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Technology Featured Global

Contentsquare scores US$500m funding to drive AI-driven DX globally

Singapore – Digital experience (DX) analytics company Contentsquare has recently concluded its Series E funding totalling to US$500m, which will be used by the company to augment its leadership in Europe and the US as well as supporting expansion into new markets across Asia.

Said investment round was led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2, who now joins existing investors such as Eurazeo, Bpifrance, KKR, Canaan, Highland Europe, and funds and accounts managed by BlackRock — most of whom also participated in this round. 

In addition to the investment, Contentsquare will take advantage of SoftBank’s depth of expertise in scaling companies and networks in Asia, which will be strengthened by the recent appointment of Michel Combes, president of SoftBank Group International, as part of Contentsquare’s board of directors.

The newly secured funding will also support Contentsquare’s rapid growth and geographic expansion, merger and acquisition activities, as well as go-to-market strategies.

This latest round comes one year after Contentsquare’s US$190m Series D raise, bringing the total funding to date to US$810m and valuing Contentsquare at US$2.8b.

“Innovation is in Contentsquare’s DNA and today’s investment is a result of the tremendous hard work of our passionate and ambitious team. Our growth has been accelerated by the world’s shift towards digital, and our technology answers many of the digital transformation challenges brands face today,” said Jonathan Cherki, CEO and founder at Contentsquare.

Contentsquare’s momentum last year has been defined by several milestones, including exponential growth globally, with a compound annual recurring revenue growth rate of 121% over the past four years; product launches such as ‘Contentsquare Merchandising’, ‘Contentsquare Insights’ and ‘Find & Fix’; and massive team expansion to APAC with teams in Singapore, Tokyo, Melbourne and Sydney.

“By democratizing access to actionable customer insights, Contentsquare empowers businesses in every sector to build better digital experiences for everyone. We’re excited to partner with Contentsquare on its journey as one of the global leaders in UX optimization,” Yanni Pipilis, managing partner for SoftBank Investment Advisers, commented.

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Marketing Featured Partners APAC

MARKETECH APAC tackles higher ed’s digital marketing strategies in ‘new normal’ in webinar for APAC universities

Singapore – MARKETECH APAC, the news content platform dedicated to the advertising and marketing industry in the APAC region, has recently concluded its webinar Tuesday, April 13, which tackled the changing education landscape amid the pandemic and how this has pushed the imperative for higher education institutions to recalibrate their current marketing roadmap, specifically schools’ digital marketing strategies. 

Moderated by Gabriel Ponzanelli, the vice president of global SaaS solutions Siteimprove for the Asia Pacific region and Japan, the webinar, Asia-Pacific Outlook 2021: Reimagining your higher education web strategy, presented a panel of esteemed marketing leaders from Australian universities to discuss the current challenges and opportunities for universities in delivering a student experience now that the academic community has been thrust to completely navigate in a virtual environment. 

A presentation has also been showcased by Siteimprove’s digital marketing consultant Rick Elenbaas, who discussed in detail the definitive changes in the student journey and how they have affected students’ expectations. 

As the name of the virtual event promises, Elenbaas laid out the three core steps in delivering a converting and retaining web experience, namely: achieving an uninterrupted digital student journey, making your digital journey accessible, and becoming digital resilient and future proof. More details on this presentation to be found in the webinar’s on-demand access. 

In addition, Elenbaas also covered a lot of ground on how digital natives are outnumbering other students and what vital characteristics a university’s student experience should embody in order to truly connect and resonate with this group of individuals. Furthermore, he also emphasized a strand of students’ navigation online that some universities fail to pay more attention to and that is, the accessibility of their campus websites, that goes beyond just addressing visual impairment. 

Meanwhile, the panel discussion included panelists Paul Gower, deputy director for marketing & user experience at Curtin University, and Monica Hong, the digital marketing national manager of Australian Catholic University. The panel delved into the different points of the student journey and how each has been turned around by the absence of physical interactions. Gower and Hong, through the lens of their own universities, provided a picture of how the larger education space is changing – from delivering a seamless application process to conducting ‘open days’ and ‘student orientations’ at this new normal and to adapting the digital strategy for both the domestic and international markets.

