Sitecore Symposium 2017 Las Vegas, Day 1

And we’re off!  Today was the first day of the Sitecore Symposium 2017: ‘Drive your digital destiny’.

Before we travelled, our team discussed what ‘digital destiny’ could mean for OnModus. “For me, my digital destiny is to enable technology and marketing to create a valuable context for our clients,” says Max.

Jeroen adds: “True, but I would also like to mention that for a lot of retailers, eCommerce is becoming their digital destiny. This digital disruption changed the playing field of how customers search for and buy products and brands. Of course, this has also to do with the technology and marketing, but it's a different game to play.”

Renate added her thoughts. “For me, it is about marketers and brand teams embracing technology. So they can become more personal and relevant for their customers and start building a loyal relationship. For a lot of marketers and brands, this becomes their digital destiny,” she says. So overall, it's a broad topic with a lot of touch points with different stakeholders.

During the next three days, we will keep you posted on what the team experienced, what new tools are available, which learnings and insights we gained and will take home to drive our customers’ digital destinies.

Opening

Opening The first day started with an opening keynote from Mark Frost, the new CEO of Sitecore. Mark offered his vision on what Digital Transformation means in an inspirational speech.

Next up was Kenneth Cukier from The Economist, where he is Senior Editor Data & Digital. In addition, he is also a co-author of several bestsellers about Data. He talked us through the way how AI is going to change marketing. Back in the days, the computer knew what to do when a person told what to do. Now it's the other way around. The person gives in several options and the computer recommends which option is the best, according to an algorithm. 

“For me, the key takeaways from Mark Frost’s keynote was the focus on Innovation, Quality and Customer Delight,” says Renate. It means to deepen and intensify the direct relationship with your customer. This is the only way to drive loyalty.

Knowledge building

After these two keynotes, it was time for the ‘Track sessions’ keynotes, which kicked off the breakout sessions in which customers, partners, and Sitecore exchange knowledge. The sessions are divided into three tracks: Developer, Marketing and Strategy, so based on your interest, you can pick and choose where to get your insights.

“My breakout sessions started today at 13:45 at the Strategy track,” Renate says. “Since ‘Chick-fil-a’ is one of the newest users of Context Marketing and they have the ambition to integrate Sitecore Commerce, I was very curious how they did it. How to bring local and global together based on customer stories. And to end my day, I followed the session ‘How to influence and automate Google AdWords buys & bidding’, which is a nice next step in developing my skills in Contextual Media. This was one of the topics I presented during the Strategy track. Because before I could start learning from what my peers have done, I presented what we have done. That is, the steps we took in 2017 after the implementation and optimisation in 2016, towards digital maturity in 2017 with Sitecore. It was cool to see that so many participants took the time to listen to the co-presentation I gave with Microsoft and Herschend Family Entertainment. I found it very interesting to see how we all approached the next steps to digital maturity differently. My story mainly was about how we could make Contextual Marketing performance-driven, so the topics I presented were:

  • How to set up Contextual Media
  • The role of product brands in an unbranded customer journey
  • Flagstore commerce

Microsoft’s focus in 2017 was mostly on optimising data structures and organisation and for Herschend Family Entertainment, the focus was mostly on scaling, and how to start doing data-driven campaigns and personalisation.”  

Looking back

The day ended with a keynote from Mark Zablan, Chief Revenue Officer at Sitecore. Mark also hosted a panel of trend marketers from global digital agencies. They had all made the move towards digital disruption to help their customers build customer experiences that deliver their growth ambition.

So looking back on day 1, we followed some interesting sessions, had great talks with peers and received a lot of new insights and ideas that enable us to create an even more valuable context for our customers by combining marketing and technology. We are looking forward to day 2!

Do you want to know more? Read our blogs. Do you want to get to know us even better? Have a look here.  Jeroen, Max & Renate

"Entrepreneurial spirit, open culture and project responsibility from day one" - We welcome Alexandru Sabau to our team

We are proud to welcome the newest OnModus team member, Alexandru Sabau, in the role of a Digital Project Manager. Alexandru, who is a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, has decided to start his career back to his roots, in Europe. We engage in a conversation about his motivation to move in the Netherlands and join OnModus.

'"So what does moving to the Netherlands mean to you?" OnModus omnichannel Partner, Jeroen van Mierle, asks.

'"Moving to The Netherlands is a transition point in my career. But, that is a challenge I am ready to take on. After growing up in Romania and graduating university in the United States, my return to Europe is just part of being agile and flexible. Here, I have found the right environment to grow as a professional. The Netherlands provides the right cultural structure and environment to focus on career development". It's not Alexandru's first time working in the Netherlands, as he recently finished an internship in E-commerce consulting in Amsterdam.

