Innovation Nation
Innovation Nation

Episode · 1 year ago

Empathy, Innovation, & Evolution in MarTech w/ Paige O’Neill


When innovation is a part of the very DNA of your company, combining the essential culture with passionate, ideas-filled new hires is a beautiful combination. Though the pandemic changed everything for marketers, it also created the perfect conditions for innovation in MarTech.

In this episode, I interview Paige O’Neill, CMO at Sitecore, about innovation in the marketing discipline, in MarTech, and in her personal career.

What we talked about:

  • How empathy became a guiding business principle
  • Driving a modern digital tech stack
  • Sitecore’s innovation-based growth

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Innovation is all around us. In fact, everyone innovates, often unbeknowns to themselves. Many mistakenly assumed the innovation is either a big capital project, a figurative bolt of lightning that brings inspiration, or the province of some exceptionally gifted person. This is the myth of innovation. But you can innovate as well. You are listening to innovation nation, the podcast where top executives and industry experts are sharing their insights on harnessing the power of innovation. We're here to help you stay ahead of the curve by driving your own innovation. Here's your host, Jasmine Martyr Rosen Hi. This is your host, Jasmine March Rossi. Thanks for joining us today for two Zoos Innovation Nation podcast. Our guest today is page O'Neil, who is the CMO of side court. Thanks for joining us, page, welcome. Thanks so much for heaving me. Looking forward to the conversation. So page works with side core, which is a global provider of content management services, perennially in the absolutely right spot, in the right quote rant of Gardner Magic Quadrant, and can you tell us a little bit how you've had to adjust with the changes of the pandemic in these strategies you have deployed inside court. Yeah, and you know, psych core is a where a software company, and we are kind of at the intersection of customer experience and helping brands create digital experiences for their customers, so interactions that you're having on websites or cross any kind of digital property. And so if you think about the pandemic in light of our business, it's been pretty interesting in many, many ways. I mean, I think from a marketing perspective, and I'm sure we'll talk about this a bit, marketers all over the globe had to completely throw at all of their plans and just readjust everything. But from a business perspective, psych core found itself in a position to...

...really be able to help not only our current customers, who were looking at how do I accelerate digital plans that I had in process to build experiences, because suddenly all of their customers were only able to interact with them on digital which led to some interesting interactions, but also looking at other companies who were maybe a little bit slow to adopt digital transformation or a little bit slow to adopt digital they suddenly really wanted to hear what psychcore had to say about building out digital. So I think being at that intersection as a company when suddenly the whole world went digital, it's been very interesting for our business and I think it's just accelerated digital transformation, which was already on a very fast path right and we were already all barreling down this this path to transfer to digital. But I've heard Mackenzie and others say that the pandemic has accelerated that shift anywhere from five to seven years across every industry. That's amazing statistics. Now, when I think of pside core I automatically think of innovation because for years and years and years, as I said, it's been a leader in the magic quadron that Gardner puts out. It really has a great following. You have to be innovative to stake out that position and actually maintain it. Are there any kind of secret sources that you deploy internally to drive the organizational innovation? You know, I think innovation was just born in our culture and our DNA are founder, Michael Seaford. I mean he essentially invented web content management right with the vision that he had and the work that the company was doing. On on website. Technology back to twicy Cy Coors actually having its twenty anniversary this year, so twenty years ago. That vision was there from the early inception of the product and I think that you know, when you when you have a founder who was an inventor like that, you get that that innovation DNA in your culture. And of course markets change and we've become a...

...leader and are a very strong leader in all of our market segments. But I think that that DNA, of you know, kind of we got there first and we helped invented it, pervades and persists throughout the company. That's amazing. Twenty years for software. It's actually a very long timespan given all the changes of innovation that happened. Do you have certain approaches to maintaining the culture of the drives that keeps the DNA active to drive the innovation? Well, I think that, you know, psychcore is going through tremendous growth right now and I think we've gone through I don't know how many growth spurts we would have gone through throughout our history, because I think you know, companies go through growth spurts periodically or you know, some of them just go through a very quick growth spur up front. I guess I'm never go through growth and then they they're not around anymore. But I mean in Cych coorse case and we I just know from the history of the company that at every you know, kind of market inflection point there's been a growth spurt and I think that that growth and you get this this beautiful combination of the people that have been at the company for a long time and kind of hold the DNA and the culture and the soul of Cypore, and then you get these new people coming in and they're super excited to be at the company and they're passionate about the growth opportunity and they've got new ideas and I think when you can mix those two together, you can get a really beautiful combination and I think that's that's honestly one of Psych coorse secrets is we've been able to do that at several stops along the way and get that infusion that that is just propelled us for. And that's happening right now very quickly. We're I think we're going to hire about a thousand people over the next year were we're going to double in size in terms of our employees and we're going through some very rapid growth and so those conversations continue, that opportunity to infuse the new with the with the traditional continues. That's phenomenal adding another a thousand people to the site core family. Are there any special qualities and then new hires that you're looking for, like do you have a personal approach to hiring, for skills and characteristics...

