CAIR 20: Interview - Tommy - Secrets To Business Growth
CAIR 20: Interview - Tommy - Secrets To Business Growth
The competitive landscape has changed; large businesses are investing more and more in R&D & AI, outpacing Small-to-Medium business investment. With COVID-19 having much more significant impact on Small-to-Medium businesses, every tool we can use to re-kindle small businesses is needed. In this episode I have the opportunity to interview a technology provider who has seen the secrets to business growth through AI. Hi Everybody, this is Grant Larsen, welcome to another episode of ClickAI Radio. So glad to have you here with us today. All right, I told you a couple episodes ago about something exciting that was coming up. And this episode is one of those pieces, it is an opportunity that I've been looking for for a long time to bring in. One of the industry experts that I work with. His name is Tommy Stewart Say hi, Tommy. <Tommy> Hello, hello. Thanks, Grant. Thank you. <Grant> Alright, hey, thanks for being here with us today, Tommy. So I'm excited about this conversation. Because the relationship that I have with Tommy and his organization is foundational to the work that we do at click AI. Now let me talk about this. Tommy and his group provide an AI platform. And there's some real beautiful synergies that we have between the click AI work and what Tommy and his team are doing. So without further ado, let me stop chatting here and give you Tommy a chance to introduce yourself, talk about your background and who you are. <Tommy> Thanks, Grant. And this is a really, really an exciting opportunity just to sit down and have a chat with you. But for most, for the most part, you know, this has been a great run for us all. And this is an exciting space. So I've been in CRM and sales for 20 plus years, I won't say how long I've actually been but and work for companies like Microsoft, Salesforce, SAP, Teradata and the likes. And, you know, I've been very fortunate to meet our CEO, he sold his last product to Salesforce. And we're on this journey, really to democratize kind of a core capability to millions of people across all businesses. And the exciting thing is that I've enjoyed over my career has been able to solve problems, right, you know, whether large or small. And so I feel like I have a unique opportunity today in this marketplace to introduce a technology that has been far reaching and that kind of black box to individuals who never thought they would have access. And so I'm really excited this is I think I'm in a new space in my career where kind of like when we started CRM, and that initiative with Tom Siebel, and seeing it, you know, match rate over the time with the likes of Salesforce. I think we're in the cutting edge, I think we're in the space that is actually going to change how people do business. And small companies and what you're talking about are going to really pick up speed speed, because there's technology available today. That wasn't available years ago. <Grant> Yeah, that's amazing. I love the way that your company's name is spelled. Can you spell that out? <Tommy> A-i-b-l-e <Grant> Yeah. So it's pronounced "Able", right. But "AI-ble", alright, and the mission or the vision that you talked about, which is to democratize AI. That's when I first met your organization. That's what resonated with me immediately. And I immediately saw "Wait a minute", I'm seeing this divide. It's a bit of a digital divide between big companies and small companies, and how I feel that the big companies are getting this advantage that is propelling them. And we're gonna go over a few things in this episode today that will actually call that out. But that is propelling them, which is good for the big companies, but not so good for the small companies. And I saw Aible as a way to help propel the small and medium business to take advantage of AI. So are you ready for just a slew of questions I'm going to run by you? <Tommy> Absolutely. Fire away. Let's have it. Let's go. <Grant> All right, here's one. Okay, so you and your organization and you and I partner together And together, we bring this AI to small and medium businesses, but from what you're seeing what problems do you see small to medium businesses face today? What are they experiencing as you guys go around and talk about various companies? <Tommy> Well, you know, let's start with the basics, you know, raising and managing your capital, right, you know, everybody needs revenue, but fundamentally adopting new technology or top technology that is really been tasked to help enterprises and so When you think about a small business trying to get into the market, launch a new technology or launch a new product, and have the same capabilities of large companies, typically, the cost to acquire that technology has been so far off, it's been impossible. So many small companies are figuring out how can I start? How can I adapt? And how can I stay contemporary, because at the point in time, where large companies are going to take technology, they're just going to move some of the small companies away. And so a lot of small business owners are figuring out how can I use what I have today? And a reasonable amount of spin? And how do I actually differentiate myself in the marketplace? And so that's kind of the main thing is how do I get started? How do I innovate? And how do I adapt to when change happens? And how do I drive business results? And so using a technology like artificial intelligence, you know, augment it with human intelligence, right? You know, you got to have to have that human intervention component, really will help small businesses. And so that's what we're seeing today. And there are several companies that are saying, I'm just going to put my toe in the water and take a stab at kind of what's going on, I think that's the best way to do it. So hopefully, that helps, you know, some small companies understand that. It's not that far off, and you have access to the capabilities at the big boys, but you got to take advantage of it. <Grant> Yeah, that was one of the things that impressed me when I first met the CEO of your organization, one of the things that he did last summer was amazing. He said, You know what, for a period of time, I'm going to make our technologies available to organizations that are trying to solve problems or are being impacted by COVID. And any gave it away for a period of time. It's like, hey, if you want to, if you're solving problems, or your business is negatively impacted, then you know, we'll we'll make this available. That's