Learn more about Acquired Insights Inc. at: www.aiinc.cloud
Find Gary Melling on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gamelling/
JC: Welcome, everyone to another episode of the future of biz tech. I’m your host, JC Granger. And I have another fantastic guest with us on the show today. And listen, if you end up loving this episode, please show your love and appreciation by following this podcast wherever you’re listening, subscribe, like all that fun stuff. Be sure to give it a five star review, preferably with some nice comments, right, because that is our other techies like you and I find cool podcasts like this. Today I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing the Co-Founder and CEO of AI Inc. Gary Melling. Gary, thank you so much for being on the show. Why don’t you tell the audience a little bit about yourself? And what is that your company does?
Gary : Great. Well, Jason, thank you so much for the invitation. Pleased to be here. Yeah, I’ve been working in technology and ERP systems. I’ve been doing Wall Street consulting for years. I’ve been at it for about 40 years. Currently, I’m Co-Founder and CEO of AI Inc. And because you mentioned I have a partner, Tracy F. in Western Canada, in Saskatchewan. And we do a lot of work in AI and machine learning. And typically trying to package up that technology in a way that creates differentiators in marketing advertising, as well as an enterprise system. So that’s really the genesis of what where we started and what we’re currently doing.
JC: Well, that’s because I love AI, I hear AI or machine learning, and my ears perk up, my tail starts wagging. And I was asking more questions about it, right? So Well let’s talk about this then so who is your perfect client? And what exactly like what does it look like when you execute what you guys do? Like? How does it make their business better? Right? Like, who do you go after? And what does that – paint that picture for you exactly what you’d be implementing.
Gary: Or thanks, let me give you an example of probably make it a bit easier. We’re working with an auto dealership in the UK, they have about six luxury car dealerships, they know that it’s been a bit hard to get a lot of walk in traffic. So what we’ve done is we’ve used one of our solutions. It’s a cell phone tracker, basically, and it anonymizes, who is in a particular geographical area. So for example, if I was a BMW dealer, and I knew that some of my potential customers were shopping at a Benz or Mercedes Benz dealer, I could geo fence that Benz dealer. And then when that person walks, or any person walks into that geo fenced area, our system would push them a message and say, Oh, I see you’re shopping for a new car, hey, why don’t you come over and you know, to our BMW dealership, we’ve got a special on we’ve got, you know, whatever the plug is for the client. And what this does is it uses location and behavior to interrupt the consumer psychology around what they’re buying, they’re originally gone into a, again, a Mercedes dealership in this example. And what we’re doing is we’re redirecting them, we’re informing them about something, we’re posing a question to them, and we’re offering them an opportunity to go to a different location, we’re going to be expecting that kind of thing. It works really, really well. And we’re finding that first of all, it’s important to note that the data that we don’t really collect data, what we’re doing is we’re working with the SIM card, so we can identify that there is a device, but we have no idea who owns that device, we have no idea of you know, any of the profile information, you know, we’re not using that as a link to try to invade their Facebook profile or anything else. This is pure digital, geo fencing and positioning and using that as a discriminating advantage to redirect customer behavior to another solution. In this case, it would be our client solution, the BMW auto dealers.
JC: Alright, so I like this, but I have questions. So first question is, how does it, is it texting them? How does it show up on their phone did an email is it a push notification somehow? So what’s the format?
Gary: We typically generate a text but we can use any and all of the above. Obviously, if we were to send a message, we would prefer to use text or something like that, which is much more immediate. If we, for example, we were to send them an email, we run the risk of them not receiving the email until an hour to three later, maybe even next day, and we will have lost some of that psychological momentum. So we prefer more of the real time texting format. Yeah.
JC: Okay. So that’s first question. Second question is, you know, I could see some businesses having a problem like this, right? So what are the laws based like you’re doing the UK? But does that fly here in the US? Because I could see people get really upset that people are getting text message. It’s almost someone could say, well, that’s like poaching. Right, which I mean, hey, all is fair in love and war and businesses war, right. So I’m just curious, like, what have you found as far as kickback on that? Is there any rules or regulations or laws in different countries that define how you’re able to do it? How does that work?