...that you seek out on the marketing side? I mean, I think the crop we're hiring across all faces of the company. Were hiring in salespeople and we're hiring or hiring developers and we're hiring really across every department. And you know, I mean my philosophy on the marketing side is to always try to hire people that are just way smarter than I am and, you know, kind of get out of their way. And that's, you know, kind of been my approach and an approach I always encourage my other teammate maker team members to make, and I think when you do that and you you just let people go and do what they're good at, good things happen. That's fantastic. That's something that stupid jobs also said, right. You know, you hire people in here what they have to tell you. MMMM, I heard you speak in a different presentation about how you have to come with time to listen to customers, to connect with them. That also is an innovative approach that was borne out of the pandemic. But can you speak a little bit more about that? Absolutely, and you know, I did a just a series of linkedin interviews right when the pandemic first started and in honestly, it was mostly a it was mostly a personal thing. We did end up, you know, kind of posting it on the site core channels and talking about it through citecore, but it was really my response to the pandemic as a professional because, you know, we all went into lockdown and you're trying to deal with this as a human being, you're dealing with it as a leader of a large in a large organization, and my response was a right, let's start talking to people who are experts in different in different areas, whether it's marketing or whether it's industry analysts. I think I talked to some HR people, I talked to some recruiters on what was happening in the job market and as I started to have these conversations, which you know, I just kind of posted informally to linked in. This theme came up from all of the people that I was talking to, and this was very early in the pandemic around empathy, and it just resonated with me so much and it kind of mapped back to site core's brand purpose, which is human connections in...

...a digital world. And I realized, as I was hearing these themes of companies talking about how they really needed empathy from the vendors that they were dealing with, or employers had to have empathy for their employees who were going through difficult things at home, that you empathy was really a word that was emerging from the pandemic in a way that I don't think we used it before in business, and I just watch this continue to crescendo and other people started to talk about it and I just think it's the thing that we've come out with, as we hopefully are coming out the other side of the pandemic in many parts of the world, is that going forward, that's got to be a guiding business principle is we have to really think about empathy and empathy first perspective, whether that's for our customers and the services that were providing, and obviously that maps very closely to cite corps business, thinking about the customer experience and how we can leverage technology to deliver a rich experience. It maps to the employee experience and how can we help our employees navigate give them the flexibility. I think working from home is given us all this this different notion of what that should look like, and so I just think it's so applicable across the board and and I'm seeing it continue to expand and persist and other brands picking up on talking about empathy. So I think it's going to be a real trend going forward that we're going to continue to hear talked about for the foreseeable future. I do agree with that. Recently I was on or to facilitate three gbi round tables with seems in all three groups the only consistency was their reference to empathy marketing. Yeah, and it's something that everybody was looking at, which done brings me to the next point. Obviously, with empathy marketing it's a reflection of also the change in digital scale, which I think you and I agree. Digital is not a new thing. It it was here. It's just there was greater realization by everybody else. But then the whole buying and selling cycles are also different. What trends do see? How like...

...marketers and sales have to innovate to approach the landscape. Yeah, and I you know, and I think exactly as you said. I think these trends or already well under way before the pandemic, but the pandemic has accelerated. And you if I think about what happened within my marketing department as we were going into lockdown, and you know we were, we were fairly digital. We were operating, you know, very digital marketing strategy across all areas of the globe, more so in the America's than, saying, some some countries in Europe, but digital really across the board. But at the same time we were still very reliant on facetoface, on in person events, on those those conversations that that people were having together, and having to just basically throw out the marketing plan, cancel all the in person events and figure out how to adapt to a digital format was a real wake up call for every marketing team on the planet, you know, certainly for my team, and I think that. But you know, what was already well under way even before we had to kind of go through that. That turmoil was this notion that the traditional ways of managing marketing leads to the lead funnel. They they're just becoming less and less effective, sending, you know, endless emails to less targeted prospects or accounts, just, you know, doing online advertising that wasn't super targeted, or not not having alignment between sales and marketing on who are programs going after and what's the efficacy there? Those things were already being talked about as being less effective and I think we've had such a revolution in Martech technolog in the technology that drive sales, and not just Martek but you know sales technology as well, that we now have the tools to understand who are we targeting, what buying signals are we getting from them, by the types of of interactions they're having across digital channels, and how do we leverage those signals to be more targeted and more specific and have our outreach be more welcome...

