Here’s our full interview with Lin Wang, the founder and CEO of Bilin Technology.
- What gave you the inspiration for starting Bilin? How did the name come about?
I enjoy working with innovative technology. I always been curious, and love being involved in the “Next big thing”. While working on my Ph.D. thesis in physics at the University of Chicago, I developed a passion for computer programming and followed that passion into the high-tech industry. While working for companies in the field, I was exposed to the early wave of big data analytics. After witnessing how big data could profoundly change advertising and marketing, I decided to build a company to fulfil my dream of using technology to help empower people. That’s why I started Bilin Technology – a company committed to bringing true innovation to marketing and support the creative individuals who drive business forward.
The name came from an ancient Chinese poem. It means “even though we are apart by oceans, (by looking at) the moon makes us feel like neighbours.” Ancient people could only dream of it, today we use technologies to connect people (in our case clients to their customers) and let them feel like neighbours. Additional information: China’s search engine giant Baidu also derived its name from ancient Chinese poem. I hope Bilin will a successful company like Baidu someday.
- How have you grown? Where do you see the company in the next three years?
I started the company in 2013 and it has been growing steadily. In the first few years, we focused mostly on technologies and products. By working with a strategic partner who serviced many big-name technology companies, we tested and perfected our products globally. Our partner grew rapidly in the past three years with Bilin as their sole technology platform and data provider. We saw great demand and tremendous opportunities for our technologies and products. Last year, we decided to go direct and launched our SaaS products to target medium to small size companies. Our goal is to provide high quality products only available to big companies in the past to the price point that is affordable for smaller companies. Early responses have been very encouraging. We project rapid growth this year and into foreseeable future. In the next three years, I see our SaaS platform will serve hundreds of customers and generate tens of millions of revenues.
- What way is artificial intelligence changing the world? Is it just a ‘fad’ or do you see it really being a world game-changer?
It a fundamentally shift, not a ‘fad’. The change will be comprehensive, from robots on assembly lines to driverless cars; from AI-assistant living to office automation at work. The changes will happen gradually, not overnight. Each field has its unique requirements and opportunities for technology implementations to evolve.
As the evolution takes place, it’s important for companies to balance the changes in technology with the workforce the technology supports. In our case, we provide insights that inform and empower marketing professionals, not replace them. That’s the major misconception and I’m not sure that’s the best way to look at AI’s potential impact. As we uncover new potential uses of tech innovations traditional roles could be redefined or replaced, but new opportunities will be created.
It’s going to be exciting to be part of the AI revolution.
- How will Artificial Intelligence change marketing strategies as we know it?
Marketing strategies are always evolving. Think of the impact the internet has had on the industry and how we, as the audience, consume content. Today Marketers have more tools, platforms, and outlets than ever before to reach their intended audience. That’s a good thing, but there are some challenges that go along with all the changes.
In the B2B world, companies are learning more and conducting independent research before they engage vendors. They have an idea of what they want. This means that companies must rely more on their marketing teams to frame out conversations and engage prospects while they are in their research process. Timing becomes critical.
This is where predictive analytics powered by AI can revolutionize marketing and sales. We have the ability to process billions of bits of data and predict when companies are actively researching products. AI can connect independent actions to intent. This is where AI will have the biggest impact on marketing. AI will allow marketers to create timely, relevant, and tailored messages to reach a specific audience and deliver that message through the right channels.
Companies that embrace AI will have a decided advantage and I believe AI can change not only how we target prospect, but also how prospects purchase.
- What is the future for AI?
The possibilities are endless! It has the power to change every aspect of our lives and we are just beginning to scratch the surface. AI is already being used to make our lives more efficient and the use of AI should continue to grow.
- Why is it so important for companies to see the big picture? What have they been missing in the past, in your opinion? How can Bilin change that?
Drawing from my own experience, as well other successful entrepreneur’s, I would say that the impact of “big picture” can’t be over emphasized.
When companies see the whole picture and understand all the variables they can accurately plan and create sound strategies. Knowledge is power, and the businesses who have the best intel have a decided advantage in competitive markets.
In the past there hasn’t been a great source of data aggregation. Up until just a few years ago, many companies still used paper files, they would manage their data as individual records. This has all changed. The relatively new digital world we live in has provided us source material to feed AI algorithms that allow us to process macro level data. In the past this type of analysis would have been almost impossible, today we are overloaded with raw data, and we are developing new ways to understand and learn what we can from our source material.
At Bilin, we are working to process the information that is available and build predictive models to power companies forward. Growth is the goal of most companies, their overall success is dependent on sales and marketing, that’s who we support. Our AI gives us the ability to give marketers and sales departments the insight they need to create strategies and take actions, we show them the big picture.
- With AI Bilin is obviously finding a niche in the market. What were marketers doing then and what were they doing now?
Yes, we found our position in the marketplace. But it is not niche, as I believe, it is a trend and is just at its infancy.
For example, new marketing automation tools have been and are being developed to help marketers be more productive, but there is a real risk of misuse. The challenge is to find a balance between automation and personalization. This is where AI can help. By having insights into the prospects buying journey, marketers can craft messages that feel personal and relevant, which can be delivered at the right time in the process, AI can provide that insight.
Insight is the fuel that with power company’s growth strategies, but new challenges will keep coming up based on how we use technology, interact with content, and learn. AI will be really important for companies trying to keep pace with changing markets.
- How does Bilin differentiate itself from the competition?
Predictive analytics can be defined in broad terms, many companies are using data to build “Look alike” profiles. This means they use your previous or existing clients to create a picture of who you should be targeting. This is a good starting point but the problem with this approach is that it doesn’t measure intent and can be limiting. Companies could have had success within a certain vertical for a variety of reasons, like there sales teams previous experience. Another challenge could be assuming that just because companies look alike they have the same needs. Companies can look alike but have dramatically different needs and face different challenges.
Others provide just a macro level of intent based on data consumption, but don’t provide targeted leads that marketing, and sales teams can use immediately.
At Bilin, we use AI to analyse data consumption to identify companies who are actively in the buying cycle, once companies are identified we source actionable leads with verified contact info that can be used to start the prospecting process. All of this is done in real time because timing is important, this also allows each campaign we run to be fully customizable and easily adjusted based on our results.
Yesterday we had some feedback from a client running a trial that is typical of what we hear. He said that his team had approached 10 out of the 25 contacts we supplied and 3 turned into meetings. This was amazing, but the second part was even better, he said that based on our data they had discovered that they might have been targeting the wrong people and he had some changes they wanted to make to the campaign. For this client, we changed his entire strategy and provided growth opportunities. This is the type of impact we aspire to with all our partners.
We also make it easy to do with us and provide attractive options to evaluate our services.