choice. And so that, you know, we worked with. This, this company recently. And they, um, we literally met them in February and I've just started, working with them and they're, , a customer of snowflake as well.

And so it's been a great  combined effort where basically inside of a month, we've been able to get an entirely new solution set up for them to be able to ask questions like,  which customers payments  are due this month that are. Over 30 days old and for their business leaders to be able to, you know, dive into that data data.

And, you know, the beauty of ThoughtSpot and being powered by snowflake in this example is that, you know, you can right click and drill into any piece of data anywhere. And so to be able to kind of dissect by, by customer, by procedure and be able to know how to pivot in these times has been a game changer for them.

Steve Hamm: [00:29:33] have you changed your marketing strategy or execution during this crisis?

Scott Holden: [00:29:38] We sure have. And, you know, it's been, I can honestly say that our marketing team has never worked harder than during this timeframe. It's been, you know, about 40% of our marketing activities tend to be event driven. And so obviously with everybody inside their homes, that's not happening. And so it's, it's caused us to pivot like every other marketing company or marketing team out there and, move to virtual virtual events.

We've dialed up our digital advertising and virtual events and come up with all kinds of new formats for events. and it's so far, you know, the combination of new use cases and, you know, new virtual event formats. So far so good. people are still very interested in analytics and so we've found a way to reach them, even though some of our paths have been cut off.

Steve Hamm: [00:30:27] What's the newest virtual event strategy or technique that's being tried.

Scott Holden: [00:30:32] I just presented on this the other day to the company. we've got a, sort of a, an all a carte menu of four or five different formats that we're offering now, depending on, you know, The customer and, you know, their evolution in their journey with us, and what we're trying to achieve, things that range from private events that we'll host for some of our customers to, you know, I call a mass virtual event, where you're, you know, you're trying to, you know, get thousands of people engaged, in that, in that arena, you're starting to see some pretty interesting things in the form of augmented.

Reality. and people are throwing events where, you know, you can kind of interact with it. Like you might a video game. it's on the cusp of being cute, clever, but I've seen some early results. And so that's something that I've actually taken a look at and we're starting to explore, but really it comes down to who's, you know, who's the audience, what's the format.

Are you trying to, you know, blast and reach a wide range or are you trying to create an intimate dynamic? I love seeing these. You know, lunches with families, you know, groups getting together over wine or dinner. there's actually a, especially for busy executives, getting them together as often tricky.

And so people generally at home we've seen, it actually be easier to coordinate and get people together. And, yeah, it's been, it's been, uh, one of the side benefits of, this whole center.

Steve Hamm: [00:31:57] I hadn't thought of that. So how are you using data analytics , to come up with new marketing schemes and also figure out which ones are working, which ones aren't.

Scott Holden: [00:32:07] Well, I like to consider myself patient zero, if you will, with, with ThoughtSpot. And so I was one of the very first, teams to get up and running, on the technology. And so I'm in it every day. And. I've just never had access to data like I have with this product. it's been unbelievable. And the thing that probably gets me most excited about it is that I have people in my marketing team and, and you know, now and our, across  our whole company uses the product, the types of people that are asking sophisticated data questions and using data to make decisions.

It's honestly, something that you would have never seen. just as short as five years ago, you know, when you have, a field marketer come to you and say, you know, I know that this campaign that we launched looks like it's doing really well because it's getting a lot of leads, but this other one over here has been getting fewer, but the cost is more effective.

And we're seeing that these leads are translating into down funnel. And a much higher conversion rates. So on an adjusted basis, this campaign is actually a better performer than the one that's got everybody's attention with the big numbers. And when that starts coming from people that don't have any analytics background, just because they're playing with data and looking at data more regularly, you know, it's sort of like being a proud parent  it's amazing.

And , I don't have a data analyst on my marketing team. And , we're a 30 plus person marketing organization. Now at this scale, normally I would, and it's a Testament to how easy the technology has gotten that,  you don't need to have a data person do all the work.

If the user experience is easy enough that everyone on the team can do it.

Steve Hamm: [00:33:49] So you don't have to spend a lot of time training people on the tool, but in a sense, you have to train them to think differently about analytics and about what's possible with data.

Scott Holden: [00:34:01] it's interesting.  we just sponsored, some really good research that came out a couple of weeks ago. We partnered with the Harvard business review and launched a, you know, a big, big brand campaign for us. It's called meet the new decision makers and the whole concept is that yeah. People on the front lines. If they can get access to data, they're going to move your business forward faster. They're the ones who are interacting with customers. They're in there on the front lines of the supply chain. They're, you know, they're the marketers and today they just don't have easy access.

And so we, this research, we found that, you know, the stat was 86% of companies. That's 90% of companies want to do this, which is not surprising, or they want to be data-driven 86% of them don't think they have the technology, they need to get it done. And only 7% thought that they were on the right path.

And so,  we got this great research to show it across every dimension. You'd imagine productivity, engagement, customer satisfaction, you know, being data driven, improves all of those things.

Steve Hamm: [00:35:07] Being data driven is partly a

Scott Holden: [00:35:10] Yeah. And so that's where I was going with it is, is that, you know, obviously the data behind it is, is affirming, but probably the most interesting part of it was. And the reason why we're excited about it is that. Oftentimes people think technology is the silver bullet and it's an, it's not, it has to be technology paired with strategy, culture, talent, and training, and in the report, you know, if you, if you go to, you know, ThoughtSpot, you'll see thoughtspot.com, you'll see the research front and center on our homepage, or thoughts about.com/.