The panelists also bared how each of their teams dealt with the challenge of moving into the unknown when the pandemic first struck, and how in such a massive environment and space as digital, they manage to prioritize which communication points are most important in user experience such as the accessibility of campus websites. 

The webinar was conducted under MARKETECH APAC’s webinar series Inside Innovation, and is in collaboration with Siteimprove. Siteimprove is a global SaaS solutions that provides organizations with actionable insights to deliver an effective digital experience that drives growth. 

You may register here to obtain access to the on-demand webinar.

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Technology Featured APAC

CMS provider Magnolia opens Shenzhen, Bangkok offices

Basel, Switzerland – Content management system (CMS) provider Magnolia has announced the opening of its two new offices in Shenzhen and Bangkok, confirming its long-standing commitment to China and the Asia Pacific market.

Magnolia, whose main headquarters is in Basel, Switzerland, adds the two new offices in its already well-established presence in Asia, with three existing offices in Singapore, Vietnam, and Shanghai. The company also has certified partners serving customers in North Asia, India, Australia, and New Zealand.

Through the new offices, Magnolia looks to expand its offering of content management and digital experience technologies to the rapidly growing APAC market.

Tim Brown, CEO at Magnolia, commented, “Backing the expansion of our brilliant APAC team, partner community and our prestigious customers with these new offices is about the most obvious investment decisions I’ve ever had to make.”

Meanwhile, Don Lee, Magnolia’s managing director for APAC, said, “Having recognized a need for intensive personalization to provide unparalleled, unique experiences to customers, Asian brands are now investing in marketing technology designed to improve digital experiences.”

He added, “With Shenzhen and Bangkok becoming home to new local Magnolia resources and operations, together with our partners in APAC, we are now servicing brands in even closer proximity and helping them create amazing digital experiences for their customers.”

Magnolia was most recently recognized by global research and advisory firm Gartner on its annual report of top technology providers. Gartner uses a proprietary method Magic Quadrant to give tech vendors its competitive positioning, and for digital experience platforms (DXP) this year, Magnolia’s DXP Magnolia DX Core entered the quadrant, earning the status of ‘Niche Player’.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Indie creatives TSLA redesigns Singapore’s digital portal for heritage Roots

Singapore – Singapore’s National Heritage Board (NHB) has unveiled a revitalized brand and digital experience for its platform Roots, and independent creative agency The Secret Little Agency or TSLA is the creative brains behind the fresh highly aesthetic visual identity.

NHB is Singapore’s dedicated organization for the preservation of its cultural heritage and in 2016, it launched Roots.gov.sg to provide added avenue and to digitize its heritage to make easier and closer the access for nationals on cultural assets.

The brand and user experience (UX) revamp was done in celebration of Roots’ 5th anniversary. TSLA pored over the site’s original web pages, conducting multiple focus groups across different user profiles to organize over 120,000 pieces of content into intuitive categories with the objective to improve delivery of content and facilitate a better user journey on the portal.

According to Norfaiz Noeryamin, manager for NHB’s Strategic Communications & Digital division, the revamped Roots.gov.sg is designed to be a one-stop digital concierge that brings together content from across its line of heritage programs – its ‘National Collection’, ‘Heritage Trails’ and ‘National Monuments’ and other intangible cultural heritage from its inventory. The portal will also be integrating resources from other platforms like the National Library Board’s Infopedia and the Esplanade’s Offstage websites to facilitate information gathering. 

“With these enhancements, it is now easier than ever for everyone to discover the depth and breadth of Singapore’s heritage,” said Noeryamin.

Roots’ old logo vs. new logo

Aside from the general UX and UI (user interface), TSLA also improved the platform’s ontology functions where the remit also extended to integrated marketing. 

“You’re going through every artifact, article, photograph, and piece of content thinking there is so much here, and yet, Singapore is still in its infancy compared to older civilizations. To be able to build our Roots right and redesign how all generations access this treasure trove of heritage was an incredible experience for us,” said a spokesperson from TSLA Design.

 

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Marketing Featured ANZ

WE Communications strengthens capabilities in Australia with two new hires

Sydney, Australia Global communications and marketing agency WE Communications (WE) has appointed two key hires for its Digital and Experience Technology (DXT) team in Australia. 

