Exclusive Interviews with Sitecore Partners at Symposium 2018
By Gabriella Pirrone
December 20, 2018
Allison Abraham Simpkins, AR, brand experience, CMS, Content Management System, Content Strategy, customer experience, Customer Journey, CX, Digital Transformation, Digital Trends, IoT, Partners, sitecore, Sitecore Symposium, Valtech, voice assistants, voice search, VR
This year, at Sitecore Symposium 2018, we had the opportunity to sit down with quite a few technology partners. We were very excited to bring back many insightful stories from some of the most innovative and talented members of the Sitecore community directly from the event floor. Follow along below as I share the last two of our technology partner stories that we gathered.
Allison Abraham Simpkins, SVP, North America at Valtech
Valtech, is a global agency helping elite businesses orchestrate experiences, with a visceral investment in helping those businesses exist in what they call the economy of experience. To start things off, we were very excited to speak with Allison since their launch of a recent case study we shared with Valtech and Sitecore, but at Sitecore Symposium we saw what they were able to achieve for a non-profit organization, SickKids, an amazing organization fighting for sick children.
Their goal is to raise $1.3 billion dollars to build a new hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. With the help of Valtech, Sitecore was used to revamp their monthly donor onboarding and content to deliver personalized and relevant exclusive content to their donors. To do this, they had a 3-month onboarding journey and a 12-month donor journey showing how the donors' donations are being spent followed by an omni channel welcome package.
We were such a huge fan of the amazing case study we asked Allison what Valtech’s role was and why Sitecore was such a great fit for the project. “It has been kind of a digital transformation with them. We started about 3 years ago, prior to even the hospital build was being talked about, to re-build their digital presence. It started with a website, Sitecore got involved certainly from a CMS perspective and content relevance and personalization. Then we went on a whole donor kind of journey and really mapping out the single donors, corporate donors, middle donors and what their journey is going to be through the donation process. How are they going to understand where their money is going? How can they visualize where they are actually making change?” said Allison.
The project was a huge undertaking and as Allison says “that’s a big content strategy that came about, that’s a big digital transformation strategy because it’s not only about the donor journey it's about the internal workings of SickKids and how they function across different platforms. So the journey for SickKids was a real business transformation internally.”
There was also a special session held on Oct 10th at Symposium called “Women in Digital” where speaker, Jodi Kovitz CEO and Founder of #movethedial took the stage. #movethedial is a global movement dedicated to advancing the participation and leadership of all women in technology and as Allison mentions “is just a phenomenal organization that is all about increasing the participation and the leadership of women in tech.” The session was then followed up with the “Women in Digital Marketing and Technology” luncheon which includes “4 of us on the panel that are going to talk about our experiences in technology, why women in technology are important.” says Allison.
Tim Linberg, Chief Experience Officer at Verndale
Verndale, a customer experience agency, helps marketing and technology leaders connect the dots of the consumer journey. To that note, Verndale launched an annual report, NECXT, which explores the key technologies shaping the future of customer experience. To start, I wanted to hear more from Tim about the offerings and technologies the report focused on: “It’s a look at where technology is going in the next 3-5 years and how’s that going to affect customer expectations and inform the customer experience broadly” said Tim.
Tim then went on to discuss the key takeaways of the report and said: “Change is hard. It takes companies a long time to transform, a lot of people talk about digital transformation but it’s not a simple light switch where ‘we do voice now or okay, we understand machine learning now’. It’s a 3-5 year process. So we looked at the next 3-5 years purposely about where is the technology going, what does evolution look like and what do companies actually need to do now not even just to lead in the front in terms of their competitive set but to keep pace with where technology is going.”
The report was a joint partnership between Digital Clarity Group, a research and advisory firm, as the “futurist partner” and also with independent research firm, Vanson Bourne. When it comes to adapting all these types of technologies, organizations don’t really have a choice and as mentioned in the survey, which I was lucky enough to snag a copy of “respondents understand the stakes. 84% agree that their organization must improve the customers experience over the next three to five years if they are to remain competitive.”
Tim goes on to explain this notion and emphasized that “whether you’re in B2B manufacturing or you’re in healthcare, or you're Nike, the expectation is going to be I can talk to products and machinery and software and it will understand me and give me information. If I hold up my phone to something it’s going to give me another information layer as part of that experience. Everything I touch all day is going to be connected and there’s going to be data flowing back and forth and I want to be in charge of that data and that’s really daunting for any company.
Very few companies are far enough along in that evolution to sit on their hands at this point so the big implication for me is if customers expect this and brands aren’t solving for it now, by the time they start focusing on this it’s going to be too late.”
SAP Co-Founder, Carsten Thoma, Joins Sitecore Board of Directors
With 2019 quickly approaching, companies are looking to expand their onboarding to ramp up for the New Year. With that said, it was just announced that industry visionary Carsten Thoma joined the Sitecore board to lend his expertise for their ever growing business.
The press release mentioned that Thoma “played an instrumental role in defining the market for omnichannel customer experience technologies with hybris AG, the company he co-founded in 1997 and sold to SAP in 2013 in the latter’s bid to expand its enterprise commerce and digital marketing capabilities amidst tightening competition with Salesforce and Oracle.”
Thoma commented on his appointment and stated “while at hybris and, later, SAP, I always admired Sitecore’s willingness to disrupt itself to deliver innovative technology that transforms the customer experience. Sitecore’s release of the first content management-based digital marketing platform was a revolutionary move and today the company has a recognized leadership position in a market full of opportunity. I’m honored to join the board and excited to support the thousands of Sitecore customers who rely on us to help them achieve their most ambitious and strategic digital initiatives.”
To circle back to Tim’s conversation above, the next 3-5 years will focus heavily on AI, AR, IoT, VR and voice as mentioned in the report. Organizations should be advancing their current initiatives or at least getting a jump start on these technologies if they haven’t yet.
“The survey findings paint a picture of optimism regarding adoption and effective use, with 93% of respondents saying they currently use one or more of the NEXCT technologies to enhance CX. Furthermore, they give themselves high marks on the effective use of these technologies. At the same time, however, 82% say their CX strategies are flawed, primarily in areas related to the use of customer data and feedback, and underinvestment in people, process, and technology. Only 12% believe they’re not using the correct technology adoption findings imply. However, 80% believe that there’s room for improvement in their utilization of those technologies.”
If you haven’t read the report yet, I highly recommend that you download it. Find out more about the “synergy that can happen when IoT and voice tech are integrated, when AI and AR work together, when VR and AR combine” and how to truly personalize those experiences. If you have any questions about the report, please do not hesitate to reach out to us as well!
Gabriella is the Digital Marketing Assistant for CMSC Media. She brings a wealth of knowledge from not only a CMS perspective but also content, SEO and eCommerce. She enjoys everything social media and staying ontop of the latest trends in the digital marketing world.