Why machine learning is vital for gaining unique data insights

8 Oct 2021

Robin Ducot. Image: Momentive

The CTO of Momentive, formerly SurveyMonkey, discusses the importance of machine learning and AI as the world of data continues to grow.

SurveyMonkey has been one of the big names associated with online surveys since its inception more than 20 years ago.

The company first came to Dublin in 2014 and subsequently added a European data centre to its Irish footprint in 2019.

But while the well-known name remains attached to the surveys product, the company behind the product rebranded as Momentive earlier this year.

Robin Ducot joined in 2017 as chief technology officer and leads engineering and infrastructure at the company from her base in San Francisco.

“I work closely with our product and design teams to help define the company’s technical product vision, driving the overall architecture evolution of the Momentive platform,” she told Siliconrepublic.com.

Before her current role, she was senior vice-president of product engineering at DocuSign, where she helped expand the engineering team, develop a multi-product platform with a service-oriented architecture, and shift the organisation to a continuous integration delivery model.

Ducot also previously held the role of vice-president of engineering at Eventbrite. She has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

‘We’re able to achieve a level of deeper insight due to our investment in machine learning’

Are you spearheading any major product or IT initiatives you can tell us about?

Right now, machine learning and artificial intelligence are major areas of focus for Momentive. Our machine learning team has been working on bringing machine learning insights to a broader set of use cases for our product.

We’ve recently migrated our platform to the cloud to modernise our tech stack, which gives us access to an even broader set of capabilities as we evolve our product through our machine learning efforts.

We’ve also been working on integrating even more of our capabilities from different products, like SurveyMonkey and GetFeedback, into the core Momentive platform. As we expand our platform, we’ve been pulling the best of each independent product to the core platform that powers all our solutions.

How big is your team?

Our engineering team consists of more than 400 people worldwide. We do outsource when there is a strategic need, for example, if we are in search of special skills.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation?

One of the things that has been critical in the last year and a half – and something we’ve all been affected by in some way – is the shift to remote work. We’ve been in a unique position here at Momentive with that shift because we’ve been able to use our own products to better understand our employees’ experiences.

Given that listening is one of our core capabilities, it is no surprise that the first thing we did to understand our new environment was to listen to our employees to understand how to better support them.

Using our solutions, we sent out a series of employee surveys to understand how to best support everyone during this transition. From those surveys, it was quickly apparent how we needed to shift our benefits, processes and tools for a remote-first world. For HR in particular, we eliminated our commuter benefits and added new ones like a remote working stipend and mental health support.

The pandemic has expanded the definition of the workplace beyond just a physical space, which has been an aspect of digital transformation for a while now but became an overnight priority in March 2020.

As an experience management platform, Momentive can play an important role in gathering critical insights from stakeholders that improve employee and customer experience and productivity.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world?

The growing importance of data at scale will continue to impact how the experience management industry grows and innovates. Momentive captures 1bn pieces of feedback per year. Not only is that a lot of data, but it is a lot of new data, which is critical with how fast the world is changing each day.

This volume of information allows us to generate novel insights, but only if we can make sense of it all. That is why what I love about our product is that it leverages data at scale and machine learning to derive unique insights that would otherwise be difficult to identify.

Whether it concerns customers, products or employees, we’re able to achieve a level of deeper insight due to our investment in machine learning. This is a trend that will only continue to grow in importance within experience management and beyond.

We also just finished a major initiative to migrate our platform ecosystem to the cloud. We now have access to an even broader set of capabilities, so we can evolve our products even more quickly for our customers and to support the next generation of experience management.

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