We caught up with Tim Pashuysen, Chief Strategy Officer at Sitecore, to find out how the Covid-19 pandemic has shaped his working life for the majority of this year.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
I’m the Chief Strategy Officer for Sitecore’s Content Hub product line. I’m in charge of the product strategy, which means that I cover the range from high-level market positioning to the broad strokes of product capabilities, where product management and engineering take over and turn all of that into something tangible.
How has your typical day been impacted in the short term by the pandemic?
Most of my day job used to be based on being in the office and checking in with the teams in person. That obviously changed as we had to adjust to remote work, but I feel things have mostly fallen into place. We’re lucky enough to be in a line of business where remote work is possible, and people have been quick to learn and adapt.
One remaining challenge for me is the onboarding of new team members who don’t have the luxury to fall back on a network within the company. The other is the in-person creative sessions – being together in meeting rooms and having passionate discussions around the whiteboard is possibly the thing a lot of us miss the most. On the upside, it’s become easier to manage work/life balance with travel and commute times cut.
What trends have you seen in the last few weeks in your sector?
We’ve seen a lot of companies suddenly prioritising digital transformation almost overnight, and what was previously a hesitant, drawn out process has now been decided upon and implemented almost overnight. The first wave of technological investment was in individual tools for basic collaborative needs, such as video conferencing or file sharing capabilities, if that wasn’t already in place.
Beyond that, there comes a point where entire business processes have to be translated for a digital-first world. And as a company, we’re very lucky that this is exactly what we do. Our mission is to help brands build human connections in a digital world, and we hope we can play a significant role in helping our customers come out of this crisis stronger and more resilient than before.
What are your favourite tools and techniques to help you get your work done at the moment?
I already worked with a pretty global team, with many people not in the same room, so we just do more of the same: video conferencing and chat are the two that we definitely can’t live without.
Our HR department has encouraged us to make a habit of turning on video, which has been really valuable as it supplements some of the non-verbal communication that we’re missing out on, and helps everyone to feel a bit more connected. Working alone in your home office can be a good way to focus without distraction, but it can also be lonely, and video calls help to combat that.
Which companies have impressed you during the pandemic?
I’ve been touched by the creativity and selflessness of some small businesses that have been impacted. From the excellent adaptions I saw in our local bakery to organise people flows, to restaurants that had to close and promptly switched to feeding front line workers or struggling communities.
I have also been really impressed by initiatives from Macmillan Cancer Support. In response to the pandemic, Macmillan used our technology to quickly create a Coronavirus hub for people living with cancer to get support and guidance online, as well as a personalised guide module to provide people with tailored Coronavirus and cancer information. It’s great to see how technology can facilitate such a valuable resource being deployed in such a short space of time.
What changes are you making to help your brand connect with how people are feeling and experiencing the pandemic?
We’ve been careful to do the right thing and not piggyback on the pandemic. This has meant a commitment to helping where we could, in a very practical way, by reaching out to customers for whom our technology could make a difference, and ensure they had everything they needed. We had to reconsider what is top of mind for our customers, and how that differed from their priorities before the pandemic.
We also had to adjust how we plan and execute marketing. We swapped events and other forms of in-person marketing to digital, for example our signature event Symposium will now be fully virtual, and we’ve had to figure out how to get our message across online in a very crowded space. During the lockdown, our CMO Paige O’Neill hosted a series of video interviews with industry leaders on her LinkedIn channel to provide tips and advice for marketers around how to adapt to the new normal, while making sure brands empathise with customers.
What advice would you give a marketer right now?
Apart from the challenges that the pandemic has posed for individuals and companies, there is also a huge opportunity for organisations where the foundation of the business has not been significantly impacted.
As a marketer, this is the time to allow yourself to rethink your approach, your process, your tools, and the way you connect with your customers.
What does long term planning and strategy look like now at your brand?
I think we have all realised that the move towards digital-first is here to stay, and things won’t return to how they were pre-pandemic. Our customers are going to continue to connect with their customers in different ways, and we’ll be here to help address the challenges they face along the way. The good news is that we have exactly the offering that plays right into these challenges, so we should consider ourselves lucky. Our mid and long-term strategy has not so much changed, but is really being accelerated.