Intent, Identification, and the Shift to Working from Home, Q&A with Viral Bajaria, CTO of 6sense

April 3, 2020 Maureen West

Work these days is...different.  Where do I sit for a conference call? Is the dog doing something ….uh...camera-appropriate? When is the cat going to make a surprise landing on the keyboard? And the kids! Juggling work, family time, and other responsibilities with grace requires exercising new skills and creativity.

The transition to working from home has impacted many people, and a few of our customers have asked whether it has also had an impact on 6sense’s ability to capture intent data and identify accounts. Capturing intent and identifying accounts is arguably more critical than ever, as targeting the right account is critical to the success of account-based sales and marketing programs—and every point difference in match rates directly equals a significant percentage of accounts you can’t reach. Vendors with lower match rates may have been sufficient in the past, but with more people working from home it’s critical to ensure you have the best match rates possible.  

To tackle these key questions about intent and account identification in the current climate, we’ve pulled in Viral Bajaria, Chief Technology Officer at 6sense.

Q: Have you noticed any changes to intent data in the past few weeks?

A: As people are adjusting to taking care of kids at home, e-learning, trying to work outside the office, and in some cases dealing with layoffs, business stoppages, or slowdowns, we are seeing that overall business-related traffic is down by ~10% across the network of websites we monitor.

We have also seen a shift in what people are researching. Understandably, people are searching for information related to Coronavirus, COVID-19, and what is happening in their immediate hometown and state. There is higher consumption of news, healthcare,  etc., of approximately 15-20%.

As greater numbers of people work from home, our patented Company Graph is analyzing new data and mapping new IP addresses to the appropriate work accounts. And sometimes, there is noise included in that data, like when more than one person is working from home using the same internet service to access different work accounts.  When this occurs, our Graph uses probability to select the appropriate account to map.

The Graph continually adjusts to new inputs, learns new patterns, and filters out noise to ensure our customers maintain business continuity; it’s designed to quickly adapt to constantly changing signals under any circumstances. And we’re already seeing examples of the Graph adapting to more people working from home. For example, when we take a look at the San Francisco Bay Area, where working from home was prevalent prior to COVID-19, we have seen an increase in match rates even as more people are now working remotely.  

Q: Why is continuous learning important?

A: The 6sense Company Graph is always learning and it’s now more critical than ever as work situations evolve and adapt.

In many industries, working outside the office has been commonplace for years. Tech industry employees regularly work from home, on airplanes, in hotels, and in coffee shops. As a person moves around, their IP address changes . Our platform adjusts for these changes by pulling in several additional markers to help match signals to an account.

For industries that traditionally haven’t had the opportunity for staff to work outside the office, our Graph typically mapped the account using primarily the corporate IP address. Now, with more variations in IP address data as remote working spreads across industries, our Graph deploys available secondary marker information, like cookies and mobile advertising IDs, to triangulate data connections.

In simple terms, our Company Graph learns by noticing a location and then continuing to notice that same location. As discussed above, the Graph uses additional markers to sift through the noise so that confidence in the match rate remains consistent. Given the amount of signals we track, we don’t map every signal all the time, but we have observed accuracy over 85%. 

Q: How big of a factor is the use of VPNs in matching accounts? When people work from home, can 6sense match intent for people who are not on a VPN?

A:  While companies can and do use VPN for company resources, 6sense does not need someone to be on a VPN to match accounts. Since the early days of 6sense, we’ve mapped non-corporate locations to businesses, and as a result we have never lost a match test against a competitor.

Even though many employees use a VPN to access company resources, most companies limit the types of activities routed through the VPN. If you access your company intranet, data center or cloud resources then that traffic is routed through VPN. But when you are browsing the internet for memes or the news, that traffic is not routed through the VPN to reduce the load on the VPN tunnel.

If a user or company uses a Cloud VPN (hosted solution), 6sense tends to ignore these types of IP addresses, as they are difficult to verify and susceptible to deception, for example, they could be associated with a bot crawling the internet, and our Graph focuses instead, on more reliable data. 

Thanks to Viral for helping us understand how 6sense’s technology is rapidly adapting to these changing times to continue to provide robust intent data and account identification services. If you’d like to compare your current vendor’s match rates against 6sense’s capabilities, we invite you to take the match test.

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