How Scatter built a technology-driven workflow management system
Technology has influenced marketing in innumerable ways and very few people have followed it as closely as our Engineering Lead, Indraja Punna. In this Q&A she talks about technology’s influence on marketing, the role machine learning plays in content creation, and what inspired her to create Scatter’s workflow management system (WMS).
Here’s what she had to say:
What role do you think technology plays in today’s marketing?
With the ubiquity of smartphones and inexpensive data, customers are seeking out brands at every possible digital touchpoint. Thanks to this, brands can now understand users’ behaviour more closely and target them with relevant communication, pushing them down the purchase funnel. This has led to extensive use of technology across the industry – whether it is performance marketing, research, or customer segmentation.
How did the WMS come into existence?
Today there are more than 2000 marketing technology companies selling their solutions. However, as India’s first content marketing firm, we constantly felt that marketers didn’t have a single platform to manage all their content. This single thought led to the creation of the WMS. With it, we’ve tried to reduce the marketer’s dependence on multiple platforms to be able to create and publish content.
What factors did you need to cater to before creating the WMS?
We had around 13 different job roles to cater to. And we were very clear that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach would not help us tackle this. We also had to take into account that as a startup our business needs would evolve at a rapid pace. Therefore, we needed a platform that could promise flexibility and easy customisation. The biggest challenge was to replicate the experience of Microsoft Word, the usage of which has become like second nature to its consumers. And old habits sure do die hard!
How did you tackle the challenge of integrating an editor like Word into the platform?
Integrating a basic editor with all the formatting options was easy. The challenge was in building a feedback mechanism like the Track Changes option. And we didn’t have the option of being ‘almost as good’. Even a slight difference in experience would have caused users to drop off the platform immediately. Luckily, we found an editor called Froala, which allowed us to make the required customisation to meet our requirements.
Talking about customisation, can you tell us how you went about tailoring the product to suit the needs of different users?
An inward approach seemed the way to go. We started building the system’s architecture by addressing the more general problems. For instance, we identified all the places where we could introduce digital touchpoints; all manual tasks required automation. The specifics came next; we moved through them stage by stage. Once we were done, we integrated all the elements into a well-flowing product.
Since we learned new things along the way, we often needed to revisit the drawing board and rethink the architecture. (I remember being the first one to ask the office for a whiteboard to facilitate our brainstorming sessions). This process led us to rebuild the entire code base and change the structure of the database three times!
How did the product evolve during the last 18 months?
The first version that we built brought on board just the Scatter team and the vendors we work with. We gradually integrated a system of invoicing and payments that helped us keep track of the revenue generated and the costs incurred. Once we had that in place, we worked on building customised dashboards for various job roles.
By this time, we had an idea what marketers require from a platform like this and we were sure that our capabilities were sufficient to meet the same. That is when we finally took the plunge into building a dashboard for marketers, which allowed us to close the loop and helped Scatter create a digitally integrated ecosystem.
What part has technology played in developing a smart system that facilitates seamless content creation?
Technology is the backbone of this initiative. We are using a machine learning-driven recommendation engine to suggest content ideas, a smart notification system to track content in its evolution, and a predictive analytics mechanism to foresee trending conversations. Automation of customised reports has also allowed us to facilitate a data-driven approach to decision-making for marketers and Scatter team members alike.
What are the features we can look forward to in upcoming WMS versions?
Our focus will be on analytics. As the data in our system grows, we will be able to draw more meaningful insights. That, in turn, will help marketers derive greater business value from the product. We have also been looking into areas where we can integrate chatbots and artificial intelligence to automate some of the repetitive tasks that we perform on a daily basis.
Since there remains so much potential for growth, it feels as if the journey has just begun!