Digital experiences have the power to make or break relationships with customers, yet delivering them has never been more of a challenge for brands.

The demand for personalised experiences across multiple channels is driving a proliferation of customer segments and context-based decisions that are becoming increasingly hard to manage. Businesses are typically grappling with hundreds of thousands of assets to fulfil the extraordinary burden that this puts on content delivery. In a recent Forrester report commissioned by Sitecore, only 28% of decision-makers strongly agreed that their organisations can deliver against the content needs of their customers. However, with investment in the right platforms and organisational change, this needn’t be the case.

The Building Better Experiences report, commissioned by Wunderman Thompson in collaboration with Sitecore, seeks to diagnose the complexities of today’s content and asset management landscape. Among other findings, it exposes the need for marketing and IT teams to collaborate more closely, both together and with agencies and other third parties, to solve some of the inherent challenges involved in creating a set of evergreen assets to fuel dynamic, personalised experiences. And it sets the scene for a new breed of Digital Asset Management system (DAM) that is emerging to help organisations and their agencies manage the content lifecycle.

Collaboration is key

Creating and deploying content can be a complex process, not least because there are multiple stakeholders. IT and marketing decision-makers are key to the process, with the discipline taking the lead very much contingent on the type of organisation.

Beyond these core stakeholders, there are also digital teams playing a role, joined by creatives and production specialists, brand teams, and third-party agencies. Having agencies play a more hands-on role in the process is something marketers would like to see more of, with 58% of marketing decision-makers saying agencies should be more involved.

According to the report findings, diverse and siloed asset management systems can represent the biggest challenge when it comes to collaboration. Assets are commonly distributed across multiple different systems, accessed by users with varying needs, motivation and levels of expertise. A common view of content remains out of reach for most.

IT and marketing decision-makers agree that it is crucial that their teams work together to deliver an optimal customer experience, yet 81% of IT decision-makers say they wish marketing understood their team’s needs better and 84% of marketers say the same about their IT counterparts. There is clearly a need to bridge this marketing / IT divide and harness the technology that makes collaboration easier for all.

Bringing the outside in

Ensuring that all stakeholders are sufficiently enabled to access, create and deploy content is crucial, yet our research suggests there are pain points, some of which derive from the complexities in collaboration between different disciplines.

Beyond internal stakeholders, there’s a growing need for businesses to collaborate efficiently with third parties when it comes to building experiences. Our data reveals that the ability to furnish content to distributors, wholesalers or marketplaces is seen as crucial by more than half of respondents. And half also say they would like their agencies to be more involved in their content workflows, with only 35% of decision-makers saying that their agencies are currently involved. A third of respondents confess that third-party suppliers currently struggle to input content into their current DAM system.

Often businesses have existing relationships with a number of partners throughout the content supply chain, from creative agencies to production agencies. The ones who get the most out of partners are those who have sufficiently onboarded them to their processes and tools. This may seem obvious but often third parties prefer to leverage their own and this drives negative outcomes, such as not being able to input content into a client’s DAM.

James Scott-Flanagan

digital consultant, Wunderman Thompson Technology

The evolution of DAM

DAM solutions have been with us for many years and have evolved to align with either cross-organisational requirements or channel needs. It’s fair to say that an organisation’s DAM rarely meets the needs of everyone, and we see evidence of this throughout this report.

However, a new breed of DAM is emerging that promises to alleviate some of these pain points. This next generation of content and asset hubs marries the capabilities of DAM and CMS, treating textual content and assets as peers. They enable multiple stakeholders to collaborate on work in progress within the platform, as well as serving as a single source of truth for asset renditions for every market and channel.

Their successful use does, however, have a number of dependencies, not least extensive upstream and downstream integrations with other tools. Successful implementation also brings organisation implications: teams and agencies will need to think differently about aspects of the content life cycle.

Partner enablement

Technology solutions can help solve part of the challenge, but they are certainly no panacea. It has now become a truism that despite best intentions, digital transformations often fail.

Throwing technology at the problem is not enough. It’s not a case of “if we build it, they will come.” People and process are a vital piece of the puzzle and partner enablement is an essential part of the transformation journey.

Partner enablement has become something of a buzzword in martech circles recently, with vendors and their partners all keen to promote their services. But what is it exactly and what does it mean in the context of DAM?

A digital enablement strategy involves managing the change, communications and upskilling necessary to ensure that teams and partners get the most out of technology. Today’s DAM systems are not simply asset libraries. They are working ecosystems in which multiple parties cooperate. They house both work in progress and production and channel-ready assets. Brand teams, creative agencies and distribution partners need to embrace more embedded, collegiate ways of working together to really maximise the efficiencies and benefits of the technology.

Without an enablement strategy, your technology investment will not produce the expected return on investment. The risk clearly outweighs the reward.

Richard Logan

digital strategy and transformation consultant, Wunderman Thompson Technology

Bridging the marketing / IT divide and solving the stakeholder conundrum is just one of many themes explored in the Building Better Experiences report. Closer collaboration, the right technology platform and a modern approach to an evergreen set of assets, as opposed to a channel-specific approach, will potentially be a game changer for organisations trying to grapple with sophisticated, multi-channel personalisation at scale. Check out the report for more on:

  • The evolution of DAM
  • Content velocity
  • Enablement as a service
  • The road to headless
  • Intelligent content
  • Why metadata matters

Download the report now!

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