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Splio interview: Update on the platform's activity following the arrival of Jean-Philippe Baert as new CEO

In this interview conducted on April 9, 2024, we had the opportunity to hear from Jean-Philippe Baert, new CEO of Splioa few weeks after his arrival at the company. It was also an opportunity to listen to Antoine Parizot, Splio's Chief Product and Tech Officeron issues related to artificial intelligence.

Jean-Philippe Baert, explains the impact of successive acquisitions of Tinyclues and D-AIMtwo companies specialized in data and prediction. It's an opportunity to understand what Splio has become after these recent acquisitions, and how these integrations have strengthened its offering in a market ofmarketing automation and ultra-competitive CDP.

We also explored the platform's adjustments in response to market demands, highlighting how Splio adapts its tools and services to better meet business needs.

The discussion also focuses on Jean-Philippe Baert's first actions and vision as CEO, including his plans to boost innovation, strengthen the partnership ecosystem and expand Splio internationally. Finally, the interview addresses Splio's future developments in the use of generative AIas well as the ethical and practical challenges associated with these technologies.

Splio website: https://splio.com/

Where does Splio stand after acquiring Tinyclues and D-AIM?

Jonathan Loriaux - One year after the acquisition of Tinyclues, two and a half years after the acquisition of D-AIM, where does Splio stand? How are you pitching your services and market positioning?

Jean-Philippe Baert - Over the past two years, we've had the pleasure of welcoming our colleagues from D-AIM, and then those from Tinyclues last year. These services are now our environment.

These two acquisitions (D-AIM and Tinyclues, editor's note) have enabled us to take a quantum leap forward in areas that we needed to complete at Splio.

These acquisitions have brought us many benefits in terms of data and prediction. The first is the acquisition of skills and in-depth knowledge of individuation and prediction. These acquisitions have also strengthened our technological know-how.

Our new all-in-one marketing automation platform with CDP is built around Tinyclues technology. It was made possible by the acquisition of these two areas of expertise.

We are now in a position to cover the different maturity levels of retail customers.

We are proud to count brands such as FAGUO, Bobbies, Le Coq Sportif, Wethenew, The Kooples, Maison du Monde and FNAC among our 500 customers. We see them all grow at their own pace, and support them with the right offer. Take Fauchon for example, their teams onboarded our Marketing Automation platform in 2017, our loyalty engine in 2021 and our CDP at the end of 2023.

What's really important is that our customers grow with our platform and we grow with our customers.

Splio, a unified platform or different tools?

Jonathan Loriaux - Does this mean that the various tools from the different acquisitions are still available individually in addition to the unified platform? Or is it the unified platform that you prefer?

Jean-Philippe Baert - The choices we've made are linked to the type of market we're in.

We have to adjust and adapt our offer to what the market demands.

A company can't say: "I want to cover the whole market with one set of features", when the market isn't there or isn't buoyant.

We've acquired stand-alone solutions that, at one time, performed well and broke into new markets. If you take Tinyclues' technology, today it's much more profitable to integrate it directly into marketing automation functions.

Splio's DNA for many years has always been to serve the Mid-Market market. And this is where the combination of Marketing Automation and CDP is most relevant.

In addition, the data aspect, data analysis and prediction based on data - what we call individuation - is essential in markets that are completely separate, but very special and very buoyant. This is the case, for example, with telcos in Africa and the Middle East.

What's been done since Jean-Philippe Baert took over as CEO?

Jonathan Loriaux - You took over as CEO of Splio a few weeks ago. What were your first reflexes and actions?

Jean-Philippe Baert - The first thing to do is to understand the issues facing the company. To understand the problems it faces with its products, its market, the dynamics within the company. It all happened pretty quickly.

I found a company that had undertaken a lot, but that also needed streamlining. A lot of positive things had accumulated, people had arrived, departments had been added, processes had become over-abundant, and so on.

Jonathan Loriaux - What missions have Splio's shareholders entrusted to you? How do you see the future of the market?

Jean-Philippe Baert - The main task entrusted to me by the investors is to strengthen Splio's leadership position. After these acquisitions, after the always complicated integration period, what exactly are the growth relays we can have, how do we set them up and also maintain profitability?

Our investors have decided to support our ambitions with a financial contribution of 7.5 million euros to accelerate innovation. So we've got enough money to realize our plans right now!

We will develop three main strategic axes. Invest in innovation. CDP, of course, but also generative AI. Antoine and I will talk about this in a moment. Strengthen our ecosystem. That's something this Splio has to do now, because until now, it's been in a pretty easy environment to navigate pretty much on its own. And now, in 2024, we can no longer continue to advance in our market without being surrounded by friends and partners. So, setting up connectors in the sense of technological partners as well as working more closely with our customers is a must. with agencies. And finally, once you've achieved a high local market share, you need to be able to expand into other markets, including international ones.

Integrating AI into Splio's tools, what are the impacts of generative AI?

Jonathan Loriaux - On your website, and for some time now, Splio has been described as an AI-boosted platform. Apart from the targeting part, we're quite often disappointed by new AI features that are developed by campaign management tools. There are often copywriting-oriented tools that have arrived recently. There are questions about optimizing sending times. Beyond what you can do historically with Tinyclues, how does the use of AI in Splio stand out from the crowd?