Gary: That’s a great question, too, to kind of boil it down. We’ve been through a lot of research and looking at a variety of things with GDPR and we’re just servers are located and how does one comply with can spam act and latest revisions and you know, all that kind of stuff. And you really have to have your finger on the pulse of that stuff to understand if, as a provider of that service, you have any exposure, risk and liability. And is it possible that if there is exposure, risk and liability, that it also transfers to your client? Right. So what we do is we go do everything by the book, we have taken a look at a variety of different things. For example, in North America, if you try to send someone a message by phone, call them call bots, or or some of the automated call services. For example, you cannot call someone after 9pm. In their local timezone, there are a variety of different nuances to how all of this fits together. But suffice it to say, we are in compliance. And the other thing that we do, embedded in every message is an opportunity for the receiver of that text message to opt out. So we can literally, if they don’t like receiving what they’ve received, you know, they can opt out on spot, and then that’s it, there are no more messages that get pushed from the system to them. But we’ve had a very, very, I would say, we’ve anticipated we’d have a good take up, we’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how positive the feedback has been. If you’re in the mood to buy something in this particular case, or luxury automobile, it could be anything, it could be baby clothes in a mall, it could be a new stereo system, or you know, Wi Fi, whatever, you know, you’re looking for a new phone, whatever it is, because we can geo fenced quite tightly. And it’s immediate, it’s literally you walk over the threshold that we have fenced in, through the geo fencing, and now you are a live target for the system. So it really captures an opportunity, it’s a teachable moment in the sense that we can teach the receiver of that message that they may have other options that they want to consider. But it’s also not invasive. These are not long, you know, dictionary style entries, it’s you know, a couple of words, a few sentences at best, with an opportunity to opt out. And obviously, what we’re also doing is including the contact information, perhaps the address, it depends on how the client wants to set it up for the alternative to the location that they’re currently at. Like, for example, instead of being at the Benz dealer, now there, they have a way that they can navigate to and understand where that BMW dealer is that we’re promoting.
JC: Okay, so your software, you know, is a marketing tool in itself. So let’s ask, but how are you doing your own marketing? I’m a marketing guy by trade. So I like to hear, you know, what are you guys doing to get the word out? And who is your optimal client? I know, you could, obviously the retail and there’s so many different types of of companies and industries, you could do this with, obviously, but like kind of who your favorites? Who do you find really get the most benefit? Like you talk about auto ship? So that’s one. So how are you guys marketing? And who you marketing to? To buy your services? Or the use of software? I should say?
Gary: Again, great question. We approach it from a variety of different perspectives, I don’t think there’s there’s just one tool that you can use, I think you have to be multi dimensional, no, no stranger at all, to marketing from that perspective. For example, one of the things we’ll do to be very specific is I’ve had 30,00 1st level LinkedIn connections for, I don’t know, eight years or something like that. And my business partner, Tracy has also had the same number and through the groups that we belong to. And using LinkedIn as a very dominant tool in our arsenal, we found that we can do direct outreach, not only to individuals targeted individuals, but we can also access people in groups. And we can go beyond first level connections, depending on the technology we use to inform second and third level connections. We do post in groups. And so we get feedback from that as well, sometimes from the moderators and encouraging us to do certain things, which is great. But we also use email campaigns, we have references some of the things we’re doing, of course, on our website as they become more mature, from a perspective of an ideal client, the CTT technology that I just spoke about a moment ago, really, it’s an organization, typically they’re the larger corporations, but they could be the smaller to medium sized businesses, I would say generally speaking, if they’re already spending money on digital ad spend, this is something that they can, they should consider. Now if they’re not spending money on ad spend, then a digital ad spend, then the problem of course, the challenge is to educate them and that requires a lot more information and exchange and handholding upfront, which we’re very happy to do but it just means as you go from a prospect to a client in the conversion it’s much faster if you can already use a lot of those technologies I talked about a bit earlier now from our add cannibal tool add cannibals a very very different beast it’s it’s a way of taking a look at a lot of organizations will spend money in their their digital ad spend but they’re not necessarily working as effectively as they could and I know that’s near and dear to your heart and your business as well. Quick example would be for the ad cannibal, if a client is doing $50,000 A month in digital ad spend, that’s usually the baseline criteria that we would use then to engage them for that product. So some of its product dependent, and others is depending on geography or industry, and it just depends.
