Microsoft backed startup makes big data claims

Helping big brands achieve a single view of the customer is a challenge that many have tried and failed to overcome.

Now Amperity, a Seattle-based startup with the weight of Microsoft behind it, has come out of stealth mode.

Its technology, says CEO and co-founder Kabir Shahani, will help “some of the world’s biggest companies, including airlines, understand customers better by connecting disparate data sources from across the web”.

Shahani and co-founder Derek Slager honed their experience in data, marketing and technology, in the seven years they spent building healthcare startup Appature, before selling it to IMS health in 2013.

Now, four years later they are back in the game, having a assembled a multi-generational, cross-industry management team that includes Dave Fetterman, one of Facebook’s first engineers, Rajeev Singh, former president and COO of Concur, and Matthew Biboud-Lubeck, former VP of data strategy at L’Oreal.

“Derek and I suffered the pain of trying to do data and customer profiling projects like this over many years. While connecting data across these sources should be simple, it’s actually super challenging,” says Shahani.

Outlining the specific challenges for airlines, Shahani says there are three.

Firstly there are vast quantities of data that exist in disparate silos, making it difficult for marketers to access.

Secondly, there is the inability to unify data to correctly identify customers, which means that while the data exists, it cannot be used to generate insights or drive marketing campaigns.

Finally, there is the problem of “dirty, voluminous data that is hard to parse”, coming in from multiple destinations and channels.

“We are all about helping customers to use software to manage known and identifiable data, which turns out to be super powerful in an airline scenario,” says Shahani.

Amperity says it is already helping airlines go from recognising just 60% of their customers to 90%.

Although Shahani can’t name names, yet, it seems that Alaska Airlines, which was invited to an invitation-only panel discussion in September, might be one.

The resulting “revenue lift, reduction in marketing costs and ability to personalise for a more emotional connection with airline passengers,” has impressed Stuart Greif, Microsoft senior executive, Travel, Hospitality, Transportation, Retail, CPG, QSR Industry Solutions.

In travel it’s becoming harder than ever for a single platform to dominate, and it’s for this reason, Greif says, that Microsoft is looking to be technology agnostic and build partnerships with disruptive, groundbreaking startups like Amperity.

Explaining the partnership further Shahani says:

“Before we even had a working product, Satya Nadella, [Microsoft’s CEO] became really interested in the problem we were attempting to solve.”

In the discussions that followed it became clear that Nadella was interested in understanding how Amperity could help drive Microsoft’s own customer experience to provide more capability across existing products, such as Azure, Azure Data Lake, Azure Machine Learning, the Power BI stack, Dynamics.

With $9 million in funding led by Madrona Venture Group secured in February, Shahani expects the 40-strong team to grow rapidly to 100.

“If I look across the table, we have the depth to solve many different pieces of the problem. It’s going to be fun for us all to align our previous experiences.”

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Pamela Whitby

About the Writer :: Pamela Whitby

Pamela Whitby is an independent writer, editor and research-led content producer. In the travel space, she writes for and edits, and is a freelance contributor to tnooz. Other areas of expertise include African business, healthcare, IT and renewable energy. She has written for the BBC, Daily Telegraph, the Observer, Economist Intelligence Unit, Investor's Chronicle and News Desk Media and has consulted various organisations on content strategy. She lives in London but has a foot in Africa, where she retains strong connections both personally and professionally.



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