Strategy & Organisation
Optimising the Future: A view from the top
Events of the last 20 months have demonstrated just how quickly businesses can accelerate digital initiatives if there is enough will and urgency. Although already high on the agenda pre-pandemic, digital transformation has been expedited at a rapid pace to reach a point in 2021 where it directly correlates with revenue growth. There is no standing still in the world of digital, and the need to advance is increasing each day. At the epicentre of advancing efficiently and effectively is partnership; between brands, technology providers and digital experts.
Dept and Optimizely recently teamed up for ‘Optimising the Future’, a joint virtual event designed to inspire and accelerate digital strategies through 2022 and beyond. As part of the event, Dept’s CEO Dimi Albers sat down with Optimizely’s CEO, Alex Atzberger, to discuss how technology advancements are shaping our digital future.
The shifting role of marketing
Businesses are responding to rapid changes in customer behaviour, and the continually quickening evolution of digital experiences by building multi-discipline teams with broader skill sets. For example, marketing teams, which were traditionally focused on brand awareness and demand generation, are becoming a lot more data science focused, looking at the digital experience as a complex product development project. It is this end product that ultimately facilitates exceptional experiences and enables businesses to increase revenue, lower customer acquisition costs, and maximise ROI.
Commenting on this shift, Alex said: “I work with a number of customers where I see a big cultural change, with companies moving away from projects that are purely marketing or tech driven to really bring the two together.” With Dimi adding: “That is exactly what the big shift is. Let’s say eight years ago, there was a very clear distinction between the CMO ‘column’ and then the CIO or CTO ‘column’ within companies we were working with. But what we’re seeing now is the brands that are winning are those where the CMO and CIO/CTO are working in symbiosis. Those organisations are breaking down silos and bringing teams together to leverage technology and insights from data across the full customer journey to optimise experiences. And having a company like Optimizely integrate the full stack across the customer journey is right in our wheelhouse, making it simpler for us to execute on this for our clients.”
Data sits at the heart of a great experience
Dept and Optimizely have seen a significant increase in brands prioritising the development and implementation of their data strategies, to both mitigate the risks and to accelerate growth. The uniting of technology, creativity and data really is the key to accelerating brands above the competition.
This focus on data is driving a change in priorities, with more prominence being given to maximising customer lifetime value over new customer acquisition. Explaining Optimizely’s position on this, Alex said: “So much of it is obviously about creating a sense of customer loyalty. And to do that, brands need to really understand their customers to engage with them in the way they want to engage. That’s why we’ve invested significantly in our customer data strategy to help clients identify when a customer is starting to churn, and provide personalised outreach to re-engage them. These actions need to be driven by data, rather than making assumptions, and these are the types of things you can solve today with Optimizely.”
In response, Dimi added: “What we’ve found from working with clients is that the data we can get from a platform like Optimizely enables us to really help them increase customer lifetime value. Brands aren’t super strong in this across the board, and we’ve seen how getting it right can really help brands stand out, keep hold of their customers, and win in the market.”
Racing to keep pace
Alex highlighted that we live in a world of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ when it comes to digital, with many companies still making decisions based on assumptions. It is these companies that he believes are moving too slowly and lack a sense of urgency, which is what keeps him up at night. “My talk-track is always the same when I speak with customers: time is the great enemy today. It’s not about trying to be perfect, rather it’s about being good enough so that you can move your business forward.”
If businesses fall behind, the gap between them and their competition only gets wider. It is the digital-native brands like Airbnb, Monzo and Spotify that are monopolising on this, capturing market share from long standing brands and watching revenues soar.
While many businesses suffered as a result of the pandemic, the stocks of Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook (the five largest publicly traded companies in the US), rose 37% in the first seven months of 2020; with those five companies now constituting 20% of the stock market’s total worth. These businesses continue to get smarter because they collect more data every day, and if you’re a brand competing with them, you have to take action. The pistol has fired on the race to keep pace, and both Optimizely and Dept align on the need to get companies started faster, so they’re not losing so much time relative to the competition.
Expansion, diversification and growth
Both Dept and Optimizely have grown significantly within the last year. In 2021, Dept acquired four agencies and recently launched in Asia-Pacific, expanding its footprint to over 2,000 people in 17 countries across five continents.
Talking about how Dept is scaling to adapt and diversify, Dimi said: “The focus we’ve always had is to gravitate everything towards what the client needs. We find like-minded agencies that align from a capability, cultural and strategic perspective to grow and diversify the business. Our integrated approach means that if we need more people, let’s say in our data team, we can find them anywhere across our regions and bring them into one team.”
Similarly, Optimizely recently announced its acquisition of Welcome, a leading content marketing platform designed specifically to support marketers. Announcing the news, Alex said: “We’re very excited about this acquisition because we very much believe that a great digital experience needs to be connected to a great marketing experience. And this acquisition brings together leading workflow and digital asset management capabilities within Optimizely. There are so many marketers who need to get the job done now remotely, so connecting them around driving a joint outcome is super, super important. And so we believe that the entire process of creating and optimising content and experiences will become much, much simpler through the combination of our companies.”
Optimizely and Dept share the belief that this ecosystem approach drives success both for their own organisations, and for clients. Aligning on philosophy is incredibly important, be it between Dept and a potential new acquisition, or a brand and a new technology or agency partner. Although every company is different, it’s imperative that they think about things in the same way in order to reach optimal outcomes. As Alex stated: “Our partnership with Dept is so important to us. It is all in the service of customers to become more creative, to leverage the best technology, and gain superior outcomes through data; helping companies drive business outcomes as well as continue to adapt to the ever changing market.