IDInteract’s Vision to Reinvent Brand Interaction Starts in Detroit
After quietly filing patents and operating in “stealth mode” since 2009, IDInteract‘s founder and CEO, Matt Standish, formally launched his brand interaction software platform in December. Now, he’s in the process of opening what he calls a “center of excellence” in Detroit, which will eventually employ 100 software developers, to go with a three-person office already in Seattle.
“We’re a fast-growing company really focused on elevating social CRM,” Standish says. “We bring unstructured data together and create demand signals for a brand.” What that means in lay terms is that Standish has developed an algorithm that not only reads what you’re saying in your tweets, blog posts, Instagram selfies, and Facebook missives about certain brands, but it’s also able to gauge the emotion in the communication.
IDInteract is able to understand, over a period of time, how people are using verbs, where they are geographically, and whether they’ve downloaded related mobile apps. IDInteract takes that data and combines it with what it calls optional structured data—which includes a customer’s account number, purchase history, and current address—to build a customer persona, which he says provides actionable data on consumer opinion.
A dashboard for each consumer tracks what’s said about the brand in social media, the consumer’s mood regarding the brand, preferences, emotion, location, any personal information, whether privacy settings on social media accounts is low or high, how much the customer has spent on the brand already, and, finally, what the customer is worth to a brand in terms of revenue generated and the customer’s ability to convert members of their social networks into potential customers.
If this all sounds like a highly invasive endeavor, Standish disagrees.
For starters, brands plan to use all of this information to tailor coupons and other savings offers and make them as relevant to an individual customer as possible. The more customers spend and the better they communicate about the product on social media, the more valuable the coupon they receive. Standish also says that his platform is based on the identity access management principles of the OAuth 2.0 API.
“We understand user privacy policies and we’re able to respect those policies,” he says. “We allow users to pick how they want to be communicated with.”
He uses an example from his own life to show how IDInteract’s technology facilitates more meaningful interaction between brands and customers. Standish is a big fan of tennis and, consequently, the Tennis Channel. Most cable providers don’t carry that channel, but one day he discovered that he could watch it on his Xbox. Had IDInteract been tracking his persona, it’s likely Xbox would have already been aware that he was one of its customers and had been lamenting the lack of tennis programming on cable television, and would have sent him a message telling him he could access the channel from his Xbox.
“I had to find that out on my own,” he points out. “How does a brand find out the needs of its customers? IDInteract plays matchmaker. Customers want to be compelled to go to the store.”
Standish says as it stands currently, most brands’ social media presences amounts to little more than listening posts—a glorified inbox, cataloging kudos and complaints. Standish calls it the “so what” factor, as in, so someone hates your brand—so what? Now what will the brand do? IDInteract would go in and check or build the persona. First, is it a real person or a bot? What are their interests? How have they talked about brands in the past? From there, an intelligent dialog would be initiated.
Standish envisions a day when this will lead to a new kind of social e-commerce where customers could tweet an airline about needing a flight on a specific day, and the airline would message back the price of the flight. “We need to get rid of swipe cards and QR codes,” he says. “The best technology is easy, transparent, and only interacts with you if you choose.” Standish adds that he’s already had offers from companies interested in his technology that want to buy him out, but he’s sticking with his goal of opening a big software company in Michigan.
And why Michigan? Standish grew up in Sterling Heights. He went to school at Michigan State University, where he met his wife, a native of Frankenmuth, MI. The first thing he did upon graduation is leave the state, because that’s what you did if you wanted to work for a high-profile tech company. He took a job with Bell Labs, took classes at MIT as part of his MBA, and then went to work for Motorola.
“I have lots of roots here,” he notes. “It’s always been a dream to come back, help the economy, and spur growth.”
IDInteract will be located in downtown Detroit and already has a staff of 12, which Standish hopes to increase quickly. He’s excited to be in Michigan not only because of his family ties, but because he considers the state’s university system to be one of the best in the world, cranking out “immense” talent that usually heads to the East and West costs after graduation.
Plus, it’s a lot more affordable to hire employees and buy or lease office space in Detroit.
“I call it bringing the West Coast back to Detroit,” he adds. “You don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to have a great software company. We’re looking forward to generating some excitement.”
Though he admires what Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert has done to revitalize downtown, he’s wary of Detroit’s economy being based on loan originations. “We want to be in with the Quicken family and really help create platform software,” he says. “But everything can’t revolve Dan Gilbert. He started the trend, but he’s got to hand the baton off at some point.”