To coincide with the release of SilverTech’s 2018 State of Digital Report, Chief Digital Officer, Jeff McPherson, sat down to discuss some of the challenges of the past year and what he sees as the most exciting opportunities in the year ahead.
Listen to the conversation above or read excerpts below.
Jeff, as Chief Digital Officer, you are one of SilverTech’s thought-leaders and someone our clients and internal team look to for guidance, what were some of the biggest challenges you helped clients overcome in 2017?
Jeff – Over the course of the year what we saw as the most consistent theme was efforts around how organizations consolidate their various systems, data sets, into driving [the] consumer or customer experience. And…from a challenge perspective; the market, the Sitecores of the world, the Sitefinitys of the world, and the Kenticos of the world are all talking about [consolidation, data]. Trade shows are talking about it. But, I think the challenge is how do you take that information…and then implement it.
Developing the plan and creating the vision are actually the easiest part. It is how you then get an organization, not only brought in but to understand what their part is in the whole process. I think that a lot of organizations are going in with the assumption that they can find a partner, and that partner is going to go out and create this great end result. But, the reality…is that the deeper you get into integration…and personalization and consolidation of systems, the more involved the organization [needs] to be.
For example, with SilverTech [it is] really beneficial to continue to engage with [us as a] partner [after a website launch] not necessarily because we need to continue to do work; creating new pages or modifying the architecture. It is really about accountability and analyzing what the expectations were and then how do we tweak and modify to get to what we thought would be the end result.
Compare this to building a building. The launch is when the doors of the building are open. But, the hard work is…getting tenants into the building. That is where the real work actually begins. If you watch a building in Boston, it goes up in 30 days. That is the easy stuff. How long does it take you to fill and to get people in? That is the trick. That is where organizations really need to keep people engaged.
SilverTech forged several new partnerships this year and strengthened others. Can you share some of these stories and why do you think our clients value our partnerships so much?
In 2017, SilverTech really honed in our focus with a very specific set of partners. And there are a few reasons why we did that. We cannot be everything to everyone. So, we have shaved off a few partners and a few scenarios that we were not as strong and we really beefed up those where we were.
In that process, we formed a great relationship with Sitefinity. What we saw with Sitefinity is that they really fit a gap that we were missing in terms of a Dot Net CMS platform that had a very strong roadmap. They have a great, stable platform and roadmap and that is really important to us. What is important to us is not only what is happening today but what is that platform going to do in the next 5-7 years. The stability of the [Sitefinity] platform is going to be really, really important.
Another strong partner that is relatively new to us is U-commerce. Over the years we have had some extremely strong eCommerce clients such as Life is Good®. We worked with some of the leading outdoor manufacturers, such as Polartec. But, we got away from it because [most eCommerce] systems were becoming extremely difficult to integrate. U-commerce was already forming strong relationships with our partners, Kentico and Sitefinity, and they already had a great track record with Sitecore, so it was a natural progression for us to look at their platform and how they could fit into our entire ecosystem. And because of the preexisting relationships with our partners, it made perfect sense.
Sitecore is another [partner with whom our relationship has evolved]. While there have been a lot of changes there, the platform remains extremely strong. We had a great meetup at Sitecore Symposium and spoke with Mark Frost, the new CEO over there. Mark has a great vision but what impressed me most was Mark’s desire to hear from a smaller partner like SilverTech, and to understand what was important to us. That tells me we were going to be in for some great things in 2018 from Sitecore.
What are you most looking forward to in 2018?
I think about VR (Virtual Reality), AI (Artificial Intelligence), and machine learning and I think that is where the world is going. But, for us to get there, we still have to hit this next stage of digital transformation around one-to-one communication. I would love to see 2018 be the year that we are finally able to get more customers on the side of one-to-one to communication than not. I think when that starts to happen, all of these other things start to become the next stage. If you skip over that first stage, and you go into some of these more advanced ways of communication then you are really going to miss out. Personally, from a business perspective, I would love to see 2018 be the year that personalization is almost the “norm.”
Be sure to download SilverTech’s 2018 State of Digital Report and check back next month for another conversation with Chief Digital Officer, Jeff McPherson.