Sitecore Customers Discuss Scalability and Personalization
Last month, as some of you may recall, we, the CMS-Connected team, attended Sitecore’s four-day annual global user event, Sitecore Symposium 2017. While all the attendees were expertly informed of best practices, business use cases, strategies, and trends in digital transformation, we brought back so many insightful stories from some of the most innovative and talented members of the huge enthusiastic Sitecore community. As we already began sharing some of that wisdom with all of you through the exclusive video interviews with Sitecore’s two seasoned executives, Joe Henriques and Ryan Donovan, it is time to continue to share the wisdom from the other side of the table! When we were at the event, we also interviewed many customers and their Sitecore solution partners to provide our audience the 360-degree view of content management implementation projects. Here are some of the customer stories we collected:
Delaware North Scales and Personalizes Websites through A Component-Based Approach
Delaware North manages and provides food and beverage concessions, premium dining, entertainment, lodging, and retail at many large venues and special places. These include sports stadiums, entertainment complexes, national and state parks, airports, and casinos. It is ranked as one of the world’s largest privately held companies by Forbes magazine. At Sitecore Symposium, I had an opportunity to chat with Maria Corrales Director, Digital Marketing at Delaware North Companies and David Kilimnik, Hero Digital CEO.
Before implementing Sitecore, Delaware North, one of the world’s largest hospitality management companies serving national and state parks & resorts, was seeking a digital solution to improve the customer experience of their resort websites. To accomplish this goal, the organization decided to leverage Sitecore’s component-based, content management system, to make sure each website maintained its property’s unique brand, while offering a flexible way to customize and launch new sites as needed.
According to Hero Digital, as a result of the implementation, Delaware North has complete flexibility for updating, expanding, testing and managing content locally, while allowing the larger organization to manage everything within a single CMS platform. As far as marketing initiatives go, Maria indicated that they also utilize Sitecore to deliver personalized experiences online in an effort to drive more foot traffic to their hotels and casinos.
It certainly represents a huge challenge for an organization to manage its content across 60 different websites from various verticals, however, the challenge Delaware North was facing wasn’t only that but also the inability to create a collaborative environment between the local marketing teams and the corporate marketing teams. According to Maria and David, one of the main drives behind their selection of Sitecore’s platform was its capability to meet the needs of the company’s marketing organizations.
Since we were discussing how to address the marketing needs through Sitecore, I wanted to pick David’s brain on the new version of Sitecore’s platform from the marketing capabilities standpoint. He believes “the new version is the right evolution and focus for Sitecore as with this recent upgrade, Sitecore customers will get the basic HTML serving features without having to need advanced customer experience features that they need.” On that note, Maria indicated that the Delaware North team is excited to discover more on the new features powered by machine learning and data insights.
David also stressed what a fully-equipped and easy to implement solution Sitecore is by telling another customer story as an example. He said that they were able to completely redesign new websites for Nerium International, a beauty and skincare company, in less than 6 months as the brand needed a new site, one with unified architecture and e-Commerce capabilities, to deploy sites for their eight international locations.
Neenah’s Digital Transformation Journey
Although Neenah Papers, was the first paper company to market with a website, due to the rapid Digital Transformation happening around the company and the industry, the brand quickly became swept away and came to the point where its website simply didn’t match the company’s offline brand identity. However, fortunately, the story hasn’t ended there as the company managed to breathe new life into the brand through the key marketing initiatives. But before getting ahead of myself, I would like to share our video interview with Jamie Saunders, Senior Marketing Communications Manager at Neenah and Andrew Crowder, Director, Digital Marketing Solutions at RDA Corporation as they explain how Sitecore helped the brand grapple with the rapid change and expansion over time.