...because they're actually in the process of figuring out that they need to solve a problem, versus just getting spam or cold calls when they're not in that in that mode. So I and I think all of those things have come together right, the urgency of the pandemic and the shift to digital and the the acceleration of everything being digital with what was already under way with the marketing and sales technology. And so I think as we come out the other side, I mean I know that within my department I've, you know, got an urgent mandate onto the team for how do we get through what I think is just a revolution in the demand generation process to come out the other side and be hyper targeted and what we're doing and know that even though we will go back to some physical interactions because those are effective, digital is here to stay and the vast majority of the marketing that we do is going to be digital for the foreseeable future. Interesting and definitely I also see increase demand in the rocket place where people with digital skills. Absolutely yeah, every and I'm on a several different CMO forums where, you know, CMOS get together and talk about trends and inevitably some of them are always making career changes and we just had a whole conversation and one of the groups that I'm in about how a couple of them that are interviewing. The thing that's really at the forefront is that the language is now shifted when companies are looking for CMOS to you know, I need I need a modern CMO who's going to drive a modern digital text act. And that was not a key talking point, I don't know, eighteen months ago, two years ago, it sure it was. It was out there for sure for companies that were for thinking, but now it's becoming the norm, you know. Right. So those that more forward thinking, because there's a lot of statistics out there that talks about how CMOS purchase even more technology today and see how Yos. Yeah, I mean I think that's true, right. I mean, I'm just thinking of the we just we just did a tech audit within my company because we have a new a new CFO, and he's soon just kind of looking at all right, what... do we have with in Psychoor, and it was amazing the the high percentage that marketing actually had. I mean, I've gotten, I've got I think I've got twenty four different pieces of technology in my text act and you know, we're midsize company. So he isn't that an opportunity for side court to drive greater intriguation. So there's less than twenty four. Yeah, I could be you know, and we always come round to this argument. I've seen this multiple times in my career. Is that, you know, it better to have best to breed and to have multiple pieces of technology, or is it better to, you know, kind of buy, you take a sweet approach and and I think we've kind of landed. I don't know if that war is over. We're going to continue to go back and forth having that dialog. I think we've kind of landed somewhere in the middle right. I mean if you can find a vendor that's vendor that's integrated several key pieces of the equation and you can do business with that vendor, that's fantastic. But you're it's very unlikely, given the complexity of technology and just the vast array of solutions available, that you're going to be able to get everything from one vendor. But yeah, it's it's absolutely our strategy to continue to expand our text act and be able to provide me. We just we just acquired a customer data platform that we think is going to lay her on very nicely to our our digital experience platform to be able to get us that, in a sixty nine review of the data, some of the intent based data to apply earlier on in the marketing stag and that that's a nice layer on piece for us that that we didn't really have before. Can you talk a little bit how, I'm the channel marketing is dry and innovation and how you've possibly changed certain behaviors for you or to get on the channel versus Multi Channel? Yeah, I don't. I mean I think that there are so many channels now right that the conversation point for the last couple of years has been how do we as marketers gage the efficiency, the effectiveness of them all? How do we understand what to prioritize? You've got the whole argument of, you know, be Toc strategy versus be to be strategy. Clearly I'm on the be tob side, so I think about channels very differently than you know. Obviously a B Toccmo would, but I think that the trend towards really being... to understand customer behavior across all the channels and be able to aggregate what we learned about that behavior from a psych coorse perspective, right so that we can gather that into a personalized experience that the customer expects to have. You know the brands that I'm doing business with on a regular basis. I expect that they know what I would I purchased from them, but I've been looking for what I might want to buy next and they're serving up content or offers that map to that. And for them to be able to understand that, they've got to know what I'm doing, not just on their website but out in the wider universe as well. So I think it's it's a very complicated technology stack to be able to deliver that data, but consumers are expecting it and so I think in the more text they right. That's really where the trend has driven. Could not agree more and frankly, I think because business fires are also consumers and their product lives, given how deeply embedded they are into everything digital, they almost developed the same level of expectation for avtb brands. Absolutely and I think there are a lot of lessons that be tobcmos can learn from B Toc. I mean, you know, I've been around as a CMO long enough to remember when you used to just think I'll be to be completely different from B Toc. Can't even really compare the two. And now I'm hiring for a position right now and I'm actually looking for someone that's got some BTC experience because I think the ideas and the processes that they bring to the table will give a creative spark. Absolutely. Any other closing thoughts that you'd like to share how you personally have approached innovation, you know, as part of your career and outlook? You know, I think the thing that's interesting about you know, you say the word innovation and I think it needs different things to different people, right because I think that when I think about the way that I've approached innovation throughout my career, I just think of it as understanding where the market is heading and what customers want and thinking about...

...trends that are becoming popular. And then how do you apply that to marketing? How do you apply that to leadership? How do you apply that to the business? How do you make that providative in a way that's going to get people excited? And I guess that is innovation, but I don't know that I you know, I've thought about it explicitly as innovation, but my approach is is to try to figure out what's going to be exciting and then think about the audiences and how to get them engaged, and I think that that's really the center of how I think about it. That's a very important distinction. Actually. That's part of the things we're trying to shed light on, because more people are innovating all the time, without labeling it that way, the evolution, the decisionmaking, all of that is layer as an innovation. In essence it is, and I think it's you know, I think sometimes people feeldaunt at thinking, well, I'm not an innovator, that doesn't apply to me, but then when you kind of unpack it and you define what innovation can actually mean, it can mean so many different things, you realize that, yeah, it actually it does. It's a different way of thinking that that sparks creativity and new ideas and forward progress. Absolutely well, thank you very much for joining us today. Again, it's page O'Neil's TMO of cycle. Thank you, and this is your host, Jasmine. Much to USK him. You've been listening to innovation nation. For more, subscribe to the podcast in your favorite podcast player or connect with us on Linkedin. Thanks for listening.

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