We talked to Piotr Prajsnar, CEO at Cloud Technologies on how they analyze and monetize data from 200 markets worldwide, and this is what he had to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Piotr Prajsnar: Luckily I and my family are fine. We’re feeling well, but the lockdown is a tough experience and I miss the old times when we didn’t need to wear face masks and we could travel and meet each other safely.
On the other hand, it was a unique experience, which made us think differently about many aspects of our jobs. People around the world had to find new ways of spending their free time, and organize everyday activities in their homes. The pandemic was simply a catalyst for changes in business and our lives.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded cloud Technologies.
Piotr Prajsnar: Well, it’s interesting. This year, Cloud Technologies, the company that I founded will have its 10th birthday, and I’m very excited because we expect it to be a really good year for us. Before I founded my company, I had worked shortly for Microsoft, where I gained a lot of experience. And I was fascinated by the possibilities of using data in a digital environment. My first business activity was connected to online advertising and I started to earn money from ads displayed on my websites.
Sometime later, in 2011, I combined my experience with a passion for machine learning, and with a small team of great people, we launched a micro-company that was focused on analyzing data in online advertising.
As it turned out – it was a really good idea. In 2017 we were listed as one of the fastest-growing tech companies (Deloitte Technology Fast 50 CE 2017 and Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA 2017 as well as Financial Times FT 1000) and from a small company that operated only on one market, we grew to international firm with global reach and data gathered from almost every corner of the world.
How does Cloud Technologies innovate?
Piotr Prajsnar: In the big data and digital advertising market, you need to innovate constantly. Otherwise, you will disappear quickly. We are on the market for more than ten years now, so I believe our ability to innovate is on quite a good level.
I think that innovation should be visible in almost every step of the company. The first step is always an idea. If we want to make our business profitable, our idea has to be innovative. At the beginning of our activity, we wanted to deliver high-quality data for online advertising.
The next step was the product – it had to be innovative to gather billions of anonymous users’ profiles. Now, our team has to think outside the box to propose to our clients how to use data to reach their business goals. The whole digital market now works on a replacement for third-party cookies, so they are looking for new, innovative ways of targeting.
What I’m saying is that in our industry, innovation is something that the companies have in their DNA.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Piotr Prajsnar: The coronavirus pandemic affected the global economy, so almost every company more or less was hit by the virus. All of us needed to adapt quickly, make fast and sometimes very hard decisions. As we all know, people across the world moved their activities to digital, so online businesses were not hit as hard as the traditional ones.
If we take a look at the advertising spending reports, the IAB study shows that the digital advertising market grew by 6% in 2020. During lockdowns we stay at our homes, use more digital media, and – as Zenith noticed – the pandemic accelerated the shift from traditional media to digital channels.
After analyzing the reports about Programmatic Buying market growth, and our latest financial reports, we can say that the changes accelerated by the pandemic were good for our company. Now we can say that we are one of the winners of 2020. Although there were some temporary perturbations on the market, those changes were beneficial for the condition of Cloud Technologies.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Piotr Prajsnar: We have to come back for a while to 2018. It was a year when we started to transform our business. We focused on data monetization and decided to limit services in the online advertising area. Our goal was to increase revenues from the most prospective markets and offer our products faster on the international market. It was a tough decision that temporarily caused negative effects on our financial results.
Two years later, in 2020, spendings on digital advertising accelerated, because people across the world had to move their activities to a digital environment. If we take a look at our current financial reports, we can be sure that the idea to transform our business was very good. So what is the lesson we have learned? Think strategically and try to focus on your strong points.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Piotr Prajsnar: From my perspective, this crisis proved that people are the real value of your company. You can use the most advanced tools, but if you do not cooperate with talented experts in their areas, it will be very hard to manage your company and deliver high-quality services to your clients. And what’s important is our team is built of experts in their areas, such as data analysis, sales, programmatic or data-driven marketing. We have a quite small, but very strong team that is always looking for the most accurate solutions.
We use remote communication tools to be in touch every time when it is necessary. We also call each other to discuss some issues fast. Some of our teams use task management tools, such as Asana, or they communicate using Slack, and they are happy with the results. The transition from office to remote work came really smoothly, which showed us how flexible our team is and how fast they can adapt to new conditions.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Piotr Prajsnar: It is hard to talk about competitors in the data market because your so-called competitor can also be your partner. Any data provider can be called our competitor but if the company distributes our data, it is also our partner.
The most important resource for our company is the data we process. So we still focus on collecting more data and distributing it internationally.
Your final thoughts?
Piotr Prajsnar: I believe that the coronavirus pandemic showed all of us that we should be open to changes. Three or two years ago, we didn’t think about the possibility that the whole world could stop. Lockdowns, staying at homes, closing hotels, bars, and restaurants – it sounds nonsensical, but it happened and it still happens around the world. So, as entrepreneurs, and as humans, we need to be open to any changes. It can help us to see opportunities in new situations, and if we, as a company, want to grow in hard times, we need to have the courage to face difficulties and lead our firms, our teams, through these unexpected conditions.
Openness to changes is also connected with strategic planning that is focused on being in the right place at the right time. Usually, cataclysms or unexpected events cause temporary difficulties or troubles, but after that, we can expect a surge in progress. It happens because, after those events, old habits and barriers disappear. With the pandemic, people had to move to a digital environment, and make much more shopping online. As a result, the eCommerce sector moved in time by two or more years, according to market analysis.
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