This was my second consecutive year attending The Personalization Summit. When I attended last year as a new Evergage customer, the world of personalization seemed more like an emerging technology than something digital marketing was ready to embrace as a standard. What a difference 12 short months has made. The landscape has changed, and web marketing has evolved into a new iteration – one that’s ready to embrace the dynamics of personalization. The days of static, one-size-fits-all experiences are quickly becoming a thing of the past. And as exciting as that realization was, my very next thought was to prepare myself for what I was going to see over the next two days.
My job at Citrix is to operationalize our personalization practice. A common issue I’m faced with is that my internal customers don’t have the benefit of being completely immersed in the forefront of personalization, and there’s a lot of confusion as to what all the different possibilities are. The message in the keynotes at The Personalization Summit reinforced that the only thing standing between delivering a 1-to-1 experience to my site visitors is overcoming this confusion and helping to bridge the gap. The technology is in place, and now’s the time, finally, to “realize the dream.”
I even spoke during one of the keynotes:
There were some real "must see” features in the keynotes. One was delivered by Don Peppers, of “Peppers & Rogers” fame for those that remember the book, The One to One Future: Building Relationships One Customer at a Time. His message was a searing reminder that you can market to your customers in only two different ways... the right way, and the wrong way. The marketplace offers a plethora of other options for your customers, and if you’re unwilling to speak to them directly, and in a way that benefits them — your own self-serving message will be flatly rejected in favor of something else.
Finally, and always the most anticipated portion of the event for me, Evergage announced its latest technological enhancements. There were three key announcements that will be difference makers: Customer Data Platform (CDP), Evergage Gears, and Contextual Bandit.
Leading the way was the understanding that Evergage is a CDP: The ability to bring back-office data (e.g. from your CRM) into the Evergage platform in real time takes personalization across, what I refer to as, “the last mile.” Here at Citrix, I’ve been able to enrich our user data profiles with the combination of custom development and Evergage’s API, but the data was not transferred in real time. This barrier couldn’t be overcome without help. Voila! CDP enhancements provide the ability to synch a site visitor’s info with their back-office data in real time. That’s the last mile, and now the finish line is in sight!
Next up was the introduction of a framework called Evergage Gears. Among other things, this will help Evergage customers reach into the platform and grab whatever data is needed, however it is needed. Customers can integrate various analytical and intelligence tools like Tableau, or Looker, for this. One of my primary reasons for choosing the Evergage platform was that it is wide open to me — very “white box.” Gears further extends the platform’s already open nature.
Last was Evergage’s newest iteration of machine learning called “Contextual Bandit.” This new algorithm vastly expands on Evergage’s existing machine learning capabilities. This is something that hadn’t been publicly announced at the time, but has since been released. The promise of improved machine learning is something that sets the Evergage platform apart from others in the landscape. The demonstration of Contextual Bandit was beyond exciting, and everyone left the presentation wanting to take advantage of it to improve the value of their personalization programs.
The remainder of the first day contained sessions for both prospective and current customers alike. Learning about how other companies utilize the Evergage platform is always an enlightening experience. Early in the day, I attended “How Companies are Improving Demand Gen and ABM Results with Web Personalization.” This session featured applied learnings from four different demand gen professionals. For anyone that deals with an extended sales cycle, including us at Citrix, this session demonstrated some great use cases centering on returning visitors. Subtle changes make a big difference with this population, and the UX for campaigns of this nature is super easy to put together. I got some great ideas on how to improve what we’re doing for our lead nurture program in this session.
Another session that stood out was one led by the Evergage team called “B2B Personalization Strategy and Execution.” I’m a strong advocate of process, and the organizational materials and campaign guidelines presented in this session were outstanding. You can pick up any of these assets on the Summit conference site (https://evergage-summit.pathable.com/) for some real guidance on how to stay organized when you’re getting campaign ideas together.
The second and final day of the Summit was focused on existing customers. This narrower focus allowed the sessions to take on more of a hands-on type of feel. All of the sessions were led by Evergage staff and provided a glimpse into how the people that create the product approach solving problems with it. It can be humbling to realize how many things in the platform you’re overlooking on a regular basis, but the Evergage team is always extra nice about how they expose your blind spots. There were many for me!
The Personalization Summit 2018 ended up to be another reminder about why great conferences can make a big difference throughout the year. I’m not really a “conference guy,” but the time I spent with my peers at this event is incredibly valuable. Everyone I met reinforced that we’re all in this together, at about the same place, and that we’re turning personalization from an emerging technology into a standard digital marketing discipline. Great job, Karl & the rest of the Evergage team! See you in 2019.
Dennis is a Business Analyst in the Digital Marketing Services Department at Citrix Systems in Fort Lauderdale. As an Evergage customer, he has championed the platform as the personalization technology for the Citrix web ecosystem.