CRM magazine planned to profile David Frankland, CEO of Lenexa, Kansas-based Digital Archeology. But plans changed when Frankland recently sold the company to Delano Technology, converting his business into Delano's analytics division and transforming himself into the president of the new entity.
But by any title, Frankland is still the head of one of the most promising players in CRM analytics. And he's doing it in America's heartland, no less, after stints in sales and marketing management at ITT Information Systems, Informix Software and Sun Microsystems.
The Kansas City area's relative dearth of high-tech startups actually seems to work in Frankland's favor. "In California, one of my least favorite tasks was trying to decide if we were going to keep somebody who went to lunch, came back and said, 'I've just been offered double my salary and double my options,'" he says. According to Frankland, the average tenure among his developers is two years and counting.
Frankland learned of the post as Digital Archeology's CEO (and fourth employee) through venture capitalist colleagues he had worked with at Digital Ocean, a failed Kansas City-area wireless networking startup where he worked as the head of sales and marketing in the early '90s. "I was just blown away by the technology, because having been in marketing most of my life, I was intimately familiar with the pain points marketers feel," he says.
He credits that sensitivity with cultivating patience, which he exercised by guiding Digital Archeology through a two-year developmental cycle used to build a complete CRM analytics platform before courting any customers. Frankland says he wanted to avoid "point products" that focus on tracking one particular customer channel without providing complete customer understanding.
Digital Archeology's goal under Frankland was to create a suite that would elevate analytics to what he saw as its rightful place in the CRM process. "You could argue that analytics should be driving these [customer] interactions and should clearly be in the forefront rather than an afterthought, but that's not how the world we live in evolved--it was 'get it up, get it out and start getting as many names as possible,'" he says.
Frankland attributes his success as a CRM leader to his background in technology products and services marketing. Why couldn't an 18-year veteran of office furniture or consumer packaged goods have the same insight on customer analytics?
Analytics is the double-edged sword of CRM, putting Frankland in the middle of debates that are just taking form. "It's a bit of a catch-22 for marketers: you want to be able to segment your customers to be able to better serve them, but the dark side of that is you can segment your customers to provide worse service for them," he says.
Analytics enterprises highlight the ability to build a better customer experience through targeted and appropriate messages and anticipated needs. Consumer advocates decry the implicit potential to ghettoize customers by profit classes, impose invisible preferential pricing and strip quality of service to the minimum in the name of maximizing customer value. Amazon.com's recent experiment with selective prices drew a major outcry and raised fears of more to come. Frankland is torn between selling his product and ensuring that it isn't used to destroy customer trust completely.
"I think data in any way, shape or form needs to be used responsibly and with respect of the individual first and foremost on people's minds," he says. "Customers have value, and it's the responsibility of the business to get the value out of them in the best possible way. That's certainly an opportunity, and it's clearly going on--Amazon was doing it from an experimentation perspective, and they got a lot of pushback for trying. I certainly would not endorse that."