Q&A with Joshua Kanter, Chief Marketing Officer at Encora

Joshua Kanter, Chief Marketing Officer at Encora, is a highly dynamic senior executive who combines marketing, technology, strategy, and analytics expertise to design forward-thinking and actionable business plans that deliver outstanding results. As a powerful motivator and team leader, he is passionate about creating extremely competitive market leaders who consistently exceed organizational targets.

It’s important to realize that you can be a brilliant marketer but selling a product or service that doesn’t create value is both deceitful and unfulfilling.



MEDIA 7: From entertainment to retail to Information Technology- you have a long track record of successfully working in multiple roles and managing diverse teams. How has your professional journey been like? 
JOSHUA KANTER:
I feel extremely fortunate about the places my career has taken me because each step in the journey has provided me with valuable experiences and skills that transfer across industries and contexts. All of my previous experiences are now surprisingly relevant in my new role as Encora’s Chief Marketing Officer.

I began my career as a consultant where I worked across a dozen industries as an expert in loyalty programs, database analytics, digital marketing, customer experience, and more. After leaving the consulting world, I began my first “real” job in the casino-entertainment industry at Caesars Entertainment—Harrah’s Entertainment at the time. In this role, I directed a 350-person organization that delivered one-to-one marketing programs, about 13,000 campaigns a year and over 750,000,000 direct marketing communications. And while casino entertainment is not a personal passion for me, it gave me world-class experience with data-driven marketing.

After six years with Caesars Entertainment, I moved into an industry that I was far more passionate about - pet specialty retail. In 2017, I became the chief marketing officer for PetSmart where I was responsible for all aspects of the company’s customer engagement strategy. While I was at PetSmart, we implemented a more customer-centric, and data-driven approach to marketing. We designed and launched PetSmart’s industry-leading Treats loyalty program.  And again, based on best practices from the casino industry, we developed in-store events that would make the store into an experiential destination… featuring the kinds of experiences that consumers cannot get from digital commerce players like Amazon. 

Fast forward to 2020 when I joined Encora. The opportunity to work in the B2B technology space was very exciting for me because as a CMO, I had always been one of the core clients for leading-edge marketing technology. The truth is that the worlds of strategy, marketing and technology are increasingly intertwined, and in order to be an effective CMO you really need a thorough understanding of each. My background at Caesars and PetSmart has prepared me to better understand the needs of Encora’s customers and the value we provide to them. Additionally, helping companies fundamentally reinvent and enhance their business through digital transformation is more critical now than ever. It’s rewarding to be a part of a company that is leading the way in this type of work.

M7: Could you please briefly describe the impact Encora would have if a company were to engage you tomorrow?
JK:
We’re in the business of helping companies become leaders within and across industries through the use of new and emerging technologies.  We deliver unique value to clients through mastery of these modern technologies, enhanced agile methods, proprietary tools and frameworks, and a global talent pool and deep industry expertise. Our proprietary Extended Delivery Center (EDC) model provides a governance framework to drive transformational outcomes, and accelerate innovation cycles. We believe that innovation acceleration is emerging to become a new source of competitive advantage.

When it comes to digital transformation, organizations are often too slow to innovate and weighed down by technical debt. All of this gets in the way of evolving quickly. Encora partners with companies to help them define their strategic innovation roadmap, providing the agility and flexibility necessary to evolve their core technology assets quickly.

Our services include next-gen product engineering services like platform modernization and cloud enablement. We also excel at data science and predictive analytics, AI and machine learning, DevOps and test automation. And we serve customers globally with offices and innovation labs in Central & South America, India and Asia Pacific.


When it comes to digital transformation, organizations are often too slow to innovate and weighed down by technical debt. All of this gets in the way of evolving quickly.



M7: Over the last few years, how has Encora developed the proprietary EDC (Extended Delivery Center) framework to accelerate innovation for its clients?
JK:
Encora has been around for 20 years. When we started, we used traditional agile engineering frameworks. Over time we have added to and enhanced these frameworks, including proprietary reporting and analytics, governance, etc.  It has evolved into the Extended Delivery Center (EDC) model that today accelerates value for our clients. Through this model, we have addressed a number of issues: the time to ramp up a client team, the risks to clients’ intellectual property (IP), the need to develop a collaborative and transparent relationship.

One of the hallmarks of the EDC is that we seamlessly embed teams of world-class engineers within our client’s development organization. Our engineers get internal emails from the client, participate in internal processes, evaluations, etc. For most intents and purposes, they are client employees.  But of course, we hire them, we train them, and we manage them. This removes the burden from our clients and allows the collective team to accelerate the innovation roadmap. 