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We go on and ask him about his decision to commit with OnModus, against other competitors.

"'Entrepreneurial spirit, open culture and project responsibility from day one. These are the characteristics that drew me to OnModus. With this team, I know I will be able to select my career path and grow in areas that I want to pursue"'. As a Digital Project Manager, Alexandru will be responsible for both internal and external business development projects. He will be the link between the team members and will coordinate the team effort in business & customer value creation. In addition to his role, Alexandru will also follow a learning path in customer analytics. '"I truly enjoy playing with data, discovering customer trends and identifying experience gaps the customers are facing in their journeys. Using analytics properly is key for creating and validating customer assumptions''

“We need people who understand our business and technology.”

Jeroen van Mierle adds: "'We felt that there was a very good cultural fit between Alexandru and OnModus. He is eager to impact projects and join us in finding solutions to alleviate customers experience pains".

Another sign of a fit is his passion with sports. "I have been swimming since I can remember. That's a major reason I went to study in the United States; to be able to continue my swimming career in university athletics''. We are eager to see him biking with the OnModus team. ''Water has always been my prime environment, but I think I can keep up just well on two wheels"' he adds.

How to make personalisation work for you

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By Renate van der Vaart, Customer Experience Specialist & Sitecore MVP

As a customer experience specialist I am always looking to find better ways to communicate with consumers and understand them better. But how do you grab the attention of a customer when everybody else is competing for seconds of their time? And even more importantly when you have their attention, how do you keep them and ensure they come back for more?

If you read the marketing press, you'll see everybody is talking about how getting the attention of your audience is about making your stories personal and relevant. But how do you actually make your communication more personal? We can all give examples of when we've visited a website to buy shoes, clothing or holidays and couldn't find anything to buy, and for the next couple of days, you see adverts and promotions for these products all the time. Unless you clear your cookies regularly, these brands will follow you everywhere - it's personal, but also very irritating.

So how can you make your communication personal and relevant, without being intrusive? That’s the question we asked ourselves. Together with our partner Sitecore, the leader in web centric customer experience management, we explored this question and set up a testing program of personalisation and A/B tests to see what was working and what not.

What did we learn in this period?

1. Choose your testpage carefully

The page you use for personalisation testing needs to have enough visitors to give a clear indication of each variant. So do some data analysis on how many customers come to the page and try to find out what they are doing next. We call this defining the content-path. To find out high entry pages you can use your Google Analytics account. After finding a high entry page I used the path analyser.

2. Make the test-variations not too small or to big

You need to find a balance between the variations. If they are too big you can’t compare them in your results because it's hard to define which elements the customers are attracted to. But on the other hand, if you make the variations too small, you can’t conclude why the customer prefers the default or variation version. So it’s very important to find a balance.

3. Define a clear goal

This sounds logical, but with only defining what you want to achieve is not enough. It's insufficient to describe “what you want to achieve”. Ask yourself what the “background” of the test is and if it is in line with the goal. Then you can test the outcome against the hypothesis. In this way you defined the full context of your personalisation test.

4. Big brother

Watch out you don’t become big brother, as it is a very thin line in being personal and intrusive, especially with all you know about your customer. For example welcoming your customer with “How nice that you visit our webpage” if you know your customer is coming from Facebook. It is better to adjust your text in line with the copy of the Facebook post and make it feel personal in a subtle way. If you scare your customer with a too personal message you will lose them and they will never come back. So use personalisation wisely.

As we learn more, we see that we improve the quality of the customer experiences using personalisation and A/B testing to drive engagement with our brand. Along the way we develop an understanding about the different personalisation tactics and using them to optimise the contact we have with our target group.

The results we are seeing are showing an increase in conversion uplift across different goals like membership sign-ups, engagements and sales. Also we delivered a positive ROI of costs to set-up and execute a single test. We will continue with testing, to go on improving the quality of our personalised (in the right way) and relevant (the correct format) communication experiences.

"I see new adventures ahead!" - Renate van der Vaart joins the team

We are very pleased to welcome Renate van der Vaart to our team. Renate has started beginning of this month in the role of Customer Experience Specialist.

“In my great new role, my aim is to support our customers in this rapidly evolving digital world where customer behaviour is continuously changing. I want to find new and better ways to communicate with them and deliver relevant experiences which they demand 24 hours per day, seven days per week”, says Renate when asked what really drives her in her new role.

