Lifelong Learning & Transformational Growth: A Conversation with President & CEO, Nick Soggu
BY: Nick Soggu | 1/6/18
To coincide with the release of SilverTech’s 2018 State of Digital Report, President & CEO, Nick Soggu, sat down to discuss some of SilverTech’s accomplishments of the past year and what transformational growth looks like in 2018.
Listen to the conversation above or read excerpts below.
Nick, you drive the leadership team here at SilverTech and it’s certainly been a busy year. What would you say were some of yours and SilverTech’s biggest accomplishments in 2017?
Nick – I think that is has been an interesting year when it comes to the digital landscape. When you think about where brands have come to. They have definitely started to realize that that one-to-one personalized communication is where the markets are going to have to go. We have had a lot of talk in the market about big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning but all that is centered around this ability to collect intelligent data and to be able to act on it. I think to me, 2017 was an instrumental year in helping brands start to execute what they do with some of that data. For our best clients, that is what we have been doing in 2017 and that’s what I am most proud of…I am hopeful that 2018 and into the future, we are able to execute plans against the data that we have been helping brands collect.
You’ve said that “whether it’s in…entrepreneurship or just in life, you just want to be always learning and absorbing.” What is the most important lesson that you absorbed in 2017?
I never went to school for data modeling or data collection or anything having to do with data, but as our industry has evolved, I have been learning a lot more about how brands collect data and what they do with the data that they collect; what are some unique ways of applying that data to be able to better communicate with their clients and their customers in a personalized manner. I think…lifelong learning has proven itself [important] in 2017 just as much as it has in prior years with SilverTech growing and expanding. I certainly think that lifelong learning and a commitment to lifelong learning is an important attribute for myself, for all of our team, and also, I think, all of our clients.
How do you see the company changing in 2018, and what will you do to drive that change?
I don’t know if there is a lot of change [coming in 2018]. I think that we are on the right path and a lot of the stuff that we are doing today in terms of learning from data that is going to continue. I would like to see us start to work with a lot of our clients and brands that we work with in terms of execution on a lot of the data that we have been collecting for them. 2018 is going to be an awesome year for us to take the things that we have been working so hard to collect and actually start to put some experiments against them. And again, staying true to learning, some of these experiments are not going to be successful. Part of my thesis in this and part of what I believe in is that you want to fail fast. So we want to take a look at a project or two, learn from what goes well in those projects, learn from some of those mistakes in those projects and see what we can do to move them forward. I think this [past] year there has been [about] collecting [data]…but now it is about executing.
SilverTech’s mission is: “Delivering transformational growth through innovation, creativity, and technology.” Can you speak to what “transformational growth” looks like in 2018?
I think we have been on that path and I think that transformational growth for us includes paying close attention to that interchange of data in marketing, and technology in marketing. Many organizations don’t quite know what to do with the various systems that they have in place. One system of record for one of their clients or customers is going to be hard to achieve. For us, it is how do you integrate [multiple systems of record] and have them communicate over one platform together correctly? The “Ian” that is in system one [must be] the same or correlate with the record of “Ian” in Salesforce or Dynamics and must also correlate with the “Ian” that is in the email delivery platform that they are using.
When you talk about transformational growth, the secret…is integrating the systems and becoming smarter and more intelligent. What I have seen us be able to do in the last couple of years is remarkable. We have built platforms and tools that let our clients integrate various systems of records and intermingle them in a seamless fashion. I think that is where the power of data collection is really coming from.
What do you value most about the culture at SilverTech?
The thing that comes to mind, for me, is how dedicated every person on the team here is to our clients and our customers, first and foremost, and to each other. We pride ourselves on that “work hard, play hard” attitude and I see everyone in every role taking care of our client’s needs.
I think the other thing that is important is that we are really starting to embrace a learning philosophy and a lifelong commitment to learning as a company. We are getting better at staying on top of future trends; staying on top of what we think are going to be the “norms” in two to three years from now. This year we formalized our practice in R&D capacity in the IoT (Internet-of-Things) space and I am super excited about what that marketplace is going to potentially bring to us. We are exploring wearables and taking a look at what is going on in Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality and how those are going to be delivery platforms for us. I think that a culture that embraces that lifelong learning and a commitment to learning is really exciting for me to see because I want to be in a place that embraces that type of philosophy. I am Super excited about everything we have built as a culture.
You have remarked in the past that SilverTech goes beyond building websites for customers – we build relationships. We have worked hard to become a partner and not just a vendor. How critical is this distinction? And does it make a difference to refer to clients as clients rather than customers?
There is a recent project that we launched and the client sent us an email to express how we helped them move mountains to make an outcome happen for them. I think that underscores, to me, what a partnership really stands for as opposed to a client and vendor relationship. A partnership is the fact that we are part of their internal team. We pride ourselves on becoming an extension of an internal team, whether that be marketing or IT. Which to me means being proactive in the work that we do, going above and beyond in terms of the deliverables and outcomes that we are looking to obtain for our clients. And at the end of the day, it is about their self-interest before ours.
For us, being a partner is really about those types of things and believing in those things. I think we are not perfect in all cases but I think that we have done a remarkable job at becoming better and better. I believe that is something that will be a lifelong challenge for us; how do we continue being a trusted partner in our client relationships?
One thing that I want to talk briefly about is the word “trust.” Trust is something that I feel you have to earn and not something you get the day that you walk into a relationship. Partnership and trust go hand in hand. To me, without building up trust, I don’t think you can become a partner. For us, the actions that we take are all about building up trust in our relationships and as we build up trust in a relationship we become a stronger partner and a stronger extension to our client’s internal teams. We have done a great job so far and we just need to continue doing that. I am very excited for where 2018 takes us. It is just a calendar year and it is just a continuation of what we have been doing which is building strong relationships and trust with our partners and clients.
Be sure to download SilverTech’s 2018 State of Digital Report and stay tuned to the SilverTech blog for more insights from SilverTech’s thought-leaders and partner