Self-Service Journeys w/ Mustafa Shairani

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This is a podcast episode titled, Self-Service Journeys w/ Mustafa Shairani. The summary for this episode is: <p>On today's show, Patrick talks with Mustafa Shairani, Senior Product Manager for Cheetah Journey Designer. Mustafa shares his background and what he does here at Cheetah. These two dive into journey orchestration and how you can benefit from self-service journeys. Mustafa also gives us insight into Cheetah Journey Designer and what to look forward to next with them.</p>
Mustafa's claim to fame moment
00:41 MIN
How the journey design market has evolved and what trends to keep an eye out for
01:04 MIN
Utilizing the power of various tools
00:50 MIN
Where Cheetah Journey Designer started, and how it's evolving
01:37 MIN
How you can have data driven decisions be a key element to how your journey is designed
00:51 MIN
Easing the use and time to market
01:46 MIN

Patrick Tripp: Welcome to Pulse: The Cheetah Product Podcast. I'm Patrick Tripp, SVP of product marketing at Cheetah Digital, joined today by Mustafa Shairani, our Senior Product Manager for Cheetah Journey Designer. Mustafa, how are you today?

Mustafa Shairani: I'm very well, thank you very much, Patrick. Thanks for inviting me and I'm really excited to be here with you.

Patrick Tripp: Yes, excited to talk to you about your background, the focus at Cheetah. Talk about journey orchestration and really what we're up to at Cheetah Digital as well as some of the benefits of self- service journeys and what's next for Cheetah Journey Designer.

Mustafa Shairani: I'm glad to be here and I can't wait to share all the exciting things we've been doing.

Patrick Tripp: Awesome, let's do it. Welcome back to Pulse: The Cheetah Product Podcast. Mustafa, great to have you on an episode to talk about Journey Designer and what's happening in self- service journeys. Welcome to the podcast.

Mustafa Shairani: Thank you very much, it's exciting times. Certainly good to be here and share all the good things we've been working on.

Patrick Tripp: Love it, love it. So in Pulse, we always talk upfront about what's resonating in the market and we always start with music. Mustafa what's on your stereo these days? What are you listening to for music?

Mustafa Shairani: Gosh, all sorts of stuff. I've been listening to rock, pop from the eighties, nineties. I'm an older guy. I'm giving away my age, but yeah, Air Supply, Brian Adams, Nickelback sometimes Sting, you name it, so all sorts of stuff.

Patrick Tripp: Love it. Yeah, I'm a child of the eighties as well. Sting, The Police, I'm big into that as well.

Mustafa Shairani: Oh, The Police, I missed that one.

Patrick Tripp: Yeah, got to love The Police. Great background. I love to hear about everybody's musical interests. And you have quite a bit of a business background as well, right? Maybe talk about that.

Mustafa Shairani: Yeah. So I started my life as a software engineer and moved from engineering into product management. It was an organic shift from writing and building codes myself. I strategically moved up to look at the bigger picture and see how we can solve this problems by combining bigger teams and add the value that our customers need.

Patrick Tripp: Love it, yeah. So quite a diverse background, engineering. Maybe you can talk about some of the companies you've been at and some of your big moments of fame.

Mustafa Shairani: Yeah. I started my career from working for British Telecom. That was nothing exciting, quite boring, but where I moved on to University of St. Andrew soon after that and that's, I think, my only claim to fame in life there at that time, Prince William, as you would know, was part of that organization and he was meeting Kate and falling in love with her. So that was a good to witness firsthand.

Patrick Tripp: There you go. You can claim to have connected or been a part of the courting of Kate Middleton with Prince William. And golf too. It's a great golf place. I've been there.

Mustafa Shairani: Oh, home of golf, exactly. Yeah, I've seen some celebrities pop in. They used to have The Open and then used to shut the university down and the likes of Tiger Woods and all sorts of celebrities popped in.

Patrick Tripp: Yeah, I remember. I was there in 2000 with my dad to watch The Open Championship and Tiger Woods was playing and he actually won that year and I remember being at 18th hole when he won, and actually as tradition in the open, there was naked streaking happening and there were people running across the golf course, which they would never show on television, but I thought that was really fascinating and love the St Andrew's area though. It's such a nice place though.

Mustafa Shairani: Yeah, it's beautiful. Especially to people who love golf, it's a nice part of the world to be in.

Patrick Tripp: Yeah. Awesome. So here you are a Cheetah Digital, Mustafa. A lot going on in product management. Maybe you could talk to us a little bit about your remit here at Cheetah and what you've been working on.

Mustafa Shairani: I think I joined Cheetah Digital at the right time. It's really exciting times there. The kind of stuff you're trying to do, trying to bring different products together to give the power to the marketer and make their lives easier. I'm specifically focused on Journey Designer, a tool we're really proud of, a tool that would unlock the potential that we have in CES and give all the... basically let the marketer benefit from all the features that we are putting together without having to learn anything from scratch, or it's really putting them at the tip of their hands.