that's true humanitarian, I love that about your organization. Alright, so there's a series of problems, you see their sales problems or supply chain problems appear to categorize them. Do you see sales solving with sales problems? Are companies using AI a lot for that? <Tommy> Absolutely. Because there's, there's so much that's in the normal, what I call the sales journey. And typically, you know, I come out of the CRM business, right? And CRM was a great tool that everybody adopted. And it was fundamentally built for operational efficiency, right? How do I create velocity? How do I assess risks? How do I forecast? How do I navigate my customers through their lifecycle? But you know, at the end of the day, you know, navigating sales using artificial intelligence is so much more than just CRM. In fact, some of the market indicators suggest that a lot of these CRM companies are buying AI companies, because their CRM needs to be a little bit smarter. And so, you know, so who are the right customers to go target? What are the most profitable customers to target? What is the right lifecycle? What is the right marketing campaigns? How do I use my spin, so using AI to help you look at data, whether small or large and identify blind spots, identify opportunities that you couldn't see on a historical facing dashboard is really going to be exciting. And we see sales as one of the leading areas where artificial intelligence is taking a big enroll right now. <Grant> I saw a McKinsey report that had stated that, that 60% of large companies were getting some benefits for by using AI in their sales cycle. So let me say the other of the big companies using AI, which has a lot of them now, 60% of them were gaining revenue advantages and increasing their sales because of AI. So I think there's enough precedents there, the US in the small to medium business space should go after that. So on the benefits side, so you've seen companies come in, try to adopt AI? What have been some of the benefits that you've seen organizations experience? Can you talk about some of those? <Tommy> Well, first and foremost, doing less, doing more with less, right, as a small company, you don't have a decision science team, you don't have 25 business analysts. And so being able to allow an individual to do most of what, you know, five, or six or seven people are doing other companies is first and foremost, one of the benefits secondarily, is really focusing on business impact. So our our custom loss function, our AI is trained, or algorithms are trained around what are the best financial and business outcomes. So it allows you to prioritize, I mean, the main thing you can't do as a small company is to have a six month strategy that was off target, right? You don't get time back. Right. And so it allows you to actually deprioritize and then secondarily, to be extremely agile, right disruption, never asked for permission, right? The COVID the pandemic came, it didn't say, hey, America, hey, I... <Grant> ...can I do this? <Tommy> Okay, if I did this, no. And so as a small company, you need to basically see some of the opportunities and one of our customers here went from being a manufacturer of machines to being a manufacturer of solutions. For the pandemic and medical equipment, and having that ability to pivot, having that ability to look at data, and to look at opportunities and be really opportunistic and nimble, is some of the benefits that we've seen in the early stages. <Grant> Okay, fascinating. Now, on the flip side of that, what have been some of the hurdles that you've seen these companies go through while they're on their journey? You know, applying AI? <Tommy> Well, in fact, when you say AI scares a lot of people. <Grant> Yeah. <Tommy> I don't know who's old enough. But there was a show called Lost in Space, and the robot would come out, and it was really spooky. That robot look nothing like the Terminator, right? You know. So for those of us who are older, or younger folks who are listening, have no clue what we just said. But at the end of the day, right, artificial intelligence scares a lot of people. And so one of the big, you know, hurdles is adoption. Right? How do I get started? This seems so foreign. That seems so far away. This seems so complex, and the industry has actually, many companies been very, very successful by making this a very complex, you know, solution for people who have statistical degrees, who sat in departments and got paid a lot of money to do some really cool stuff, <Grant> You know, tape on their glasses, right? <Tommy> Yeah, absolutely. But now, you know, that hurdle has been removed. And so it's not as far as you think it's not a big leap, as you believe it is, we've been invented our capability into tools that people are using today like Tableau and Salesforce in Power BI, and we can actually download somewhere outcomes in an Excel spreadsheet. Because that's been the big step is adoption. How can I use this advanced technology today, and as a small company, you don't have six to nine months to do a digital Indian transformation, right? You have a matter of weeks and months. And so we, we see that as one of the biggest hurdles, and the biggest fears is just Hey, I just don't have enough or the skill set to get started. And that's been the biggest fear for most small companies. <Grant> One of the things that myself, my organization did was when we saw this connection with Salesforce and Tableau, we said, hey, let's do the same thing with Click Funnels. And so in a similar manner, you can come along, be running your sales processes through there. And out of that, then comes the data that moves right into an AI pipeline, that starts to give you the information on that. But I won't, I won't give too much away on that secret. Let's start though about the human element in all of this. So it seems like so when you're in a really big company, obviously, the human element is important, meaning the mindset of the people, but I think it's even more important than the small and medium business. Because as you said, You can't be wrong for that six months strategy, right? You're closer to hand to mouth. And so with that, what I found is this need for executives in the small, medium business to be vulnerable, if I could use that term, meaning to be willing to be open to the insights that come from AI? Have you seen examples where organizations have been given AI insights? And sometimes they move and execute on it? But other times they don't? Can you talk about how important mindset isn't this? <Tommy> Well, collaboration is key. And if