Today is a big day. In a way, today is the culmination of years of work by and with talented people I deeply admire. And I couldn’t be more excited. Because today we launch our new flagship product, CoreMedia Content Cloud.
CoreMedia Content Cloud is based on everything we’ve learned working for some of the most iconic brands in the world. But before I go into detail, I’d like to share how we got here.
Content is an Asset
CoreMedia has been in the content management business since 1996, and we’ve been blessed to learn from the best. Our first two customers were Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), the largest press agency in Germany, and Axel Springer, the largest publisher in Europe. They taught us a fundamental idea: content is an asset and a valuable one. It needs to be managed well - in a semantically rich way - in order to create the most value.
Carrier-Grade for All
Next, we gained insights collaborating with the largest telecommunication companies in the world. Working for Vodafone, T-Mobile, Telefonica, Softbank, and Bell Canada taught us what it means to build and run “carrier grade” systems – when going down is not an option. One of our most exciting projects was providing the content platform for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.
But we didn’t stop there. We went after the next group of innovators: luxury brands. And that key decision has led to today’s launch of CoreMedia Content Cloud. Here’s how.
It’s About the Experience
Luxury brands have mastered a crucial skill that’s increasingly in demand: creating iconic experiences. Because in a world of abundance, you have to stand out.
Luxury goods represent the ultimate in discretionary spending. No one needs a new high-end handbag or an expensive dress. But people want them. There is demand, a lot of it, and it’s only growing. As is the competitive landscape. Which means that buying luxury goods has to be a delightful experience from beginning to end or it won’t happen at all.
The lesson is: It’s all about the experience. And I’m convinced this is true not just for luxury brands but for every organization in every industry.
In a globally networked world, chock-full of more options than ever, no customer really has to buy from you. An alternative is just a click or a swipe away. If your competition can provide a better experience, their story will spread and they will win.
Content is King
But despite the crush of options out there, one very surprising thing I’ve observed is this: content is still vastly underappreciated as a success factor. Because every great experience has great content at its core.
But most organizations don’t come close to harnessing the power of their content. Luxury brands and media companies are pushing the envelope, but even they are struggling to master content across today’s explosion of devices and touchpoints.
Enterprise Software Hasn’t Mastered Content
One factor that limits organizations is the available technology, as most enterprise software platforms fall short in content management. Marketing & Commerce platforms, CRM, and ERP are built to handle processes that are efficient and can be standardized in order to scale. But content doesn’t fit that mold.
While the most iconic brands do need efficient backend processes, they will never accept standardized experiences. Because they need to be able to use content in ever-evolving ways. They need to create with their content like an artist with a paintbrush. And that is impossible with most enterprise software.
Content Lives in Many Places
There’s also this: The idea that you can move all your data and content into one single system is a pipe dream. It will never happen. The reality is that enterprises actually need robust distributed systems: product data in a PIM or eCommerce system, customer data in a CRM or Marketing Cloud, videos on YouTube or another streaming service, and so on.
But these specialized systems are being connected through increasingly powerful platforms that share access to real-time data. The result is an integrated view of a distributed system.
What Iconic Experiences Require
To create iconic customer experiences, companies need to integrate three things: content, commerce, and context.
First, content. You need it to tell a story, because companies without a compelling story will fail. Products without a compelling visual story will turn into commodities. Even B2B products need more and better content in order to be found, to educate, and to convince.
Second, you need commerce capabilities. You need to be able to handle transactions, process payments, and deliver orders efficiently and at scale. You also need access to real-time information about all your inventory in all your locations. This has been the sweet spot of platforms like Salesforce Commerce Cloud, SAP Hybris, and IBM Commerce. And there are new players like Elastic Path who also excel at this.
Third, you need access to specific contextual data in order to personalize the experience for every customer: who they are, where they are, what device they’re using, which language they prefer, their browsing history, buying intent, etc. An ever-growing number of systems provide various aspects of this.
Business Logic Integrates Data Sources
But to actually build an effective personalized experience, all three ingredients must be blended seamlessly through business logic.
Once you find out who the customer is and where they are, your platform has to determine the right set of products based on their preferences, location, and the inventory available in your commerce platform. Based on language preferences, your system then needs to select the relevant content in the matching language. And based on device type, the system has to select the right crops and image resolution.
All this has to happen in milliseconds in order for the whole experience to be optimal. That’s a tall order.
Omnichannel is the New Norm
As well, the separation between digital and non-digital is gone. Customers don’t care about different “channels.” What they care about is having a seamless experience that’s tailored to their own preferences.
Maintaining this consistency is a challenge. And if there’s a mismatch – between products, prices, imagery or messaging – customers will run. This is what the world’s most successful brands have mastered. Think Apple, Nike, or Adidas. These brands are iconic because their experiences are completely unified.