Patrick Tripp: Love it, yeah. So key for us and in the market in general, right? Journey orchestration is really ensuring the left hand and the right hand, the coordination of that experience happens in a consistent manner, and it's been around for a while in the market and many other vendors have tried to attempt journey design, journey building, journey orchestration. How have you seen the market evolve or what are some of the new trends you're seeing?

Mustafa Shairani: So what we're seeing is that marketers have realized that emails doesn't work anymore, or batch email is just not the stuff that would be sufficient for their consumers anymore. So they want something extra, the oomph or the ability to tap into the data that they have or build some data structure, recognize the patterns using machine learning or AI and understand the offers that their consumers would be interested in the right moment in time, and be aware of the fact that not every time batch email marketing would work, you need to wait for the right moment. And all of that can be made possible if you use our tools like Journey Designer because it helps you visualize all of this orchestration in a way that is easy to understand, easy to set up and gives you the flexibility to get... Time to market is greatly reduced because you can do these things which are fairly complex in a very, very easy, easy fashion and you don't have to rely on technical resources to get that done. So essentially, we are putting the power in the hands of the marketer to be the masters of their destiny really. I know it's a cliche, but that's what we're trying to do.

Patrick Tripp: I love it, yeah. Dedicated To Marketers is our mantra as a company. We talk about that a lot and this really hits to the heart of that really empowering marketers in a self- service manner to be able to really design the right journey, the right experience because we know that consumers are changing the way they interact with brands all the time. It's hard to predict and we need to be able to react and create that real seamless experience that makes it very smooth with the interaction with the brand. I guess I don't know if you have any opinions on what you've seen out there and any challenges you've seen with the tools today and what they've struggled to do.

Mustafa Shairani: I think the challenges that I see, and in my understanding, it's the lack of seamlessness or the frictionless approach between different products and the ability to bring them together coherently so they compliment each other as opposed to sometimes having a lot of fiction just trying to get them to work. And that's our prime goal in Journey Designer to use the power of all these kinds of tools and like big data and first party data that we've collected. This is all powerful information, but we have to make sure that they're working together to give the end result that our marketers need. Those informations or those capabilities that are not doing us any good if they're sitting in silos and are working independently. When they work as an orchestra and when a conductor, which is our marketer, plays them together, you get to hear a lovely symphony. So that's what we're trying to create.

Patrick Tripp: Love it., Yeah. And having some experience in this space as well, I was at Adobe for a while, I was at Red Point and a few other companies along the way, what I've seen in the market with these journey tools, the campaign management has been around for a while and there's been visual metaphors in which to design campaigns, but I've seen is just a bit of a rigid approach, very linear, sort of left to right. It's been very email only-

Mustafa Shairani: Email focused, it's not multi channel.

Patrick Tripp: Right, and it's been very batched too, like you have this audience and you batch it up and then you wait as it turns through and there's no real time nature to that.

Mustafa Shairani: Lacks a human touch, I would say. It does not have that understanding of when a consumer might need to... When's the best time to reach out to them, because sometimes as humans, we are not ready to even acknowledge the offer or feel to do anything with it. Even if you've been given a 50% discount you might not want it.

Patrick Tripp: Right. Definitely. So intelligence their data in real time, I think are some key themes. And that leads us to our approach at Cheetah. Mustafa, maybe you can talk a little bit about Cheetah Journey Designer overall and where we've evolved and where we're headed now with self- service.

Mustafa Shairani: So we started off understanding what are the common use cases out there in the market and setting up with a few standard journeys which our marketers could just deploy, configure based on the parameters that they have set up and different email campaigns that they might have set up and they're up and running. However, that was not enough. We felt that we needed to give them more power to go a step further. And for that reason, we've been working really hard on something called self- service journeys, and what that allows them to do is they can basically build anything from ground up from scratch. Anything that they can imagine, they can build today and they can connect multiple points which is not limited to just email marketing. You can transcend email marketing and connect to digital channels like mobile notifications, push notifications, direct emails. So you can be sending out direct mail like snail mail as we used to call them back then, and incorporate within all of this infrastructure the ability to figure out the right offer based on the data that we already have, intelligently understand what offers would interest them most, so basically rather than sending random offers, we're personalizing and honing in their interests, that is the information that we've learned over the years and the data that we've collected using first- party data. So we're just taking it a step ahead of the competition and we're doing all of this in a way that's really easy to understand, really user- friendly. You don't need an PhD degree to get it working. As long as you can use a mouse, you can drag and drop these different components together, hook them up and bish bash bosh as they say over here, Bob's your uncle. It's all running.

Patrick Tripp: I love it. Yeah, a real nice marketing friendly environment to create whatever you need to create that right journey and design for the customer. Of course, Cheetah provides everything from very simple trigger journeys to multi- step to very custom, and we have that library, you mentioned, a standard set of journeys that really help you get started and you can easily manipulate and edit those journeys to be whatever you need, but now you can really start from scratch. Maybe we can talk a little bit about how we do simulation and some of those things around metrics.