The new appointees for the DXT team are Brian Keenan, the new head of strategy, and Mike Nikotin, the new art director. Both will report directly to Nichole Provatas, group head of the DXT team Australia.

The agency believes that the appointments will strengthen its integrated marketing services for clients, which include data-led creative, paid social, and performance marketing, as well as brand and content strategy, and influencer marketing, among others.

Keenan has previously worked as a senior vice president of planning and head of business intelligence for public relations firm Weber Shandwick. Throughout his career, Keenan has led campaigns for brands like ALDI, American Airlines, and IBM, as well as Mastercard. Keenan will now be responsible for analytics, content, and brand planning, as well as agency IP for WE’s DXT team in Australia, bringing with him his 10 years of experience in creative and client strategy.

Meanwhile, Nikotin has previously worked as an associate creative director for media company Enigma Communications. Nikotin brings with him 20 years of experience in the creative and art direction sectors, working with agencies such as WiTH Collective, The Works, Allianz, and American Express, as well as Toyota, and Virgin Mobile, among others. His appointment will see him moving WE’s Creative Studio to greater heights, made up of animators, designers, editors, and producers.

Commenting on the two new appointments, Provatas said that the addition of Keenan and Nikotin to the DXT team further expands the senior bench as the team continues to invest in the specialist craft and respond to the changing nature of the way people consume content following the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Dan Woods, managing director of WE Australia, also shared “It’s paramount for communicators to understand how the world’s rapid motions impact consumer behaviors and embrace new media for brand storytelling. Brian’s strategic insights combined with Mike’s creative capabilities will further enhance our counsel and available capabilities to clients as we collectively navigate today’s fast-changing reality.”

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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

DX agency Bray Leino Splash appoints new UX director, unveils three more hires

Singapore – The Singapore arm of digital experience agency Bray Leino Splash has announced four new hires for its country operations, including a new user experience (UX) director.

Jaffry Jalal takes the helm as Bray Leino Splash SG’s UX Director, who has previously worked with TBWA\Singapore and Havas as its UX design lead, and most recently a lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic. He has previously worked with brands such as Singapore Airlines, MasterCard, and Michelin to help them create digital products and immersive experiences.

“I’m excited BLS continues to invest in experience design capability and I’m thrilled to be at an agency who has the technical chops to bring good design to life,” Jalal stated.

Other hires include Kein Wai E, who joins as the agency’s technical project director and is from technology company Deltatre; Stephanie Holzhuber, who is the agency’s new senior account director and is from advertising agency Cheil Worldwide; and Jamie Phua as the new account director and is from ad agencies Y&R, TBWA, and Digitas.

Speaking about their appointments, Kien Wai stated, “Joining BLS Singapore is like a homecoming of sorts as the marrying of creativity with technology is definitely something close to my heart and that I’ve missed in recent years.”

Meanwhile, Holzhuber commented, “BLS is an agency who are able to deliver truly seamless customer experiences for their clients by bringing data, technology, and creativity together. I look forward to our exciting future ahead.”

Lastly, Phua stated, “In the last few years, It’s become apparent to me that the pillars of UX and technology are critical if agencies are to really help brands create relevant solutions for present-day consumers, so being able to leverage these capabilities at BLS is what excites me the most.”

These new hires are welcomed by BLS Singapore’s managing director Joshua Lee.

“Each of these hires has ‘runs on the board’ when it comes to connecting technology, creativity, and business results for their respective clients. I couldn’t be happier welcoming such wonderful talent to the team. Not only are they at the top of what they do, but they are passionate and hardworking to boot,” Lee stated.

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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

How one of the largest conglomerates in the PH started ‘small’ in pivoting to digital experience

Manila, Philippines – We often think in the range of equivalents, that is, if something is big, we expect that all things toward it mirror the same gigantic force, but such is certainly not the case with JG Summit Holdings – one of the biggest conglomerates in the Philippines – which revealed that in bringing to life the company’s digital transformation, one of its most powerful weapons is “starting small.”

