Fostering resilience, adaptability and creativity in the digital economy

I spoke with Rouven Weßling, Contentful’s director of technology partnerships (EMEA), about tech trends and what we can learn from brands that demonstrated resilience, adaptability and creativity during a challenging year. Our entire conversation is on Cloudinary’s latest MX Matters podcast, but here are a few of the highlights.

Powering content-first customer experiences 

Customer experience relies on content. This fact has never been more true than in the last year when content — such as image, video and text — has been central to powering customer experiences online. 

Brands that can quickly create and deliver content-rich digital experiences have a competitive advantage. They can react and adapt to changing consumer needs and behaviors, especially in the face of uncertainty and unexpected limitations. 

The Contentful content platform enables brands to do just that. It provides a central hub for creating, editing and managing content and the tools to publish it on every digital channel. It’s API-first, fully extensible and scales up for the most demanding digital experiences. These features give brands the complete freedom to create the customer experiences they want without being constrained to the technologies they use. 

Read why agile ecommerce brands increase sales and move more quickly with Contentful.

The great unbundling of marketing tools

We’re continuing to see the breakup of traditional marketing tools. It’s no longer the expectation to go to one single vendor to do everything for you. 

Instead, today we see companies picking individual pieces of their marketing stack, whether it’s asset management, personalization or experimentation — assembling a truly bespoke solution that meets their specific needs. API-first tolls have ignited this trend, and this level of flexibility and customization has allowed companies to experiment and innovate more. 

Allowing customers the choice to pick and implement solutions that fit better for their business needs sets them up to respond to changes in the market and the needs of their customers faster and more effectively. 

Flexible and adaptable tools mean that technology can respond to changes rather than add to the troubles. Data model and architectural flexibility reduce the amount of time developers spend customizing, building and deploying digital experiences. SDKs, open source field editors and design systems speed the process up even more.

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The digital transformation pivot 

The good news is that companies have fostered resiliency, adaptivity and creativity over the past year. Projects or ideas that would have taken years to execute came together in a matter of months, if not weeks.

We saw Contentful customers across all industries building faster and more engaging apps and experiences — from Atlassian to Equinox. Businesses everywhere leaped forward in digital transformation.

Those that had been slow to start their digital transformation were suddenly in crisis and had to make tough decisions quickly. They needed to figure out how to survive now that their 2020 plans were off the table. 

Pivot became the buzzword of 2020. Every industry from ecommerce, hospitality and retail had to find alternative ways to meet their customers where they were — digitally, of course. There are lessons to be learned from those who did. 

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Luck is preparation meets opportunity

Some brands adapted their product lines and organizations to fit the moment. ASOS, for example, created a new section for “comfy clothes,” knowing their summer season wasn’t going to cut it at a time when consumers weren’t going out. 

While luck may have a part in any business’s ability to thrive during the pandemic, as Weßling states in the podcast, “luck is preparation meets opportunity.” Weßling refers to Disney’s fortuitous timing in releasing Disney+ and says, “[Disney] did the preparation, the opportunity came and they got rewarded for this.” 

Digital transformation is an ongoing process 

Disney, ASOS and all of the other brands that successfully managed 2020 aren’t going to remain stagnant. They’ll continue developing new experiences with flexible tech stacks that enable them to meet whatever comes next. Digital transformation isn’t an endpoint — it’s the process that takes you from a slowly evolving traditional organization to a digital-first business.   

Read more about the digital transformation maturity model and listen to the full podcast.

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