We spoke to Ken Fine, CEO of Heap, an analytics platform that helps product, marketing, and customer success teams craft exceptional digital experiences that convert and retain users.
What attracted you to Heap?
To start, I’m passionate about great customer experiences. In order to deliver this in the digital age, product, go-to-market strategies—and the methods you use to develop those—must be relentlessly challenged.
It’s important to know that I’ve always believed that high-performing teams must start with clear focus. That sounds generalized, but to find success, you have to nail the blueprint in order to scale the business.
Heap’s mission to empower organizations to build the very best products for customers is realized by our ability to deliver insights that give teams clear direction on what to focus on—those elements of the blueprint that are crucial to get right. Then, once teams have a strong blueprint in place, we then give them the tools to successfully iterate as they scale.
How has the company evolved during the pandemic?
There’s no doubt the disruption of the pandemic created a Darwinian event for businesses—including Heap. Some organizations were well situated for the new digital-first world, some died, and others adapted.
Heap’s initial response to COVID-19 planning is likely similar to how most businesses responded: we scaled down our forecasts, we took stock, and chose more succinct, intentional actions based on what we (the data) deemed essential. This kind of response is one of survival and understandable given the circumstances.
What happened next is really a testament to the promise of data and AI working together.
When customers already using Heap were able to quickly surface unknown unknowns, they were able to aggressively pivot and commit to the digital-first product experiences the pandemic called for. And that’s where Heap doubled-down.
We threw our weight behind digital-first customers and prospects because they were ready to embrace it. Digital-first companies weren’t just surviving, they were thriving. The pandemic simply catalyzed Heap’s mission (and in turn, our growth), and I believe the market, and it’s new product experience, are better off for it.
What’s more; despite vaccine rollout, the marketplace still requires businesses to adapt. The ‘new normal’ isn’t a temporary guest. We’re seeing the flywheel effect as companies continue to deliver better experiences that set the bar across all sectors.
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What have been the challenges of working to be the go-to analytics provider?
There are so many big problems to solve within the sphere of big data. How do you capture it? How do you store it? How do you govern it? Plainly put: a go-to analytics provider must make all of those processes concise and easy; but I think we can all agree that the most obvious challenge to solve is how can customers use their data, in said tool, in a way that deeply impacts the business?
Heap’s quest to put Data Science and AI to work did not start in a vacuum where engineers got together and just decided what people needed to glean impact from insights. Heap actually embedded teams in with our customers; we created experimental think tanks where we could apply the methodology we evangelize together: hypothesize, test, learn and iterate.
This approach allowed us to receive real-time feedback about the actual needs of digital product owners looking to actually use their data and make decisions with it. We learned that when a client uses our analytics software, they’re not finding insights that prompt them to rebuild their business from the ground up. Rather, they’re provided with concrete examples of small and subtle changes throughout all of their digital experiences that have a substantial cumulative effect. Once we understood how our customers could use Heap to impact their business, then we productized it. Heap is not here to offer bells and whistles to our customers—we’re here to help them deeply understand their customers and create products that matter.
What can we hope to see from Heap in the future?
The last two years have been all about constant change—and necessary change, at that. As we’re still working and living within rapid change and unknowns, customer trends are evolving faster than ever.
Companies with the best signal are the companies that are best positioned to move quickly, and proactively, to withstand or even thrive within the constant change state. The most direct signal is customer behavior. With this in mind, Heap is developing technology that will fundamentally change the way teams think, and work proactively within turbulence.
Soon, teams will be able to measure things they’ve never been able to before (because there simply wasn’t a way to do it). For example, what if product teams could quantify the level of effort it takes a user to navigate from the start of a journey to the end? What if product teams had a metric that clearly defined friction as a reliable benchmark metric? How would that change product investments? Soon, we’ll know.