JC: Okay, so again, with The Future of BizTech, I have to ask the question, what is the future? What’s that kind of five-year plan look like for you guys? You know, and you know, my audience really does like hearing the inside scoop of what’s coming next. So is there any new features or, you know, cool things on our roadmap? They’re gonna be hitting pretty soon. And where do you see your company going in the next five years?
Gary: Jason, thanks. Great, great question. Let me just maybe I’ll respond one of two ways. First, I’ll talk briefly about the ad cannibal, because we think that that is the future for larger corporations, many organizations are cannibalizing their own ad spend when it comes to digital ad, if you’re paying to have an advertisement, so that with, with someone searching for something that you have, and you pay for that advertisement, you probably also have advertising that you’re doing that you’re not paying for, whether it’s links to your website, or variety of other backlinks or whatever it is you’re doing. So if you’re paying for a high placement on a search engine, and it turns out that you’re already also running free ads, you should be able to suspend the paid ad, when it’s not called for. So we use artificial intelligence to determine when the paid ad is useful. And when you’re actually paying for the ad, but you’re also cannibalizing that ad spend, because you’ve got your free ads that would be working for you without having to pay for..
JC: So if you’re if you’re ranking number one for a search term, but then you’re also putting an ad that’s right above it, you’re wasting money basically, is what you’re saying?
JC: That’s pretty cool. I haven’t heard of anyone doing that. I’m not saying no one is, but I haven’t heard of that. And, you know, again, I’m the marketing guy, like the efficiency of it. But you’re right, I’ve seen that I’ve seen where you have the ad, and then the person has their own listing right below. And it’s like, well, what’s the point? Like, why are we running that? The person would have just clicked on your organic right there. And now they’ve clicked on your ad that cost you money, multiply that by 1000s of times, you know, and that could be a problem. That’s really interesting. So is this new? Is this coming out? Is it already out? Do people know about it,
Gary: It’s available now. And we’re just beginning to ramp up on the marketing and the notification that this kind of service is available. So..
JC: Okay so you haven’t heard about it just yet, then?
Gary: No, people haven’t heard about. And the other thing, so this is a scoop for your podcast.
JC: I like it, I like it.
Gary: Your people get it first. But here’s where it becomes really powerful. Because what we do is we offer the service for free, there’s not a fee to for the service, what we do is we imp for those organizations that qualify, they’re doing the 50 Grand and above a month, and at digital ad spend, we asked them we spend about an hour with them on the phone, we go through some details, we do a little bit of setup, we implement the system. Now for them, it’s newfound money, because they were already cannibalizing their own budget. What we’re doing is we’re reclaiming that ad spend. And then we take a percentage of that ad spend, and so we get a small piece of only the money they save.
JC: Wow! Okay. So for example, if I’m spending 50 grand a month, and it turns out, I was wasting five grand a month, you take a percentage that five grand so I still get to save money. Right?. And I only owe you a piece of the difference of what I’ve saved.
Gary: That’s right.
JC: Okay, that that’s pretty competitive. That’s pretty good.
Gary: The reason why I mentioned that, Jason is because you asked a bigger question just a moment ago, and that is where is it going?
JC: Yeah. What’s the next three, four or five years look like for you guys?
Gary: Well, I think if we can take a lesson from that cannibal, what we’re seeing is that there’s clearly there has been a desire for a very long time to have performance based marketing solutions. And we all know that there’s a lot of, you know, praying post and all the rest of it, there’s a lot of kind of Neanderthal-ish kind of things going on. And some people, you know, they don’t have access to the resources or they’re not familiar with the resources, or they’ve outsourced it, and they don’t have their finger on the pulse. It’s not what they do. And they rely on their partners and their partners are as good as their partners are. I mean, their whole marketing is going to depend on that partner and partner network. But and there’s there’s some phenomenal agencies out there. And again, I’ve been to your website is a fabulous website and tremendously good services. What I see is that there is more and more a move to performance based marketing. It won’t be sufficient just to send out 1000 emails or 50,000 emails. It’s not going to be sufficient just to basically you know, randomly text people or do robo calls. People consumers generally are getting smarter, and with that they become less patient with these old derelict technologies. So when I talk about Ad cannibal, again, there’s no initial upfront cost, we’re taking a percentage of the money they save. Right? And we’re doing this, we’ve never had a client. And again, we’ve just started with this a couple months ago, we’ve never had a client take advantage of the service and then leave. Because it’s all free money.
