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ITechnology Interview with Max Ciccotosto, Chief Product Officer at Impact

ITechnology Interview with Max Ciccotosto, Chief Product Officer at Impact

Hi Max, please tell us about your role and the team/technology you handle at Impact.

I’m the Chief Product Officer of Impact and my core responsibilities fall into four key buckets: I oversee the Product Management team, who architect our product strategy and provide direction to our R&D teams; then there’s the Data Science team who are responsible for developing machine learning and big data algorithms and benchmarks for the organisation; the Product Growth team that is responsible for infusing our product-led growth strategy throughout the organisation; and finally the Product, Content and Inbound Marketing team who look after the developing positioning and messaging, product go-to-market, thought leadership and running of our content engine as well as many of out inbound marketing channels – such as web, social and SEO – and practices.

As you can see there’s rarely a dull moment but I’m grateful we have strong teams looked after by some great managers so that all helps things run smoothly!

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What is Impact and what are your top services and solutions? Tell us more about your Ideal Customer Profile and how you help these customers leverage your technology.

Impact is transforming the way brands, publishers, affiliates, bloggers, creators, influencers, and others manage and optimize their partnerships in what is an important tool for thousands of businesses. We provide an integrated end-to-end automation solution called the Partnership Cloud, which allows brands to manage the whole partner life cycle, from discovery, recruitment and contracting, to tracking, optimizing and commissioning. The Partnership Cloud enables businesses to drive revenue growth from partners across the spectrum, from traditional affiliates, influencers, strategic brand-to-brand partnerships, app-to-app, premium publishers and other partner types in the partnership channel.

Impact’s ideal customer profile includes any small, midsize or large enterprise – both B2C and B2B – that allow for digitally-enabled actions and conversions, regardless of whether they have an affiliate or partnership program or not. Anyone who relies on the digital world to close a transaction benefits from our Partnership Automation platform because we believe that, in order to succeed, these companies need to leverage the full potential of the partnership channel to drive referrals into their digital properties.

Our most successful clients are growing their partnership revenues 50% YoY, and contribute an average of 28%+ share of revenue, on par with the contributions derived from their sales and marketing channels.

Also Read: ITechnology Interview with Jasen Meece, CEO of Cloudentity

You recently joined “Shopify Plus”. What is the technology / data science engine driving this move? How did you plan the development and market-readiness for this development during the pandemic?

As a partnership automation platform, Impact strongly believes in investing and enriching its own ecosystem of partners. We’ve always had an integration with Shopify which we deepened when we joined the Shopify Plus program. Shopify is pivotal to SMB E-Commerce firms worldwide, allowing them to accelerate their growth exponentially by tapping into the partnership channel. We wanted to make it easy to integrate their Shopify storefronts with Impact – it normally takes merchants weeks to integrate a new partnership program., but with our Shopify app, the effort is reduced to an hour or two.

Reducing man hours on admin tasks such as inputting and integrating data is one of our core principles at Impact. Our automation processes save hundreds of hours of time on this tedious – but imperative – task, freeing up our clients to spend more time expanding and refining their partnership programs.

Impact is a global company with offices across the US, Europe and Asia. We were used to working in a fairly distributed fashion before the pandemic, so the pandemic hasn’t dramatically changed the way we worked on this project. We approached it like we do with anything else, by focusing on a few key requirements and focusing at the start on iterating early adopters until we felt we had a customer-ready version. The one thing we did do that helped us work more independently was to create a new team that has expertise in Shopify, and we built the app that uses our APIs to connect to the Impact tracking system. It was a win/win as it not only allowed the new team to work very independently but it also allowed us to use the APIs in the same way that any of our partners would.

What kind of IT support do you receive from your organization / vendor during the product development lifecycle?

The IT team helped us in a number of ways. Sizing and scaling for the additional traffic we expected from the app was key, and they also made sure we operated within our security frameworks.

 What kind of IT readiness do customers need to fully benefit from Insight?

Partner Insights is a key feature for our customers. This is a suite of eight powerful reports that provides deeper insights than our standard reporting, such as customer behavior, lifetime value, and contribution (that is, contributions to sales before the last click) reporting. It also pulls in data from all of a client’s marketing channels to help them understand how their partners interact with other channels like email and paid search, and how much of their partner value is truly incremental. Partner Insights also helps our clients understand how their customers interact with their partners across multiple devices. Ultimately, it gives our customers the full picture of the value being driven by each partner, so they can allocate compensation accurately.

The good news for our customers is that there are no additional requirements to get started with it.

Tell us more about your Impact Partnership Cloud and how it works.

The Partnership Cloud provides an integrated, end-to-end solution for managing all of a marketer’s partnerships. Partnerships have tremendous potential, but have traditionally been managed manually by partnership teams, which has prevented them from contributing a more significant share of revenue to an organization. Automating these manual workflows solves all that – and is made possible by Partnership Automation.

