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Chief Digital Officer at Broadridge
Broadridge, a global fintech leader with over $4 billion in market capitalization, helps clients get ahead of today’s challenges to capitalize on what’s next with communications, technology and data and analytics solutions that help transform their businesses. With background experience as a technologist, consultant and product strategy developer for start-ups, Rob Krugman, Chief Digital Officer of Broadridge, has been driving the evolution from a print-driven business to a digitally-driven business while facilitating effective communications for customers, shareholders and investors.
Please tell me about your background and how it prepared you for your current role at Broadridge.
I started my career as a technologist after studying computer science in college. In the mid-to-late '90s, as the Internet started to come about, I began working with a group of friends in a small consulting firm focused on bringing financial firms and capabilities to the Internet, that firm was eventually purchased by a larger company called iXL, which was eventually purchased by Razorfish. I spent the next 12 years in various agencies and consulting positions, assisting organizations in leveraging technology and the Internet to build experiences, solutions, business models and best practices. I then joined several start-ups, where I helped to launch new products, develop new strategies and create methodologies and approaches towards product innovation and strategy development.
In 2010, I joined Broadridge to define and create a strategy for how to take its very large communications business from a traditional print business to a more digitally-focused business while, at the same time, ensuring our clients meet diverse, omni-channel customer preferences. As the Chief Digital Officer, my role is to ensure we create solutions that leverage digital technologies to help our clients more effectively communicate with their customers, shareholders and investors, while digitally transforming. I draw upon my past experiences to create successful business models and engagement solutions.
How are you leveraging customer data and intelligence to shift, change, innovate or transform how you and your team develop and deploy programs for the customer?
I have always felt that in order to design successful client solutions, organizations must focus on the needs and perspectives of the end consumer, which, in our case, is our client’s customer. This forces us to utilize a B2B2C perspective. In fact, I often say that “B2C” should be renamed “C2B”, as product solutions created via the perspective of the end user tend to be more successful. To design successful solutions, it is important to leverage data. Data is the driver of experiences, impact and desired outcomes while also allowing us to measure and meet objectives. Data enables us to go beyond what was once impossible.
As a company supporting “essential communications” – bills, notices, trade confirmations and other formal communications – on behalf of 5,000 companies and reaching more than 80 percent of North American households, we have applied a “network effect” to our data strategies. Our client’s customers often show up more than once across our network of services since we represent multiple industries, including financial services, insurance, healthcare, banking, consumer finance, telecom, utilities and more (just think of the bills and statements you receive from your various service providers). Because we support the communications for thousands of companies, we can identify when a consumer is digital with one but not another. This uniquely positions us to help create frictionless digital relationships for our clients with their customers while enabling customers to set preferences across all of their provider relationships (i.e., our clients).
The other aspect of customer data that is incredibly important today is that almost each of our clients is dealing with GDPR. Due to the nature of global businesses, the privacy regulations going into effect in the European Union are impacting how most companies need to collect data to be GDPR-compliant in the United States. With the recent passing of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and other states taking notice, we expect these rules will affect all of our clients in the very near term. GDPR and CCPA are creating a shift in the mentality around data ownership. Just a few years ago, most organizations would claim data as their own, but, due to these recent privacy regulations, organizations are recognizing data belongs to their customers. While GDPR and CCPA create limitations around data usage, it also creates an opportunity: once you obtain the customer’s permission, you have the freedom to use data in ways that may not have been previously possible while simultaneously building trust by being transparent about data usage.
How are you getting the most of the data at your disposal, and what are the most critical sources of customer data that directly tie to the success of their function?
We have two primary sources of data. First, we receive data from our clients to support their omni-channel communications, which gives us insight into customer profiles. Second, we capture behavioral data from the customers use of the underlying communications we distribute. The combination of data sources gives us a complete view of the communications lifecycle – a tremendous baseline insight. After obtaining approval from our clients and consumers, we can leverage third-party data sources for an even more detailed view of the customer, enabling more intelligent content and enhanced experiences across touchpoints.
I believe bills and statements are likely the most important communications our clients have with their customers because they drive action. These communications also provide an opportunity to demonstrate value; for example, a company can highlight relevant products and offer services within the communication, making them truly personalized touchpoints. By combining sophisticated marketing tactics and essential communications, our clients are communicating more effectively with their customers, demonstrating value and driving net promotions.
Do you have a single view of the customer cross-functionality within your organization? If so, how does this help you to advance your customer engagement strategies? If not, what exactly is holding you back?
