How Unified's VP of Engineering Plans To Take On The Big Data Challenge For Marketers, One Terabyte At A Time
With what started as a desire to be in a field where a Chinese-English language barrier would be insignificant, TongTong Gong's career in data and technology has blossomed over the last decade, putting the young executive on the fast-track to the frontline of data innovation.
From Innovation To Reinvention
It’s hard to imagine a world before anything and everything could be saved and accessed on-demand via the cloud services we know and love today, but it did exist. Just a decade ago, building software that could process large amounts of consumer information was an arduous and expensive task. During her time at Acxiom, the budding software developer took this challenge head on, developing Enterprise Distributed Computing Systems that could take complex and dissimilar consumer data and transform it into insights marketers could actually use. As the evolution of cloud computing snowballed, her critical work was then applied towards a partnership between Acxiom and data storage giant EMC. It was during this time that Gong decided to leave Acxiom completely to lead an innovation and advanced development team at EMC for the CTO, where she was tasked with incubating groundbreaking ideas and evaluating emerging technology for the corporation. But as we all know, nothing lasts forever, and after 2 years of “out-of-the-box” thinking and building forward-thinking prototypes, Gong returned to Acxiom and her passion for research, development and creating new products.
However ultimately, the ability to combine her software building prowess with the challenge of sustainable innovation would be the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow—gold that would eventually lead both to a deconstruction of the customer journey and straight to the doors of Unified.
On The Trail Of The New Customer Journey
During her time building complex data analytics marketing software for both the offline and cookie-based digital markets, Gong was approached by Unified’s President of Big Data & Analytics and CTO Shawn Douglass to apply her carefully crafted skillset to the ultimate source of Big Data—social media. This digital medium, which produces more than 500 times the amount of information as the New York Stock Exchange every day, represents the most significant challenge and biggest opportunity that marketers have seen in the better part of a decade. One of the most exciting benefits being social’s ability to supercharge data generated from other marketing channels to make them even more powerful.
At Unified, Gong’s task will be to build a team that will successfully harness the power of marketing data to map the new customer journey. A journey that has never been more transparent, whether it be through brands followed, recipes pinned or check-ins at local restaurants, marketing data can and will unlock unprecedented insight into the nuances of customer interests and behaviors.
There’s No “I” In Data
Before fully taking on this daunting task, Gong’s first order of business is to create a team that’s set up for success. With her experience building teams from the ground up in previous roles both locally and abroad, Gong has narrowed down her approach into 3 main areas:
People: Don’t solely look for smart people. Finding good, caring people is equally as important. Without being there for one another, teams can quickly disintegrate.
Perseverance: Create an atmosphere where people are not only not afraid to make mistakes, but where mistakes are expected, embraced, and shared to make the team stronger. This is after all, how we all learn and make strides towards excellence.
Performance: Team members should be competitive and challenge one another to create a culture of high performance. However this only works if each person has the back of his or her colleague.
Emerging Data Trends
When asked about what trends she sees emerging in the industry, Gong explained that social data is not only exciting, but more reliable than alternatives like cookies. By starting there, her team can eventually build more accurate methodologies that can be applied to other marketing channels like search or radio. Additionally, she foresees an upswing in “narrowcasting” by advertisers, to essentially abandon a one size fits all approach in hope of presenting the right message to the right people at the right time.
The Future Isn’t So Far Away
So what is TongTong Gong most excited about? Simply put, she’s looking forward to leveraging the incredible track record of Unified’s ad services business to take Unified’s software business to the next level. She’s looking forward to leveraging social data to add clarity to fragmented data for marketers in a single sophisticated platform.
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