As we ring out the year and close the books on 2016 at HG Insights, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the past 12 months and look ahead to 2017.
While 2016 has been a watershed year for HG Insights, so much of what we’ve accomplished—from the new products we’ve released to the people we’ve hired—is indicative of where we’re going in the coming year.
While I agree, in part, with Steve Jobs that, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them,” we also must consider context. Trends in sales and marketing, in the data industry and customer feedback all provide direction. Throw in a dash of kismet and you have HG Insights in 2016.
Series B Funding: Opportunity for Real Growth
In April, we closed our Series B round of funding. In Updata Partners we have an exceptional investment partner who brings a level of strategic thinking and thoughtful support that encourages us to live up to our dreams and the expectations of our customers, investors, and partners.
At the same time, fundraising itself isn’t our endgame. We remain more focused than ever on growing the business by delivering more—from our data science to a superior customer experience—to more customers. And the proof is in the results: We’ve essentially doubled our footprint in terms of the number of employees, new customers, partner and licensing relationships and office space.
Intellectual Property: Doubling Down on the Data Science
While we’ve continued to grow our dataset of the companies, vendors and technologies tracked, we’ve also doubled down on the science and IP that underlies everything we do and the insights we create.
Since we were fortunate enough to be able to establish a new innovation team working out on the bleeding edge of our industry and under the brilliant guidance of Victor Moreira (the maddest of our mad scientists), we needed a new CTO.
It’s our good fortune that Rob Fox has come to us, bringing 20 years of commercial software and analytical experience, most recently at Liaison Technologies and MuleSoft. His entrepreneurial spirit and thought leadership for all things data are the kinds of assets that enable HG Insights to continue accelerating and evolving the cutting edge science that makes our dataset the holy grail of data for marketing and sales.
User Experience: Broadening Our Use Case
Because from Day One we’ve poured resources into our intellectual property and data science, we’ve not followed the typical startup trajectory. Unlike most vendors, we focused first on enterprise companies with the in-house technology and staff to take our data feed and inject it into their systems of record.
In 2016, to better accommodate 1000s of mid-level companies, we committed to making our data more accessible, affordable and easier to use. We introduced our first set of tools that elevate the user experience and give prospective customers a meaningful way to test drive our data in the context of day-to-day sales and marketing activities:
- HG Focus is already giving 1000s of demand gen and sales teams, especially business and sales development reps, a glimpse into installed technologies at companies they are visiting on the web. HG Focus is a Chrome extension that is also visible inside Salesforce, LinkedIn, Microsoft 365 and Gmail.
- HG Discovery is both a marketing tool to help you learn about the companies using the technologies you care about as well as an opportunity to raise the hood and see what’s inside our dataset.
We encourage you to try these tools. They’re free, and when you set up a free account with HG Insights you receive even more functionality.
Account-Based Marketing: The Empirical Data Advantage
If there is one overriding marketing trend in 2016, it’s Account-Based Marketing (ABM). Although marketers have tried targeting prospects that share many of the geographical, industrial and firmographical characteristics of key customer accounts for years, it’s today’s technology that is delivering on the promise of this advanced marketing strategy.
As recently as 2015, while the vast majority of marketers recognized ABM’s value, only 20% had well-established programs in place. This year, however, customers and vendors scrambled to get on the ABM fast track. We’ve seen ABM go from simple lookalike lists to increasingly sophisticated predictive modeling.
HG Insights is carving out a unique space by providing empirical insight into technology installations. Our data is a great differentiator: We know who’s doing what…and where they are in the process.
While the ABM industry crawled out its infancy state in 2016, it still has a lot of growing up to do. In 2017 and going forward, HG Insights is well positioned to continue providing our empirical datasets both directly to our customers (especially through our user-experience tools) and through our deepening relationships with our partners—the vendors of predictive modeling tools who are licensing our data.
Digital Marketing: Smarter Segmentation for Quality Lead Gen
The other major trend is digital marketing and programmatic advertising. In recent years, we’ve seen a gradual evolution from quantity to quality in lead generation.
Both from a data and marketing perspective, digital content marketing and programmatic are in their early stages. We’re going to see advances in 2017. And as with ABM, HG Insights is positioned to deliver empirical insight as ever-deeper segmentation becomes smarter segmentation information about the company for which an individual works.
We’ve been building out segmentation for B2B digital marketing for some time now, mainly working with key partners—including Oracle and Salesforce—and third-party data management platforms to distribute this. Based on the success customers are seeing using our data for display and digital marketing, we’ve doubled down on our commitment.
John Connell, our VP of Digital Strategy, is one of those customers. He comes to us from interactive media firm QuinStreet, only the most recent leadership position in a career focused on helping business technology companies identify, attract, capture and retain customers through digital content and programmatic advertising. John epitomizes our commitment to building tools that help sales and marketing work smarter.
Looking Ahead: Personal Codes and Chicks in the Incubator
Of course, growth isn’t limited to sales numbers and product releases. Ultimately, it’s about celebrating our people. In October, we gathered at inspirational El Capitan Canyon on the beautiful Santa Barbara coast for our first company retreat.
We spent a day of personal growth under the inspired guidance of our facilitator—legandary surfing great Shaun Tomson. By the end of the day, each of us had created an individual personal code—11 strategic statements, each starting with the words “I Will….”
As we gathered to read and share our I Will statements, it reinforced for me just what a special place HG Insights is because of our people, for whom I have profound respect and admiration.
Finally, we each selected the one I Will for which we wanted to be memorialized. All 60-plus memorial statements now hang on the wall in our office with this reminder: “The 60 most important lines of code this company will ever write.” I think we all have a deeper understanding of one another.
And now we can look forward to the New Year. And whether you’re a customer, a visitor to our website or thinking about becoming a customer, I can assure you that we have a lot planned for 2017. We have many chicks in our technology incubator. Join us here as we keep you informed throughout 2017 as these chicks begin to fly the nest.