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hightouch data activation

Ask an Expert: Hightouch + Iterable

Hightouch, Co-Founded by Tejas Manohar, is a leading data activation platform. This means that unlike other tech companies that help businesses analyze the data they have, Hightouch helps businesses (with any sort of SQL database) activate their data by connecting with other technology, like Iterable, for example.

In our Iterable Academy “Ask an Expert series,” we explore exactly how Iterable works with our partners and what our partners set out to help brands accomplish. In this installation of the Ask an Expert series, we sat down with Tejas to learn more about how Hightouch helps brands use their data in the most impactful and effective ways. Let’s start at the beginning.

Why Create a Data Activation Platform?

Before Hightouch, Tejas started his career working at a customer data platform with the goal of helping businesses consolidate their customer data to create a holistic view of the customer and develop personalized experiences.

But then, he took things to the next level. Tejas started to realize that in addition to brands wanting to easily access their customer data, they also wanted better ways of using it. That’s where Hightouch comes into play.

Cloud-Based Data Warehouses

As an example, Tejas mentioned cloud-based data warehouses. “Seven years ago no one was using these cloud data warehouses,” he said, “They were immature in the market, people were just figuring out how to get the data into them for analytics.”

Today, however, cloud-based data warehouses are the industry standard for managing data. In fact, most businesses today will use a data warehouse to store their information. What’s missing from the data management ecosystem is data activation.

As Tejas said, “How can companies use all of that data, and not just for long-term decision making? How do you actually use that data to drive day-to-day actions and automated actions, like sending marketing campaigns in tools like Iterable?” So, in essence, Tejas set out to take the data out of these warehouses while most platforms on the market strived to bring data in.

Starting as a Reverse ETL Platform

To understand what a reverse ETL platform is, we should probably start off with defining an ETL platform. ETL platforms are very data-centric platforms—ETL actually stands for “extract, transform, and load.” According to Google Cloud, ETL platforms are “a traditionally accepted way for organizations to combine data from multiple systems into a single database, data store, data warehouse, or data lake.“ This is what Tejas was talking about when he highlighted the type of data management platforms that exist today.

But, a reverse ETL platform is what Hightouch first evolved from. In reverse ETL, the data warehouse isn’t the end-goal, it’s the starting point. Data is loaded in the warehouse, transformed to work with third-party programs, and extracted—hence reverse ETL, or “LTE.” But calling Hightouch a reverse ETL platform didn’t fully explain their data capabilities.

Instead, Tejas wanted to focus on the fact that Hightouch can both extract data from warehouses, and activate the data to make it easily digestible and accessible. Which is why it’s considered to be a data activation platform.

Data Activation Use Cases

That’s all well and good, but when would someone actually need to use a data activation platform versus an ETL or reverse ETL? It’s honestly not as complicated as you might think. Using a platform like Hightouch could mean just getting fields like a user’s name or email address into a third party platform.

Before you can use your third party platform to create customer journeys and send emails and push notifications, you need to import the correct data. Historically, to do this, brands have uploaded CSVs or built an API integration. But, that doesn’t always work.

Reducing Bottlenecks

Tejas and team recognized that there’s usually a bottleneck somewhere in the CSV or API processes. The sticking points range from getting engineers to implement APIs to determining how this new implementation fits into the broader technology architecture.

But, if customers already have the data sitting in a warehouse, a data activation platform can easily create a live-sync of the data to share into third party marketing tools. It’s not complicated but it makes a huge impact on businesses’ ability to activate their existing data.

Uncovering Data Stuck in the Warehouse

Tejas mentioned bringing fields like username and email into your marketing platform, but that would be considered a simpler use case for Hightouch. A more complicated use case would be activating the data that doesn’t exist anywhere outside of the data warehouse—data created by data scientists or analysts.

He used machine learning and AI as an example. Brands are more frequently using machine learning and AI to personalize marketing experiences. To do so, data analysts could create propensity scores that show how likely a customer is to purchase something. That data exists only in the warehouse, but a data activation platform could help extract it and make it usable in a platform like Iterable.

Making Data More Accessible

Hightouch is working towards the next evolution in the data lifecycle. Rather than focusing on managing it and consolidating it, which cloud-based warehouses take care of, Hightouch focuses on making the data impactful for end-users which, in turn, makes it impactful for businesses.

Data is highly valuable for creating an individualized, harmonized, and dynamic cross-channel marketing experience. Hightouch is a layer that can be added into a brand’s martech stack to help make the existing data more usable in a marketer-friendly platform, like Iterable.

If you’re already an Iterable customer, check out Iterable Academy for the full Hightouch course.

If you’re not an Iterable customer but want to learn more about our platform, schedule a demo today.

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