Max Goijarts, CEO of OnModus, joins the conversation. “OnModus wants to assist our clients to become customer centric from an integral company perspective. This does not end at implementing a technology which interacts with the customer. It is merely one of the possible strategy outcomes. The real challenge is to understand and tune the organisation’ channels, processes, employees and tools with the most relevant set of data. Combine this with the organisation’s ability to adapt to change in an agile manner and we have a shot in creating the experience our customers expect from you as a retailer or manufacturer”.

We enable marketing and technology to create valuable context for consumers.

 Together we ride the path in your digital transformation journey

Together we ride the path in your digital transformation journey

“This is the reason that I chose OnModus”, Renate continues. “We are different than other agencies who support digital transformation. The reason for this is that we all have practical knowledge and skills through several roles being part of an agency, customer and vendor ecosystem.

“We know the journey, the pitfalls and pain points from a customer centric view – Renate van der Vaart”.

This blend of creative minds and can-do mentality builds the footprint of the OnModus team spirit to work hard and play hard, as you could have read in the previous blog. “And “yes” for the ones who keep asking me the “bike” question. I have already started secretly training to ride a racing bike. But that’s my little secret”, she adds to it smilingly.

So what’s does a Customer Experience Specialist role add to the team? “As said I’m aiming to bring “balance” especially in the clients’ content strategy. Every minute a massive amount of content is being published at the internet. And all this content is competing for the attention of your customer via various channels. Despite of this competition, I still believe content marketing is the way to go for creating loyal relationships with your customer. However, we need a new and better solution to get their attention, namely putting messaging in the right context. This way we will make the communication relevant and customers can identify with it, so they feel understood in their needs. This will ultimately lead to the opportunity to engage with them and make them brand ambassadors”.

“I truly believe that the answer of this lies with Contextual Experience Marketing. I am looking forward to starting this journey with our customers. Together we ride the path in your digital transformation journey”.

Strategy weekend - Combining Thinking, Riding and Laughing

Every four months we allow ourselves to visit a place outside of our normal working territory where we improve our strategy. The goal: to reinvent ourselves an improved version, based on the learnings and experiences we had the months before. With these new insights we can continuously help our clients in becoming even more succesful in the digital world. This time we visited the beautiful nature area of Willingen, Sauerland in Germany.

The conditions for the area are pretty clear. It has to offer a relaxed atmosphere, beautiful surroundings and of course some great biking trails. OnModus believes that the combination of these three ingredients are the best way to have new ideas. New ideas which can be transformed to key strategy points which contribute to the business model in the digital world of our clients.

"Biking with colleagues and friends brings out the best of us", says Max Goijarts, CEO of OnModus. "Bringing in a sportive element changes the dynamics of a team. Achieving succes together enforces the teamfeeling and subsequently opens up new creative ideas. We then sit down and have active sessions where we challenge our new ideas. Last but not least we celebrate the accomplishment at the end of the day with some good German food and beers. It is all about finding the ultimate balance. That is where OnModus stands for".

OnModus drives digital transformation and business maturity to create, optimise and innovate authentic digital customer experiences and marketing technology. We are looking forward to welcome new members to the team who will start in August and September and continue the sessions. "It might even be that we invite customers and our partners to have an even more intensive weekend", says Jeroen van Mierle, Omnichannel Partner at OnModus. "I now have experienced that riding a bike through rough conditions is the perfect way to create the ultimate team dynamics. Each member feels part of the group. After all like in business, it is all about creating long lasting partnerships and finding win-win situations. Helping each other out. Especially when the road becomes tougher". 

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Blending our Business and Passion; World’s #1 toughest climb by bike on the island of Mauna Kea, Hawaii

As part of OnModus (aka “On Balance”) where we use sports and outdoor activities to open the creative mind with friends, team members and clients. We challenged our pioneering spirit by tackling 560km and 12.000 meters of vertical climbing during our USA climbing Experience. From Central Park New York to Woodstock to the Hawaiian Islands in a crazy ‘business and leisure’ trip.

A lot of laughs and pedal strokes brought us experiences of a lifetime with a natural high obtained while conquering world’s toughest climb. Mentally we are still descending, the upside we can plan our next challenge. Make a move!

The world's toughest climb

“We're not making full use of our Sitecore Experience Platform”

"A well-known and common pain point for many Sitecore clients is the struggle to make full use of the SXP capabilities. That's why we provide a practical implementation strategy, and lead by example. We know the advantages and also how to overcome the common pitfalls and hurdles" says Lars Wisselink, Manager Operations OnModus London and Sitecore MVP.

In any implementation project the project team has a clear focus to bring the new initiative live as soon as possible. Business is asking for it and deadlines have been set.  "We cannot wait any longer" is a phrase often heard, resulting in core functionalities not being implemented correctly or not even at all.

