Q&A with Ed Breault, Chief Marketing Officer at Aprimo

Q&A with Ed Breault, Chief Marketing Officer at Aprimo
Ed Breault, Chief Marketing Officer at Aprimo is a marketer with over 18 years of industry experience. At Aprimo, Ed is responsible for the global brand and growth which includes all Paid/Owned/Earned media, Brand Experience, Product Marketing, Industry Marketing, Influencer Marketing, Strategic Communications, Content Marketing, Analyst Relations, Alliance Marketing, Public Relations, Events, Demand Generation and Account-Based Marketing.

MEDIA 7: What’s your superpower?
ED BREAULT:
 I would say it’s applying the full spectrum of art and science that is required in marketing today. Not just left or right brained, but whole-brained strategy. Being human yet data-driven and really understanding numbers and (the right) metrics to make connections to business drivers. Add storytelling to that, so I can effectively communicate to my team, the CEO and CFO as well as my Board of Directors on those metrics, and connecting all that we are doing in marketing to the mission of the business. Then quickly shifting gears to the art and creative aspects of marketing that are required to engage an audience and tell great commercial stories that take complex concepts and craft them in a way that is interesting for people to pay attention to. I have to be the ultimate point of truth for the brand.

M7: At Aprimo, how have marketing leadership roles and responsibilities evolved over the past few years?
EB:
There are so many dimensions needed by marketing leaders today. There are several elements driving this evolution, it’s the new experience battlefront that is emerging and also marketers themselves driving changes. From a market perspective, there is a clear appetite for disruption and consumers are wanting more experiential elements to their buying experience and interactions with brands. Take a few direct to consumer disruptions like trialing products in-home, purchasing directly from a brand or even wanting to ensure that the producer’s trade practices are in line with the buyer’s or even a regulator’s for that matter. Then we want to try before we buy, and we emotionally care about the supply chain of products. Do we TRUST this brand to do business with them? Behind all of this is a story that needs to be told, and it is those marketers who know their audience well and make connections that will win the commercial game.

Back to the marketer, there are so many diverse backgrounds that marketers bring now and I’m really intrigued by those who have unconventional backgrounds because they contribute something uniquely new to the field. I love hearing about the marketer’s journey.


"Content is a massive investment for brands and Aprimo Digital Asset Management acts as a true hub of an organization's content management and experience lifecycle."

M7: Could you tell us about Aprimo’s creative ideation tool ‘Idea Lab’? How does it help marketers to move through the creative process from ideation to distribution of higher quality content?
EB:
 Aprimo Idea Lab is a place for early-stage ideation and there just haven’t been pure systems for ideas mixed with strategic planning so we filled in that whitespace for the market. This includes ideas from a strategic and tactical standpoint that is a bit of “safe” place to brainstorm in a highly collaborative workplace. Output is a new experience building block, a full campaign concept or brief, allowing the marketer and experience leader to think backwards from a great customer or content experience and purposefully architect it. This is all before you make financial commitments or commercial agreements with agencies or suppliers, and it feeds directly into financial scenario planning, so you can build the financial lens to your new breakthrough idea. It’s literally brainstorming brought to life and then connected to marketing production activities. So, if marketing is a ten-step process, this is step zero, and steps one and two. I’m in it every day. For me, the majority of my ideas hit me when I least expect it, so I immediately put them in Idea Lab and it functions as a “backlog” for thought-starters, then my team can collaboratively go run with it.

M7: What are some of the ways you optimize AI for your client base, when it comes to content development?
EB: 
We actually have artificial intelligence powering not just the production of content but the content creation process itself. We have machines creating content today, and one of the very specific use cases on that is what’s called a learnable AI. So basically, we have an artificial intelligence that can learn the context of a brand’s business. And, what it can then do is learn over time and it would know things like the proper focal points within an image.

Let’s say for example, there are three focal points in a piece of content or an image. Let’s say there is a model and she is sipping a coffee, she’s on her phone and she’s wearing a scarf. If you are in the business of selling and marketing scarfs, it would know that’s the focal point. If you’re in the business of marketing and selling coffee, it would know that’s the focal point. So, then it can make recommendations of what the right type of images, the form factor of the image, and knowing what creative resources would potentially do with that, the machine does for you. Since it’s able to learn your business, and let’s say you’re in the business of shoes, it would know the difference between a high-top and a high-heel learning over time with great accuracy.

Some of our early tests were showing 98% recognition and accuracy once it’s learned. Truly powerful. Also from a productivity standpoint, there are just some things AI handles better than humans like monitoring patterns, observing and making educated predictions about the future of projects. AI picks up on overlooked habits of team members and frees up a new era of project management to focus more on the complex processes behind a management strategy. Oh yeah, and unlike humans, doesn’t lose focus, fatigue, go on vacation or lose productivity while entertaining themselves with funny cat memes at work.