JC: That’s a hell of a retention rate.
Gary: 100%, 100% not bad, right? Yeah. And then on top of that, we get, you know, referrals, that which helps as well. But when we get to the bigger topic of what’s the future hold, I was contacted by a platform in Canada recently, to sit on their technical review committee and directors and so on. And one of the things they have an ambition to do is to try to quantify the ROI of marketing. And again, I know you’ve got a white paper on your site, and you’ve got resources for a lot of the folks that are interested in that they can go and read up on it and understand it better. It’s a learning moment, as well as an opportunity to see well, how might that fit in our current stack of technologies? I believe that, you know, we’ve seen early indications from Google and others like them, Amazon, behavioral data is the way it’s all going. So in the data world, we have structured data, structured data, think of it as data that you would create, when you fill in a form online, there’s a box and there’s an answer. And you can only you know, you can’t mix numbers and characters, it’s a name. So you can only have characters, that kind of thing. That would be structured data. Structured data on the backend, looks like a spreadsheet with rows and columns. You also have unstructured data. So unstructured data would be things like photographs, a handwritten note, a voice recording, a video, you have semi structured, which is a little bit of both. And then you have behavioral and behavioral is what organizations like Amazon and others like them, Spotify, etc, Shopify Apple, they use an element of that behavioral data, because if they understand the patterns that you’ve created in your browsing behavior, and they can translate that into understanding what you’ve actually purchased, they’re doing it from a company by company perspective. So Amazon sees Amazon data, Apple sees Apple data. But if we were to project this into the future, you know, one of the things that we do is we work with some US federal government agencies, R&D organizations and so on, we do artificial intelligence and other areas as well.
Gary: And we had a conversation recently with the senior cybersecurity engineer in the Space Force. And we were talking about, what does the technology we’re working on have to do with the future? How can we positively affect the future? And what trends have we seen that might translate into new changes in the near term, and one of the conversations we had is if of course, remember, when the iPhone first came out, it blew everybody’s minds, because it wasn’t just a phone, you can get emails, it was really a computer and a handheld device. So if you now take that same little epiphany we had with smartphones, and you apply it, let’s say to satellites, now Jason would have his own satellite, Gary would have his own satellite. And these would be satellites are constantly in motion, depending on how they’re configured. But it would be not just my potentially my buying habits with Apple, or just with Amazon, or just Google, it would aggregate that information. And so now, just like I have a health record and electronic health record, I would have a record of my behavioral interaction with browsing and purchasing, and so on. So I think that there are organizations that are not really talking about it that much some of these large behemoths. But I believe in my heart of hearts, that in the race to own all of the data in the world ever, that there are organizations that are working very hard to see what they can do at this stage of technology development to carve out or at least to go in that direction, with their own data. And behavioral data is definitely the way that I think the future is going to be defined.
JC: Well, that’s pretty cool. So and, you know, there’s always that balance, too, right? Because you talked about privacy, and whatnot. So you know, you’ve got from one side, people are pulling in the privacy card, but I think people also don’t realize that because they don’t understand the technology, there’s wasted there’s metadata, right? There’s also ways to flow people through a process without actually knowing their personal information, right? And, and a lot of people just don’t get that they think that if you’re taking anything, you must, you must be listening my conversations, or you must have my email or cell phone number, and they’re like, Well, how can I get a text if you don’t have my number? And, well, there is an answer to that. It’s just it’s not easy to explain all the time, you know, um, but I do I think there’s about you know, I’m a consumer too. So I do believe in privacy, but I’m a marketer so I believe that hey, you know, if you want, you know, people want to buy stuff. They don’t want to be shown diaper ads, if they’re a single guy, you know, with no kids, right? Like, it doesn’t make any sense. So there’s a usability and consumer experience factor that has to be taken into consideration too. So this whole kind of metadata and hashing and things like that where you know, you can you can use the information without seeing the information that I think is kind of that equal medium. And it sounds like you kind of you guys are utilizing that, which is great. So let’s, let’s do a personal question here. Okay. When you were kid, what did you want to do when you grew up? If it’s this, awesome. And if it’s not like, how did it get here?