Antoine Parizot - That's a good question. When we took on the subject of predictive in 2020, we said to ourselves, we have the choice of doing it alone or being accompanied. That's what gave us D-AIM and Tinyclues.

In the predictive part, there's everything that Tinyclues did historically, which is of enormous value, which is the whole targeting part to predict buying behavior.

Tinyclues was a platform that came at a certain price, with more enterprise or large mid-market customers. Our challenge is to bring this targeting capability to all our customers, to predict their purchasing behavior. Democratize by reinforcing the value we can bring to our customers.

For example, we now also have the ability to predict engagement. That is, "Here, I want to create a campaign to get people into a loyalty program."

There's also campaign plan optimization. Here, we use predictive analysis to say to ourselves: "OK, I've got 30 campaigns to send out next week, I've got 500,000 contacts in my database, I don't want to send more than 2 messages per person. How can I optimize this campaign plan?"

With predictive intelligence, we help our customers prioritize campaigns and optimize their plans, when they have a lot to say, to strike the right balance between the revenue we generate and the marketing pressure.

In the world of Gen AI there's a lot of hype and we try to be very pragmatic. We've integrated everything directly in the builder for our customers. In addition to the traditional object generation that everyone will be doing, we have several use cases that we'll be making available this month: generating paragraphs, translating content, generating pre-headers.

How are the risks and ethical impacts of artificial intelligence addressed?

Jonathan Loriaux - This brings me to a question about pedagogy and educating your users about AI, beyond the hype aspect of the technology. There are also questions about the biases that can be introduced, particularly on the generative side. Do you have any plans to educate your users about the risks and benefits of artificial intelligence? Often, the advantages are highlighted, but the risks are not, notably in terms of creativity, standardization of content, etc.

Antoine Parizot - On the predictive side, we believe very strongly in AI, which is a marketer's co-pilot. Earlier, I used the example of saying: "I've got twenty or so campaigns next week. How can I optimize my campaign plan? We're always trying to think: "What's the 20 % of customers that will make up the 80 % of the figure?"

You see your 20 campaigns, you see who's in them, and then, as a marketer, you have the hand to say to yourself, "Here, I want to go a little harder or not."

We always try to avoid being in a black box. You're in control, because you're given a plan and you can put in new entrants, change the pressure, go a little harder on one channel rather than another, and re-launch the optimization to see the results. It's an aid to the marketer.

In the Gen AI section, you ask a question that borders on the civilizational. I put the question in two parts.

Our first mission is to introduce generative AI into our tools to help our customers' productivity without being a gadget.

Secondly, on Gen AI, we will only be launching it for some of our customers, whereas we could launch it for everyone. Because we need to better understand what this will change for our customers: will they really use it, how will they use it, what kind of bias will it create? In the end, will they generate paragraphs and say to themselves: "This gives me inspiration, but I'm going to write the paragraph myself"? Or will they insert it and not even look at it?

Over the next few weeks, we want to analyze our customers' behavior beyond the hype. Because if we open it up to 30 customers and nobody uses it after a quarter, or if, on the other hand, the 30 customers use it all the time and just copy-paste without thinking, it's very different.

Then, we also have a lot of philosophical discussions, but we haven't yet established good ethical practices around this, because we want to define the situation first.

Towards a diversification of Splio's target audience?

Jonathan Loriaux - Today, you have a very retail e-commerce-oriented customer base. Do you have a diversification objective? What impact will this have on the solution?

Jean-Philippe Baert - Yes, we're still very much in the retail business. Retail is an industry made up of around thirty sectors. It's a very, very vast field. So we still have a lot to conquer in this market! We're leaders in France, and we're looking forward to expanding our market share even further in Spain, Italy and soon elsewhere in Europe.

We are also investing in telecoms, particularly in the Pre-Paid market in Africa and the Middle East, from our office in Tunis.

You asked me about small accounts. That's another thing I saw when I arrived, and it's something we've had to rationalize. Serving both large corporations and very small accounts is a lot for a company of 250 people. We decided to focus on and remain SME-oriented for the Marketing Automation and CDP part, and also large accounts for all predictive parts, as well as telco.

This is an industry with very advanced CVM (Customer Value Management) needs, which we address with our Individuation offering, our predictive one-to-one marketing offering.

One of our trademarks is our ability to deliver and take care of our customers.

I think it's something we want not only to cultivate, but to keep. We're here to help our customers, from the onboarding phase through to development. On average, our customers stay with us for over six years. We're going to continue to cultivate this difference around services and around our ability to really take an interest in our customers.

Conclusion

Jonathan Loriaux - A final word?

Jean-Philippe Baert - In a nutshell, Splio is and will remain a major player in this market. On the strength of our acquisitions and the technological contributions they provide, we are able to extend our functional domains to include things that the market is demanding today: CDP and AI.

Our future depends on our ability to conquer this market and offer the right solutions.

Not only do I have every confidence, but we also have the means, as I said earlier. And the confidence, above all, of our investors to bring this project to a successful conclusion.

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