SDL CEO Mark Lancaster on Saas, Partners + CXM #sdlinnovate
SDL has developed a global CXM strategy, will slowly transition to a Sass model for some products, and work harder to build up partner relationships, SDL CEO Mark Lancaster said at the SDL Innovate conference this week.

Internet Has Not Delivered on its Promise

SDL has been in existence for two decades, and in that time, the promise the Internet once offered has not been delivered, Lancaster said as he paced back and forth across the conference stage. We thought everyone would go online right away, and it would transform the world very quickly, he said. Instead, that more or less overnight transformation has come via the mobile revolution.

If we look at a map of the world, the places where GDP will grow the most in the next few years, matches almost exactly with where there is virtually no Internet connectivity. Mobile connectivity is exploding around the developing world, and it is often the only online access people have. This is the kind of rapid expansion of the Internet that was once held up back in the early SDL days, Lancaster said, and enterprises overall are enormously challenged by this digital revolution.

With so much Internet activity, customers can find out more about a company than ever before. Customer experience management is a strategy and practice for managing customer experience so they stay loyal and become brand advocates and ambassadors, Lancaster said. By enabling customers to find information when they need via their chosen method, they take another step along a journey of desired behaviors that align to that CXM strategy, he said.

Saas + SDL Partners

Customer experience management is by and large appreciated by executives at most enterprise companies, Lancaster said. The problem is that it can only be implemented by activating it across entire companies, an immensely complex task. Only after a company develops a global strategy around CXM can it then be implemented, and at SDL, that strategy revolves around three pillars, Lancaster said.

Those pillars are insights, orchestration and contextual experiences, he said. Customer insights can be gathered through multiple touchpoints, app analytics, CRM and transactional data, for example. These insights will be somewhat siloed no matter what, Lancaster pointed out, and that means there needs to be orchestration at some level. Silos around workflow, governance, localization, systems integration and content need to be organized by the customer experience centric departments in an organization like marketing, Lancaster said. 

That data needs to be used to create contextual experiences, and they need to be multilingual at every customer touchpoint whether in stores, call centers, documentation, review sites or email, he said. This SDL strategy will allow the company to evolve its products and services to better fit its customer needs, and that includes moving to a Saas model for some things, Lancaster said.

For Tridion customers, SDL will continue to be on premise for quite a while because of the complexity involved for some customers. This inherent complexity has apparently forced SDL to change some of its own behavior, because the company plans on building up better partner relationships in the future. SDL has never done very well with this, Lancaster said. 

"We can't do this without partners."

That wasn't necessarily a call for help from Lancaster, rather simply his plain spoken style. As enterprise tech company CEOs go, he's quite approachable, even gregarious. Perhaps that is one of reasons the company he co founded 20 years ago has done so well. He knows his company isn't perfect, and he doesn't seem to strive for it, but he does seem to have a keen understanding of where the market is going, and the company's more focused CXM strategy, we think, fits in well.