Sitecore Executives Discuss Momentum and Trajectory
Sitecore Symposium 2019 offered a fantastic opportunity to gain insights from the most influential minds in the Sitecore ecosystem. From keynotes to sessions, to our one-on-one interviews, there was an abundance of shared knowledge and illuminations into the current happenings at Sitecore.
Some of my favorite moments at the event were sitting down with two Women of Sitecore, Paige O’Neill, CMO, and Desta Price, SVP of Product Management. Both of these women wonderfully articulated the current initiatives that Sitecore is carrying out and its future direction.
Our CMS-Connected video interview captures our exclusive, in-depth conversations with Paige and Desta, along with clips from Sitecore CEO Mark Frost’s opening keynote, where he touched upon the human connection and shared some exciting developments at Sitecore.
Mark Frost kicked off the conference by presenting his opening keynote to a full house. Within the first few minutes, he made it clear that Sitecore is focused on offering the best-personalized customer experiences possible. Customer experience is king in the space right now, and Sitecore fully recognizes that fact. They made it known what and how they intend to bring to the table in the coming new year.
Customer Experience and the Human Connection
"Providing a good experience leads to higher customer engagement,” Mark relayed to the audience. His keynote emphasized that with strong customer experience, brands will see higher engagement, which will result in a competitive advantage. Memorable experiences connect with customers in a meaningful way; creating these experiences is Sitecore’s goal.
Taking in Mark’s keynote clarified Sitecore’s aspirations as they move into next year, as well as the current objectives they have in the works. These revelations inspired some of the questions I wanted to ask Paige O’Neill and Desta Price when we sat down for a great confab at the event. Both Paige and Desta are somewhat newer to the Sitecore team, with Paige capping off her first year and a half working for the digital experience vendor, and Desta completing nine months. “It’s been an exciting experience from a growth perspective it's always fun to come into a company that’s growing quickly,” said Paige about her time with Sitecore thus far.
Both Paige and Desta bring a collective wealth of knowledge and years of experience to their roles. It was really interesting to hear about their tenure with the company to date and listen to their perspectives on Sitecore’s initiatives.
Symposium’s premise was ‘human connection in a digital world’, and we wanted to know more about what that truly meant from a direct Sitecore viewpoint. “How do we take inclusion as part of everything and how do we use that as a driver to ensure that were feeding all of the different audiences out there and enabling brands to do the same thing,” posed Desta Price. “How do we really take that emotional human touch and enable it through the technology that we have.” The digital experience industry is about more than just technology; it is about how technology can benefit brands and final customers.
“Meaningful experiences are both personalized and personal. Personalized in ways that show you know who I am and personal in a way that shows you know what I care about,” stated Mark Frost in his keynote. “When brands deliver meaningful experiences that are personalized and personal, we have an experience that matters to us.”
Personalization goes hand-in-hand with customer experiences and the human connection. When brands can connect to customers on a personal level, they create improved experiences for their customers.
Paige O’Neill pointed out that the conference and its message underscored that it wasn’t only about human connection to end-users, but also those of us in the industry as well. “We’re digital technology leaders, but at the end of that day, we’re all people trying to make connections, and that’s why we’re building customer experiences,” said Paige. Being at the event to explore innovations and glean first-hand what our peers in the industry are doing is a human connection. “I think these experiences are powerful, and I think that when we create them organically and kind of have these moments in time it can be very powerful,” said Paige.
No doubt that the connections made at Sitecore Symposium will foster inspiration and ingenuity within the industry.
“Even in a digital world, Humans still have that need to connect.” — Mark Frost
The Announcement of Sitecore as a Service
Sitecore made waves by announcing their transition to a SaaS-based platform. It was a hot topic at the event, and representatives from the Sitecore executive team were eager to talk about it. The new SaaS platform promises easily automated upgrades and full integration with a content hub. Sitecore is pushing for a summer 2020 launch date and assures that partnerships will continue to thrive under this platform.
“Our new SaaS offering will include the simplicity of a modern elegant interface, [and] the agility that we associate with SaaS. It will be much easier and faster for your teams to build digital experiences while at the same time providing the flexibility for partners and customers to create differentiated experiences,” explained Mark Frost about the new SaaS framework. “AI as a service across the platform built-in. You’ll be able to predict behavior, act on data, and serve up the right content in real-time automatically.”
Sitecore believes that this change is vital for the success of its platform in the future. It is a way for Sitecore customers to always be up to date with the latest technologies and offerings within their digital experience. This evolution to stay current repositions Sitecore beyond a simple WCM into a broader digital experience platform in keeping with where the industry is headed.
“If you look at, for example, the Gartner Magic Quadrant for WCM... we’ve been in a leadership position for ten years. It’s pretty crowded at the top because it’s a mature market versus the digital experience market [that] is still very much forming and emerging,” Paige tells me. “So, Sitecore wants to be a leader in the markets of today and the markets of the future, and so from our perspective, it's about DX and building out that platform.”
When discussing how this change might affect Sitecore’s partners, Desta clarified to us, “We want to ensure that as we go to this SaaS platform that we’re still providing brands the ability to extend the platform to meet their specific needs and we need our partners to help us on that journey because we can't do that alone. And so, making sure that we’re providing that system for our partners to leverage and help those brands get there is really important.”
Not only will its new SaaS solution allow for enterprise-level companies to personalize and keep features up to date with the latest systemization, but also new technologies and features will be implemented at a much faster rate. “We want to kind of democratize that approach to tech so that it doesn’t have to be a multi-year multi-million-dollar investment for companies... and the way we have to do that is through SaaS. Because I think we’ve got to get to a point where we're able to have the modern cloud-based architecture to be able to deliver the innovation. Make it dramatically easier to get up and running and migrate more quickly and have access to the features as they evolve without having to take a step back and think about oh we have to migrate to this version, that's going to take 18 months,” Paige told us.
Alongside the conversion to SaaS was the announcement of Sitecore AI. The innovation will empower marketers to have enhanced discernments into their demographic. “We’ve announced auto personalization being the first step in our journey on Sitecore AI which allows companies through really a click of a button to say, hey go out and test to figure out what those segments are so we can personalize for the segments based on that experience,” says Desta Price.
Desta assured us that Sitecore has appropriate intentions with the data collected from this AI functionality, in compliance with GDPR. “We’re very conscious of the data that we’re collecting and making sure that we’re providing the tools for customers to make decisions based on who they're selling to and where they're actually located, and how they manage that data.”
“I think it’s going to be an easier world for everyone.” — Paige O’Neill
Digital Experience for the People
When it came to the speakers at Symposium, Sitecore was focused on achieving an even ratio of female to male presenters. Sitecore is committed to the women in the tech community and strives to have everyone represented in their business. “I think that over the years we’ve made a concerted effort to embrace the women in tech community, internally and externally,” says Paige, an advocate for women in tech. “We want to be representative of what's happening in the real world, and the fact of the matter is that when you think about consumer buying and purchasing and customer experiences, a lot of the people these experiences are being created for are women.”
The exhibition showcased a diverse group of attendees and speakers, with the feeling of inclusivity and human connection present throughout. It augmented the initiatives Sitecore is presently working on through their platform. Sitecore is striving to empower brands to create human connections with their customers through content and personalization.
We're looking forward to seeing how this new SaaS model will transform Sitecore in 2020.
“Our goal is to give you the ability to create an emotional connection between your brand and your customers so that you can form a lifelong relationship with them, and that gives you a competitive advantage.” — Mark Frost
Find more interviews from Sitecore Symposium 2019 here.