Interview: Meyar Sheik of Certona

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Certone Office PortraitsAlways on the look-out for new offerings in the customer profiling and personalization space, I was able to catch up with Meyar Sheik, CEO and co-founder of Certona to talk about his company. Meyar has been a web analytics pioneer since 2000 and founded Certona with a team of predictive analytics experts to improve real-time behavioral targeting and personalization.

According to Meyar, Big Data analytics should be at the cornerstone of corporate strategy. Organizations looking to capitalize on data analytics run into trouble when they forget about the small data coming from mobile devices, social media sites, and other channels that build contextual insight into a consumer or customer’s behavior. By harmonizing data within these channels, organizations can capitalize on valuable information essential to improving customer engagement.

insideBIGDATA: Certona has a unique perspective towards Big Data analytics, can you explain the genesis of this approach?

Meyar Shiek: Understanding Big Data, or even defining it accurately, can be a daunting task for any business. Depending on how much data is available, the approach can be different for each company. There is a lot of noise in the data world as consumers engage more on and offline, with mobile devices, wearable technology, social communities, via apps and other channels.

Companies need help harmonizing all of this data to find what is most useful to helping them improve customer engagement. We give brands a way to capture all of this information in real-time and personalize the user experience for individual customers. Predictive analytics and personalization together should be at the cornerstone of every corporate strategy. Brands need to align their omnichannel strategy with Big Data insights and predictive analytics to guide their personalization strategies. A one-size-fits-all approach is no longer feasible.

Our customers have seen a big boast in revenue and customer loyalty since implementing our technology; in 2013 our clients increased online sales by 27 percent between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. That’s 80 percent higher than the industry average of 17 percent!

insideBIGDATA: Can you pick a compelling use case to tell us about how a Certona client that has successfully deployed your personalization technology?

Meyar Shiek: The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) selected Certona when it realized its manual assignment of recommendations was not working well for its distinct product environment. MoMA’s unique blend of prints, books, gifts and home décor needed a stronger recommendation engine to appeal to its diverse customers. MoMA needed an automated platform that could run on its own as well as the ability to generate personalized user recommendations for each visitor. Working in collaboration with MoMA, the Certona team added product recommendations across the site, making them visible on the top navigation pop-up headers, as well as the product detail page, search page and shopping cart. Additionally, we applied Certona’s patented technology to immediately create behavioral profiles for each individual within the first few clicks, delivering targeted recommendations to customers. With the implementation complete, MoMA now generates 12 percent of total sales from Certona’s solution. We continuously optimize the site to align with MoMA’s changing product lines and priorities.

insideBIGDATA: Certona is big in the retail space. Can you describe the kinds of wins you’ve achieved in this area?

Meyar Shiek: We work extensively with many of the world’s most popular retailers – to date, over 550 brands and sites including PUMA, eBags, SONY, GameStop, and Crocs. We are the only personalization provider to be selected by Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide for five years in a row (2009-2013).

insideBIGDATA: Can you give us a glimpse of Certona’s future plans, directions, products?

Meyar Shiek: The team at Certona continues to evolve and enhance our technology with powerful capabilities for creating, managing, measuring, testing and optimizing every step of the customer journey. We are actively implementing our proven omnichannel platform beyond the Web and across multiple environments. This includes, but is not limited to email, mobile and tablets, in-store, contact centers and other touch points. In doing so, retailers and omnichannel businesses will be able to generate more revenue and higher conversion rates.

insideBIGDATA: Give us a short history of Certona. What sort of funding has the company received?

Meyar Shiek: Certona was founded in 2004 by a team of predictive analytics experts, including myself, to help brands deliver personalized customer experiences in the omnichannel. We were convinced that predictive analytics was the future for digital shopping and that retailers would need contextual, historical and behavioral data in real-time to gain insight into its customers and personalize their experience. At the time, the industry lacked the tools and technologies that could close the gap between what consumers wanted and what products retailers could recommend based on each individual’s profile. Our Resonance® experience management platform closed this gap by providing real-time behavioral targeting, optimization and adaptive personalization to generate more revenue and higher conversion rates for online retailers and other multi-channel businesses.

In July 2008 Certona closed a $7.0 million Series A financing led by ABS Ventures with participation from previous investor Express Ventures. The funding was used to expand our sales, marketing, customer support and product development resources. Since then, our ever-growing client base has been funding our innovation and product development.

Most recently, Certona was awarded a US patent for technology on predicting consumer behavior. The patent covers individual profiling and targeting on consumers based on behaviorally-derived products and other digital asset affinities without collecting private or personally identifiable information.


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