Technology & Engineering

The tech and team dynamics keeping brands competitive

Thomas Clayson
Thomas Clayson
Principal Solutions Engineer
Contentful
Dept Office Berlin 20


Events of the last 18 months have triggered a societal shift in consumer behaviour. For the first time in recorded history, more than half of all customer interactions are occurring in digital environments. This is triple the volume recorded in 2018. What’s more, the leaders in enterprise technology that were already growing 2x faster than laggards pre-pandemic, are now speeding ahead 5x faster after doubling down on effort and investment. Fuelled by rapidly changing customer demands and challenging market conditions, digital business has transformed, requiring new solutions and a new way of working. To remain competitive in this market, brands need to think, build and sell fast. Here’s how. 

Thinking fast: Importance of agility

The role of digital in our daily lives has been steadily increasing, but the pandemic has highlighted the velocity at which that change can occur, demonstrating the need to move fast in a rapidly changing environment. Think about the volume of bars and restaurants that implemented QR codes to minimise in-person interactions and therefore the spread of COVID-19. Each of these represents a touchpoint that the brand did not previously have with customers. 

It was impressive to witness how quickly these businesses reacted and implemented solutions, but although the pace was accelerated by the pandemic, these technologies and touchpoints were always going to come our way, and this trend must stay. Whether you are a restaurant owner trying to improve your customer experience in a pandemic, or an online retailer trying to compete with Amazon; fast fashion brands; or nimble, agile, tech-first startups. The market is showing no signs of slowing down. Businesses must think fast to stay competitive and innovate, especially in uncertain times.

Building fast: foster a builder mentality

Another way organisations are staying competitive is by encouraging a builder mentality. But what are builders? And what does a team of builders look like? The Red Bull Racing Honda Formula 1 team is a great example. Earlier this year they set the world record in pit stop time, changing all tyres in under two seconds. They did this with a builder mentality. Every team member has a dedicated role, yet, they all work together in harmony to achieve one goal – providing the best experience possible – one that is crucial to that winning strategy. Contentful believes that just like in Formula 1 teams, the creation of the customer experience is now everyone’s job. Everyone within the business is a builder. 

Establishing this team of builders means bringing people with different skills and perspectives together to share a common goal and roadmap. More digital leaders are bringing together technical and marketing teams around a shared platform, like Contentful, to foster collaboration. These teams come together to work as one unit where necessary, but are capable of decoupling and working independently for agility. This allows the entire digital team to work as one unit to build, compose and launch to customers with speed.

Selling fast: unlocking speed and agility

Having a great team won’t win you the race. Behind every great racing driver and Formula 1 team is a highly tuned, purpose-built machine that is a pivotal component needed if you’re going to compete with the best, the car. Teams cannot deliver if they are constrained by the systems they are working with, making the technology e-commerce businesses operate on the final fundamental in unlocking speed and agility. 

More e-commerce businesses that understand this are implementing more composable tech architecture. This approach sees features and functions unbundled from the shop software, enabling developments or updates to the storefront to be done independently or in parallel to the back end systems, better enabling the builder mentality. 

With a dedicated platform team looking at the non-customer facing elements, experience teams have the flexibility to work on the front end to deliver optimal customer experiences; enabling businesses to run faster front end experiences, which is most important, because it is those that are closest, and providing value, to the customer. 

Whether it’s adapting to challenging events or staying relevant in a fast-paced environment, the need to move fast is imperative. Encouraging a builder mentality enables this, implementing agile teams that can innovate and iterate quickly. But these builders cannot deliver without the right architecture in place, highlighting how people, processes and digital technology go hand in hand to unlock speed and agility and deliver better customer experiences, faster. 

These are the tech and team dynamics that enable businesses to think, build and sell fast, keeping brands competitive and thrive in the new digital landscape.

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