Elevating Your Experience with Marketing Technology

Take-Aways from Sitecore Symposium 2018

Last week ICF Olson sponsored and attended Sitecore Symposium 2018 in Orlando, FL.  The two-and-a-half days filled with sessions, networking, product announcements, customer stories, fighting off a hurricane and....an acquisition announcement.  

Kicking off the event was an introduction by Mark Frost, the CEO of Sitecore, welcoming attendees to this year’s event.  As their annual user conference, Symposium brings together Sitecore's customers, prospects, and technology integrators to talk about all things marketing and customer experience.  This year’s theme is about “Elevating” the experience.  We all want to get to the top of the mountain with our customers, so what is the next level you can rise to?

The point that Mark wanted to clearly make is that no matter what you are selling, consulting, services, a product, it is the experience that makes or breaks the decision to purchase and use.  As he stated to a crowd of a few thousand attendees: 

Mark Frost - CEO, Sitecore

"...the experience is the product."

With that he jumped into some product announcements.  As with any annual event, these product enhancements are focused on solving pain points, tightening integrations, and introducing more functionality with artificial intelligence and machine learning.  They were sure to add enhancements to both of their key audiences, developers and marketers.  At the end of these short announcements Mark dropped the news that they are acquiring StyleLabs. 

Acquiring Technology to Bolster Marketer’s Needs

In a world of consolidation of MarTech vendors, platforms like Sitecore are not afraid to make acquisitions too.  Frost announced the acquisition of StyleLabs, a DAM, PIM, and Content Marketing company.  These offerings fill several voids and bolsters other features in the Sitecore Experience Platform.  For a marketer, I’d be excited about this acquisition.  DAM and Content Hub alone are going to offer opportunities to “elevate” your experiences and more importantly your marketing operations.  Being able to plan campaigns, create content, have DAM and Digital Rights Management (DRM) and portal features makes Sitecore a more complete solution.  As experience platforms evolve, having tools like this baked into your solution means less technology to bolt on and a more seamless experience in content creation.

IDC’s VP content and digital media technologies. Melissa Webster, said via the press release: 

“With Stylelabs, Sitecore controls a much broader piece of the martech stack and can help marketing streamline the delivery of seamless, personalized experiences – with full insight into what content is best suited to each individual customer. That’s the key to improving reach and engagement, converting customers, and maximizing lifetime customer value.” 

Forrester’s Mark Grannan and Nick Barber have a less exciting POV on the acquisition, while a necessity, they feel overall it isn’t a game changer.  Time will tell. 

Elevating Experience Means Elevating Your People and Processes

We’ve all heard the statement that all digital transformations are a trifecta of people, processes and technology.  Even though Sitecore Experience Platform is clearly one pillar of that formula, the majority of the conversations I had with attendees circled around the other two pillars.  In several conversations I heard “I’m a one man/woman band who is managing this solution for our company.”  Or “we have it implemented, but we know we are not using all of the functionality.  We need to move to analytics and personalization.”  While personalization and analytics end up being technical, it is really a business and process conversation that needs to take place first.  Understanding our customers to create personalization requires research, possibly new people to be responsible for the data gathering and analysis of your customers and prospects, and new processes to act on those insights.  

Focus on Your Customer

One thing is for certain when it comes to experience platforms, they give you a toolbox of solutions to focus on your customer.  In a world where we are constantly bombarded with messages, media, and interruptions, having relevance and value has never been more important.  A constant conundrum that we often see is that most experience platforms are not being fully utilized for building an experience.  They do content management for a website.  In fact, they just build websites, that are mobile responsive.  That’s not focusing on the customer.  That’s 2008 focusing on the customer.  In 2018, customer journeys, consistent experiences, and personalization is the new normal.  There were lots of sessions at Symposium that talked about this.  However, organizations are still slow to respond.  Rebuild teams to focus on your customer.  You own a platform that can do so much for you.  Make the investment in changing your organization to support the customer.  If you are stuck, reach out.  We can help.