Gary: Well, first of all, I’m 66. I’ve been doing this for a long time. And I haven’t always done it smartly. And none of us do. You know, we learned along the way.
JC: Oh, yeah.
Gary: We learned mostly from our..
JC: We step in all the landmines.
Gary: I was brought up in a military family. And so I spent a lot of time, I think we counted. I was in 17 different schools, lived in Canada, England, and had to travel to France, Germany, the states frequently. So the reason why I mentioned that is with the amount of turmoil and change that I went through in my life, I think it was a natural progression, ultimately to be working on Wall Street in the late 90s, doing ERP implementations for y2k, and leading change management workstreams. Because change is all about, really, when I think of it from a consulting perspective, in its most simple forms, there are two elements of it, there is control, to make sure the project gets delivered on time on budget, you know, etc, etc. But then there’s the comfort, side control and comfort of the two C’s. And the comfort is what we have to be able to portray to communicate to authenticate with those in the organization. So that the buy in is there, not just when things are going well, but when you I’ve seen these projects, I used to call them death marches, you know, where you’ve got people who are working an eight hour a job a day, and by the way, their company’s going through a large ERP implementation, and now they have to put in another eight hours a day to get that job done. They’ve got a family at home, they’re missing birthdays, it just, it’s a downward spiral. So when you have organizational change management in place, you can address a lot of these concerns and make the whole journey more human. Yes, it’s business. And yes, you have deliverables, etc. But it doesn’t have to be sterile, there’s a way to do that in a very positive environment.
Gary: So I started off in the military family got involved in organizational change management. But before I was in change management, actually, I graduated from DeVry Institute of Technology, ended up working in marine geophysics and going to all these dangerous places around the world, the Arctic, in the Middle East, and so on, and working with explosives and all kinds of things that were part of the job, cooking systems up to satellites, etc. And then the Navy caught wind of some of the work I was doing, and recruited me to be the program director at combat systems engineering division. So for four years, as a civilian, I worked in a military organization, developing curriculum, and the curriculum we had to develop was curriculum that you develop where you get asked to do it, right. Because what I’m doing now is, I think, a natural progression of that it combines technology, with people. I like to say we’re trilingual, we speak business, you know, technology, and human. You know, if you if you can align those three, you have, it’s a triple constraint model. So if one of those three seems to suffer, it will be at the peril for the overall project. So I’ve been working consistently with military organizations, defense contractors, but I’ve also worked with a lot of organizations in the private sector as well. And I’d like to say it was all by design. But that would be an abject lie.
JC: It never is, it never is. Everything, it’s always an accident somehow, right? You know, just how did they end up here?
Gary: A lot of times, I ended up being in places because I had actually met and had the opportunity to work with truly fabulous people. And that would, you know, tweak something that would take me in a different direction and in context of what I was doing at the time, that made sense. So it’s a kind of a long, convoluted answer to your question, but but that’s a little bit about.
JC: It’s a hell of a path. It’s a hell of a path. So let’s ask this. What a little advice for the audience from you, then let’s pull from some of this experience, right. First question is, if you could pick one must read book, like business related. What would you recommend to the audience? Well, what’s one of the books you read, whether it be in marketing or business that really just kind of blew your hair backing like this one’s evergreen?
