CES: Executives Explore the Impact of Customer Intelligence

The role customer intelligence plays in delivering seamless, personal experiences was the topic of three conference sessions organized by Acxiom, a leading customer intelligence company and data-driven solution provider. While the industry leaders and panel discussions drew from the automotive sector, the insights have broader implications. Details were also released in Acxiom’s Automotive Customer Experience study. “These survey findings highlight how critical it is for brands to have a genuine understanding of people and how hard it can be to deliver the right message at the right time,” said Steve Schmith, director of automotive strategy at Acxiom.

“Marketing as a one-size-fits-all mindset is long gone,” he suggested.

In the first session, Ajay Kapoor, global director of performance marketing at General Motors, and Chad Engelgau, president and CEO of Acxiom discussed how GM is harnessing “people data” and technology to create lifetime engagement and customer value.

“The art of the possible” is what Kapoor called a guiding principle to GM’s approach to products and services as they build a bigger and broader ecosystem. “It will not be up to one company to solve,” he said. Instead, there needs to be more collaborative relationships, inside and out. One example he cited is a partnership with Microsoft to deploy new software-defined vehicle services.

“Brands that invest in knowing their customers and providing specialized experiences throughout the customer lifecycle will excel, and we’re going to see a new emphasis on personalization in the automotive space,” Microsoft posted as CES opened.

“No longer are buyers ‘stuck’ with the static experience delivered upon vehicle purchase. In-car personalization through connected and software-defined vehicles unlocks the ability to provide ongoing updates to the vehicle experience.”

The byproduct of a broader ecosystem is more data, provided organizations open access and opportunities for collaboration – something many companies have not always done. “We need to drive 100 years of history into a 5-year change cycle,” said Kapoor.

Examples of the ecosystem Kapoor suggested were represented on the Innovations in Data panel, moderated by Schmith, and featuring Joshua Aviv, founder and CEO of SparkCharge; Ed Chung, CFO of Jerry; Chad Collier, CEO and founder of CarSaver; and Dan Roarty, chief digital officer of FLASH.

All of these companies, from financing and insurance to battery recharging and parking spaces, help customers at different stages of the purchasing and ownership cycle.

As the car transforms, entire new value chains and opportunities emerge, transforming the customer experience. This was the subject of the third and final panel, a cautionary one about potential missed opportunities moderated by Acxiom’s GM and head of IPG Solutions Joyce Turner.

Turner started the discussion with her own realization of personalized entertainment when she said she has “cut the cord.”

“Brands can design who your customer is and how we should interact,” said Justin Evans, global head of analytics & insights for Samsung Ads. Samsung, through Samsung Plus, now provides abundant free TV and a personalized user experience.

Vicki Poponi, former chief marketing officer at Honda and now VP and auto industry advisor at Salesforce, calls every interaction “a signal.” Each signal allows for hyper-segmentation and a highly personalized customer journey. “Put yourself in the customer’s head,” she recommended.

Patrick Roman Gut, VP and head of sales for Adlook, suggested that advertising is a way to enrich the user experience. When asked for a singular piece of marketing advice, he said, “stop thinking that you already know.”

Samsung’s Evans summed up the session: “Data is in service of a business outcome. Focus on the outcome.”

Data-Driven Personalization Transforms the Automotive Industry for Today’s Customer-Centric World, Acxiom, 1/4/23

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