Decision makers and, uh, it unpacks sort of five key tips for how business leaders can think about driving change through data. And number one is strategy. Like you have to believe it. And this is the thing that probably stood out to me is the most surprising. And the whole, the whole piece of research was that it broke the respondents down between.

Leaders and laggards. And one of the things that really stood out was that, the leaders were 10 times more likely to actually want to put data in the hands of frontline employees. Shockingly, 40% of the laggards didn't want to do it at all. Like, didn't see the value of putting data in the hands of frontline people.

And so that from a strategy perspective, the first of all it comes with like, okay, yes, we believe in doing this second. As a leader, the leadership team needs to be bought in and actually want to drive change. And then it really comes down to not just thinking about the tech, although the Tech's a big part of it, but also the cultural changes, which is where I think your is driving.

What do you need to do to make people appreciate it? And then how do you a train them and be facilitate them? And so what I've seen work best is that, you know, assuming you've got, you know, people want to do it, leadership's bought in. Giving them both the right inspiration in the form of showing them that the leaders care and are looking at data.

And I find that when leaders look at data and try to show that they want to make data driven decisions, it has a remarkable impact on those beneath them. and then setting up the right training and also facilitation. So how are you making sure that managers, are training each other and that managers are facilitating for, you know, the people on their teams and being able to do all of that intentionally.

And so it kind of unpacks that in the research. And it's the thing that gets me excited about this is that when we talked to some of these big companies, oftentimes it's that softer side of things more than just the tech that they really want to understand.

Steve Hamm: [00:37:51] Well, ThoughtSpot has been a partner, a business partner of snowflake for several years, but I understand you're not yet a customer,  but , I know you're considering it. So what,

Scott Holden: [00:38:01] Oh, I can't wait to become a customer. And so we absolutely will be, it's in the works for us right now. And I'd say that we've been able to make it work so far, without you all, but it's been kind of painful and a lot of work on some of the, you know, some of the data engineers on our team. And so. I checked in on the progress today, knowing I was speaking with you and I got a very positive response to things are, are lining up well.

So, there's, you know, especially for marketing organizations today, if I think, you know, in my business, you know, we're looking at.

You know, we want to track campaign performance across the website. We want to look at campaign data that often comes from a marketing automation system. There's, you know, Salesforce data about opportunities in your pipeline.

There's the whole advertising network of data coming out of Google and LinkedIn and you know, your ad syndicates and all of that needs to come together to give you a holistic view along with your spend information, to be able to help you as a marketer, understand how you're. Campaigns and your businesses performing and, you know, snowflake is a, is a beautiful.

Platform to be able to bring all those insights together, as well as third party insights. So third party data sets. So, you know, we're seeing our customers now bring in Nielsen data and weather data. COVID-19 data is obviously something that people are doing right now across the board. And so to have, you know, platform like snowflake helped us do that and to do it, in a more robust way than what we've currently are using is something that's super exciting for me.

Cause, um, I think the future of. You know how I will run my business is going to have be having all of that data in one place. And I I'm envisioning a world where, you know, I, we affectionately like dream of it inside ThoughtSpot is self-driving analytics where I don't, I don't actually ever have to log in.

I just get notifications on my phone that say, did you know that today this campaign is up X percent and here are the reasons why, and here's some suggestions for what you might want to do in the future. And, you know, I think that's the Nirvana that we're all heading toward in order to get there, you got to have all the data in one place and it needs to be fast enough to be able to serve you those insights in the moment when you can actually use your expertise as a person to turn them in action.

Steve Hamm: [00:40:21] So you mentioned the future and I think that's a really cool vision of the self-driving analytics. If you could kind of cast say five years, even further into the future, where do you see data analytics from marketing going? What new things will marketers be able to do then that they can't do today?

Scott Holden: [00:40:41] Well, I think, I mean, that is my vision, this self-driving analytics concept. And, you know, I, today, you know, our founder often likes to say that we're just 2% done and we'll always be 2% done. And it's one of the fun things about working in this industry is that, you know, data and analytics has so much potential.

But we've really just scratched the surface and everything, you know, despite all the progress we've made over the last, you know, 30, 40 years that analytics has existed, we're really just getting started. And so that vision of being able to have, you know, an alert on your phone, tell me that the campaign I just launched yesterday.

Is performing better in this region than planned because of these factors, whether it's by channel, or by the type of company that's responding or the seniority of the title that's responding. These are things that typically markers marketers today can spend months analyzing post facto. I envision a world where the day after you launch, you're getting updates on those things and you're not, and you're not asking anyone to do it.

The system's proactively serving that up to you and it's pulling those insights from all kinds of different data systems. So, you know, I think the last frontier for marketers is that it's historically been really hard to get data out of the advertising platforms and to be able to pair it with all of the internal systems you have for launching campaigns and tracking sales opportunities.

And so that I think is going to be, you know, popped open and likely brought into a centralized. Data warehouse like snowflake. And, you know, if you can have a UX experience like ThoughtSpot, where you can, as a business person can either ask a question, , over Siri or Alexa, or just get served up.

Cause a, push alert on your phone. I think it, it just changes the game radically for business people.

Steve Hamm: [00:42:32] Well, that's a really exciting vision of the future, Scott. , I want to thank you so much for your time today, you know, your stories and your insights and your examples of what you do with data and how you use it and how your customers use it. It really been fascinating and I think edifying, so thanks

Scott Holden: [00:42:49] I appreciate it. It's always a lot of fun,