NTENT’s SVP Partnerships Describes What Makes NTENT the Perfect Partner for Industry Leaders Who Want to Think Differently
In a video interview with NTENT’s SVP Partnerships, Mark Grimshaw, he discusses how the company’s Conversational AI and Search experiences present unique partnership opportunities for industry leaders who want to stay competitive against OTT operators, and how they can benefit from NTENT’s expansion into voice. An extended transcript of the interview can be found below.
NTENT: You’re currently the SVP of Partnerships for NTENT. Can you tell us more about your role and what you do?
Mark Grimshaw (MG): There are 3 distinct functions to my role:
Monetization: Signing contracts with large PPC networks. Companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Yandex, etc., to deliver CPC advertising on NTENT browsers. Equally dealing with the large ad agencies — WPP, Publicis, Omnicom etc., that work with their clients' search budgets.
Distribution: Signing deals with carriers, retailers or partners that see value in ‘owning’ search. Not just the revenue but data too.
Content: NTENT is a brilliant search technology platform but where we require content that isn’t in our core competence, we look to partner. We have some excellent partnerships with some of the world’s leading providers, for example, maps, weather, e-commerce — which further strengthen the NTENT offering.
NTENT: Who is NTENT and what does the company stand for?
MG: Our core value, with our passionate partners and our exceptional technology, is that we believe we can provide a better search and user experience for consumers everywhere.
We don’t believe in the status quo, we passionately believe that as our partners’ business models are disrupted by OTT players we collectively have the opportunity to not only reinvent but to create something far, far, better than that which already exists. Some people think that we’re crazy, they see search and say, ‘Compete against Google, Microsoft, you must be mad’— but others, those that are prepared to think differently and want to lead an industry rather than follow, realize that Google and Microsoft don’t have the unique data and relationships that say a Telco or retailer has with their customers. They understand that through this partnership it’s possible to create something different from ‘just search.’ It’s disruptive, it’s new and for the passionate, it’s very exciting.
NTENT: What types of partners work with NTENT? Can you provide a few examples of how they are using NTENT’s search, browser and voice solutions?
MG: When NTENT was formed it was with the express idea to partner with Telcos. Their traditional business models of Voice, SMS, and Data were under attack from OTT players. By giving the Telco a browser and search engine that they could distribute to their subscribers was game-changing for a few reasons.
- Digital Assets: All Telcos have launched apps that sit in the various app stores. Through a browser provided by NTENT, they can put those apps/assets front and center — anything from music, TV/entertainment, payments, customer care etc., can be delivered every time a user enters the web — that seems smarter than competing and marketing against the millions of other apps.
- Search Data: The holy grail of data. The user is categorically saying ‘this is what I’m looking for.’ There are plenty of articles about Telcos not wanting to be a ‘dumb pipe’ or thought of as the company that sells MegaBytes/GigaBytes of data. A Telco that controls search can let their customers choose the level of data privacy — from ‘I want to share no data’ to ‘happy to share everything’ and everyone in between. Based on those desires a Telco can deliver what a user is looking for while keeping their privacy secure. That brings customer delight and reduces churn — smart not dumb!
- Search Revenue: For the first-time Telcos could generate significant revenue from search. Billions of dollars cross Telcos’ networks yet until NTENT showed up they collected very little.
NTENT: Operators and ODMs stand to lose over $50 billion by 2022, while OTT operators like Google, Amazon, and Alibaba continue to rise in value. Given this, what steps are Telcos taking to combat this trend?
MG: The Telco market has changed beyond recognition in the last decade, but our partners' core values really shouldn’t have changed at all. Look at AT&T’s current vision as an example — ‘Connect people with their world, everywhere they live and work and do it better than anyone else.’
How can any Telco truly ‘connect’ people in the 21st century, if they can’t influence the web and search? In my experience, a passionate and forward-thinking Telco, a Telco that is prepared to think differently, looks at search and thinks of a myriad of opportunities –
“We can create products and services for our customers based on user intent.”
“Through search, we can help our customers control their own privacy.”
“Through search, we could provide free data to those that need it most.”
“Search can deliver our existing products, and those of our partners, to our customers in a manner that is useful and truly appreciated.”
The opportunities go on and on….
NTENT: The AI Voice Assistant space is valued at over $40B dollars. NTENT recently announced its expansion into voice. Can you describe how this will benefit NTENT’s partners?
MG: Back in 2014 Andrew Ng the then Chief Scientist at Baidu said that 50% of search is going to be through images or speech. And subsequently, it’s been reported that it will be far more (and indeed far less than that). The joy of a prediction! Either way, almost everyone agrees there will be huge volumes of voice queries. Which begs the question: Should a Telco enable a customer to speak to their phone or a home device to order goods and services? Should a retailer enable their customers to repeat/place orders by having a conversation with a device? Should an ISP look at a router and think ‘would it be better if our customers could speak to this device rather than it being somewhat dumb and tucked away in a corner?’ Voice search will only grow in importance with IoT — cars, TVs, fridges — NTENT will enable our partners to use our world-class technology and stay ahead of the competition.
NTENT: How can NTENT give its partners a competitive edge?
MG: NTENT has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into creating a web-scale search engine and we give access to our tech stack for free.
As the likes of Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft disrupt our partners’ existing business models in the Telco & retail space, NTENT is the only company that provides technology and shares data to level the playing field. When our partners combine it with their tech and the first-party data they already have, it creates a data set and enables services that are unique and that none of the aforementioned companies have. The flip side is they don’t partner leading to more disruption and slowly but surely market share is eroded.
NTENT: As someone who has been with NTENT since its early stages of development, can you tell us what makes it an exciting place to work?
MG: Firstly — the Team. We have some unbelievably talented engineers and product folks on staff. Their ability to deliver always astounds me. But right the way across the board from account management, business development, marketing, data science, finance we have a really strong team of people. There’s no room for egos. Which makes for a great work ethos and company culture. It’s true we all work very hard, and there have been tough moments, but when it’s with a great bunch of people, it keeps you motivated and focused.
Secondly — the search market. It’s only really 20 years old but in a business sense, it’s just an adolescent, yet it’s growing so rapidly and so entrenched in day to day life. Improving how consumers find things through their mobile phones — be it informational, navigational or transactional — is very exciting.