"AI picks up on overlooked habits of team members and frees up a new era of project management to focus more on the complex processes behind a management strategy."

M7: Could you elaborate on Aprimo’s Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution that helps deliver personalized experiences at scale and as a service?
EB: 
Yes! Content is a massive investment for brands and Aprimo Digital Asset Management acts as a true hub of an organization's content management and experience lifecycle. As I discussed earlier with Idea Lab, you eventually need content to action those ideas to deliver great experiences. And then workflows, to move along to create the content whether that’s AR, VR or even text and other types of multimedia or images. Regardless of the content type, the digital asset management system can store that content and make it highly searchable, it can make sure that once the ingestion process happens, it conforms to the metadata and taxonomy standards across an enterprise.

They can capture things like licensing agreements on that content when that content needs to expire. It can trigger approvals or re-approvals if the content is bound by any certain dates of when you can use the content. And what we want to make sure is that content does not get wasted or is created and parked somewhere.

Content truly powers experience channels like an ecommerce platform, a website, a great experience through a mobile device, and the delivery and distribution of content for downstream channels whether that is your reseller network or the content needs to be taken from a web to a print stage of its lifecycle. Generally, it is about having full management of a piece of content whether that’s the full digital asset or the components that make up the digital asset. This also manages the individual units of content that make up the asset we like to call “experience building blocks”. It’s all about finding, reusing and remixing content, staying compliant and delivering the best personalized experience possible.


"Content truly powers experience channels like an ecommerce platform, a website, a great experience through a mobile device, and the delivery and distribution of content for downstream channels."

M7: How does the Digital Asset Management help in maximizing content ROI?
EB:
 Definitely, it has to do with number one, the findability of the content so that the content can be used and it’s not wasted and then the enrichment processes that are built-in add data to the digital asset. From there, you can see a piece of content and metrics like consumption of that content, where that content piece was used in terms of different campaigns, geographies, etc. If that content was localized, if that content was used to drive whatever the marketing outcome or experience outcome is, which could be conversions on digital properties or transactions on an ecommerce platform, and all that rich data then comes back to the asset, and you are able to see how well it performed. This data is then served up very beautifully in a dashboard connected to the business outcomes you were driving. There are so many questions now we can answer about our content if this strategic approach is taken.

M7: What marketing channels do you use and which ones do you see as the most promising given your target customers?
EB:
 I think the magic is using all the channels in a very well-coordinated way. My primary channel strategies involve a mix of inbound and outbound in a very targeted fashion hence content marketing is core to my strategy. Content drives the pull-through in Aprimo’s digital properties, all of our owned digital properties, this includes the web channel as well as when we syndicate content to third-parties. That’s really important for us to create great content that is helpful, useful and then drives traffic back to aprimo.com. That’s where our inbound strategy balances the outbound efforts in a very targeted way. I use predictive demand capabilities showing me where and who is in market, so then I can go out and reach them and find them in what we like to call the “dark funnel”. I like to think of this strategy as there is someone lost out there looking for solutions to their challenges and it is my job to go find them, meet them and help them along their path. From there email for us has completely been reimagined. We are using video and conversational marketing from an outbound standpoint to connect. We are “humanizing” communications as much as possible, over the phone for voice, broadcast, media buying within different properties like LinkedIn, you name it. I think it’s a drive to strike a balance to create the complete experience for my audience.

M7: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
EB:
 As a child, I wanted to be an athlete. I was very much involved in sports so I looked at my heroes, those I aspired to be like were athletes at that time.

ABOUT APRIMO

Aprimo provides technology solutions for content, operations, and performance that enable enterprises to optimize their brand experiences and the resources they use to deliver them. Our platform gives enterprises the advantage by streamlining and governing all the behind-the-scenes activities – from ideation to distribution – involved in delivering exceptional brand experiences.

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Stiegler EdTech Announces Grant from Live Oak Bank to Expand its Newly Launched Varsity Esports & STEM League to Eastern NC

