Business Intel Firm L2 Hires New CEO Scott Ernst, Looks to Scale Up

8/18/14Follow @jpruth

Looking to grow and expand its reach, business intelligence company L2 has drafted Scott Ernst as its new CEO.

New York-based L2 uses data to help brands figure out how much traction they have in the digital world, which includes e-commerce, social media, and mobile devices. Prior to L2, Ernst was president of Millward Brown Digital (previously known as Compete). His hiring coincides with the addition of other executives at L2, including Dean McRobie as CTO. L2 founder Scott Galloway remains chairman of the company.

Ernst joins L2 at a time of fragmentation in the business intelligence industry. There is a broad mix of services and software available for brands from the likes of San Francisco-based Actuate, Denmark’s Targit, and QlikTech in Radnor, PA.

In March, L2 raised $16.5 million in funding, its first venture round, from General Catalyst Partners to further develop its services and expand internationally. Founded in 2010, some of the brands L2 works with include Unilever, L’Oréal, and Mary Kay. This month, L2 released research on the power Amazon wields in the market.

Ernst spoke briefly with me recently about his hiring and L2’s growth strategy.

Xconomy: What drew you to joining L2?

Scott Ernst: L2 feels like the perfect next phase for my career. I’ve spent almost 20 years in Internet marketing, kind of started at the beginning on the west coast. I had the privilege of being part of four startup companies that all reached a successful exit. I think of my time at Compete and Millward Brown Digital as 12 years into my fourth startup. The opportunity to join L2 came up based on a relationship with Scott [Galloway] and General Catalyst. It represents an opportunity to help the company scale to the next level.

X: Are there new goals and directions you have in mind for L2 now that you are CEO?

SE: The existing strategy is spot-on. What we’re looking to do is scale and grow. That is really the edict of Scott Galloway and I partnering. We’ve got a really big market opportunity that we believe can be capitalized and leveraged to build a much bigger, much more valuable company.

X: How is business intelligence evolving and what are brands looking for in terms of insight?

SE: Our perspective on the space is digitalized. When we think about chief marketing officers’ biggest opportunity and biggest challenge, it’s really centered around getting digital. The basis for what we do with our Digital IQ score is to measure and benchmark brands’ digital competence through an objective measure.

Digital competence drives a disproportionate amount of shareholder value. Clients are asking us to be increasingly more holistic, look across more than one particular channel, and really reflect what the overall strategy is for a brand that is trying to be best in class for digital. We believe we can help clients achieve greater digital competence through a set of database-actionable recommendations that help them move the business.

X: What sets L2 apart from other companies that offer business intelligence and market research?

SE: We have a proprietary approach, the Digital IQ score, which looks across a combination of website, social, mobile, and [customer relationship management]. We look at a brand’s digital strengths based on those categories. Our technology gathers 850 data points for each of those brands, in each of those subcomponents.

It pulls those together and creates a composite index of how one brand is doing compared to another. That results in a metric for brands to measure how they’re doing on their own and how they’re doing relative to their sector and competitors.

Brands need to be strong in digital; we’re storytellers around how to apply that data to the businesses that our clients are in.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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