Former Senior Analyst at Forrester Joins Elastic Path
Elastic Path waited just seven days into 2019 to set an exciting tone for their upcoming year. Today it was announced that John Bruno, former senior analyst at Forrester and lead author of Forrester’s 2018 B2B eCommerce playbook officially joined the leadership team at Elastic Path as their new Vice President of Product Management. Harry Chemko, CEO at Elastic Path is quoted as saying “He has experience our customers need and no one else has. He was the lead author of Forrester’s 2018 B2B eCommerce playbook, providing a unique lens for businesses to learn how to improve sales outcomes in today’s digital age. He has also been an advisor to the industry’s leading brands, giving him a distinct vantage point, a clear view of our competitive landscape and an ambitious vision for how we will grow to dominate this market.”
You’d think it would be tough for them to top their 2018. In May they brought “digital leader and technology evangelist” Darin Archer over to Elastic Path as their new CMO, leveraging his previous experience at IBM, Intel and Adobe to lead their marketing strategy. In June, they not only confirmed a $43M Series B growth investment but were also named a Visionary in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce. In the second half of 2018, Elastic Path announced “a new phase” in their partnership with BloomReach to launch DXP for Commerce. This was shortly before announcing a new partnership with Acquia, to bring together the power of open source content management with a headless commerce solution.
To get the full scope of this unique talent acquisition by Elastic Path, I reached out to John Bruno to hear his thoughts on the new role.
Why Elastic Path?
In the press release, John goes into detail on why, from a product sense, he chose to join the Elastic Path team. Focusing on their leading edge nature within the cloud technology landscape in connecting brands with their customers, he uses his knowledge and experience to draw parallels between the future of commerce and Elastic Path’s “technology prowess to enable it today”. With that knowledge comes time working with an incredible number of the top commerce technology vendors in the market so I was curious to know, outside of the capabilities and vision for the technology, what were the reasons John chose to join the company from an organizational standpoint?
“Elastic Path is at this wonderful inflection point—both in its history and also in a market that is going through an evolutionary period. Harry and the Elastic Path leadership team took an assertive approach to address these changes. He focused on bringing in the right people like Darin Archer as CMO, Leho Nigul as VP of Product Development, Adam Brenner as SVP of Sales, and others. That’s on top of the phenomenal talent already at Elastic Path. The enterprise software and commerce experience here are unparalleled. It’s a really exciting time, and I’m thrilled to bring my knowledge of the commerce market and the emerging requirements of today’s buyers to chart a course that cements Elastic Path as a leader in the commerce market. “
Reimagining the Commerce Market
The assertiveness John references when discussing Elastic Path’s approach in addressing the evolution of the market will be well-matched in his own experience of helping buyers think proactively about their eCommerce product choices and, reimagine their commerce and engagement models. In his new role, he will inspire the product teams to leverage his unique understanding of customer behaviors, channel partner dynamics, analyst perspectives and as his familiarity with Elastic Path’s assembly of competitors. Within their leadership model, “Bruno will be charged with continuing Elastic Path’s legacy of anticipating the next commerce evolution and leading the revolution behind it.” This differences in this new role might greatly outweigh its similarities compared to his previous time as a senior analyst at Forrester so I asked John, what are the specific elements of his experience he was most excited to bring to this new role and, what does he think the most influential factors are behind the need for brands to conceive their commerce and engagement models in a new way?
“My entire career—from consulting, to building software products, to leading Forrester’s B2B eCommerce research practice—has been spent at the intersection of business and technology. I've had the privilege of working with and advising the world's leading brands. I've worked hand in hand with these companies to create differentiated digital commerce experiences. This unfettered breadth and depth of insights were only really possible in a position like mine at Forrester. In my experience, businesses have done a good job of taking the way we purchased in the 1990s and optimizing that for the web. It's the age-old story of taking an offline process and moving it online, but as each next great experience raises the bar for all others we're left competing on the experience we deliver. It takes technology like ours at Elastic Path to break away from the traditional way of doing things and design new digital experiences and open up anything and everything as potential user interfaces to our technology, including fully autonomous ordering."
How Brands can Achieve Connected Commerce
In the press release, John also brings across the apparent notion that “we’re moving towards a future where the best digital experiences of tomorrow don’t feel like commerce -- connected commerce simply underpins everything” which is timely considering this idea was one that dominated eCommerce conversation in 2018. Even so, accommodating this into eCommerce strategy could be hard for brands and might require them to abandon a lot of their traditional ideas on how they can offer the experience the customer demands. I asked John what some of these ideas were that brands would need to let go of to truly embrace the future of connected commerce.
“If you go to most commerce sites out there, they feel similar, or at worst the same; they're meticulously managed product catalogs, shopping carts, and checkout flows. But think about when buying decisions are being made. They might be informed by beautifully designed websites, but other buying moments happen away from a computer or smartphone screen. Take buying dog food as an example. My buying decision happens when I see the bag is empty. It's a shame that most companies force buyers through a particular channel or touchpoint. Tomorrow's world will be entirely frictionless where each aspect of our lives can be commerce-enabled, and this doesn't happen by creating entirely bespoke experiences. It's our goal to facilitate businesses unlocking this limitless potential on one platform.”
If this announcement isn't just unique to the market, it is unique to me throughout my time covering industry news. It’s a smart move for Elastic Path even just to have another great thought leader on their team, especially after Hubspot shared in a 2018 report that 96% of B2B buyers want content with more input that focused around thought leadership.
On the product side, it aligns with the fact that it is becoming ubiquitously understood that as much as technology has changed eCommerce and will drive its success in 2019, its awareness on the customer side needs to recede into the shadows with only the experience hosted on each touchpoint being what matters. In the same way, marketing shouldn't feel like marketing, commerce transactions will need to feel, well, very non-transactional. It creates a tall order for product teams to deliver on this given all its intricacies while still offering users an easy to use platform that supports their productivity more than it inhibits it.
But just the same, the onus is on the vendors who understand the role of technology, experience and customers’ needs in the future of commerce to bring brands to their leading edge to help them understand what will be required of them as time moves on.