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Connecting Content and People – SDL Connect 2018: Part Two #SDLConnect18

With a jam packed SDL Connect 2018, our part one post shared some of the discussion points from our keynote speakers from the morning of day one, providing a rundown of the announcements we made – from the launch of our new SDL Tridion DX platform, including SDL Tridion Site 9 and SDL Tridion Docs, to the introduction of our next-generation, intelligent SDL Language Cloud, and SDL Machine Translation in the Cloud, to a demonstration of SDL Content Assistant. We had plenty of exciting news to share, alongside insightful discussion – all related to content, and how companies can respond to the growing content challenge.

In this conference wrap up, we’d like to dive deeper into some of the afternoon highlights from day one, and give a roundup of the sessions we hosted with friends of SDL on day two.

To kick off the afternoon agenda, we welcomed Cheryl MacKinnon to the stage, Principal Analyst Serving Enterprise Architecture at Forrester Research. Day one morning speakers teed up Cheryl’s session nicely by talking through a global content operating model (GCOM), and why this is the framework required to underpin a content supply chain, and drive a continuous and compelling customer experience. Cheryl also presented the results from SDL commissioned research to back up this thinking.

The full Forrester Consulting research report can be found here, but Cheryl talked through how ‘Today’s Content Supply Chains Prevent Continuous Customer Journeys’, focusing on perceptions, insights and challenges from marketing organizations, sales teams, product teams and post-sales support teams. She emphasized again how the volume of content is growing but the nature of it is unchanged. Alongside this, the scale of content has started to lead to internal struggles and friction, and the tools to support the continuous journey today are aging. Silos of technology also means global organizations are disconnected when it comes to their content supply chain.

Cheryl highlighted that the research found that a third of enterprises today are not even confident that their customers can find the content they are looking for in the right format at the right time. She explained that over the next couple of years we need to see a content investment happen, including investment in emerging content types such as video and chatbots – today’s alternative ways of consuming content. The research found that 8/10 companies believed that content supply chain challenges are impeding their ability to deliver against business events and that broken content processes are hurting top and bottom-line revenues.

Talking through the results, Cheryl explained that the common area where many companies are hurting is the manual activity involved in content distribution and translation for global audiences. In addition, the research found that now all content types are equal. Some content types have a greater impact on improving the customer experience, with product information acknowledged as that hidden gem in an organization – but difficult to deliver and hard to find. “The customer craves product information," she said “They want that next level of detail before they make that buying decision. The challenge is that this information typically resides in different places and is scattered, so bringing it together is hard." Many organizations confirmed it is essential to keep product information current, and be able to serve it up on demand.

Creating a higher degree of value

So how should organizations respond? Cheryl explained there is a higher degree of value in having a consistent and coherent global operating model when it comes to content creation and delivery. However this is still a vision for many firms. So to overcome this, companies need to look at the many roles and responsibilities on the table.
Cheryl talked through 5 points companies should be looking at to get to this consistent and coherent global content operating model.

1. Agree and understated technology, and develop a consistent model across the organization.
2. Explore more modern content platforms for intelligent content services – be flexible, go AI first but deploy tools that are easy to use.
3. Anticipate rising customer expectations and scale and adapt to find your way into your customer lifecycle.
4. Pay attention to the role of content across the customer experience and how it is being created. Think about how content fits in the customer lifecycle. Customers are increasingly going for self-service and making buying decisions much earlier.
5. Find out where to fix the disconnect and global requirements. Watch what teams are doing and close perception gaps.

This was insightful stuff from Cheryl, and showed that many enterprises today are sharing the same pain points, but there is a way to break away if content, processes and delivery are viewed differently.

Next up we heard from some customers on their global content operating models and their experiences, before the day wrapped up with a panel discussion on GCOM and how we need to create new operating models that fit within the culture of an organization. Panelists discussed how businesses needed to take a holistic approach to the entire content supply chain, and how companies can get started on their own GCOM journey.

GCOM is necessary because we won’t arrive at the end state today without changing what we are doing".

In short, it was agreed by all that enterprises need to cross pollinate content and elevate everything that was talked about at SDL Connect to the orchestration level, having a semantic set of standards to optimize content roll out. And the whole company has to pull together.

Great conclusion to day one.

Looking at day two:

Day two was all about ideas, innovation, demos, panels, user groups and breakouts with a fully packed agenda. While we would love to detail every session here, there is just too much content to cover off in a blog. We have, however, provided all the recordings of our sessions here, so you can enjoy at your own leisure. To make it easier to understand what we covered on the day, here is a snapshot of day two.

With content at the heart of everything we do, the morning started with an overview of SDL’s Five Future States of Content, looking in more detail at how content will create itself, be agile, organize itself, be secure, and how content will become your best salesperson. This provided a general theme for many of the topics covered on day two.

Parallel breakout sessions also ran on Linguistic AI and the power of Hai, SDL’s AI technology, and what SDL is doing to help organizations build their automated content supply chains of the future. There were also sessions on localization strategies, translation management strategies and digital experience strategies.

Other breakout sessions throughout the day covered marketing in a global world, how artificial neural networks enable computers to think like us, fulfilling the promises of globally personalized content, being nimble in a highly complex world and the content opportunity today.

The afternoon moved into topics like modernizing your content supply chain, outpacing the demand for content, creating compelling content at scale, and delivering content at the speed of business, as well as sessions on content and compliance, managing risk across the content supply chain, and how to transform a global content operating model.

All this was happening while demos and discussions were taking place at our partners’ pods and across the innovation center, which was packed of full of customers across the two days.

All in all this was our best SDL Connect yet – the conversation was not only constructive for everyone present but was taken to the next level, with all participants walking away with a better understanding of what’s next on the content industry’s agenda.

To stay tuned on what’s next from SDL, visit, where you can also find more information on what is store at SDL Connect next year.