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Digital Pi: Automation Plain-speak

Ryan Vong, President & CEO, Digital PiRyan Vong, President & CEO Technology has radically redefined what makes successful marketing leaders in the last decade. Gone are the days when great marketing was attributed to resolving which shade of blue to use for the new logo. Knowing how to choose and wisely use the right mix of marketing technologies is table stakes to play in the CMO game. But marketing technology by itself doesn’t create revenue. Technology without the supporting pillars—vision, concrete goals, processes, and people to make it all work is a losing bet.

For Ryan Vong, Digital Pi’s CEO, client success begins by asking questions aimed at getting to the bottom of what defines the client’s supporting pillars. The Digital Pi team, comprised entirely of marketers who held marketing positions in companies, always listens carefully to clients with the empathic ears of practitioners who once stood in their shoes. “We help our clients define the business outcomes they want in clear language they can use with their peers, and then apply our knowledge of marketing technologies to help them achieve their goals,” says Vong. “They quickly discover the benefits of leveraging the rich collective experience of our team to save time, reduce costs, and drive revenue.”

Appetite for Technology

Vong says he sees too many companies “gulping down” marketing technologies without thinking through all of the requirements to both reach and sustain success for the long haul. “The vendors are spinning out really amazing technology faster than companies can assess and digest them,” explains Vong. But everyone loses when technologies fail to deliver on the promise when expectations aren’t clear, or unrealistic. “Our clients look to us to help make sense of the 3,500+ marketing technologies out there,” explains Vong. “We don’t recommend one vendor over another; we simply explain the technology options and ancillary requirements, then let them choose what they think is the right one for their business.”

According to Vong, the secret to Digital Pi’s rapid growth lies in its people, standard process, clear focus, and genuine interest in helping clients succeed. In only three years, Digital Pi has quickly established a growing base of avid customer fans who share their positive experience with their peers. Early on, Ryan established a culture of relentless focus on making customers successful at any cost. That focus, coupled with a repeatable standard process for every engagement, established Digital Pi as a de facto standard.

Relentless Focus

To date, Digital Pi’s strategy centers on providing consulting services for the Marketo platform and “anything and everything you can connect to Marketo.”

With more than 3,600 MarTech tools in the market and that number continuing to grow, organizations need to rationalize before tools overrun the business needs


That includes natively integrated platforms like Salesforce. com and Microsoft Dynamics, as well as custom integrations via APIs. Vong says about a third of their clients are new Marketo customers migrating from other marketing automation platforms including Pardot, Hubspot, and Eloqua. From the beginning, Vong and team developed a standard architecture and implementation process for the Marketo platform. The so-called “Digital Pi Gold Standard” for Marketo has proven invaluable to over sixty companies to date. The architecture evolved from Ryan’s ten years deploying and using Marketo to drive demand at several companies including CA Technologies—one of Marketo’s largest customers and a Digital Pi customer today. The standard architecture speeds implementation and provides a scalable, manageable foundation. According to Vong, the Gold Standard gives Digital Pi a common starting point to engage any client. Instead of making up a new architecture every time, they start with a documented design that is well-understood and proven to work in any company regardless of size, industry, or business strategy. Ryan explains: “Because the core processes and architecture are the same for each new client engagement, we can get straight to the important questions that help us gather requirements specific to each client. Once we have the requirements, implementation is a matter of following the blueprint that leads to a known outcome. Each phase—requirements, building, testing, training and support—go smoothly because we know where we want to take each client.”

Good Behaviors

The universe of data available to leverage into customer insights has grown exponentially in the last few years. Broad adoption of cloud applications provides a new class of valuable insights into customers based on what they do—or don’t do in the application. Vong says there is a lot of interest from SaaS companies who want to connect their cloud applications to Marketo so they can more intelligently respond to behaviors seen in their application. For example, when someone signs up for a trial in an application, their journey from new account creation to purchase can be very valuable as signals to Marketo to engage. If someone doesn’t log in for a week, Marketo can be very smart in what to say and when to say it so the journey continues.

Omega Automation Insights

Today’s marketing automation systems serve as the hub that connects the user journey, behavioral and demographic data, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and other tools within an ecosystem called a “marketing stack.” More and more of the marketing stack is comprised of cloud-based software applications that pass data to the automation platform.
The more the data and interdependent applications grow, the greater the need to see the operational nature of how these systems behave. Performance bottlenecks, data overwrites, seemingly innocuous changes to workflows can have big cascading impacts to these systems. Without an application to monitor the marketing stack, unforeseen changes can occur with the potential to wreak havoc on a business. Digital Pi sees this as a “gaping hole” in the marketing stack that creates a need for a new kind of application for marketers.

"We have created a set of standards with proven processes that are scalable and adapted to fit the business requirements of our clients"

Vong and his team started Project Omega, a new cloud-based application, built to close this gaping hole. Omega provides a view of these interdependent systems and their effects on performance. “We receive so many requests to troubleshoot platform problems beyond the funnel and marketing attribution questions; we knew it was time to create something that looks into this black box. Omega immediately revealed the underlying causes to problems that would have taken hours or days to resolve. Beta customers describe Omega as a missing dashboard to the car they are driving,” states Vong.

Balance is Key

Digital Pi prides itself on consistent growth with an organic approach. In the past three years, the company has experienced 200 percent growth year over year in terms of revenue, staff, and a global clientele. “As a consulting agency, our formula is simple. Find the right talent, teach them a framework that works, and partner with clients that value transparency and nimble approaches to their automation issues,” notes Vong.

Forward Looking Statements

Through newer and more innovative trends in technology, such as predictive analytics and data science with the proliferation of net capable devices, marketing organizations are asked to do more than ever before. The buyer’s journey is multi-faceted and definitely multi-device. It’s the new reality that marketing organizations must prove their contribution to this paradigm, and keep up with the sophistication of the customer engagement shift. Because technology evolves quickly and continuously, by the time a plan is in place, many of the original assumptions and dependencies might already be out of date. Amidst these changes, Digital Pi has maintained its approach of rapid deployment in order to learn from the data and use that as a guide for future decisions. “It’s the concept of fail, but fail fast so you can improve quickly,” says Vong. This seems to have resonated with their customers and led to Digital Pi’s success thus far.
- Chithra Vijayakumar
    October 19, 2016