In order to have full success, the organisation needs to think differently. Different in terms of seeing the new initiative as another important touchpoint in the customer journey and experience. As Omnichannel affects the organisation integrally, it is not only the marketing department that drives the project. Moreover it is a real challenge to analyse the customer journey, improving the customer experience and predict the next action. Whether this is a purchase or a call for information - IT and Marketing need to work together and learn from each other.

"Technology is an enabler, not a solution" Max Goijarts, CEO OnModus adds. "In the many projects we have played an active role, it was our job to simply bring the communication between different departments alive". "You might recognise this in your own organisation that the priorities of projects which increase the experience of your customers in your Omnichannel strategy conflict or are misunderstood. The software platform is a tool which should be understood properly in order to support the ultimate customer journey. But the platform needs well researched analytics data and thorough analysed customer paths to use the capabilities of the platform in the right way".

The proof is in the eating

OnModus is best known for our winning Danone - Nutrcia case. The platform was named Sitecore Site of the Year 2015, and earned the Customer Data Award in 2014. Via SXP 8 we used our personalisation model to proof the power of context marketing and the value of Sitecore towards the business of Danone - Nutricia. We have learned a lot from this case and help our clients to become more mature in personalisation. "What we don't do is producing documentation and implementation plans and piles of documents. We are in it for the results while keeping it real and practical" says Jeroen van Mierle, Omnichannel Partner at OnModus.

Best practice resource

OnModus is a best practice resource focused upon the Sitecore Experience Platform (SXP) that helps transforming the digital maturity of your organisation. We use a proven and winning personalisation model (Personalisation tactics, Customer interaction data & SXP) to empower your organisation to activate and optimise Sitecore marketing automation. Powered and energised by Sitecore Strategy MVP's.

Let our experienced team help you with the following:

  • Sitecore Context marketing workshops, specifically tailored towards SXP 8, to increase the knowledge and hands on experience of current marketing teams  
  • Analysing and operating daily engagement strategy, coaching and support marketing operations within Sitecore
  • Monitoring cross-channel attribution and optimising digital marketing. Enabling data to tell and support the Customer Journey
  • Setup Agile development process, supporting the practical and daily operations within Sitecore. Guiding product ownership and leveraging Agile development methods for execution
  • Implementation guidance for UX design, coaching UX Designers how to implement the (SBOS) engagement strategy, also using Sitecore Experience Accelerator
  • Aligning customer and partner teams with existing experience and capabilities

 

Our proven cases

The power of context marketing and the value of Sitecore towards the business of Danone - Nutricia

The Rise of Microservices

Software has emerged as the critical differentiator in every industry, from financial services to fashion, as “technology first” startups disrupt global markets.

To stay alive, some of the biggest global enterprises we know are making a radical change in how they build and deliver software. The new model is called microservices, an approach where large applications are broken down into small, loosely coupled and composable autonomous pieces.

Microservices have four main benefits:

  1. Agility. By breaking down functionality to the near atomic level and abstracting it, development teams can focus on only updating the relevant pieces of an application. This removes a painful process of integration experienced with monolithic applications. Development processes that used to take months can now take only weeks.
  2. Efficiency. A thoughtful approach to microservices can result in far more efficient use of code and underlying infrastructure. Users report significant cost savings—in some cases reducing the amount of infrastructure required to run a given application by 50%.
  3. Resiliency. The dispersion of functionality across services should result in no single point of failure. The result is systems that perform much better with very limited downtime and can scale seamlessly on demand.
  4. Revenue. Faster iteration and less downtime add up to more revenue. User retention and user engagement increase as your product continuously improves.

The concept of microservices is not new. Google Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Facebook Inc. have been running microservices for over a decade. In fact, every time you search for a term on Google, it calls out to roughly 70 microservices before it returns your results.

Enterprises tried to replicate this with an approach called “service-oriented-architecture” that largely failed because the right building blocks for mass adoption were not yet in place. The three main building blocks that were needed are now established, and together,they are making the benefits of microservices available to all:

  1. Containers. Akin to how containers transformed the shipping industry, software containers have created a standardized frame for all services. This standardization simplifies what was once a painful integration process in a heterogeneous infrastructure world. Docker has spurred a revolution in how developers around the world build and deploy applications with containers.
  2. APIs. The rapid adoption of APIs has created a standardized format for communications.
  3. Scalable cloud infrastructure. Cloud infrastructure, whether private or public, delivers the resources needed on demand to scale and operate services effectively.
Source: https://www.sequoiacap.com/article/build-u...