Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Interview with Victor Thu, Digitate’s Global Head Of Product Marketing

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1- Hello Victor, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Let me start off with something fun. In my spare time, I love to take friends and family in a small propeller plane flying around the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s a great way to relax and to spend time with loved ones.

Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to be working on cutting-edge, disruptive technologies. Over time, that has become one of my core expertizes where I introduced new products into the marketplace.

Today, I lead the marketing and product marketing organization for an AI (artificial intelligence) startup called Digitate. We build a unique AI solution that not only provides critical insights but also automate various IT tasks.

I built the marketing organization from scratch where I recruited a team of rock stars marketers and product marketers. We are firing on all cylinders executing key initiatives to drive market penetration.

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Just recently, I led the successful launch of our AI solution in Japan by collaborating closely with multiple stakeholders here in the USA and in Japan.

Before Digitate, I was with VMware leading the creation of a combined mobility and desktop solution called Workspace ONE where we grew sales from zero to $30M within the first year.

I’ve also spent about 3 years managing product marketing for VMware and Citrix in Asia Pacific. My unique business culture acumen on Asia Pacific and Japan allowed me to navigate in the region and successfully accelerated market growth for both companies.

2- What are your focus areas and why?
I have always been extremely passionate about technology, it’s in my blood. If you cut me up, you might see me bleed tech.

People often get intimidated with technology because they do not understand how it works. I want to make technology more accessible to people. I translate complex technical concepts into languages that everyone can understand.

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There’s also been a bit of fear mongering on the topic of AI and machine learning. It is important to demystify these topics as they are not as scary as some made them out to be.

We have always heard about how technology changes have been much faster in the last decade compared to the last century. From that, we have experienced improvement in various parts of our life. I strongly believe AI further accelerate technology advancement that leads to unprecedented improvement in the quality of life.

I will work on making AI and machine learning accessible, demystifying the fear and misconceptions. Showing how one can already use AI to solve real business challenges today.

3- How do you describe your journey in few words?
My career journey what I’d like to describe as “constant renewals.” I pick the word renewal because, at every stage, I get recharged and have a fresh outlook on how I want to tackle various challenges.

I started out in engineering. My very first renewal was shifting from engineering to product management/product marketing. Then to a business administration/finance role where I have a direct budgetary responsibility of multiple products as well as a training organization. I got “renewed” once again where I was assigned to Hong Kong to run product marketing in Asia Pacific for over three years.

4- Can you tell us about “Digitate”?
Digitate was launched in June 2015 with an AI solution focusing on solving IT operational challenges.

The key benefits we provide with our solution is the ability to rapidly identify application and IT outages in a matter of minutes. The solution establishes the interdependencies between the application and the underlying infrastructure, allowing it to quickly pinpoint probably causes for outages.

Not only can our AI identify problems rapidly, it can also remediate the issue autonomously. This is done without IT having to write crude deterministic scripts that cannot adapt to frequent changes in the IT environment.

5- Where do you think you are making an impact?
When I first started out at Digitate, I realized we needed to rapidly build a world-class yet nimble marketing organization. Since there are limited resources at a small startup, it’s important to come up with innovative strategies to drive penetration.

One of the first impacts was on helping the leadership team understand what marketing is all about. In addition to making things look good and telling great stories, you have to take care of the other marketing fundamental including the data component.

The other elements of marketing include driving important measurable metrics including demand generation, MQLs (marketing qualified leads), SQLs (sales qualified leads), sales pipeline, product messaging and positioning, digital experience, and more.

I am also directly responsible for go-to-market strategies where we focused in on the key value proposition of our solution and honed in on the target market. This has enabled us to accelerate our success in the marketplace.

6- What were some of the biggest challenges you encountered while working on “Digitate”?
Even though the notion of AI has been around for 50 years or more, it managed to once again capture the imagination of people. One of the biggest challenges that we are facing is in educating the market about AI. Over the last 18 months, we have observed over 300 new startups in AI. Some of the talking points are confusing. Even worse, you have companies that tagged on AI in their marketing materials despite not having any AI in their solutions.

We are a small startup so we are constantly having to come up with new ways to break out from the crowd. Even though we have done well in a number of areas, there’s still a lot that we need to work on.

7- Where do you see artificial intelligence in the next 5 years?
In 5 years, I expect that most technology products will have AI built in by default. Product companies that resist will find themselves disrupted and worse disappeared. There’s simply too much data around us and the most viable solution is to leverage AI and automation.

So I would expect in 5 years, people instead of fearing AI would instead be asking why doesn’t so-and-so product include AI? It will be like internet access, people come to expect of it. If you don’t already know, we are in fact carrying an AI with us on a daily basis. It’s called our smartphone. Apple has its Siri, Android has Google. We are already interacting with AI regularly.

There’s a lot of great advancement in AI thanks to companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and others. They have essentially made AI accessible to any developers. If you want to build the next generation app or solution, you can literally do that in less than an hour.

We can also expect to see major AI development coming from three major countries: USA, China, and Russia. Today, you are seeing a tremendous amount of innovations at all levels coming from these countries. It wouldn’t surprise me to see these three countries dominate the development of AI.

8- What can you tell young people who are pursuing their dreams?
Be persistent: Don’t settle, don’t give up, don’t give in!

It’s something that has carried me well throughout my life. Once you are persistently focused in pursuing a goal, you will look for different ways to achieve that goal.

You will definitely run into roadblocks in getting to your dreams. The key is to not give up and keep at it. Don’t come up with excuses on why you cannot do it. Be creative and discover new ways to remove those roadblocks.

We all hear voices in our head making excuses on how we are unable to do certain things before we even try. We have to work on getting rid of those excuses, instead, we need to think “what can I do to remove this barrier.”

You will also hear from a lot of naysayers telling how you do not have what it takes to get to your dreams. First, hear them out to see if they have constructive suggestions on how you can address those deficiencies. Otherwise, don’t worry about what they think.

So you will run into setbacks, they can be significant ones. But be persistent, keep at it. Find creative ways to chip at those roadblocks one at a time.

9- What are you most excited about at the moment?
We are always working on creative marketing ideas to drive funnel. We are in the middle of experimenting with a very cost-effective thought leadership campaign leveraging the media. We are very excited about this campaign and if it turns out to be successful, it would become a key arsenal in our future demand gen campaigns.

We see people heavily favoring interactive content over text. Therefore, we just acquired a SaaS (software as a service) solution that allows us to build interactive content. This is an area that I’m quite excited about as we can quickly execute on content and monitor how they perform and make the necessary quickly.

10- The last word or final thoughts?
As you and I grow in our career, it is important to be humble and give back.

Lend a hand to someone seeking for help and advice. Freely share best practices that you have learned over the years. Be generous with your knowledge.

Do recognize that the younger generations will have better ideas to tackling challenges. Be humble and to learn from them. I was fortunate earlier in my career, I had executives who would take time to listen and embrace ideas that I have.

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Noelle Elia
Noelle Elia
is a Financial analyst at PSPC. Graduated from Telfer School of Management, Finance/Accounting with interest to Entrepreneurship and New Media.
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