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Squiz Summit 2020 – stories from the digital frontline

When COVID-19 hit Australian shores earlier this year, few predicted just how far-reaching its implications for healthcare, society and the economy would become. But, when the full potential of its impact quickly became clear, Australian businesses and organizations were faced with a choice: innovate or fail. 

It is in this spirit – of innovating through a crisis – that last week’s global Squiz Summit 2020 went ahead – smoothly, featuring the usual high quality, expert speaker line-up… but virtually, instead of in-person.

Cassandra Theocharous

Written by

Cassandra Theocharous
Marketing Manager
21 September 2020

Innovating through a crisis

Kicking off the two-day virtual conference, our CEO, John-Paul Syriatowicz (JP), reminded attendees that disruption should feel uncomfortable, as it’s about finding a new path in uncertain times – minimizing the inconveniences and maximizing the opportunities.

JP’s example was the 2020 Summit itself; despite drawbacks such as attendees missing out on tasty snacks, a break away from their desks and the chance to make connections with peers and new friends, this year’s Summit was the most successful yet, with more than 900 customers registered!

“Well done to you. You all serve on the front line of your organization’s digital transformation. Because of you, our societies and economies have been able to continue to operate. We’re proud to work alongside you.”

Service has become the priority

As many organizations have discovered, in recent months, customer needs have changed dramatically. JP emphasized the point that focusing on superficial experiences was no longer enough – in a time of crisis, customers need ‘Substance, utility and beneficial outcomes’ from their online services. Touching on Squiz’s core values, JP moved onto some of the key areas on which organizations should focus in the coming months: openness, empowerment and authenticity. Openness, in terms of the ability to swap in and swap out technologies to adapt quickly and easily to ever-changing customer needs. Empowerment, in terms of empowering Squiz customers to have the digital tools to thrive and survive. Authenticity; because, “In uncertain times, we need our customers to have trust in us, just as much as you need your customers to trust you”.

How do you prepare when you don’t know what’s coming next?

Next to the stage was one of our newest Squizzers, Chief Commercial Officer, Jennifer Arnold. Jennifer joined Squiz in April this year – a hugely turbulent time for most businesses and certainly not a great time to start a new job!

Jennifer’s session focused on the uncertainty that comes with a crisis: “Everyone here is familiar with disruption – but who was prepared for this level of disruption?”. COVID has highlighted many gaps in our business models and processes; from organizations being unable to meet soaring customer demand to Matteters realizing their strategies were too reliant on in-person events and activities. Despite this, many Squiz customers rose to the challenge – some spinning up new sites and services in a matter of days! To illustrate this point, Jennifer listed some prime examples:

  • Tasmania Dept of Premier & Cabinet – created a microsite in days, using the Matrix Neo template, so that half a million Tasmanians had up-to-date information to stay safe and find services to support their families and businesses.
  • Baptcare an aged care provider that launched a portal in one day to get critical information to staff on the front line of the COVID response, so they can provide the best possible care.

A key piece of advice from Jennifer was that, for organizations still finding a path through the crisis, was to plan for the impact, not the cause. “You also can’t do it the way you’ve done it before because the world has changed. Customers no longer care about being ‘delighted’ – they’re far more focused on having access to the information and services that they need. The same applies to employees – they want fast engagement and the ability to have issues resolved quickly”.

Key learnings from Monash University

Introducing another example of a Squiz customer that pivoted quickly to meet the new post-COVID environment, Jennifer handed over to Josh Teichman, Group Manager of Digital Transformation at Monash University.

Unlike many organizations, Monash had already moved to an agile approach, across most of its departments, well before COVID hit. This enabled the university to move and react quickly when suddenly their students needed an alternative to on-campus study. “In the years prior to the pandemic, we’d worked hard on improving our CRM, web, channels, content – and it was those capabilities that gave us an advantage and enabled us to spin up solutions quickly”, Josh noted.

Technology is only one part of the puzzle, and Josh was quick to point out the importance of having the right team and people in place – “You can have all the kit, but it’s your team members who will enable you to make things work and get the most out of the technology”.

Another insight from Monash was that not every student (customer or citizen) reacts to the ‘new normal’ in the same way. “Some of our students have thrived in this environment, embraced the additional freedom and the opportunity to study remotely and flexibly – but there are also those who struggle without the additional support and structure that scheduled lessons and on-campus life can provide. You need to be able to cater to both ends of the spectrum”. Monash’s solution has been to offer additional support services online to ensure that students who are struggling can feel even more supported and connected to staff, despite being remote.

