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Connecting Content and People – SDL Connect 2018: Part One / Day One: #SDLConnect18  

This week we not only graced the content world with a number of key announcements on our new products and product updates, but we had the pleasure of hosting our customers and prospects at SDL Connect 2018 – the premier event for the content industry.

SDL Connect is a multi-dimensional showcase full of color, character, innovation and imaginative ideas all related to content creation, translation and delivery. Everything content supply chain-related is discussed, debated and demoed here – from how content will create and organize itself to how it will be more agile and secure and, ultimately, be your best salesperson.

To give those of you that couldn’t join us in Santa Clara, California, a taster of what this year’s event was about and share some of the important takeaways from over 50 hours of content delivered, here is a roundup of the event, including stand out sessions and what we’ve heard, and what’s next from SDL.

SDL Connect in Stats:

  • Over 500 registrations
  • Almost 1000 tweets using #SDLConnect18
  • Over 40+ meetings
  • Over 50 hours of content
  • 9 new solution announcements
  • Over 2,115,013 content views

Day One – The Future of Content is Now

We kicked off the first morning of SDL Connect by welcoming Cruce Saunders to join us on stage, founder and principal at [A]simplea.com, and author of ‘Content Engineering for a Multi-Channel World.’ Here he shared his thoughts on the future of the content supply chain, and shifting from manual to autonomous, highlighting how companies today are grappling with the complexities of creating, translating, and delivering content to every customer, in every language, across all channels. He shared the pain we are all experiencing from the content tsunami, and massive explosion in content variation and destination, and how it isn’t easy to ensure content is localized, personalized, accessible and compliant. He asked the question – how do we keep up with all of this?

Cruce answered duly, explaining how writers are now spending 50% of their time on the mechanics of content instead of the content itself.. “We’re not working on the knowledge or customer experience we are working on the process and delivery" – which is not easy when we have a complicated MarTech stack which makes it hard to get content to flow. “Today we are operating on brute force content management, and we need a single team for the omni-channel view," said Cruce.

He then went on to explain how we need to embrace system change and change the way we do things – to get content enriched and transformed far more intelligently than we are doing today, taking an approach to content with a supply chain mindset. And then we need to be more industrial to deliver new experiences based on a contextual environment.

He reinforced the need to look at a new cross-functional content operating model, where the view is holistic, multi-phase and is based on intelligent transformation – a content orchestration process which includes content strategy, content operations and content engineering.

Organizations need to measure customer experience by effort – how much work does content take, and look to reduce the amount of time it takes to produce and deliver by streamlining efficiency and flow.

What was interesting is that Cruce believes we have already experienced the digital revolution and it is now across every digital part of an organization – it is just that we don’t know what to do with digital. He stated we now need an ‘intelligence transformation’ to give content power – from single use content to durable content and governance with an orchestrated shared model, creating assets which are performing work over time and with an increasing rate of return if they are used properly.

This is a big shift for all organizations but one we need to all take one step at a time. Cruce closed by stating we need an intelligence revolution, and merge our silos to become a smarter world together.

Making Millions of People Happier

Cruce’s session set the day up nicely for the rest of our speakers. Up next was Brad Hiedemann at our partner, Tazhoo.

As CEO of Tazhoo, a global customer experience agency, Brad had another interesting take on the content world, with the aspiration of “making millions of people a little happier every day". Tahzoo are very much the architects of the experience age and have put into practice the holistic operating model Cruce discussed, to deliver personalized and contextually appropriate experiences to his clients.

Brad’s presentation talked about ‘Delivering Customer Experiences’ and the need for providing immersive content in multiple languages across a wide array of touch points, which continues to increase dramatically. He is a believer of the things that make a difference to content, which often takes a combination of technology, people and processes to make a difference.

Brad also talked about the whole style in which we communicate today with many voices to many people, and emphasized we have to deliver experiences where we talk as real people rather than a one size fits all model. “We have to be persuasive, and we have to be informative and provide more than just a basic report. Content should be used to better leverage the user experience with personalization inside the app and the physical store, integrating profile data about how each customer likes to be talked to and consumes content – to deliver that personalization."

Brad explained how our technology, SDL Tridion DX, delivers experiences that touch the customer from the first piece of research all the way through to buying the product. Today customers don’t care so much on which channel you touch them they just care that the experience is the same. SDL enables this experience moving away from one size fits all publishing by letting enterprises manage language, scale and personalization.

In the past advertising was all based on hope – we hope our customers see the advert at the right time. Today we have the right process and technology to deliver in the right experience at the right time – delivering an experience that is differentiated."

This session was informative and really brought home the importance of personalization. We then heard from SDL’s own CEO and own Content Strategist, Adolfo Hernandez.

SDL has embarked on an intense journey over the past year, and Adolfo kicked off his session by talking about how far we have come:

This has all resonated well with our customers and why content is key to the customer journey, and to reach new markets, create community value and global success – all powered by AI – machine first and human optimized – going from siloed to autonomous.

This set Adolfo up well for the rest of his session where he talked through our innovation journey, what is new at SDL, all relating back to those Five Future States and how things that were a vision 12 months ago are now a reality today.

