‘The Desire to Innovate’ – And a Newly Hired Math Whiz – Are Shaping Kline’s Digital Evolution

‘The Desire to Innovate’ – And a Newly Hired Math Whiz – Are Shaping Kline’s Digital Evolution

By Lance Debler

 

Kline & Company’s digital team is breaking brand-new ground, with an ample assist from its new head of Predictive Analytics Center of Excellence, Max Kaye. And if you ask the London native, he’ll tell you that his innovative ideas — along with an affinity for algorithms — first began to surface when he was just seven years old. 

“Even in elementary school, my best subject was math,” says Kaye, who joined Kline in April.  “I studied it at university, and I went on to get a master’s degree in mathematics.” 

So how did 1+1 = computer programming? 

“Eventually, I thought, ‘Okay — what do I want to do with this?’” Kaye recalls. “And the fields that were coming up at the time were data, programming, and coding. So I went away and did research on my own. I taught myself a lot of the coding that's required behind the scenes.” 

Before long, Kaye was snapped up by a market research agency in London, where he served as an analyst. But his boss took note of his talents and asked him if he’d like to build a forecasting model. 

“I spent around four months building the model that we could then take to the market,” he recalls. “I was building all the algorithms in the background, building the dashboards, building out how we would market this to our customers at a top-line level.  Over time, that forecasting model was taken out across the entire business. I spent four-and-a-half years there, developing and refining models. By the end, I was very much in a consulting role — pitching for new business, along with selling the forecasting models and other analytical products.” 

He eventually moved on to a new job, taking with him a massive amount of experience and an important contact – at that first job, he’d met Francis Taloen, now Kline’s Vice President of Digital Innovation. 

“After I had been at the new company for about a year, Francis got in touch with me,” Kaye remembers. “He said, ‘Kline is doing something similar to what you’ve done — do you want to come on board?”

The rest is, as they say, history…in the making.

Max Kaye“Forecasting is a part of what I'm doing,” he says. “We have back-end databases where the historic data is stored; I build out the algorithms in a programming language that then sucks in that data, analyzes it, and predicts the future value based on the different algorithms that are built, producing a forecast for future years. But I’ve got license to create and think of new products — I have an objective to create new analytical products that build on the data that we already have in-house, whether that be interacting with third-party companies or creating things from scratch.” 

Among Kline’s latest projects: intelligence centers for different industries. 

“They’re an online subscription portal,” Kaye says. “A client can log in and access all the information that they've subscribed to in one overarching view – reports, articles, plus both historical and forecast data.” 

One example is the newly launched Professional Hair Care Intelligence Center, an always-on digital platform that collects information from more than 500,000 vetted industry sources – industry publications, trade associations, social media, and over 1,500 brand websites – that is then curated by Kline’s industry experts. The IC tracks new products by category, geography, and brand; the biggest trends by products, consumers, salons, and stylists; and the latest news that provides competitive intelligence. A market analyzer features Kline’s proprietary data at a glance, and the IC is fully customizable for the specific needs of any client.

A Personal Mobility Intelligence Center, with curated industry data across the mobility eco-system, will debut soon, while another forecasting model is being built. And there’s much more in store. “We've talked with third-party companies about e-commerce tracking, scraping data from websites to help clients understand the price points for different products, the ingredients contained within them, and the positive or negative sentiment consumers give in reviews,” Kaye says. “All of this information will help companies understand emerging trends in the market, and they can then refine their marketing to target the right people. We have other ideas in the pipeline too, such as NLP algorithms, which is natural language processing. We’re coming up with new, innovative analytical products that are a point of differentiation when it comes to other companies.”

And speaking of others, Kaye says he’s noticed several differences between Kline and its peers.

“A lot of companies are on a shoe-string budget, and they have the same mentality: ‘Even though we know it's the wrong thing to do, we're going to carry on working in Excel spreadsheets because it's what we've done all of our lives and it's cheaper,’” Kaye says. “But there’s a desire to innovate and get the most cutting-edge products possible at Kline. It’s a real culture within the company, and it’s very refreshing. Everyone I've met has been super-collaborative and is willing to get involved with everything – they’re not just paying lip service.”

Picture2 2That collaboration, Kaye notes, is fostered by Chairman & CEO Joe Tarantola.   

“Before joining Kline, I had a few calls with him,” Kaye says. (Kaye recently joined members of Kline’s Digital team to celebrate the wedding of Nikhil Sahay, Technical Platform Manager. In the photo on the right are Sahay; Francis Taloen, Vice President of Digital Innovation; Kaye; Anurag Srivastava, Technical Product Manager; and Rajnish Kumar, Technical Infrastructure Manager) “Joe was really keen to get all of this going, so this push, these initiatives – it’s all coming from the top down.”

And while he admits that those initiatives are numerous, Kaye says he's “quite confident” about undertaking the challenge. 

“It's an awesome opportunity, and I'm thrilled to work on this innovation,” he says. “I can’t say that I have any apprehensions – I’m more excited than anything else.”

 

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