What’s new? Squiz 2020 product announcements

Finally, our hotly anticipated product announcements came thick and fast from Chief Product Officer, Matt Adney. “Last year we spoke a lot about roadmap and all the things we wanted to achieve in the coming year – and I’m proud to be able to share some of the exciting new releases the product team has been working hard to deliver on”.

Matt stepped attendees through a series of exciting product reveals which, together, provide a seriously enhanced set of features for Squiz DXP users. “Digital is not getting any easier- the pressure is higher than ever. This year we’ve been focused on how we can improve the DXP to make the creation of web experiences much easier for you”, Matt explained.

products

Squiz Matrix 6

Available now, Matrix 6 is faster, requires less training, is easier to use and has some great new features for site builders and editors. Matt gave viewers an in-depth look at the new Matrix 6 page builder, to demonstrate just how quickly content and page edits can now be completed (to watch Matt’s demo, skip to 31.30 of the on-demand keynote presentation). As well as a simplified components panel and drag and drop placements, Matrix 6 also offers an incredibly simple set of personalization features – enabling editors to personalize components by persona or with dynamic personalization (powered by Funnelback) in seconds!

Squiz Funnelback 16

Version 16 has a number of exciting new features, including ‘plug-ins’ – a capability that will enable developers to extend the core search engine. In Matt’s demo, viewers saw a completely different layout with a new navigation and a new ‘add a new search package’ feature, providing editors with the ability to completely customize the Funnelback template, aggregate data from across the web, and create guided search more easily.

Squiz Datastore

“Datastore was created to help developers build personalized experiences or data-centric digital services”, Matt explained. “The Datastore team has been busy with a whole range of improvements – a new user interface, to help users get started quickly and the ability to self-serve deployments of new blueprints and applications”.

Squiz Connect

One of the most exciting announcements, Squiz Connect is very much a game-changing solution. “Last year, we quoted Gartner’s predictions that ‘through 2021, 85% of effort and cost in a Digital Experience Platform (DXP) program will be spent on integrations’. Squiz Connect is our solution to this problem”, explained Matt. Squiz Connect offers an affordable and simple way to rapidly integrate applications and automate processes – so rapid, in fact, that Matt demonstrated the process of selecting a new plugin from Marketplace (Create Salesforce Lead) and integrating it to the Squiz DXP using Connect in a matter of seconds (to watch the demo, skip to 47.10 of the keynote video).

Squiz Workplace

In Workplace, Squiz’s product team has introduced a new rapid content publishing wizard which has made it three times faster to create news articles, while allowing more intuitive targeting of employees. “Workplace can now also leverage the capabilities of Squiz Connect, bringing company data and information together in a single place”, Matt revealed.

Squiz Edify

As a brand new solution being rolled out in the US Market first, Edify is a student engagement platform that provides students with a single place to manage their daily life at university and stay connected to everything that’s important.

Squiz Experience Cloud

Matt saved the biggest and best announcement for last, unveiling the Squiz Experience Cloud. “In 2020, modern digital platforms involve a level of technical and operational complexity that is at least ten times higher than in 2010”, he revealed. “At Squiz, we’ve been working to simplify this complexity – our solution is Squiz Experience Cloud; a secure cloud platform and also a re-imagined user journey for all of our products”.

Wasting no time, Matt launched straight into a live demonstration, showing viewers the fully intuitive, simplified and centralized experience that Squiz Experience Cloud can offer users (watch the demo at 58.30). Not only is Squiz Experience Cloud completely free for existing Squiz cloud users, but Matt also announced the availability of SaaS deployments for both Matrix and Funnelback, as part of the Experience Cloud release.

From Squiz to Squiz

Signing off, JP returned to the stage for one last reveal – this time, a new look to our Squiz logo! “It’s a leaner, more modern logo that brings together the different elements of the new DXP – and a great analogy for the transformation Squiz has undergone in the last year”, JP noted.

old logonew logo

We’ll be posting more highlights from Squiz Summit 2020, as well as more inspiring examples of customers that have innovated through a crisis – keep an eye on the Squiz blog for the next in the series. Alternatively, to access the full on-demand Squiz Summit sessions, visit https://www.squiz.net/summit.

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