Neenah is a premium paper and packaging company or how Jamie puts it, “the brand you see every day but you might not recognize what you are looking at.” The company provides high-end spirits, wine, and craft beer brands such as Maker’s Mark with premium custom labels and bottle packaging. Its fine paper and packaging business is focused on the creation and manufacturing of graphics imaging with high-end commercial printing applications, whereas its technical products business is focused more on producing filtration media and other durable, saturated, and coated substrates for a variety of end markets. As Jamie shared in the video, the company has recently been working with Amazon to offer its environmentally cautious customer base a selection of eco-friendly paper Amazon gift cards instead of the traditional plastic ones. They also work with some other major retail customers such as Staples, Office Depot, Office Max, and Walmart.
Speaking of retail, Neenah is getting ready to upgrade their current Sitecore platform to the new version and while doing so, they will utilize Sitecore Commerce. The new website is expected to be launched in Q1, 2018.
Digital Transformation is not a destination, and yet, it is a journey. As I indicated in our conversation with Andrew, just like every journey, it requires a digital roadmap to navigate through. Unfortunately, according to a study by VMware, only 29% of companies have a multi-year roadmap to direct their digital transformations. To understand what the roadmap is about and where to begin, I inquired with Andrew on the matter. He said: “The digital roadmap is really about the big picture. It is about understanding the whole vision of a company and how they sell it.”
He also gave some quick tips for those who are planning to document their digital roadmaps. “As a starting point, organizations need to align the overall vision with being able to deliver their functionality over the course of time. That way, they bring the initial piece to the market quickly and from there, they enhance and expand it over time,” Andrew suggests. He also stressed the importance of bringing all the departments into the implementation projects as it saves a great deal of time at the end of the project.
Zurich Insurance Company Accessed Localization through Headless CMS
Zurich, a global insurance company, is tasked to support a wide variety of internal users that possess anywhere from small to medium, to very large skillset sizes, and skillsets of developers – across the globe. The Zurich insurance story was a great example of scaling Sitecore to meet the needs of large organizations, decentralized scenarios and utilizing headless CMS. To go in depth, I interviewed Deepak Mathews, Senior Manager at Zurich Insurance Group and Livia Dobocan, Senior IT Consultant at Avanade:
The division that Deepak is involved in oversee the customer journey, and within the division, he is responsible for the digital side of that journey. To orchestrate those digital touchpoints, the organization utilizes various platforms but Sitecore has been the gravitational center of their digital ecosystem as a web content management system.
They also utilize Sitecore’s marketing capabilities such as personalization as well. As an example, Deepak mentioned how they display different offers and landing pages based on visitor’s profile when they visit the company’s websites. They have also been tapping into personalization capabilities for their employees as well. The customized internal content displays on the website to help employees navigate and be more productive.
Given there are more than 30 countries on the Zurich web platform built on Sitecore, Avanade has utilized a headless CMS approach to enable the global insurance company to offer each of their different branches the ability to market in context and accurately through localization. As a result, the organization could use the information stored in Sitecore while ensuring that the experience resonates with the time and the location of the consumer interacting with the site.
Besides these educating customer stories, we were fortunate enough to have a chat with many more Sitecore customers from Samaritan Health which serves the 290,000 residents in their region of Oregon to Innogy which is a German energy giant utilizing Sitecore for its personalization capabilities. However, whomever we spoke to, I felt that the main pain point or the business goal, if you will, is to keep the pace of transformation with emerging digital markets and services while putting the customer in the center.
One of the key elements to tackle this issue is to gather, combine, and analyze data about how each individual customer has interacted with the brand, and this should be both in real time and historically. Therefore, it is important to stay current with version upgrades. Otherwise, missing out on opportunities to capitalize on new features and capabilities, such as the ability to do personalization through dynamic content is detrimental. As Forrester’s Senior Analyst Mark Grannan said the cost of missing out on potential benefits could actually outweigh any hassles you may incur on a tactical level. On the other hand, it is easier said than done so if you would like to learn more about the prominent barriers and how to tackle them, I highly recommend watching Laura Myers’ interview with Heather MacFayden, Vice President and Director of Production at Falcon-Software, who has worked with many CMS platforms throughout her more than 20-year career in the space.