Another is the fact that our engineers are fully dedicated to only one client. The biggest reason for this is to protect our clients’ IP. But it has other benefits: our attrition is so low that over time, our teams become the institutional memory of our clients.  Our engineers understand what has been tried, what has worked (or not) in the past. We are able to help clients navigate the complexity of their innovation journey with increased efficiency and expertise. 

The last core element of our EDC model is that it is designed for long-term engagements. From the outset, we seek long-term partnerships with our clients, ensuring that all interests are aligned. We invest in doing bespoke hiring for the client, ensuring that the team comprises experts with exactly the profiles required by our clients.

And we ask that our clients commit to us that we will grow the capability and the team over the years to come. Because we set the expectations that we are committed to the long-term, it enables both us and our clients to invest in establishing a collaborative relationship. It allows us to make smarter and more impactful decisions that help our customers transform into the future.

M7: What marketing channels do you use and which ones do you see as the most promising, given your target customers?
JK:
We are fortunate that most of Encora’s business comes from existing clients, referrals, or sometimes ex-clients who have switched to new companies. Through this lens, it could be said that our number one marketing channel is the level of service and delivery that we provide to our clients.

But I’m sure that is not the core of your question. For finding new leads, we use all of the standard marketing channels to engage potential prospects, including Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. We create content that we can share across social media, digital events. There is no magic here, just strategy and diligent execution of that strategy.

One thing that has stood out as new for us is engagement with industry analysts. Prior to August 2020, our major divisions operated with their own brands, operating in parallel across the globe. We brought them together under the Encora brand last year, and now, as a unified global brand there are certain things that we can do that wouldn’t have made sense for any of the smaller divisions. As an initial proof point for this strategy, we were recently recognized as a leader in the Zinnov Zones 2020 ratings of global digital engineering service providers across five key categories:
-Digital Engineering
-Enterprise Software Engineering
-Consumer Software Engineering
-Software Platform Engineering
-Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) within the Banking and Financial Services Industry (BFSI)

This is a testament to the hard work that our teams do every day, and I think it is a sign of things to come, as we work to cultivate Encora’s reputation globally.


To the extent that we, as marketers, are advancing things we truly believe in, the easier the work becomes, the more effective we are, and the more fulfilling we find our work to be.



M7: What do you believe are the top three marketing challenges in the post COVID-19 era?
JK:
One of the challenges I’ve recognized is that there has been a fundamental disruption in consumer consumption. This requires companies to pivot hard to match these new consumption patterns. And of course, in turn, it has led to disruption among the companies seeking to serve these companies adapting to the new normal of consumer demand. In the context of all this change, marketers can no longer rely on the tools and practices of the past. They need to connect with decision-makers, and they need to present a compelling logic for why their solution is making more sense than any alternatives. Where and how to do this looks fundamentally different post COVID-19 than it did prior. 

COVID-19 has also made organizational wallets a lot tighter. I’m reminded of the old quote from John Wannamaker about how half of his marketing spend is wasted… he just doesn’t know which half. Justifying the ROI of marketing spend has always been a challenge for marketers. Costs are known, and for many forms of marketing spend, the upside and return are speculative. While digital channels have helped establish the trail of breadcrumbs for marketers to justify much of their digital spend, the pandemic has introduced a ton of uncertainty around consumption, and as a consequence, the already difficult job of funding campaigns becomes more difficult.

Finally, I think that many organizations emerging from the COVID-19 fog are facing fundamental questions about who they are and wish to be, with respect to their customers. For some, the competitive field may have thinned during the pandemic. For most, the target consumer will have evolved in terms of needs, preferences and primary channel utilization. Companies cannot hope to revert to pre-pandemic offerings promoted through pre-pandemic marketing. A more fundamental reckoning has taken place, and any company that wishes to be relevant—if not competitive—in the post-pandemic economy has some real soul searching to do. Marketers need to help these companies refine their understanding of the core value they provide within the market, and then adapt their marketing strategies and tactics accordingly.

M7: You are also a regular columnist at Rolling Stone. How do you manage to strike a balance between your work and such other productive commitments?
JK:
There are tasks in life that will expand to fill all available capacity. I’ve found that the trick is to decide what matters, ignore or defer everything else, and time-box the important tasks according to their priority. Sounds easy and clean. I assure you, even with practice, it is messy and hard. But it also works.

For me, beyond my role at Encora, my other productive commitments include being a new dad, cooking mediocre meals, learning Korean, and practicing Qigong. I have assigned all Rolling Stone-related responsibilities to an entirely different Joshua Kanter, which alleviates the burden on me quite substantially.

M7: As a CMO, what is your marketing mantra to stand out in an overly saturated market?
JK:
It’s important to realize that you can be a brilliant marketer but selling a product or service that doesn’t create value is both deceitful and unfulfilling. This the kind of marketing that gives marketers a bad name, and it can only take you so far. The way I approach my work is to believe that marketing is ultimately a service to the client, helping them connect with real sources of value for their business.

