Clout: Tell us about your background in designing innovative products?
Jeremy Dillingham: I started my career at IBM where I spent the first six years and then moved into a series of startup and growth companies, primarily focused on product management and bringing new products and innovations to market. Clout is my 5th early stage / startup over the last 20+ years.
I have brought new products to market targeting both businesses (B2B) and individual consumers (B2C) via both hardware and software products, across a range of technologies including marketing technology, social, data, robotics, CRM, and FinTech. It's been quite a diverse background which I believe helps to remain fresh in working on new products and solutions.
In addition to my work experience, I’ve been mentoring at Techstars in Boulder, Colorado for the last seven years. It has been such a rewarding experience to get to work with a new cohort of early stage companies every year. It’s great to meet the new founders, see cutting edge technologies in place, and learn across a range of industries. It helps reinvigorate me and bring new innovation into my current company.
Clout: What did you learn about customer experiences when it came to designing robots?
JD: I learned that hardware is hard! Once you’ve selected a sensor or locked in the overall robot design it’s very difficult and expensive to make a change as it has impacts from inventory and supply chain all the way through manufacturing. The earlier you can work with customers to understand the use cases and develop the experiences through prototyping the better you will be able to lock in those long term hardware selections.
It’s much easier to adapt with software and much easier to test initial designs and prototypes with customers. I’m a big believer in the principles of “Product Discovery”, which at its essence is crafting a hypothesis and testing with customers to discover the right answer. It’s very important to understand the customer, being very specific on what they are trying to achieve, how they want to work, and to make it as easy as possible to quickly do those things that are important. I talk about it as removing friction. You want to constantly remove any challenge the end user has in trying to get their job done.
Our Robot, Misty, was a development platform to enable programmers to do complicated tasks such as taking care of the elderly without having to be roboticists. We wanted web developers to be able to move to our platform and start programming a robot without any prior knowledge or experience working on a robot. Even though they were a technically sophisticated customer base it was still critical to build with a customer first mindset and make it as easy as possible to get started. In our case the API documentation was a key part of the product as it was one of the main customer interfaces to get their job done.
So while the world of financial services may seem very different from that of developers who work with robots, the product discovery process in essence stays the same. We need to seek out the frictions in existing client and marketing workflows and design user-centric experiences for all our users to get their job done more easily.
Clout: Tell us about your role at Clout, what is your main area of focus?
JD: I oversee all of our product development and enhancements. My role is focused on building, maintaining, and expanding the capabilities of our platform. This is done through both a predefined product roadmap but more importantly learning and quickly adjusting to the diverse needs and marketing trends we see across our client base.
Our core belief underlying everything we do at Clout is the idea that the needs of every end-client are unique. The core of our technology, and therefore my role, is to continue to enhance our algorithmic capabilities powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and then developing products to utilize those capabilities in ways that make life easier and better for our customers. In a previous role, I helped design Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software for Real Estate Brokers. One of the key takeaways I had during that time was if you provide a professional service to individual clients, the need for actionable insights is important. This is why we are not just developing a content library for financial services. Instead we are ensuring that everything we do has an extra layer of insight plus a recommendation engine that enables financial firms to hyper-personalize their sales and marketing outreach in ways they may not be able to do with their existing experience or resources.
In the future we have lots of ideas for new products to extend those capabilities, including APIs that would enable partners to directly tap Clout’s AI engine within their own platforms. This could help midsize advisory firms better automate and manage the content compliance needs across multiple advisors and at large wealth enterprises who produce a lot of proprietary content, our AI can help surface insights that allow them to refine their content strategies.
Clout: Why is it important for Asset Managers and Wealth Advisors to invest in new technologies like AI, Machine Learning?
JD: Across all industries I have touched during my career, I see the same pressure put on the modern workforce. There is a demand to be more productive, in less time, with less resources. The reason why, if modern software has become a facilitator and accelerator for outcomes. This is a trend that is not going away. Therefore, if you are a forward thinking financial services firm, it is critical to find cutting-edge technology that allows you to enhance the way your business operates. Otherwise the external threat on the way your business operates, finds new clients, and attracts talent will become more ominous and ultimately may weigh down your business.
Clout: Conversely, what are the downsides of building innovative new technologies and introducing them to the industry?
JD: With that said, I am aware many firms in this industry have been over-promised and under-delivered when it comes to lead-gen and other marketing platforms. Everything on the market today sounds like a cure-all and the next big thing to drive better results. This is why we are careful not to build anything that could be seen as too good to be true.
Clout is a better, modern, scalable approach to personalizing relationships that leads to better outcomes. That is why we spend a lot of time and effort setting expectations upfront when we onboard a new client. If they are looking for a magic bullet, we let them know that is not Clout’s philosophy. Our best client relationships and the ones that see the most success, develop a long-term view and let Clout learn and optimize over the first few months of the partnership. For my product team, we value these longer term relationships as it allows us to create a feedback loop that allows us to continue to learn, refine, and optimize the platform for our client needs.
Clout: How do you see the future of Client engagement and how advisors will leverage technology?
JD: I touched on this previously, but the future of financial service marketing is insight driven and hyper-personalized engagement. Most advisors are not marketers, so they need a partner and platform that allows them to quickly expand their capabilities, learn and grow to drive better advisor-client relationships.
It is my goal to build Clout to meet this need and deliver the right content at the right time, to drive relevancy and client happiness. There is constant disruption with the rise of new platforms and technologies, and legacy tech leaders changing the rules of the road in how individuals consume content.
For me this is an exciting opportunity and a new challenge. I am very happy to be working for Clout and trying to address the growing needs of the financial services industry.