The Global Village is Here
Marshall McLuhan’s “global village” is today’s reality. It used to be that new trends, new insights, or new products arrived in different places around the world at different times. No longer. New developments happen instantly and customers expect global brands to be agile. When a new iPhone comes out, it needs to be equally available in Hong Kong as in San Francisco (along with product information in Cantonese).
And languages aren't restricted to geographical areas anymore – global travelers take their language preferences with them. Can your brand display product information in English when your English-speaking customer is in Japan?
Experiences Need Orchestration
What’s clear is that an ever-increasing complexity of systems, touchpoints, devices, apps, and features is challenging the ability of marketing executives to deliver results. Because marketing teams are often highly dependent on IT departments.
But they shouldn’t be. Marketers need to be more agile and more empowered today, not less.
Because they need to be able to orchestrate the whole experience on a global scale across all touchpoints. They need to be able to edit content, design banners, create landing pages, translate text, roll out global campaigns, preview experiences, and measure results. They need to be able to do all this in real-time, and they need powerful tools that help them do so.
The Missing Piece
Which brings us back to Content Cloud.
With every new customer we acquired and every new industry we worked for, we achieved a deeper understanding of the strategic challenges around content and experiences. So we are doubling down on content in the cloud.
We designed CoreMedia Content Cloud to be the “missing piece” for enterprise software platforms. Instead of replacing countless other system with an inflexible monolith, we’ve fully embraced best-of-breed architectures, open APIs, integration hubs, and out-of-the-box integrations.
The result is the first Content Cloud of its kind. It is the perfect complement to your Marketing Cloud or Commerce Cloud, since content ties it all together. And there are options: CoreMedia Content Cloud is available as a service or self-managed for flexible private cloud deployments.
The Future of Luxury Fashion
Curious what the future will look like with CoreMedia Content Cloud?
Imagine this: An executive from Japan is heading to Europe for dinner with the French president. On arrival, she learns her luggage won’t be there in time. She needs a new outfit now.
She immediately pulls out her mobile and starts searching. The app of her favorite brand suggests a stunning little black dress and indicates it’s available – today, in her size, at the flagship store in Paris. With just a click, she makes a reservation for a fitting in one hour.
At the store on Avenue Montaigne, things start happening. The store manager receives a notification about the imminent arrival of a VIP along with details of the appointment. A selection of dresses and accessories is prepared and a digital scene is set. The store features digital displays built right into the surfaces showing high-definition images of the current collection, and these are customized for the anticipated customer with a few clicks from an iPad.
As the guest enters the store, the setup is activated – producing a fully immersive, custom-tailored experience. Product details are displayed in Japanese. Currency options are shown in Yen as well as Euros. Video footage of the little black dress being worn at this season’s runway shows appears on the screens. When the guest looks around, the whole store itself feels like a perfect fit.
The guest tries on a variety of black dresses, then wonders how a white dress in a similar style might look. The store manager touches her tablet and instantly all screens display videos and slide shows of the best matching white dresses. The guest is curious about one dress in particular. With a tap, the store manager selects the item and all screens display more inspirational content about it.
Or, instead of a tablet, the store manager opts to use a voice assistant: “Show us black dresses from the current collection” or “Show us the details for the first dress on display” or even “Inspire us.” After every request, all screens in the store update immediately and display compelling content optimized for each screen.
After settling on the perfect black dress, the guest is also intrigued by a coat she spotted in one of the videos. It’s not currently available in the store, so she uses an Augmented Reality mirror to see how it would look on her. The image is ultra-realistic and she can tell the coat will flatter her figure. She places an order to have it waiting for her back in Japan.
When she finally leaves the store – perfect black dress in tow plus accessories – she is happy and serene, all set for her important state dinner with dignitaries (and anticipating her cool new coat).
“The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed.” - William Gibson
This scenario may seem far-fetched, but it’s not. Physical stores will soon start to mirror digital stores in a myriad of ways. The technology to implement this exists today, it’s just not “evenly distributed.” The challenge, of course, is mastering the technical complexity to orchestrate these kinds of experiences. The new luxury – and, really, the new eCommerce – will be about brands becoming as trustworthy, unobtrusive, and empowering as possible.
It’s clear that content will be key, more than ever before. And that customers will expect consistency between all touchpoints and seamless journeys across them. Brands will need to embrace those touchpoints to reach their most desirable customers, and they will need to orchestrate ever more inspirational content related to their products, on the spur of the moment and at the touch of a finger.
And that’s why we have created CoreMedia Content Cloud. I can’t wait to show it to you.
See CoreMedia Content Cloud live at dmexco
You missed our epic dmexco show? No worries. Here is a video of our omni-channel demo:
4.10.2018: The second post of this series is live: Introducing CoreMedia Content Cloud - Part 2: Best-of-Breed Marketing Technology
11.10.2018: The third post of this series is live: Introducing CoreMedia Content Cloud – Part 3: Strategic Business Value for Brands