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MarTech Interview with Brian Walker, Chief Strategy Officer at Bloomreach

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MarTech Interview with Brian Walker, Chief Strategy Officer at Bloomreach

“Today’s Marketing and Technology leaders have got to get serious about using their data to drive better customer and business outcomes.”

Could you tell us about your role and journey into Technology?

I’ve spent the past 20+ years in the digital commerce space, being fortunate in that time to play many different roles on all sides of the table. I started out being a part of the team that launched one of the first large-scale online apparel businesses, spent time at Amazon and Expedia early on, led commerce technology research at Forrester, then transitioned into tech vendor and consulting for a time. I’m excited to bring my experience to Bloomreach where I serve as Chief Strategy Officer, leading Marketing and Strategy for a company at the forefront of changing how businesses manage and drive their digital customer experiences.

How big is your Marketing and Sales teams? Give us a sense of your Organization structure at Bloomreach.

At Bloomreach, our Marketing team spans the North American, U.K., and European markets.

Which Marketing, Sales, and Customer Support technologies do you leverage at Bloomreach?

We leverage Salesforce along with various Marketing Automation and Digital Marketing technologies. We have recently started using Highspot for enablement as well. And of course we use our own industry-leading content management system to manage our sites.

How do you define Content Personalization in a customer experience journey?

Personalization comes down to giving the end customer the most contextually relevant experience you can. That of course can be both very seamless and overt. In the end, it should be a benefit for the customer as well as providing very meaningful business benefits such as high sales and customer retention.

Which technologies are garnering the maximum mileage in the area of CX and why? 

An interesting question, but in terms of ‘most mileage’, I have to point to our ability to drive relevant and personalized search and digital merchandising which is something that really delivers meaningful, practical benefits to our clients and their customers everyday. It may not be the sexiest thing, but it delivers on the most important thing to customers – finding the product they are looking for quickly.

There has been a sudden burst of technologies to sync CX with Marketing and Customer Service? Which technologies can CMOs and CIOs no longer do away with in 2020? 

Today’s Marketing and Technology leaders have got to get serious about using their data to drive better customer and business outcomes. AI is a tool that, when applied well, improves the customer experience, business outcomes, and helps to scale the organization. Those that are learning how to do this well stand to benefit in a very meaningful way.

What is the future of B2B Commerce? How much of it is inspired by the growth and trends in Retail Tech and E-commerce?  

Many people have a tendency to ignore B2B digital commerce and fail to recognize it is a far greater part of the economy than B2C commerce. The good news is, more and more businesses are recognizing that and realizing their customers want sites and apps to be more efficient and effective in their work. It is just better than calling up or meeting with Salespeople. We are now entering a new phase of the market where B2B leaders are realizing they need to compete on experience and we will see a lot of investment in Personalization, AI, and even emerging technology like Voice and mixed reality to differentiate and win a greater share of business

What’s your opinion about Amazon and its operational benchmarks? Other brands and tech leaders that equally enthuse you.

I worked at Amazon, and certainly have a lot of respect for what has been built there. The flywheel is real, focusing on customer experience and value to drive loyalty and repeat, habituated buying. I think a lot of brands can adopt the mindset, without having to try to be Amazon. Many companies spend outlandishly on customer acquisition without focusing enough on customer experience, all the way from the experience on their sites and apps, to the fulfillment and servicing of the orders.

What Marketing-related challenges do you meet every day? How do technology and collaboration tools help you to overcome these? 

I do not think we are unique, in that we face the same challenges many others do of communicating in a clear, consistent way that addresses what customers need and highlights our differentiation. And of course doing that across different markets to many different types of customers. Sounds easy.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Business Leader? 

That is an interesting question in that Bloomreach ourselves bring a lot of AI capability to our customers. I think first and foremost we all need to think about AI as “Applied Intelligence”. In other words, use it to augment and extend what we as humans do to run our businesses and drive our experiences, not replace. This can be a matter of speed and scale, as well as automating the routine and sublime to free up people to do higher value work.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology? 

I do not think our people need a lot of inspiration to work with technology, we are a technology company ourselves.

One word that best describes how you work. 

Collaboration and conversation.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? 

Google Suite.

Which superhero character/movie do you most profoundly relate to:

The Green Arrow, later version.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack? 

Reserve one day a week to write and think with no meetings. I recommend Mondays. It saved me when I was an industry analyst. Not easy to do.

What are you currently reading?

I decided to get more educated on climate change, so I am reading The Uninhabitable Earth, by David Wallace-Wells. Well written, but sobering to say the least.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? 

Play by rugby rules. In other words, compete hard but respect and enjoy your competitors.

Something you do better than others – the secret of your success? 

If I do have a unique skill, it may be that I synthesize ideas and information coming from different places and conversations in a unique way that has led to some good ideas in the past. But those are not necessarily my ideas, but a combination of others coming together.

Thank you, Brian! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Brian Walker is a leading world-wide expert in commerce platforms, multichannel commerce, marketing technology, and mobile commerce.

Brian now focuses on strategy at hybris software, a leading enterprise commerce solution provider with commerce platform, order management, product content management (PCM), and mobile commerce solutions for B2C multichannel, B2B, telco, digital commerce and many other applications.

Brian formerly was a Vice President at Forrester Research where he authored many leading Forrester reports, such as: “Welcome to the Era of Agile Commerce”, “The Agile Commerce Platform”, “What Does Every Exec Need To Know About The Future of eCommerce Technology”, “Scenario-based Technology Evaluation”, “B2C eCommerce Platform Wave”, and the “Global Commerce Service Providers Wave”.

bloomreach logo

Bloomreach is a fast growing, Silicon Valley software provider that empowers businesses to deliver seamless and personalized experience to their customers.

We have created the world’s first open and intelligent Digital Experience Platform (DXP) to accelerate the path to conversion, increase revenue, and generate customer loyalty for global brands like Staples, Guess and Weleda.

Our teams, based in Mountain View, Dallas, Boston, Amsterdam, London and Bangalore, are set on achieving our company-wide goal: to be the world’s leading customer experience platform for digital business.

We need more smart, accountable, driven team players to make this a reality.

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The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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