you were to go and look at our, you know, kind of our mission statement, you know, ClickAI & Aible really helps companies kind of transform around strategic decisions and kind of act optimally, if you will, react to change and collaborate, right? We have a solution that is involves you the human human input, right. So part of our even modeling design, we ask business users for that, the outcome of that is can be a rather illuminating, right? And that's kind of where the insights begin to evolve. But it's experienced the 20 year veteran who's done supply chain who've done sales or marketing can say, Well, I believe the model is correct. But here's kind of how I would apply it today. And I think there's that balance between accepting what AI gives you and allowing the human intervention, the business experience to be embedded in that and then making those strategic decisions. And we have a platform that does that. And I think it's important, especially for a small business for a CEO to now understand that his entire marketing budget has been spent targeting customers that aren't profitable, can be illuminating. Wow, we just spent our third quarter marketing budget on people who don't have a high propensity to buy our product, right? And then having someone say, okay, we understand that, but what is the what is the human part of that, then that will allow us to transition and to take that data? And so, it has been an exciting journey, right? helping organizations identify blind spots, opportunities, areas of improvement, just think about the productivity per employee, right, getting 20 30% productivity improvement just by having better decisioning. Right, based on business impact, and so we think there's a little bit of fear From executives getting information, but there's also that illumination that comes about that leads to profits and better focus better alignment of resources that overcomes that initial aha moment. <Grant> You had mentioned blind spots, I think, for me in the organizations that I've worked with and applying AI, using the Aible platform, I have noticed that, that it's the blind spots where the biggest opportunity for revenue and sales and business growth have taken place. It's that area where you don't know, what you don't know, right. And when AI exposes or illuminates things in that area, I've seen business owners come to me and say, "I had no idea that you know, this was the case, or that I was causing this problem", or that, "oh, if I just tweaked into this more than, you know, my sales will magnify dramatically. <Tommy> Okay. And part of that, though Grant is because the solutions that have been presented to provide that have been historically facing right review facing the dashboard. So the world right, and so we've looked at a lot of cool, colorful dashboards with, you know, automation, and they look fancy, but they're all looking in the rearview mirror. And the problem is that 90% of these decisions are being made by looking at these dashboards, looking at PowerPoint and looking at data that fundamentally looks we're looks at historical data and allows you to make decisions that sometimes aren't the right ones. <Grant> Yeah, it's no longer valid. So not long ago, there is this Harvard Business Review article that came out that was talking about somewhat of this digital divide, right, where, whereas looking at the impact of AI and technology, on big companies and small companies. And you know, for a long time, sort of the myth has been that sort of the unspoken word has been, hey, if you want to innovate, and go do something exciting, you're going to go into the small medium business, that's where the companies can be nimble and grow. This Harvard Business Review a few months ago, came out and said, we're actually finding that that competitive edge is waning, that in fact, what's going on is that the big guys are innovating more now. They're adding more to their r&d budgets. And in fact, when Lou Gerstner wrote that book, he says elephants can't dance. They even quoted that right? Where they're talking about even IBM itself, your I can now pivot and do things more nimble. Now, you may or may not agree with some of that. But what you can't ignore are some of the statistics that are coming out. And these statistics are showing that it's becoming more difficult for smaller companies to become big and profitable. That's what they came out from the Harvard Business Review, you know, the small companies of yesterday, right, the Apple's and Amazon's and Netflix and Microsoft, they went through a period of time where, hey, they made this investment in technology. And we're able to lean into that, and produce these large mammoth organizations. But what we're finding now, and this is interesting, this is some stats from the Harvard Business Review, this was 2019. So what I'm going to share here is this was pre COVID. Right? So before COVID, in 20 1910, to 15%, of large companies reported losses, and in 20 1960 to 65% of small companies reported losses. That's that's a big, that's that's huge, right. And this was during economic boom time, right? In 2019, the economy was doing pretty well. Now, during COVID, almost two thirds, I'm sorry, before COVID, almost two thirds, then of those small companies couldn't cover their expenses. Now, let me pivot into COVID with COVID coming on, and the impact to the businesses has not been equitable, right? We know that, in general, the big companies have not lost to the same degree that the small companies had McKinsey in a report just a few months ago said that during COVID, at least 36% of the 6 million small businesses close so that's over 2 million businesses closed. We haven't seen the same 36% loss, you know, for the big guys during that same period of time. So what this means in my mind is we need to provide something that will help the small to medium business owner, maintain retain recapture competitive edge, the big guys aren't getting as negatively impact in general, obviously, certain sectors are like transportation and others. But in general, the small businesses have definitely taken it on the chin, the little guys taking it on the chin, and with the big guys investing more in technology and leveraging AI and getting access to these technologies ahead of the small to medium size business. It just occurred to me that this is a ripe opportunity to take something like what ClickAI is providing with Aible, which is to democratize AI make it available for the small to medium business for pennies on the dollar. I mean, I was doing some analysis the other day, and...