When CFO John Collins is asked how his background in data modeling and strategy is influencing the role that finance plays inside LivePerson, the artificial intelligence (AI) software firm that he first joined 2 years ago, he draws our attention to the mountains of data accumulating alongside most businesses today.
“Given the volume of data that exists and that the tools to transform it into information have not evolved very much, my taking over the CFO seat and building out this team under me is putting us on a path to better achieve more data efficiency,” explains Collins, while referring to the team that he’s dubbed “DMD,” or Data Models and Decisions.Read More
“Data is essentially an input into a model. The model may be rather simple and rules-based or it may involve more sophisticated machine learning, but the models manipulate and organize that data to produce useful information,” continues Collins.
Still, what sets Collins’s data aspirations apart from those of his more traditional CFO peers is not the act of transforming additional data into information, but what he refers to as the Flywheel Effect, through which the system for digesting the information over time “gets smarter” and begins to create “automations” for different transactional activities while reducing uncertainty and maximizing the returns around decision-making.
“That’s the essence of the flywheel that gets generated, through the vision that we have for the CFO and the modern tool set underneath him or her,” says Collins, who characterizes the proper operation of the accounting and reporting processes as “tables stakes” inside a broadening finance function.
“For me, the past should be accounted for perfectly, but where I would like to focus is on being a strategic partner and the creation of long-term value,” comments Collins, who considers the Flywheel Effect as a primary contributor to long-term value creation.
Says Collins: “From my perspective, it’s pretty clear that we’re digitizing the world at an accelerated pace, which has had implications not just for traditional products and services but also for traditional jobs and corporate functions.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about LivePerson … what does it do and what are its offerings?
Collins: LivePerson is a cloud-based platform that the largest brands in the world use to converse with their customers through messaging, that same preferred medium that we use with our friends and family every day. With our platform, which we call the conversational cloud, you can change your flight, order a burrito, or arrange contactless commerce services like curbside pickup, all from the convenience of iMessage or WhatsApp or Facebook or Instagram or many other channels. Messaging-based interactions or transactions like these represent what we think of as a modern engagement model for brands and consumers, which we call conversational commerce.Read More
Today, we enable a wide range of use cases on the platform, including two-way outbound notifications so that you can do away with the DoNotReply@ emails that we’re so fond of receiving and you can actually make it a dialogue with the brand. We have social marketing capabilities, and of course we’re driving incremental revenue for our customers through what we call conversational commerce.
Since 2018, we’ve also invested heavily in artificial intelligence, specifically conversational AI that powers the automations that allow for brands to converse with consumers at scale. They’re pretrained on massive quantities of historical data to rapidly and automatically understand consumer needs, consumer desires—what we call the “intent” of the messages that they write into the platform.
In 2020, as consumers leaned on digital solutions for nearly every aspect of their lives, the brick-and-mortar and e-commerce retailers turned to conversational commerce to really capture this demand. The ability to converse with a brand and get a few questions answered can truly multiply brand revenue that they would traditionally attribute to advertising and marketing. The path that we’ve taken has transformed the way that we think of commerce, both in the physical world and in the digital world.
Quote: “From my perspective, it’s pretty clear that we’re digitizing the world at an accelerated pace, which has had implications not just for traditional products and services but also for traditional jobs and corporate functions.”
LivePerson | www.liveperson.com | New York, NY