PR Newswire | January 10, 2024

Stiegler EdTech announced today that its latest Charlotte-based technology workforce program Varsity Esports & STEM League (VESL) is expanding to Eastern NC thanks to the leadership and continued support of Live Oak Bank and its philanthropic commitment to education and workforce development. "We are thrilled to support the continued expansion of VESL across North Carolina," said Kate Groat, Live Oak Bank's Director of Corporate Philanthropy. "This program provides students with workforce-ready skills while keeping them engaged in learning. We are proud to empower youth in our community to further their education and career potential." VESL aims to teach valuable coding and technology skills to meet the talent needs of the tech industry in North Carolina. All North Carolina high school students are eligible to participate in VESL where they will be given the opportunity to learn critical STEM skills while participating in Esports & STEM competitions through their schools. Thanks to the grant funding from Live Oak, more students in Eastern NC will be able to gain access to scholarships, earn needs-based aid, and support additional financial incentives and opportunities to pursue higher education and technology careers. "This partnership offers our community a competitive advantage both in terms of the impact VESL will make directly with New Hanover County students as well as the long-term confidence it will provide employers who invest in North Carolina that there will indeed be great technology talent to hire locally moving forward," adds Luke Waddell, Wilmington City Council Member. "Live Oak Bank's commitment to the region through programs like VESL is an exciting investment in the next generation of tech talent in Eastern NC." The funding supports events such as regional tournaments, including one planned in Wilmington this winter, following the success of a state-wide championship tournament held in Charlotte last year, which brought together thousands of students and fans. "Americans are underskilled and employers have to be a part of the solution," says Tariq Bokhari, Charlotte City Council Member and Chairman of Stiegler EdTech. "Vital funding like Live Oak's grant gives us the ability to empower young minds to learn highly sought after skills and think innovatively about real-world problems that directly impact our future. This means better students, better outcomes, and more opportunities for our next generation."

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Education Technology, Talent Development, Online Education

Bridge2Rwanda Extends Partnership with IXL to Support Students Developing English Language Skills

PR Newswire | January 30, 2024

IXL, the personalized learning platform used by 15 million students worldwide, has announced an extension of its partnership with Bridge2Rwanda (B2R), a nonprofit dedicated to creating global education opportunities for high-achieving African students. B2R educators will continue leveraging IXL's award-winning platform to deliver targeted English language arts (ELA) instruction, helping learners build and master literacy skills essential for securing university scholarships. In total, B2R has used IXL to support 500 students across eight different training programs since the partnership began. Despite encouraging improvements in literacy rates, limited access to resources and a nascent reading culture pose significant challenges to educational achievement in Rwanda. Recognizing the pivotal role education plays in enhancing socioeconomic outcomes, Bridge2Rwanda was established in 2007 to empower Rwandan high school students with high-quality reading and writing opportunities. B2R's ultimate goal is to build a thriving community of well-educated African leaders who will accelerate their nations' growth and improve the lives of others. B2R began using IXL Language Arts in 2019 to support the English language development of 30 high-achieving scholars from Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and Burundi. In 2020, the nonprofit relied on IXL's all-inclusive platform to ensure that its English language learners (ELLs) developed essential ELA skills during distance learning. After two years of an impactful partnership, B2R made IXL an integral component of its new intensive English training and college preparatory program, Isomo Academy. The inaugural class of 120 Isomo Academy scholars quickly embraced IXL's tailored support, built-in instructional resources, and engaging learning opportunities. During the first week of Isomo Academy's eight-week training program, educators use IXL's adaptive assessment, the Real-Time Diagnostic, to pinpoint each student's English proficiency level, helping them understand individual strengths and areas for improvement. Based on these insights, the diagnostic then generates personalized skill recommendations to challenge and support learners at the right level. Additionally, B2R educators use the diagnostic to track student growth each week to ensure that students are progressing and mastering essential ELA concepts. Bridge2Rwanda educators also rely on IXL's comprehensive curriculum to help students build the skills that they need to become strong communicators. Each day at Isomo Academy, students take writing and reading classes that are paired with intensive language and communication seminars. Additionally, students work on IXL skills that align with their classroom lessons. The combined approach allows educators to engage students at their individual levels, assign homework, and differentiate learning beyond the school day. "IXL bursts bottlenecks for Bridge2Rwanda scholars by eliminating language barriers," said Luke Dreiling, Lead English Teacher, Bridge2Rwanda. "This enables them to excel in their studies, advance their careers, and contribute significantly to the growth of African communities." "Bridge2Rwanda's dedication to expanding educational opportunities for young African students is commendable. We are excited to continue equipping even more bright and ambitious learners with the tools they need to confidently pursue their dreams on a global scale," said Paul Mishkin, CEO of IXL Learning. "At IXL, we are committed to leveraging education as an instrument of empowerment to break down language barriers and ensure all students have the opportunity to thrive." IXL's impact on English language learners IXL Language Arts gives teachers a systematic way to troubleshoot each student's unique reading and writing roadblocks, and put them on the path to success: Among schools with a high percentage of ELLs, research demonstrates that those using IXL outperformed non-IXL schools on Smarter Balanced Assessments in ELA by as much as seven percentile points. IXL's comprehensive curriculum provides more than 2,400 adaptive skills that span early literacy, reading comprehension, grammar, vocabulary, and advanced concepts, such as persuasive writing. Each IXL skill is adaptive, ensuring that ELLs feel confident that they are perfectly challenged and supported at the right level when developing fluency. IXL's adaptive assessment, the Real-Time Diagnostic, pinpoints students' grade-level proficiency in key ELA strands, and generates targeted next steps to help students grow from where they are. As English language learners progress, these personalized recommendations stay up-to-date, ensuring that they always have a clear path toward mastering ELA concepts. As students learn and practice, IXL provides in-the-moment support and resources for self-remediation. For example, video tutorials guide learners through the building blocks of reading, writing, and grammar to provide additional support during learning and independent practice. If a student answers a problem incorrectly, IXL provides a step-by-step explanation of the right answer so that students can learn from their mistake and solidify their knowledge of that skill. Educators also rely on insights from IXL Analytics to track student progress, monitor readiness for exams, and differentiate instruction to fill knowledge gaps. Up-to-date reports help teachers uncover areas of challenge for each student and identify patterns in mistakes in order to provide targeted reteaching.