Mustafa Shairani: Yeah, exactly. So this is something really important and close to my heart because marketers who have readily access to data, they make the right decisions, and I think they compliment each other, the ability to modify your journey using self- service journeys in real time gives them the real power to talk because when they're looking at insights, we offer them the tools to look at the journey that they have designed, and in real time see how the journey is performing. They can measure different elements of journey steps and dig deep into how each step is performing, and based on that feedback, they can in real time go and edit that journey and make modifications to make sure that the journey is working even harder for them and basically produce more results efficiently. So insights and data driven decisions at the forefront of how a journey is designed is, I think, really important.

Patrick Tripp: Yep. Love it, yeah. There's a lot there, it's a guided experience, it's helpful for marketers, there's a lot of companion guides in there as well that really help you understand how to work through the tool and we'll be doing more and more immersive work in there. Maybe you could talk a little bit more about the benefits for marketers. What will this really help them do now moving forward that they weren't able to do before?

Mustafa Shairani: I think the biggest benefit is ease of use and time to market. So they don't have to... Earlier on there was a huge process, I think the lead time to design and think these journeys and then hand them over to a technical team or a business analyst to take those requirements and break them down into smaller technical chunks that would be then handed over to these technical teams to just put them and eventually test them out and this was a whole long process. Now, we've taken all of that clutter out and given this power data view to the marketer. So whatever they're thinking, whatever they're designing, they can experiment. They can just get a journey up and running without having to invest a lot in terms of times and resources to get something up and running, and that's real power because you can react to the market needs. Market is fluid nowadays. Consumers change what they like or what they don't like on an hourly basis almost, so I think the ability to be a step ahead of your consumers is the real power.

Patrick Tripp: Yep. Love it. Yeah, to me, that's the reduced time to market, that's ease of use, it's agility.

Mustafa Shairani: And not having to rely on technical teams to get your work, what your vision is up and running, and that lead time being taken away and giving you the power to do it yourself. And as we evolve, we are working on things like... We've just recently introduced, launched last week, something called the AB decision step, or AB split step as we call it, which lets them split their journey audience into different paths and they can then visualize the performance of different paths and see how each path performed and then later on, maybe change their approach. And that way in real time, they can experiment with their audiences and see which one is performing better and learn from it and get better and better results as they evolve.

Patrick Tripp: Fantastic. Yeah, so a lot happening, Mustafa. Maybe you can talk a little bit about what's next for self- service journeys and for Journey Designer. I really think about it as the backbone to all that we do across the customer engagement suite.

Mustafa Shairani: I think we're going to build on the success you've seen in terms of bringing the ease of use to the orchestration, the way we orchestrate things together. So we would like to use what we have in our CES suite and bring other components. Rather than just focusing on journey orchestration, we want to bring other elements in. So if you can easily incorporate things like the learnings we've made using machine learning or AI, or next best action, the elements of personalization, complex decisioning. So we'd expose different elements of consumer data that's available to the marketer so that they can make decisions on that, so complex decisions like if somebody is in the United States and he's over 40 years old, you want to go down a certain path, or if you're a female and you're less than 20 years old, you might not want to go down a different path. So that granular control I think would be adding another layer of control and power that the marketers would definitely love.

Patrick Tripp: Yeah, love it. And that intelligence is so key and the ML impact. Of course we have predicted windback. We're already incorporating a lot of that today, but we're going to continue on that path. And I think about it like Orchestration with a capital O where it's this way to really orchestrate loyalty and experiences and all sorts of things across the life cycle and as well as offline and online and crosstalk those worlds.

Mustafa Shairani: Exactly, visualizing everything together on your canvas and have the ability to draw them as you think, as you visualize without having to worry about how it's going to come out in the end, because you can literally visually see what's going on and what's in your head is basically on the canvas. And as you rightly pointed out, it does not stop at the digital layer. It transcends that and looks at the wider customer life cycle that might look at the experiences they face in a brick and mortar store, and based on the transactions they've performed over there, Journey Designer can easily inter- crack that data and then give some next best action that would encourage more sales or something like that.

Patrick Tripp: Yep. Fantastic. Mustafa, this has been a great discussion. I appreciate it. Where can folks go to learn more about our journey approach and journey orchestration?

Mustafa Shairani: We've got CES Help, so every bit of information is available over there. Very soon we are working on introducing online help baked right into Journey Designer as well so you don't even have to leave Journey Designer as you want to find out more. But for now we've got companion guides that explain how a standard library journey works, and generally if you want to find out more about how self- service journeys work, CES Help is the place to be.

Patrick Tripp: Awesome. Yeah, that's help. cheetahces. com. You can find all the latest and greatest in there. We're also going to promote Signals. Coming up in the month of October, we will have a series of sessions for Signals 2021. You can go to cheetahdigital. com to sign up for Signals now. There'll certainly be sessions focused on journey orchestration so I encourage you to check that out, but Mustafa, always great to chat and thank you very much.

Mustafa Shairani: It was a pleasure. Thank you so much for your time and have a lovely day. Thanks everybody. Have a nice one.

Patrick Tripp: Bye.


On today's show, Patrick talks with Mustafa Shairani, Senior Product Manager for Cheetah Journey Designer. Mustafa shares his background and what he does here at Cheetah. These two dive into journey orchestration and how you can benefit from self-service journeys. Mustafa also gives us insight into Cheetah Journey Designer and what to look forward to next with them.