My Journey from What If to What’s Next


The whole world is going digital – and companies everywhere must adapt to compete. No industry is immune. And this digital transformation is happening fast.

Look at it this way:

  • Retail stores seem to be closing faster than the news can cover them – giving in to a meteoric rise in online shopping.
  • It was 2008 when small home-sharing start-up Airbnb came on the scene. In just nine years, it has become the billion-dollar behemoth turning the hospitality industry on its head.
  • Only about four years ago, the likes of Uber and Lyft really started to disrupt the taxi industry.

So it doesn’t take much time for an innovation to go from “What If” to “What’s Next.” And if companies today want to compete, they need to adapt. They need to adopt the technologies that will help them succeed in today’s digital world. And from what I’ve seen, the early adopters are often the biggest winners. Let me show you why.

My own journey from What If to What’s Next

Back in early 2012, I signed on as vice president of global customer success and services at Okta, a leading independent provider of identity for the enterprise. The company provides the foundation for secure connections between companies and their customers and partners worldwide. Thousands of organizations use Okta’s platform to work faster, boost revenue and stay secure.

In 2013, Forrester released a Forrester Wave report (aka Forrester’s evaluation of vendors in a software, hardware or services market) in the Identity and Access Management space for the cloud. The report named Okta as one of the top leaders in the space. At that time, only a few B2B companies subscribed to this kind of service in the cloud (hint: early adopters).

Managing identity in the cloud was simply not seen as a business necessity back then – so not many companies were willing to take the leap. But the few who did, saw the opportunity to better manage their growing portfolio of cloud or web apps. They saw the opportunity to leverage the latest innovation that could make them more productive, more agile. And they seized it. These same B2B companies were early adopters of the cloud itself (no surprise) – because they saw that the cloud was the future.

Just one year later…

In 2014, Okta secured a leader spot in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Identity and Access Management as a Service. It would repeat in 2015, 2016 and 2017. (This year, identity in the cloud was merged with access management, which includes all large IT vendors: Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and CA Technologies.)

Side note: Microsoft and Salesforce joined the space in 2015. A bit scary – but clear validation that this technology was moving from early adopters to early majority on the adoption curve. The early majority is the first sizable segment of a population to adopt an innovative technology – so for these types, think brands like Microsoft, Oracle and IBM. From where I sat, this was proof that Okta’s technology had moved from What If to What’s Next.

Present day

OK, so fast forward to the here and now. I joined 6sense as the chief customer officer five months ago and I am already seeing history repeat itself. I am already witnessing a movement from What If to What’s Next with 6sense’s intelligent marketing cloud.

Early signs, early adopters

Just last month, Forrester released The Forrester WaveTM: Predictive Marketing Analytics for B2B Marketers, Q2 2017. It was the first report of its kind for the predictive marketing analytics space – and it named 6sense a leader among predictive analytics providers.

The report was designed to help B2B marketers make the right decisions when choosing a partner to help them identify and reach ready-to-buy prospects. But it also revealed a growing demand for predictive analytics – because early adopters are seeing their efforts turn into “real, measurable results.” Forrester backs that up in its recent Total Economic Impact (TEI) study conducted on behalf of 6sense, which shows that the 6sense predictive intelligence platform delivered a 405% ROI. That sounds like “real, measurable results” to me.

One such early adopter is our customer Dell EMC who leverages 6sense to hyper-target their customers and stay on the cutting edge of competition. In a recent CMO article, Dell EMC SVP of Marketing Gaurav Chand describes the results of the partnership as “incredible.”

The article states that “whereas traditionally, Dell EMC might blast out a message to millions of customers and hope for an attach rate of 0.3 percent, using 6sense it can target a specific population and achieve results of 30 percent or greater.”

Still, here I go again…

Despite this evidence, predictive marketing analytics is still a premium service in the early-adopter phase. There are a handful of B2B companies using this technology today to gain full visibility into who their buyers are, what their needs are and precisely where they are in the buyer’s journey. Because they see how it can fuel lead generation and conversion. They see how it can drive productivity and growth. Perhaps they even see that this is the future of B2B sales and marketing success.

So, while I’m feeling a bit of déjà vu, I’m also feeling a ton of excitement. Because for the second time in just five years, I find myself standing on the edge of What’s Next. And if you’re on a B2B sales or marketing team, you are too. Because at a time when the whole world is going digital, the technology you need to reach and engage in-market buyers is right at your fingertips.

You just need to ask yourself, What If?

Want to go from What If to What’s Next?

Just give us a shout.

Want to know more?

Get the full Wave report to see how predictive analytics can help boost your B2B sales and marketing program results.

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