At Encora, I know firsthand how valuable the services are that we provide. I am passionate about connecting potential clients with our services. Not because it’s better for me or our shareholders—which of course, it is—but because I am motivated to help others succeed. And Encora does this better than any other company I know of in the outsourced software engineering space.

To the extent that we, as marketers, are advancing things we truly believe in, the easier the work becomes, the more effective we are, and the more fulfilling we find our work to be. It is my hope that every marketer can find a role that gives them this experience!

ABOUT ENCORA

Headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, Encora is the preferred innovation partner to some of the world’s leading technology companies in industries such as in industries such as fast growing tech, FinTech, health tech and more. The company has been in business since 2005 and services high tech clients such as 1-800-Flowers, Ingenico, Shutterfly, and more. Encora provides next-gen product engineering services like platform modernization, cloud enablement, data science and predictive analytics, AI and machine learning, DevOps and test automation.

The company has a strong global presence with offices and innovation labs in Central & South America, India and Asia Pacific. The company delivers unique value to clients through its mastery of modern and emerging technologies, enhanced agile methods, proprietary tools and frameworks, global talent pool and deep industry expertise. The company’s proprietary Extended Delivery Center (EDC) model provides a governance framework to drive transformational outcomes for leading-edge tech companies.

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Novo Announces Novo Payroll for Small Businesses, Powered by Check

Check | January 25, 2024

Novo, the powerfully simple® financial solutions platform for small businesses, announced Novo Payroll. Working with Check, the leading payroll infrastructure company that pioneered the ability for platforms to embed payroll into their products, Novo has launched a payroll solution that is fully integrated into Novo’s platform of small business banking, budgeting, and working capital solutions, enabling small businesses to manage their finances from a single platform. “Traditional small business payroll solutions consist of standalone applications characterized by high fees, burdensome cash-on-hand requirements, and either clunky or non-existent integrations between payroll and business bank accounts,” said Michael Rangel, founder and CEO of Novo. “In collaboration with Check, we built a payroll solution that simplifies and speeds up the process of paying small business employees." Novo leveraged Check’s embedded payroll API to build Novo Payroll. With coverage in all 50 states, Novo Payroll streamlines the entire payroll process, from calculating wages to facilitating direct deposits and managing tax withholdings. This provides businesses with a comprehensive payroll solution that not only reduces administrative burdens but also ensures accuracy and compliance with regulatory standards. Novo has conducted a beta of Novo Payroll, and will make the product available to Novo’s more than 200,000 small business customers in the coming weeks. Key features of Novo Payroll include Affordable, flat-rate pricing: Unlike other payroll platforms where individuals have to pay extra for a range of features, Novo offers all of its essential features — including state and tax filings, end of year reports, and more — at $35 per month plus a small fee per worker. Working capital for payroll: Small businesses who may need additional funds for a payroll cycle can apply for Novo Funding, a fast and flexible way to access working capital that’s available exclusively to Novo customers. Once approved for Novo Funding, customers can use the capital in minutes. Next day payments: With Novo Payroll, recipients can opt in to receive their paychecks the day after payroll is processed at no additional charge. Instead of needing the necessary payroll funds days in advance, small business owners simply need to have funds available the day of payroll processing. Built-in accounting and budgeting tools: Since Novo Payroll is fully embedded into the Novo platform, customers can seamlessly set aside funds for payroll, taxes, savings, and more using Novo Reserves. Single- and multi-state payroll: Novo Payroll automates state tax filings for small businesses that have employees in a single state, as well as in multiple states. Human-powered customer service: Novo Payroll customers have access to a range of resources to assist with payroll questions, including the option to call a Novo Payroll expert. “We founded Check with the goal of making payroll easier for as many small businesses as possible. By partnering with Novo, we’re able to reach an even broader set of businesses, giving them the tools they need to save time and money on what is all-too-often a cumbersome task,” said Andrew Brown, co-founder and CEO of Check. “Novo has already burnished its credentials as a leading provider of financial services for small businesses. By embedding Check’s payroll, Novo is able to provide a one-stop-shop for small business financial needs.” Novo Payroll is the latest in a series of products Novo has built for its small business financial solutions platform. Recently, Novo announced a range of updates to Novo Invoices, the company’s free invoicing application that small businesses have used to receive more than $500 million in payments. Novo also announced Novo Funding, offering small businesses a fast and flexible way to access working capital. About Novo Novo Platform, Inc. (“Novo”) is the powerfully simple financial platform for small businesses. About Check Check is the leading payroll platform that pioneered the ability for companies to differentiate and open up new revenue streams by embedding payroll into their platforms. Historically, complex regulatory structures stagnated payroll innovation, making it harder for businesses to create their own payroll offerings. By building on Check’s best in class infrastructure, flexible API, and deep expertise, platforms can launch profitable payroll businesses much faster, and with little overhead or administrative burden. Since Check’s public launch in January 2021, leading vertical SaaS companies and large scale workforce management horizontal platforms have built successful payroll businesses on its infrastructure. Check’s partners collectively serve more than 250,000 businesses and over 4 million employees. Check is backed by Stripe, Thrive Capital, Index Ventures, and Bedrock.