Two years ago, JG Summit fully jumped on its intention to shift to a digital experience when it declared that it aims to become the leading digital company in the Philippines. In the recently held UXPH Conference Saturday, a two-day conference for experience designers in the Philippines, the company’s SVP for digital transformation and corporate services Lisa Gokongwei-Cheng walked UX specialists through on how the firm successfully materialized its digitization, not just for its customers but for its employees as well.

If you’re a startup built in the heights of the current digital lifestyle, innovation in such area most probably comes second nature, for if it isn’t the business’ bread and butter, it’s one of its main operational pillars. But for a giant like JG Summit that was incorporated in the 50’s, to adopt digital transformation poses a bigger challenge.

JG Summit has over five business units emanating from different industries, such as airline company Cebu Pacific Air, commercial bank Robinsons Bank (RBank), and F&B Universal Robina Corporation (URC). According to Cheng, the biggest question for the company to answer is, “How do you innovate within a traditional, successful, and large conglomerate?”

Cheng said the question emerges because of resistors – businesses who can’t seem to see the ROI of taking a 360 degree turn to digital, because with their eyebrows raised, they tend to think, “Why fix it, if it ain’t broken?”

“At the beginning, none of the business units wanted to work with us. It would cost too much, it would disrupt their business as usual,” shared Cheng in the conference’s session Lessons in Digital Transformation in a Corporate Setting.

With much persistence, the company eventually found its willing guinea pig, its property development unit – Robinsons Land Corporation (RLC).

The digitization initiative with RLC launched four projects in six months – a hotel property management system, a sellers portal, a buyers portal, and a malls directory.

As Cheng emphasized in her virtual talk, “start with small wins,” and through RLC’s leadership, President and CEO Frederick Go, the projects have been pioneered through the “lighthouse” mindset – which like a lighthouse, the first of JG Summit’s digital experiences are meant to light the way, “to guide ships,” or its other business units to fully harness technological innovation.

According to a blog post by JG Summit, Go said the main goal of the digitization project was to find the pain points among its stakeholders – customers, employees, and clients – and figure out how technology can offer as a solution. As identified, those were not being able to find a store in the mall, a room for a more simplified buyer and seller process for clients and sales agents within its residential division, and finding a way to enhance the customer experience for the guests of its hotel.

Of the buyers portal, for example, Go said, “ It helps automate our buyers’ most common interactions with us. We will make it easy for them to know when their next payments are due and monitor their receipts. The Buyers Portal allows them to view and update their account information, manage their payments, view and download the latest statement of accounts, and log requests and inquiries directly.”

In jumpstarting the “lighthouse” with RLC, JG summit had to take the baby step of working with one resource at the time – a single digital consultant.

“So we worked with our consultant, our one full-time resource for Robinsons land who worked with RLC employees on these projects, while they were also pursuing business as usual,” said Cheng.

Two years in from declaring its mission of digitization, JG Summit’s was a home run – successfully realizing its intent of digital transformation, with a slew of online portals and systems rolled out, following its pilot digital experiences with RLC.

For its commercial banking, RBank was able to develop the QuickR feature for its banking app, where the bank now offers a contactless alternative for sending and receiving money through a QR code.

URC’s global exports division, on the other hand, wanted to address their clients’ concerns with placing orders manually and solved it through the Global Export Order Management System (OMS). For SouthStar Drug, a division of JG Summit’s retail holdings, an e-commerce site has been established just right before the community quarantine was enacted in the country.

Meanwhile, for its guinea pig RLC, its team of just one consultant has now sprung to 10 key people in its digital transformation team, with 21 new projects under its belt. One of its recent – a portal for its condominium residents, myRLC Homeowner’s Portal, where residents’ requests such as work permits or gate passes have now been digitized.

Cheng said, “[It goes to show] that you can start with one project and a few resources. Don’t try to boil the ocean. We used the RLC example to show different parts of the conglomerate how it can be done. They are still trying to scale agile, but are on the right path.”

Concluding her talk at the conference, Cheng gave some powerful words, saying, “[Digital] transformation is not an end state, it’s a journey.”

She added, “We keep iterating our operational model as we learn. In a few months, we probably will learn a few more things, or realize that some of these [are] wrong. The point is to keep pivoting.”

MARKETECH APAC is an official media partner at the UXPH Conference 2020: Designers as Navigators of Change, which was held from November 14 to 15, 2020.