CHICAGO — At the 2022 Sitecore Symposium in Chicago last week, attendees gathered at McCormick Place to see speakers, hear case studies and network with their peers. This is a chance for marketing and CX professionals to meet and discuss their jobs and interests and the trends they’ve observed in the digital customer experience arena.
I spoke with several Sitecore users to get their take on the top CX priorities of 2023. As the new year quickly approaches, what do marketing and CX professionals care about the most?
Finding Solutions and Tools to Navigate Change
Stephen Knight, global practice lead for Sitecore at Accenture, has been noticing the trend of companies preparing for an economic downturn by finding solutions and tools that help them react better to the changes that are happening. Both the market and customer behaviors are changing, Knight said, and the ability to react quickly to these changes will help companies be more efficient.
One suggestion Knight had to manage this new environment is to change one’s approach to decision-making. “Clients big and small are looking at a future with maybe not the clarity that we would have had four or five years ago,” he said. Now, when organizations make strategic decisions, they can take a step or an action and then pause to think about moving forward. Is the next step still the best way to improve efficiency and the customer experience? Is something else the better next step now?
One vital technology for the future of marketing is automation, Knight said. This will allow marketing professionals to do what they’re best at, which includes creativity, strategy and campaign planning. “We see [that] some of the largest companies in the world have already taken that journey,” Knight said. “It allows them to be so much more reactive and [to be able] to put the customer and creativity at the heart of what the marketing team does.”
The focus on creativity is notable here. According to recent research from CMSWire Insights, marketing leaders say that creative thinking is the most essential competency for their role. This and similar trends will be explored further in our upcoming “State of the CMO Report,” which will be published in early 2023.
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The Growing Importance of Digital in Customer CX
Another attendee, Nathan Hux, IT product owner at Alex Lee, Inc., works in the grocery business. His company primarily uses Sitecore as a CMS. He’s observed the trend of how the grocery sector has changed with the pandemic and how much more important digital experience is to improve the customer experience. People want a seamless experience that allows them to get all the information they need to make a purchase, and ease of use is especially important.
Meanwhile, David Hess, national sales executive at Perficient, also talked about using an enhanced customer experience to move the needle in industries experiencing big changes. He stressed the importance of being nimble and agile to solve the new types of issues that companies are facing. The healthcare industry is a great example of this, he said.
“The industry is seeing a big shift and a big need for greater patient engagement,” he said. Patients' expectations are changing, and they expect to be able to get the information they need when they need it. They also expect information to be relevant and personalized to their needs. Healthcare providers must provide this experience while still providing exceptional security over patients’ sensitive information.
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Responding to Sitecore’s New Family of Offerings
Accenture and Sitecore announced on Oct. 17 that the companies are joining forces in what Sitecore CEO Steve Tzikakis called a “monumental partnership.” This was one of many major announcements Sitecore shared at the event. Tzikakis also announced three new cloud-native products at the conference — Content Hub One is a headless CMS offering, Search is an advanced search solution, and Sitecore Connect is an integration accelerator platform with a drag-and-drop interface for integrating thousands of connectors.
Regarding these new changes, Knight said, “I guess the identity Steve [Tzikakis] is trying to create is dynamism, agility [and] wanting to challenge the market through the investments they've made. It certainly looks like they’re starting to win that battle.”
Hux said he appreciates seeing companies use innovation to keep up with new trends. “They keep going for it. That's what we like to see instead of someone staying the same,” he said.
Hess agreed. “I appreciate their recognition of the market demand and the needs that we hear from our clients,” he said. “We need partners that look through that innovative lens.”