As a B2B company, our goal is to provide our clients with a single view of their customers, but, more than that, to provide a single view of all customers across all of our clients by leveraging the network effect. Our approach to gathering a single view of the consumer is based upon obtaining specific permissions and protecting data privacy while still leveraging that data to provide a superior experience for the customer. For example, imagine a digital customer is using a website or a mobile app for their retail bank and telecom company. However, ten other providers serving that same consumer – ranging from wealth management and life insurance to electric and oil companies – may not yet have established a digital relationship with that customer. With approval from both our clients and the end consumer, we can leverage the data we have within our network and provide consumers with a single location to share their communication preferences across all of their service providers. By leveraging a system based upon unique customer permissions, we can share information between companies to create better future communications.
Hypothetically, if there was a single problem that your organization faced specific to doing more with data that could magically be resolved in an instant, what would that problem be, and what would resolving the issue enable you to do better?
If magic was the answer, I’d wave a wand to more easily manage the plethora of data with the number of emerging regulations to protect consumer's rights and privacy of data. One of the interesting directions the marketplace is turning towards is the concept of stronger identity management. Unfortunately, the ability to create identities and credentials in the online world allows for someone to pretend to be someone else, creating new social credentials or an account in another’s name. As the ability to provide strong identity protection increases, along with the ability to confirm that the person claiming to be John Smith is indeed John Smith, the power to protect data and consumer information increases tremendously.
While we are starting to see strong identity protection reduce the complexity of different online activities and transactions, it is not happening quickly enough. However, a real-world example of solving this data issue is a regulation out of the European Union called Payments Directive Number Two (PSD2), or Open Banking, which requires banks to open up all their services as APIs. It’s interesting to see that most banks have chosen to include an identity service, where instead of a customer logging in via Facebook or Google, they log in to one of their service provider’s website or app by using their banking credentials. This allows customers to open an account at a new company by leveraging their existing banking credentials and enable specific information to flow based upon their permission, which removes significant steps in the enrollment process. It’s really creating an immense opportunity for banks to add value to both their customers and third party organizations across all industries.
Looking toward the future, what issues will you be looking to address over the next year that will help you make the most of the data that you have available?
We are taking a multi-tiered approach to maximizing data utilization. In relation to the concept of the network effect, we are going to launch a pilot solution with the intent of creating a centralized location where customers can sign in with their existing bank credential to digitally connect them with their providers. Once the consumer has done that, assuming the organizations in our network agree to participate, provider relationships the customer has within our network will be identified. The network will share these relationships with the customer, inquiring if they want to connect with their various providers. Upon consent, the customer can then define their attributes, including how they prefer content to be delivered and also manage their information, such as address changes or adding a new beneficiary. This offering is unique because it gives customers a seamless, simple, time-saving way to connect with and manage their personal information and preferences and who that information is shared with.
Additionally, we are interested in monitoring the effects of GDPR and CCPA. While there are initial implications of GDPR and CCPA, we expect to see a second round regarding the use of data and information. Despite a little discomfort in adapting to new regulations, in the long run, they will provide more protections and create opportunities for data applications.
Was there anything else relating to doing more with data that we haven't touched on that you would like to share?
The next generation of data will include new types of channels, including audio and video. Alexa, Siri and Google Home have the ability to communicate with services and deliver data by leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning. Recently, there was an announcement from Google about Duplex, a voice-assistant system. This is the first instance I’ve seen where you can communicate with Google. For example, "Hey, I need to make a restaurant reservation tonight for five people. Find me a restaurant in this area for Italian food,” and Duplex calls the restaurant on your behalf, has a conversation with the restaurant staff and procures a reservation. The conversation which would be fairly straight forward for an individual and very complicated for a machine, was performed in a seamless manner and was incredible to watch.
This new ability to leverage data to service customers is exciting because, traditionally, voice-activated systems have been designed in a manner where it is obvious that technology is speaking, not a person. The ability for Google Duplex to leverage a flawless human interaction, using machine learning, allows organizations to be able to leverage data to better service their customers while also reducing cost. This is incredibly revolutionary.
Rob Krugman has been dedicated to innovating new solution sets to help businesses get the most out of emerging digital technologies for more than 20 years and enjoys speaking about what’s in store for identity management, consumer engagement trends, customer preferences, essential customer communications, omni-channel approaches and brand digitization strategies.