Five Minutes With: Dominique LeBlond, SVP of Product Management, SDL

What are your biggest opportunities & challenges for next 12-24 months? 

The need for digital experience technologies will continue to explode in the coming period.This presents an opportunity for SDL as the activities organizations are doing center around content, channels and understanding customer behaviors which ties well to the capabilities we offer. I think we are especially well aligned to these needs when it comes to how we can help global organization setup their content supply chain for delivering global experiences.  

However, this opportunity also poses a challenge. With so much technology available, many organizations are left with a mish-mash of solutions that don’t integrate properly and in turn, fail to live up to the promise they make. The marketing cloud seems to be the Holy Grail solution, being offered by the large platform players like Adobe, Oracle, Salesforce and IBM. While this gets at the integration issue, it doesn’t help manage all aspects and touchpoints that go into a global experience. SDL believes in the need to go beyond the marketing cloud, which is often perceived as the end-to-end solution.  For this reason, we’re facing a perception and education challenge on what a cloud provider can offer versus what organizations truly need to deliver superior digital experiences. 

What keeps your clients up at night? 

Our customers are worried about the need to re-invent their entire business DNA to face the digital era. This comes under different umbrellas like customer experience, digital experience or some other acronym but what it really entains is transforming all aspect of their business to better connect their product and services to their increasingly connected (and verbal) consumers. As one could imagine, failing to get this right has financial implications for the brands organization manage. Some of our research supports this by highlighting that  during the year after a CX (customer experience) failure, brands will lose 65 percent of the revenue previously contributed from those customers who had experienced the failure  These are pretty big stakes for our customers so it’s no surprise that they are spending more on technologies and services for driving their digital business. 

What’s the hardest thing to educate a client about? 

It might seem obvious, but delivering global experiences is a really complex thing that spans content, localization, workflow, personalization, processs, staffing.  Our challenge is really to show how difficult this can get.  An example of this is how we need to educate that localization cannot be an afterthought to a content strategy and the benefits gained from having an integrated content and translation technology process. Additionally, there are regional and cultural nuances to consider. For example, Black Friday promotions aren’t relevant to all customers in all regions or campaigns that resonate well in one culture might completely fail in another. Ensuring all customer engagements are personalized for each individual’s language and cultural preferences is critical for building customer relationships and loyalty. 

What are some unmet needs in the marketing technology landscape?

The industry needs more partnerships. With almost 2,000 marketing technology vendors, even the cloud platform providers need open architectures to partner with other technologies. This is really needed so that we can lower to costs of integrations for the industry but also allow customers to innovate faster and worry less about having to glue multiple systems together.

What social network do you anticipate accelerating growth in the next year?

The social network that puts a focus on user experience and personalization can expect the most growth.  I don’t really think we will see a new network that will dominate others in the current landscape.  Retailers are keen on getting more and more traction with networks like Pinterest while marketers are pushing more and more content to video platforms like YouTube,but Facebook is not going to go away and its working on aligning better to the needs users have.  

For example, we’ve seen Facebook streamline the experience with its “Instant articles,” catering to millennials’ increasing preference to source news from social channels. Facebook has continued to tweak its algorithms so more relevant content, like videos, show up on users’ newsfeeds to eliminate all of the sorting through. These steps will help Facebook accelerate its growth and it’s always pleasant to see the other social channels starting to get onboard with similar initiatives to improve the relevancy of content being pushed to users as well as enhance the overall experience. 

–Dominique LeBlond is SVP of product management at SDL

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