PAW 2019 Conference Series – Lawrence Cowan – Cicero Group

Welcome to the 2019 Predictive Analytics World (PAW) Conference Series. Recorded live in Las Vegas, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Lawrence Cowan, Senior Partner and COO of Cicero Group.

Find Lawrence Online:



Cicero Group


Hi, I’m Jamin.  You’re listening to the Happy Market Research Podcast.  My guest today is Lawrence. He is a partner at Cicero Group.  We are live at Predictive Analytics World, Marketing Analytics World.  There’s eight worlds. I forget all the worlds, but we’re covering a gamut of health care, etc. etc.  Welcome to the show, Lawrence.


Thanks, appreciate it.  Thanks for having me.


Yeah, of course.  You guys are exhibiting here.


We are.


What do you think about the show?


It’s been a great experience so far.  I’ve been to three or four of these, and they get larger every year.  I think the organizers do a great job putting on the event. And the topics continue to expand as well.  So far, our interactions with the audience have been very engaging: great questions, hard questions. But we’ve enjoyed it so far.  


That’s great.  So, tell me a little bit about Cicero group.  What do you guys do?


You bet.  So, Cicero Group is a full-service management consulting company.  We emphasize in data analytics and data strategy. Our roots were actually in market research.  And so, we identified the value of data early on in the strategic projects we were working on. And so, we leveraged primary market research in a lot of our work and have continued to expand that into more strategic transformation strategy, advanced analytics work as well.


That’s great.  One of the terms I’ve been hearing recently at this conference (I’ve never heard it before) is data diversity.  And I think that you’re hitting on that exact point, right? It’s about the primary data that’s collected and then really trying to triangulate truth even though sometimes it’s a lot more than three points.


It really is.  Yeah, so, bringing new data to the table is critical in all the projects we work on.  Primary research happens to be a big one but, again, a lot of the topics people are talking about at the conference today are other sources of data:  secondary data, partner data. There’s so many opportunities with leveraging data these days.    


Got it.  Talk to me about who an ideal customer is.


That’s a great question.  So, we serve a broad spectrum of industries and business functions.  I think our sweet spot, I would say, is more in the sales and marketing and insights and analytics functions within organizations.  And if you look at the services we’re offering, I think there’s a lot of value being provided to organizations that have RN-subscription-type businesses whether that’s SAS or even in B-to-C subscription-type businesses because our expertise is really in understanding the customer journey and finding those opportunities across the customer journey to improve that experience.


Do you have a favorite customer story?


That’s a great question.  There’s a lot, but one that comes to mind…  This one is actually from a few years back. One of our large clients a few years back was Groupon.  This was pre-IPO days.


I actually worked with them pre-IPO days.   


Oh, you did.  Maybe we crossed paths.  You never know, yeah. So, at that time, Groupon didn’t have an insights function.  And so, we were brought in through a partnership to help them set up their customer and merchant feedback system globally.  I’m going to forget the number of countries and languages, but it was in the 20s and 30s of countries and languages that we designed their customer and merchant feedback system that has been critical to their growth and evolution as a company over time.  So, that was a really exciting one. And towards the tail end of our engagement, we helped to facilitate them bringing in an insights manager that took over the program that we helped to build and ran with it from there.  


You don’t remember the person’s name, do you?


Uhm, Eric Rasmussen.


I totally know Eric.


You do.


I know him well.  It’s so funny.  


That’s great.


Yeah, that is…  Small world…


So, I was on site in Chicago for six months prior to Eric being there.  And then, I… 


Yeah, ‘cause he was in the Bay Area.


Yeah, he was at uh…  Shoot, I forget where he was at in the Bay Area.


I think he was working out of Palo Alto.


Yeah, yeah, anyway so we crossed paths for about two months in the transition.


Gosh, yeah, I remember when he moved over to Chicago.


And I think he’s still there, right?


Yeah, to my knowledge he is.  I haven’t connected with him in over a year.  That’s great. That is hilarious. So, it sounds like you’re operating in this really important sweet spot where you think about companies setting up trip wires if they’re in a premium model, opportunities to be able to upsell or add value to their user base.  As enterprise sales are looking a lot more like B2C historically has, which I’m seeing, it feels like you guys are operating in this great kind of growth space. Is that what your…? 


Yeah, I think so.  I agree with your point.  The way companies and customers, whether it’s B2B or B2C, are buying is evolving.  They’re much more empowered; their voices are louder; they have more control, more just overall experience.  And that’s critical because it changes how a company goes to market.  




It changes how they price; it changes the whole customer journey from the experience to how you support them, how you service them, how you try to upsell them.  It’s evolving just because of the power that the end-customer has now. And so, for us, that’s a huge opportunity because it’s an opportunity to remind companies that, “You need to listen to your customer – whether it’s a B2B or it’s a partner, whomever it may be – you need to listen because they have a lot of power and you need to evolve around that to ensure that you can retain them as a customer.”  


Yeah, exactly.  It used to be the case companies were who they said they were, and now it’s they are who their customer says they are. 


That’s right.


And the customer has a freakin’ mega microphone that they can project that voice across their constituents.


And they have options.  It’s not just the voice.  There are getting fewer and fewer companies that can truly say they are uniquely different.  Not that that doesn’t exist today but there are so many opportunities for clients to go somewhere else. 


And, you know customer journey mapping is still really hard.  It’s one of those things where it’s easy to kind of conceptualize how it’s going to go on a map, but it’s getting more and more complex.  Like we’re not just email marketing anymore. In fact, email is probably a diminished sort of like focus.


Absolutely.  One area of expertise that we have is in that customer journey mapping.  And the critical piece of that is, again, thinking about it as a journey and not the touch points, right, and understanding the origination and the ultimate synthesis of where that journey is going to take customers and ensuring that you can measure the important parts of that journey because not every single touch point is critical in terms of measuring and making changes to the business.  You need to ensure that you’re monitoring the right touch points.     


Yeah, got it.  That’s fascinating.  If somebody wants to get in contact Lawrence either with yourself or someone else at Cicero Group, how would they do that? 


You bet.  You can find us on the web at  They’re welcome to reach out to me directly, which is LCowan, C-O-W-A-N, as well. 


It is an honor having you on the podcast.  Thanks so much for joining me.


You bet.  Happy to be here.


Everybody else, if you found value in this episode, please take the time (15 seconds) screen capture, share it on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, don’t care).  Love if you take the time and effort to do that. Hope you found it valuable; I certainly did. Have a great rest of your day.