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Workforce Management

Global Retailers Choose Dayforce to Optimize Workforce Planning and the Frontline Employee Experience

Ceridian | January 11, 2024

Ceridian a global leader in human capital management (HCM) technology, announced its upcoming retail product innovations, which highlight the company’s growing momentum in the sector. As the only solution that offers workforce management (WFM) and global payroll capabilities on a single platform, Dayforce – Ceridian’s industry-leading cloud software – helps retailers and the hospitality industry empower and retain frontline workers, increase operational agility when making staffing decisions, and enhance the employee experience. Ceridian helps more than 1,280 retailers around the world optimize their workforce and improve employee engagement, attraction, and retention, including American Dream, Buehler’s Fresh Foods, Costa Coffee, Sobeys, and SPARC Group LLC, which owns and operates leading retail brands including but not limited to Aeropostale, Brooks Brothers, Forever 21, and Reebok. “Today’s employees expect a personalized experience. Ceridian is an innovative, collaborative partner that is helping us shape the employee experience of the future,” said Julia Knox, Chief Technology & Analytics Officer, Sobeys. "Forward-thinking retail and hospitality organizations need to embrace modern technologies, like machine learning and real-time workforce intelligence, to tackle the staffing and compliance challenges their industries face,” said Jack Bennett, Vice President and Retail Solutions Advisory Lead, Ceridian. “Coupled with Dayforce Wallet, our award-winning, on-demand pay solution, Dayforce is a single holistic platform for workforce management, pay, and talent that unlocks quantifiable value and gives retail and hospitality leaders an edge to better compete - and win - with today's boundless workforce." Dayforce workforce management empowers frontline employees through schedule flexibility and a consumer-like experience, while driving agile retail operations by giving real-time workforce intelligence to managers. Continued enhancements include Forecasting Powered by Machine Learning: In an ever-changing economic landscape, retailers can reduce costs and improve productivity by leveraging the power of machine learning (ML) in its labor planning. Dayforce ML forecasting helps managers make better decisions and optimize workforce allocation by forecasting future labor requirements down to 15-minute increments and become more precise over time. Shift Marketplace: Modern workforce management provides organizations and employees with a simple, intuitive way of allowing stores and locations to share their workforce across their organization. With Shift Marketplace, employees can take on unfilled shifts at any location they choose, giving employees the flexibility to meet their financial goals while allowing managers to fill their labor demand needs without incurring additional costs to bring in outside resources. Next-Generation Labor Planning: With Dayforce, customers can bring finance and operations together during the budget and planning processes to ensure forecasting and scheduling align with corporate targets. This process is further enhanced through scalable data models, a unified experience for long- and short-term planning, and yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily workforce insights that can drill down to zone and position levels. Reimagined Time Experience: The Dayforce platform is improving the employee time experience with a human-centric user experience that prioritizes simpler workflows, simplified clocking in and out, and accessibility. For managers, the enhanced user experience highlights what is important, including unplanned labor costs, and time-sensitive insights such as no-shows, missed breaks, approaching overtime, and upcoming departures. “We are a special place to work because our engaged team members are a key differentiator for our business. With the Dayforce platform, we will be able to deliver a modern, mobile-first employee experience that enables direct communication, seamless shift bidding, and access to on-demand pay with Dayforce Wallet, which will help to differentiate Sobeys in a challenging labor market,” said Sandra Pasquini, SVP HR Operations & Systems, Sobeys. These features and enhancements will begin rolling out to customers on the Dayforce platform in 2024. About Ceridian Ceridian. Makes Work Life Better™. Ceridian HCM Holding Inc. is a global human capital management software company. Dayforce, its flagship cloud HCM platform, provides human resources, payroll, benefits, workforce management, and talent management functionality. The Dayforce platform is used to optimize management of the entire employee lifecycle, including attracting, engaging, paying, deploying, and developing people. Ceridian has solutions for organizations of all sizes.

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Encora

Encora

Headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, Encora is the preferred innovation partner to some of the world’s leading technology companies in industries such as in industries such as fast growing tech, FinTech, health tech and more. The company has been in business since 2005 and services high tech client...

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