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Education Technology

D2L Highlights New D2L Brightspace Product Features to Help Enhance Accessibility and Ease of Use

PR Newswire | October 19, 2023

D2L, a global learning technology company, today highlighted enhanced Brightspace product features — developed over the past six months — that can help global learners and educators simplify the learning experience by bringing learning solutions together in one place. I'm thrilled to share that D2L continues to invest in its existing solutions and broaden its portfolio of products, partner solutions and services to assist educators, organizations, and learners in their readiness for the future, said Rajesh Talpade, Senior Vice President of Product Management at D2L. D2L's new and enhanced product features can make it easier than ever to offer effective learning in online and blended environments to help see that learners have the opportunity to succeed. New D2L Solution for Businesses Announced in September 2023, D2L introduced a new, all-in-one solution for businesses: D2L for Business. This integrated, easy-to-use corporate solution combines the benefits of an existing network of world-class education providers, skill development solutions, and expert consulting services as an learning experience platform (LXP). Empowering Learners, Educators and Administrators Brightspace functionalities and offerings that can provide customers with tools and resources to help enhance outcomes and save time. Brightspace now offers: Even more Creator+ tools for educators, including: new accessible layouts, expanded types of interactive elements, and a fully accessible hotspot practice question type. This can help enable educators to continue building beautiful and instructionally sound content using familiar Brightspace workflows. An AI-driven, first line of contexual help and support embedded within Brightspace Brightspace Virtual Assistant. More datasets and improved data dashboards to help make it easier for educators and businesses to gain insights and understand metrics in their organizations. Simplifying Workflows Recent Brightspace updates continue to make workflows more intuitive, efficient, effective and consistent. This includes: An improved Quiz experience that can offer support for high-stakes exams with strict time limits, support for synchronous quizzing windows, and other improvements. A familiar and upgraded Discussion experience with workflows to help bring new functionality to educators. New content authoring functionality to help make it easier to manage both the required and optional course materials. In addition, enhancements to the Media Library are now more user-friendly, with new time-saving indicators to track progress and surface common actions. And, new changes to course merging options that can empower educators and save administrative time. New self-enrollment enhancements for Brightspace customers that offer professional development opportunities and allow educators to see that learners are enrolling in the right courses. Uniting a Stronger Ecosystem D2L has also enhanced its robust learning ecosystem by simplifying access to Brightspace and encouraging new interactions among educators, administrators, and learners. These updates, features and tools include: An easier, course registration process through Course Merchant, a modern e-commerce experience, whose front-end course catalog and payment and enrollment system is now offered as a D2L product after more than nine years as a key integration partner. Visualized Brightspace Analytics within Ellucian Experience, help advisors to quickly identify at-risk learners by aggregating Brightspace data with external data to holistically determine appropriate intervention. Early access to D2L Link, which can connect Brightspace with the systems of record clients use every day. The integrations enabled through D2L Link can help minimize manual tasks and see that data is synchronized between systems. D2L's new IntegrationHub, built on LTI 1.3. and launched as a new catalog site that lists partner solutions that are available for integrations with Brightpsace. The IntegrationHub makes it easy for Brightspace users to browse D2L's extensive list of integrated technologies and solutions, such as accessibility tools, student information systems, secure proctoring assessment platforms, and many other partner solutions. For more information on the latest features and updates, please visit What's New at D2L. About D2L D2L is transforming the way the world learns—helping learners of all ages achieve more than they dreamed possible. Working closely with clients all over the world, D2L is supporting millions of people learning online and in person. Our growing global workforce is dedicated to making the best learning products to leave the world better than they found it. Learn more about D2L for K-12, higher education and businesses at www.D2L.com.

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