Gary: Well, it’s a bit dated now. But you know, the books “Abundance” and “Bold”, I think, for me, were an opportunity to see that someone else had captured a spirit and a language about abundance, not thinking from a mindset of being deprived or a lack or missing something, but approaching something from a sense of abundance and, and really pulling out all the stops in the limit. So those two books “Bold” and “Abundance”. Again, they’re an opportunity to take a look at and being introduced to phrases like a moonshot, you know, and how do you take a look at the 60s of digital transformation, for example, and I marry that, I think, probably a down to a specific book, there was a book written 20 years ago, Geoffrey Moore, and he talks about Crossing the Chasm. And he talks about the technology adoption lifecycle, which is a bell curve. And whether you think of an individual, or whether you think of an organization or whether you think of a national government, I think that that bell curve, that he presents him crossing the chasm, the technology adoption lifecycle is true today, like it was 20 years ago, and it will be true in 10, and 20 years from now. And so if you help that help, if you understand that, you absorb that, and then you take a look at it from a marketing services delivery perspective, if you have a very new and innovative technology, according to how Geoffrey Moore setup the bell curve, you have the innovators that are the top 2%, the early adopters, their next 12%, the next 34% that take you to the peak of the bell curve is what we call the leading mass market. Then there’s the trailing mass market. And then there’s the laggards. Yeah, so because we work in a lot of new really cutting edge technology. Frankly, we don’t spend time chasing laggards or the trailing mass market, we’re interested in that top 14%. So for example, one solution where we’ve just brought to market and and we’re starting to see some returns from those marketing efforts, is a solution in the SAP space. So if your clients are familiar with sa p as a global enterprise solution, traditionally, an organization if they’re going to embark on a digital transformation journey they struggle with, well, what does our current footprint look like? Now these footprints have been developed over decades sometimes. And the people that did the work originally may still not be with the organization they’ve moved on.
Gary: The documentation may be shoddy or, or imperfect. So how do you build a new house on an old foundation? That’s the question what we have, traditionally, if you were to find out what your as his baseline is, it takes you one to two years. And it’s facilitated by management consultants. And it costs between one and $7 million. We take that whole process, and we reduce it to less than $50,000. We do it in one day. And we do it as deep as your system is most of the management consulting efforts go down? There are six levels of SAP technology, if you think of it from a work breakdown structure, so there’s a module and then there are processes and activities and tasks and so on. The human facilitated workshops take basically they only go down to level two of six levels, we go right down to the build of your system, you know, we’re looking at everything. When was the last custom code created? How many users? Is it a cybersecurity breach? I mean, so because we’re involved in these innovative technologies, whether it’s ad cannibal for marketing, or the CTT for marketing, or SAP, again, all using artificial intelligence, we’re not going to be spending our resources wisely if we’re chasing the trailing mass market or the laggards like the people in the laggards category would really if they could they still have, you know, if you saw the movie, Napoleon Dynamite with the long telephone and the cord, they still have those, you know, they were available, but when you’re trying to focus on that top 14% You might have a tool that they’re interested in, but a lot of other organizations do too. So it’s like dialing into that radio station, you’ve got to have the right message at the right frequency delivered at the right time. And you know, I’m talking to the to the converted, you know all about.
JC: I want me to have the conversation, other people are listening, right, they’re not nicely converted. But listen, I love this information. I love the software, specifically your business model about relearning being compensated with the difference of what’s safe, which is that’s hard to say no, do I like the sales pitch of that- Just in general. It’s hard. It’s hard to say no, I hate that idea. I don’t want to save money, right? How can people reach you Gary? Email? Website? You know how you displayed your name on LinkedIn if they want to reach out?
Gary: Great, thank you for that. my LinkedIn profile is Gary GA ROI. middle initial is L period. And the last name is Melling. M-E-L-L-I-N-G. So if you go to my LinkedIn profile, you’ll you’ll see lots of stuff there. We’ve got presentations and so on. Our website is www.aiinc.cloud. And we have a 1-800 number if anyone would like to call us at 1-800-627-4151. And we can also be reached at email@example.com
JC: Wonderful. Thank you and lesson for everyone out there listening. Again, if you liked what you heard today, be sure to subscribe, like the podcast, give it the five stars, preferably some writing behind it so other techies like us can find it and enjoy learning about all these amazing and helpful b2b software’s on the market today. Gary, thank you so much for being on the show. I want to talk to you after this because I have some questions. For myself. I just I love this software already.
Gary: Thank you. The pleasure has been mine. I hope this has both been interesting and useful for your followers and your guests. Thank you.
JC: Absolutely. Have a good day sir.