We Live and Breathe Data and Technology – Sans Ego: Silverbullet CEO Ian James

An interview with Ian James.

Hi Ian. Tell us about your journey into tech and how you started at Silverbullet. 

I first entered the world of advertising and technology firmly on the direct brand side, where I was the first Global Head of Digital for Bacardi, the world’s largest privately held, family-owned spirits company.

During my time with Bacardi, I adopted a huge passion for the conception and development of world-class processes for the integration of digital marcoms into the broader business – creating a seamless stream of insights to drive smarter business decisions. This passion grew, as I went on to hold roles such as International CEO of Acxiom (recently acquired by IPG for $2.2bn), and Chief Digital Officer for Starcom MediaVest Groupe.

During my time at Acxiom, we launched LiveRamp, which created a turnkey for the industry into tech and data.

During the same time, Oracle had just purchased BlueKai and the MarTech landscape was beginning to blossom into what we know it is today. As a consequence, clients were becoming increasingly confused as to how best to make sense of it all, requiring a new type of partner to help them work out how to harness all this new tech and data.

In 2015, two of my good pals – co-founders Umberto Torrielli and Simon Theakston, two ex-Oracle professionals who’d been instrumental in the development and global roll out of the Oracle DMP, Bluekai, and myself, launched the Silverbullet Data Services Group.

Silverbullet Data Services mission was, and still is, to provide clients with the best-in-class skill surrounding the wonderfully complex world of data and technology, to not only help marketers realise their full potential across their data assets, but to pioneer a smart marketing strategy powered by data intelligence.

You come from a very interesting background where you have managed vastly different portfolios. Could you tell us how your data science expertise helped you scale Marketing and Sales challenges.

Starting my advertising and technology journey on the brand side has given me an acute understanding of what the client really needs. During my time at Bacardi, I understood the importance of technology infrastructures and strategy frameworks in order to deliver a smart business strategy.

As I moved into the land of agencies, I was able to gain the skills needed to understand the varying needs for clients from all verticals, whilst gain deeper understanding into what the role of the big technology companies play – from Google to Facebook, to Adobe and Salesforce.

As I transitioned from StarcomMediaVest Group to Acxiom, my passion for data, and its importance in the delivery of 1:1 personalised engagements for consumers, became ever more apparent. I met so many smart people during my time with Acxiom, who taught me about the true value of data, and during that time I pivoted into a world surrounded by data scientists, engineers and traders.

Coincidentally, during this time I met co-founders Umberto and Simon, and my passion grew tenfold.

Having a core understanding of the power of data is so important for any marketer or publisher out there.

Getting to grips with a smart data strategy is vital for any smart, forward-thinking organisation, I can’t express that enough, and our team of data scientists here at Silverbullet blow my mind on a weekly basis!

Surrounding myself with incredibly smart people has also helped me along this exciting journey I am on today, and for that I am tremendously grateful.

In the last 5 years, how much have the AI, NLP and Text Analytics technologies evolved in the market? 

It’s so exciting seeing where technology advancements are taking us, both today and in the future. And this is why I am so excited about the future of the Silverbullet Data Services Group.

Working so close to our clients enables us to get a true understanding of their needs, and projects us into the future to adhere to their needs. When we reflect on the past five years – with particular focus on the past 18 months and the extreme shifts we are caught up in – we need to be there to support our clients more than ever before.

As GDPR continues to gain momentum in market and we’re seeing the rise in fame of the Californian Consumer Privacy Act, regulations are ready to tighten at any given moment. Add in the latest browser lock-down on third party cookies, and it’s fair to say we’re going through immense, unprecedented change.

A well needed change at that.

Read the full article here.



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