Zurich Insurance and Acuity Brands Tell Their Sitecore Stories

After chatting with General Mills and ASQ at Sitecore Symposium, I sat down with two other, quite different, brands and asked them how they were using the solution.

Zurich Insurance

Deepak Mathews is senior manager, digital experience, at the Zurich Insurance Company, the global insurance giant with 40 major business units, and over 50,000 employees spread over 200 countries. “My role from a global perspective is to provide different tools, technologies, different user experiences,” said Mathews. “We’re almost like an internal agency, working with many providers. I’m responsible not just for Sitecore, but for the entire martech stack.”

Essentially, Mathews provides a centralized service for Zurich operations in countries around the world, but it’s not one-size-fits-all. “As a country,” he said, “you can have your own local provider. We just handle the licensing and the set-up. Then we have our own suite of services. If you want a simple website, there’s a cost; if you want a more complex website with integration, that’s a different offering. From the corporate center we offer Sitecore. We have, I think, 32 countries on our global [Sitecore] platform; then there are many who choose the global and have a local, and some just have a local.”

Different regulations in different territories, together with Zurich’s aggressive acquisition strategy, dictate this custom approach. Some countries don’t use Sitecore, Mathews said. “Australia, for example, is on Adobe, Spain uses Liferay. But most are now on Sitecore.”

Sitecore was established at Zurich by the time Mathews joined. What are its main functions at the company? “We see it as our strategic asset for web experience —
websites, landing pages, microsites, campaign pages, etc. We’re able to personalize things and do A/B testing. We integrate the other technologies into Sitecore.” That includes CRM, where again, while many countries use Salesforce, some use Microsoft Dynamics, and some use Sugar. “Sitecore can take data from the CRM to personalize, or send data back into the CRM.”

Zurich is starting to use Sitecore for the mobile app experience. The content is authored in Sitecore, then pushed via APIs to a framework like React Native to build the app. 

Unlike many Sitecore customers, Zurich is not selling SKUs. Its insurance products are automatically generated, based on customer information, so it’s not really playing in the eCommerce space. Commoditizing policies doesn’t make sense, Mathews explained, because it would sacrifice the individual’s personal risk profile.

Zurich’s main play, therefore, is content. “We have different types of users. There are brokers and agents. Customers obviously come to find information on the products, we have thought leadership. We use Sitecore to personalize and reach the right audience through segmentation. When somebody goes on Sitecore, we are able to identify whether they are a broker or a customer from one or two clicks, and then the content will change to match. It’s the entire journey, so whether it’s pre-purchase or post-purchase, we offer them different content.”

Acuity Brands

Andrew Crowder is VP of enterprise architecture, and web and marketing technologies, at Acuity Brands, a lighting and building management company which, unlike Zurich, has countless SKUs. The main business is commercial and industrial lighting, but also roadway and some residential.

“Acuity is a manufacturer selling B2B. We don’t do any eCommerce on the site directly, but we basically run an eCommerce site without the commerce portion,” said Crowder. “It’s a large catalogue, with a lot of product information. As a company we’re made up of about 34 brands (it ebbs and flows), and we go to market as Acuity Brands, and as [individual] brands. So we run a primary site, and 16 brand sites. Our challenge was to create an implementation for these websites in a way that was manageable and maintainable without a staff of 35 people.”

Sitecore has been established at Acuity for about seven or eight years, while Crowder was helping customers implement the platform in his previous role at a consulting company. “I wanted to take all the knowledge and best practices I’d gained over four years, and do it the way I thought it should be done.”

That doesn’t mean there was no implementation challenge when Crowder arrived at Acuity. “We re-invented the whole thing from scratch last year. We tossed it all away and started again because of the way it had been implemented. It was not salvageable. It was an implementation problem, not a technology problem: multiple vendors and a lack of leadership.” Among the problems Crowder was asked to fix were outages, down times, and slow performance. The existing implementation had been on premise, but Acuity is now running Sitecore in the Microsoft Azure cloud with a failover instance to guard against outages.

Acuity’s website is visited by the agents and distributors who sell and deliver the products, primarily to architects developing large-scale lighting plans. “We have these groups coming to our sites looking for a very diverse set of products: outdoor lighting, indoor lighting, control systems. We had to figure out the journey across all that, so we went out and interviewed them.”

Even more than stable performance, Crowder was looking to improve search. “Search is the number one feature on our site. Because of our position in the market, we get a lot of direct traffic. The first thing people do is search, and we have about 5,000 products on the website across lots of different categories. It’s not easy to build a journey to all of those, so we use Coveo as our search platform.” Coveo, a Sitecore partner, uses AI to surface relevant search results based on user behavior, at scale.

Personalization is an ongoing journey. “We’re using Coveo and their recommendation tools in search. We’re also doing more of the ‘Amazon piece’ —
people who looked at this are also looking at this. We’re hoping to roll that out in the next couple of months. We’re initiating a project right now to gather analytics from across our social channels, our email channels, and web channels, in a sort of CDP. We’re bringing all this together to do better segmentation. We already do segmentation in our social and email channels, but we haven’t quite gotten there on the web front yet, partly because the way it had been implemented didn’t allow Sitecore to do that kind of personalization. Now we can, we just have to do it.”

Sitecore covered DMN’s expenses to attend Symposium 2019

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