Interview with Sr. Director of Commerce Strategy, Episerver – Ed Kennedy


“Keeping things simple and getting back to basics is always a good idea”

1. Tell us about your role in Episerver?
I work in the product strategy team at Episerver. We’re responsible for connecting the dots between Episerver’s software and services and customer needs. I focus on Episerver’s digital commerce solutions and addressing how we can serve our ecommerce customers better. Since I joined in 2016, Episerver has launched and now powers hundreds of ecommerce websites for retailers like Burlington Coat Factory, HD Supply and Buffalo Wild Wings.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
I cut my teeth implementing websites for small businesses with my dad back in 2008. After he transitioned from website design and maintenance to working with NASA on a device that tracks the International Space Station in your home, I joined other website design agencies that specialized in implementing ecommerce websites. I initially worked with clients like TOMS Shoes, Munchkin and St. John Knits to implement their ecommerce websites using different ecommerce technologies. I oversaw a few Episerver implementations and after eight years on the agency-side, I joined Episerver as senior director of commerce strategy in 2016.

3. How do you think technology is upgrading marketing Sector?
Many companies think technology is a short-cut to close the gap between customers’ digital expectations and a company’s ability to meet those expectations. This is short sighted. A lot of large company’s have invested millions upon millions in digital transformation projects only to lose sight of their customer in the process. There are certainly technology upgrades that have dramatically improved customer experiences and made marketing organizations more efficient. The introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) powered personalization is one example that has both improved customer experiences and made marketing organizations faster.

4. How has evolution of digital marketing helped in optimizing the performance of advertising sector?
Digital marketing has transformed how businesses approach their customers. It’s almost unthinkable to consider an advertising world where radio ads, print ads or television spots couldn’t track views, engagement, response rate and conversion rate. We take that for granted now. However, this has also buried marketers in more data than they know what to do with. There are infinite data points to analyze and perspectives to analyze them from.

Keeping things simple and getting back to basics is always a good idea

when using digital marketing technologies in new ways.

5. How do you define your Episerver Commerce Platform?
Episerver Commerce is an enterprise digital commerce platform that, combined with the Episerver Digital Experience CloudTM, facilitates over $18 billion dollars in omnichannel revenue. We power thousands of websites on our cloud platform that include tools for marketers and merchandizers to attract, engage, convert, and care for their customers with effective, personalized experiences.

6. Why do you think, Predictive Analytics is driving more and more focus of marketers?
Because marketers are buried in data. Much like machine learning can detect cancer on an MRI screen better than most radiologists, machine learning can analyze and detect patterns in a vast data set much faster and more accurately than humans can. Predictive Analytics is another one of those “short-cuts” to value that many organizations can chase like lemmings off a cliff. It’s important to keep the customer in mind when investing in Predictive Analytics and keep the initial use of this technology to specific use cases where humans can’t process the large amounts of data. Propensity to purchase modeling is one such example. By studying thousands of website sessions including referring URL, search queries, add-to-cart, abandonment and orders, AI can predict which customers are more likely to buy on their next visit than others and offer compelling messaging to both groups (those with low propensity and high propensity to purchase). Episerver has been testing propensity to purchase models in our Customer Data Platform.

7. What features of your web content management solution makes it stand apart in the market?
We’ve been fortunate to be recognized by industry analysts as a Leader in Web Content Management and that is thanks to our happy and successful customers. They’ve told research firms, and us, that they love the maturity of our cloud-based solution integrated to Microsoft Azure. They can also get a lot done with small teams. Some Episerver customers manage thousands of different web experiences from a single instance. The governance, workflow, and publishing tools from Episerver make this possible with a nimble team. Finally, customers get a lot of bang for their buck. Episerver’s subscription includes web content management, site search, AI personalization, A/B testing, digital commerce, analytics, and email marketing in one platform. Many customers rip up contracts with smaller point-solutions to consolidate onto Episerver. This saves them money in the long run and puts them on a better platform.

8. What advice would you like to give to the technology Start Ups?
Don’t forget your customer as you grow

  1. Focus on the experiences and places your customers will make their decisions. You don’t need to build a mobile app just because your biggest competitor built one.
  2. Keep the long-term in mind. Unless your customers only buy once in their lifetime, you need to think beyond the first sale with your customer which is nearly impossible in today’s optimized environment, but you must do this.
  3. Make it human. Brands and authenticity still matter. Arguably they matter more than ever before as copy-cat businesses can be up within a few days to steal market-share. Establish an authentic, human-to-human relationship with your customers and they will reward you.

9. What is the Digital innovation in sales technology according to you that will mark 2019?
We’re implementing a lot of sales-assisted mobile apps built from the Episerver platform. I think that trend will continue to assist field reps with customer intelligence data from individual customers and their entire customer base. This will help with relevant cross-sells, up-sells, and customer support needs.

10. How do you prepare for an AI-Centric world?
Hold on and try to have fun! AI is changing everything but it’s happening in slow motion because we’re in the middle of it. Every day narrow AI is replacing tasks marketers or other professions took for granted. As we move closer to general AI, we need to re-imagine work and what marketers and technology leaders will do to bring value to organizations. I think this will revolve around building more compelling stories and engaging experiences between organizations and customers. A lot of the busy work in the middle is going to be sorted out by AI. Practically, what Episerver is doing to help our customers is to replace manual tasks such as content tagging, merchandizing and content marketing with machine learning models using Episerver Personalization technology’s that have been used for years.

11. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent time?
There is a lot of ‘under-the-hood” work that is fundamentally changing the Episerver platform for our customers. In the future, customers won’t deploy their own database instance, for example, as we move to a multi-tenant microservice oriented platform. This is going to allow us to become even more scalable and share data across thousands of customer tenants to improve our AI models and make websites even more responsive, resilient, and effective for customers.

12. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
I couldn’t do my job without my boss, Justin Anovick’s, support. He’s been a really great boss over the past three years. I’ve appreciated getting on the phone with him and saying, “I’m overwhelmed,” or “I’m scared,” or “I’m upset.” The freedom to just express how I’m feeling for a few minutes and then come up with the next action has always made this team great.

13. What movie inspires you the most?
That is a tough one. I would say Shawshank Redemption really strikes a chord. Resilience, human decency, and humor are all things we need to keep in mind as life gets more chaotic.

14. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, so can you share with us some of the fun pictures of your workplace?
This was a special day for Episerver when Microsoft EVP Scott Guthrie visited our Stockholm office. We’re a big believer in education and open dialogue and this is one of many examples with a partner company.

15. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
My go-to apps are:

  1. FitBit
  2. Spotify
  3. CorePower Yoga (Namaste!)
  4. YouTube
  5. And Instacart

Ed Kennedy is the Senior Director of commerce strategy at Episerver. He has spent the last 9 years designing and implementing ecommerce platforms for consumer brands, b2b manufacturers and wholesale distributors. As a Senior Director of Commerce at Episerver, Ed is responsible for successful adoption of the Episerver platform by customers. Previously, Ed held leadership positions at eCommerce Agencies such as Gorilla Group, Guidance, and Luminos Labs implementing Episerver Commerce, Magento, and SAP Hybris.

Episerver connects digital commerce and digital marketing to help organizations create unique digital experiences for their customers, with measurable business results.
The Episerver Digital Experience Cloud™ combines content, commerce, multi-channel marketing and predictive analytics in a single platform to work full-circle for businesses online – from intelligent optimization and lead-generation through to conversion and repeat business – with unprecedented ease-of-use.

For more information please visit our Website.

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