Partnership Automation solutions like the Partnership Cloud allows marketers and partnership professionals responsible for managing and developing programs for traditional affiliates, influencers, strategic b2b partnerships and more to move away from ad hoc tools and patchwork processes and into the modern era – managing the partners’ lifecycle more seamlessly through a set of tightly integrated software solutions that can truly help them participate in the new Partnership economy to activate rapid enterprise growth.

Though affiliates, influencers, b2b partnerships, content commerce and other partnerships appear to look very different, in truth they can all be managed in a unified way through a framework called the partnership life cycle. Partnership teams use the Partnership Cloud to automate the six stages of this life cycle. Specifically, the Partnership Cloud helps them:

– Discover & Recruit – Our customers use the Partnership Cloud to go out and discover new partners across the digital universe and recruit them with automated nurture campaigns.

– Contract & Pay – Our customers use the Partnership Cloud to forge contracts with newcomers and negotiate payout terms to credit them for the incremental value they drive.

– Track – Our customers use the Partnership Cloud to set up the mechanisms to track traffic that partners drive on all their properties, across devices.

– Engage – Our customers use the Partnership Cloud to onboard, train and engage partners to get them productive quickly. They continuously drive awareness (and revenue) with consistent, scaled partner marketing about new products, creative, and incentives to keep their brands top-of-mind for their partners.

– Protect & Monitor – Our customers use the Partnership Cloud to protect their program against bad actors seeking to defraud their program, and monitor that all their partners comply with their guidelines.

– Optimize – Our customers use the Partnership Cloud to optimize partner management by measuring their contributions. They can then recalibrate their partner mix and adjust their partner incentive and engagement strategy to keep their most productive partners motivated.

Also Read: ITechnology Interview with Rajendra Prasad, Global Automation Lead at Accenture

How do you see AI/ML and low-code platforms scaling from here? How would Cloud computing trends in Martech and Adtech evolve with the increased adoption of these tools?

Martech and adtech solutions are awash with data, and as a system of record for partnership data, the Partnership Cloud is no exception. Being paralyzed by the deluge in data is a common phenomenon, and that’s why machine learning has been so key to Impact’s core competencies.

We’ve long applied machine learning to the problems of fraud detection and multi-touch attribution, but we’ve begun to apply machine learning to provide novel solutions to other needs that our customers experience. We apply predictive analytics to enable forecasting and anomaly detection across a company’s partnership channel. Our machine learning powers our partner recommendation capabilities – more seamlessly allowing our customers to discover and recruit new partners into their program.

We are excited about low code because it will continue to lower access for entrepreneurs to build new great apps. The more great apps for consumers the more we continue to grow the partnership economy.

Your prediction on the “future of IT modernization: platforms – how are you planning for the challenges at Impact.

At Impact we have been committed to moving to the Cloud for a number of years now and have made great progress over the past 24 months. We have been approaching it based on the best fit for each of the many services and workloads we support for our customers.

We are a “born-in-the cloud” company which is truly a disruptive force against companies who have to move away from legacy systems. It’s important for companies relying on legacy systems to take note: there is a mounting urgency for legacy companies to prioritize moving their software into the cloud in order to compete effectively against born-in-the-cloud disruptors.

Tag a person from the industry whose answers you would like to read here:

Ryan Kliszat at Revlifter (CPO and Co-founder) would be a great choice!

Also Read: ITechnology Interview with Roy Dagan, CEO and Co-Founder at SecuriThings

Thank you, Roy! That was fun and we hope to see you back on iTechnologyseries.com soon.

Max is Chief Product Officer at Impact. Max leads the product management, data science, ops, and growth teams in building great products that deliver sustainable value to Impact’s customers. Previously, he was Cofounder and CEO of Mediarails before Impact’s acquisition. Prior to that, he was Head of Global Growth and VP, North America, for Lightinthebox, where he oversaw all growth initiatives, including affiliate and influencer marketing.

He also served as VP of Product and Growth at Lockerz, the first Gen Y social commerce company. Max’s first startup, the early social commerce provider Wishpot, was later acquired by Lockerz. Max began his career at Microsoft as Senior Lead Program Manager.

Impact Logo

Impact is the global leader in Partnership Automation and catalyst for the new Partnership Economy. Impact accelerates enterprise growth by automating the full partnership life cycle, including discovery, recruitment, contracting, engagement, fraud protection, optimization, and payment processing for enterprise partnerships. Impact drives revenue growth for global enterprise brands such as TUI, Ticketmaster, SecretEscapes, Starling, KwikFit, Virgin Experience Days and HelloFresh.

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