New year, new opportunities

These past 12 months have been really positive for us at Lake Solutions and we’ve enjoyed helping our clients make the most out of their websites. Now as we begin 2019, we are both looking back and looking forward. 

For businesses in general, 2018 was not without its challenges including uncertainty surrounding Brexit and, for all organisations, the pressures of making sure they are complying with the GDPR, which came into force in May. While it was intended to bring greater accountability and transparency to businesses which hold personal data – it made for many a sleepless night for business owners.

The biggest change which GDPR brought is around consent which must now be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous – with a positive opt-in option offered, while accountability is also key. Thankfully, our clients which use a Sitecore platform for their website were in luck, as Sitecore was up to speed with this new legislation and we were able to support them with this vital GDPR compliance requirement.

While some of us were worrying about our personal data being protected, 2018 was a year which saw even bigger steps forward in the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning. AI is already impacting on our everyday lives – with many of us utilising a face recognition system to unlock our phones or have friends tagged in images. 

Sitecore is already working on embedding machine learning into its core product with Sitecore Cortex - enabling advanced content testing against complex visitor profiles to ensure the maximum value is gained from your content and conversion points.  At Lake Solutions we have also been utilising machine learning to help content editors create and deliver content more efficiently.

So watch this space during 2019 as AI and machine learning is making websites work better for content authors, consumers and increasing engagement along the way.

Another trend which caught the attention of marketers during 2018 was digital asset management or DAM. Consumers today are demanding a variety of content delivered in myriad different ways but the majority of businesses admit that they don’t have the technology in place to manage their content or even know where images and videos, for instance, are stored. This is where DAM can help – offering the digital equivalent of a library.

Again, Sitecore has recognised this need and at its 2018 Symposium in Orlando, announced that it was buying Stylelabs, creator of the Marketing Content Hub® platform. It is a move which will see the Sitecore Experience Cloud incorporate Stylelabs’ digital asset management, marketing resource management (MRM), and product information management (PIM) applications. 

Our long experience with Sitecore means we are often called upon to provide consultancy - stepping in where projects might be under pressure to deliver or carrying out a project review. We can also run a performance review on existing Sitecore platforms; conduct performance tests of your project, undertake code reviews and offer recommendations to address any performance pinch points. 

Last year also saw us continue to enjoy a great relationship with Octopus Deploy as a partner; we are proud to be part of a something which helps teams around the world to deliver working software to production faster than they did before. This relationship has seen us work with organisations across Europe, with plans to do more of the same throughout 2019.

These last 12 months have seen us working with our clients to upgrade their websites to Sitecore 9 and, with the recent rolling out of 9.1, which offers a variety of enhancements and upgrades, we are looking forward to seeing how we can offer these to our clients. 

In this fast-moving world, 2019 promises to offer even more developments capture the imagination. 

At Lake Solutions, we have been working with a wide variety of clients in sectors including IT services, education, travel and financial services. In many cases, we have been able to make use of Sitecore’s personalisation capabilities, which tracks a visitor’s journey through the website, ensuring that future visits are increasingly tailored. 

We predict that there will be an increased and more focused adoption of personalisation. A college we’ve worked with recently utilises personalisation throughout its website – which is key as it serves a variety of customers. For example, if somebody visits the website looking at ‘A level’ courses then, next time they visit, they will start to see more content about this type of qualification, rather than apprenticeships, for instance. 

Over the past 12 months we’ve seen the growth of chatbot technology and we expect this to continue throughout 2019 and beyond. We know that customers would generally rather interact with another human, but the technology is there nowadays to at least ascertain what a customer needs before pointing them in the right direction – whether that’s to a section of the website or to a real team member. That said, we’re all getting used to chatting to Siri or Alexa – but we know they aren’t human and giggle when they misunderstand our questions. When we’ve got a customer enquiry, we are less likely to be so understanding.

As technology has developed at increasingly faster rates, businesses have found it hard to keep up. For those which have kept up the pace, many have found themselves running a variety of platforms for multiple purposes. To bring some order to this marketplace, 2019 should see the increasing convergence of marketing and technology or martech. This is a positive step for marketers who need a single view of customers to understand and serve them better.

Finally, we all know how key video content has become over the past few years and this will only continue. Video is a great way of sharing a lot of information and conveying your brand’s personality and consumers love to engage with video. 

If you’d like to find out more about how Lake Solutions can help your company keep up with these latest developments during 2019, then give us a call. 

Article Details

Ian Jepp
16 January 2019