Foundation of Linguistic AI

Our run down of what is new from SDL started with how Content will Create Itself. Content will only be able to create itself based on Artificial Intelligence, and here is where Adolfo reminded the audience about Hai, SDL’s Linguistic AI foundation. With a whole set of solutions based on Hai to detect, manage and resolve ambiguity, he spoke about how we were using AI for words and speech.

Today 67% of enterprises questioned by SDL do not have an integrated and continuous customer journey with content, and while they have been through a digital transformation, delivering the best digital content still needs to be achieved. Most organizations still don’t have continuity of experience or take an integrated approach to processes, people and technology with a content management framework.

This is where Adolfo introduced our new SDL Tridion DX solution – bringing together the best of web content management (launching SDL Tridion Sites 9) with structured content management (SDL Tridion Sites Docs 13), enabling content to be delivered in a joined up experience where it’s easier to blend content, edit content and deploy content to deliver global digital experiences.

The session then talked about creating content faster and how linguistic AI can support this – meaning content can now create itself…. faster. Mihai Vlad, VP of Machine Learning and AI, joined Adolfo on stage to demonstrate how Hai can assist with creating content with SDL Content Assistant – providing a faster understanding and editing of content, and production variants.

By instantly learning from and processing large volumes of original source content, SDL Content Assistant intelligently identifies themes, patterns and extracts topics. Key information and smart content summaries are automatically generated at the click of a button, highlighting any important quotes, facts and figures and even suggesting social streams at speed. Content owners get their own AI assistant, helping them quickly understand the context of in-depth files and produce high-quality content variants meaning faster roll-out of campaigns.

Adolfo then talked about how content will organize itself, chatting through SDL Tridion Docs and how it now supports the new DITA 1.3 standard to deliver shared technology and taxonomy for a better documentation experience. As a company we are also working on new solutions for content discovery, management and taxonomy, where all the content can be intelligently tagged and integrated and maintained with a shared taxonomy. Hai can analyze content, analyze taxonomy, apply metadata regardless of where it is stored. And this can be done in multiple languages – for better search and content reuse – meaning will eventually organize itself – very exciting.

From here, Adolfo then moved onto our expertise in translation, and spectrum of translation methods so customers can use the best depending on their needs – utilizing human and machines to archive universal understanding. This is where content is agile, where enterprises can translate all their content to be on 24/7 and eliminate language as a barrier to understanding.

SDL leads in Machine Translation (MT) innovation, providing usability, security, scalability and deployment flexibility, and has recently broken boundaries with NMT 2.0, with our breakthrough in Russian to English translation with 90% perfect translations. We are now expanding to other languages, but also bringing our state-of-the-art Neural Machine Translation (NMT) 2.0 into a secure Cloud environment. In addition, it now uses Edge-Cloud capabilities to seamlessly integrate with on premise solutions to provide secure ground to Cloud deployment options for brands with Linguistic AI capabilities, powered by Hai.

Jim Saunders, SDL’s Chief Product Officer, then came to the stage to chat through Hai, and about SDL’s next generation, intelligent language cloud. SDL Language Cloud integrates Machine Learning and Hai, converging SDL’s best in class translation technology, to provide an intelligent, end-to-end platform designed for anyone involved in the localization supply chain. This helps enterprises select the best translation method to support quality translation on an infinite scale and connect content from any source.

Communicating Securely

Adolfo’s next section was on content security, looking at how enterprises can communicate ideas securely and confidentially providing an overview through an industry lens. He looked specifically at Life Sciences and Financial Services, which are both highly regulated and have to deliver solutions in a highly secure way and meet regulatory compliance.

This led to announcing our new solution on delivering content universally with SDL Accessibly Solution, which will help companies ensure their content and digital experiences are universally accessible and meet global regulatory compliance – is easy to use, navigate.

The final piece of the Five Future States puzzle was looking at how content can be your best salesperson. A company needs to launch, operate and optimize any number of multilingual websites. This is where Adolfo announced the SDL Multilingual Website Solution, which provides an end-to-end platform with hosting, localization, ongoing content management and analytics-based optimization, aimed at customers looking to grow their digital business on the global stage, and increase engagement with local audiences.

Adolfo wrapped up by inviting the crowd to our Innovation Center to experience the demos of all these solutions, meet our partners including Acrolinx, Content Bloom, Content Rules, DCL, XMetal, Kaleidoscope and Stilo, at their booths, and hear more about our solutions breakout sessions on day two.

But this was just the start of it and what an awesome update on how SDL is delivering understanding universally and ensuring the future is now. Watch this space for the second instalment of SDL Connect 2018, coming up soon, with updates on sessions from Cheryl McKinnon, Principal Analyst at Forrester Consulting, who talked through the demand for continuous customer journeys based on our recent Forrester study, our GCOM panel highlights and day two breakout sessions, innovation pods and an SDL Connect 2018 wrap up. All I can say to end this is it has been the best year yet!

If you’d like to read part 2 of this blog, click here.