Moments That Defined the 2018 Widen Summit

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It’s hard to believe our seventh annual Widen Summit has already come and gone. Over three incredible days, we created many memorable moments, were inspired by the power of stories, and connected with our Widen community from around the world.

This year, we focused on creating the moment and learning to look at the touchpoints that make up the entire customer experience as a holistic journey.

And we had so many inspiring moments that created this year’s Summit journey.

Widen Summit 2018 Photo Collage

The path to wisdom

Widen CEO, Matthew Gonnering, channeled Confucius to provide the path to wisdom through reflection, imitation, and experience.

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest." – Confucius

Reflecting on where we’ve been and who helped us get there, guides us in determining where we want to go. One key reflection source is data. Last year, Widen helped customers upload 30,000 new assets a day. Today, it’s grown to 80,000 daily uploads — peaking at 698,000 in a single day!

But this growth isn’t just happening by chance. Reflection makes it clear that the Widen customer community’s dedication to strategy, implementation, and promotion of the Widen Collective® every day, is making this significant impact. And for this, Matthew is grateful. “We have an enduring sense of gratitude for you. You make this all possible,” he says.

Spending time with the Widen community makes it hard not to be inspired by the stories they share. It’s often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and that couldn’t have been more apparent than at this year’s Summit. “We’re not talking about ™ and copyright. We’re talking about best practices. You’re sharing stories with each other all the time,” Matthew says. The Widen customer community is always learning from each other and the Summit is a perfect time to make those inspiring connections.

But even with connections and reflection, it falls short without action. “We’re not doing our jobs at the Summit unless you put something into action,” Matthew recognizes. “You need to take something you learned here and you need to try it. Whether you’ve been with us for a decade or more or if you haven’t even launched yet. You’re going to take something you learned here and you’re going to put it into action. That’s the experience.”

Matthew Gonnering speaking at the Widen Summit

It’s about the customer journey

While it’s easy to think about customer experience in terms of an exchange of service or goods, your customers are also the internal stakeholders and users that you serve everyday when you’re the admin of a global software tool.

Kerry Bodine, author and customer-experience expert, reminds us that the customer journey is “a set of steps that customers take as they try to accomplish a goal or task” and that “everyone has a goal they’re trying to achieve.”

Kerry Bodine Keynote

The key to a successful customer experience however, doesn’t lie in those individual tasks. “It’s the journeys — not the individual touchpoints — that predict business success.” And the customers’ path can be visualized through customer journey maps in order to understand what they need and what they’re expecting at each step along the way.

When it comes to your internal customers, there may be very few of whom interact with your external customers. But a lot is going on behind the scenes that your external customers never see. Successful customer journeys come when you “support your internal customers’ journey so they can support your external customers’ journey.”

Kerry Bodine Slide Widen

The spirit of Widen

Mark Widen, former Widen CEO, was quoted in 1990 saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Take the chance, try it.” As 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of Widen, Matthew echos that this sentiment “embodies the spirit of Widen better than any quote in our 70 year history.”

Widen has taken many chances over the years evolving from an engraving company founded in 1948 to the incorporation of printing and pre-media content production services in 1960 and software development in 1990. It’s this entrepreneurial spirit that continues to make history.

As Matthew reflected on this history, he drew on Widen’s experience to inspire imitation asking the question “what best practices do you want to try...or not try?” And it wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t share some of our own stories and best practices.

While separately, an engraving, printing, and software company is a great opportunity for success, it’s the evolution of the journey that makes history. And it’s the sum of the goals and objectives that feed the bigger company vision and truly impact change. “Like a touchpoint, it doesn’t mean anything unless it’s connected to something bigger. That’s why we need strategic objectives,” Matthew states.

To connect individual contributions to the overarching company vision, we continue to employ the practices outlined in Christina Wodtke’s book, “Radical Focus: Achieving Your Most Important Goals with Objectives and Key Results,” which was introduced at last year’s Summit. But this year, we’ve expanded this philosophy to incorporate cascading goals inspired by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin’s book, “Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works.” “All of the tactical objectives we have map through the strategy to realize the visions,” Matthew says. “If you want to talk about accountability, it’s alive and well at Widen.”

Widen Engraving History Photo Collage

Better service through connection

Connections happen through shared experiences. Kerry commented on this when she shared that “delighting customers is about creating experiences that are emotionally relevant to them.” And Matthew reminded us that “you get more out of these conferences from each other if you continue to stay connected.” But it was Jake Athey, Widen’s VP of Marketing, and Nina Brakel-Schutt, Brand Strategist at Widen, who set forth to decode connectivity for us.

For the second year in a row, we conducted our annual connectivity research to better understand how marketers and creatives connect with their customers. At the Summit, Nina and Jake demonstrated the ability to connect through a common language and shared experience using Fortnite — there was even dancing!

The goal of connection is to make things relevant and connect in a way that means something to your audience, whether in person or digitally. “Keep digital experiences relatable and human,” reminds Nina.

Understanding examples of this digital and human connection is key. Like using Amazon’s Alexa to connect with your audience by delivering podcasts with a simple voice command. And how Varian’s diligence in tracking their Insights data saved them thousands of dollars. Or by leveraging frequently asked questions and a virtual assistant to understand when a human connection is needed to best serve your customer, like Autodesk did.  

True connection takes work, but if you keep these best practices in mind, it gets easier:

  • Stay agile and competitive in this digitally focused marketplace.
  • Don’t look at your data in isolation.
  • Challenge yourself with content personalization.
  • Even though AI is still new, start experimenting with it because it’s here to stay.
  • Localize your brand to create a global experience that is truly relevant to your audience.

And when in doubt, connect through the power of dance!

It’s bigger than that

Customer stories take center stage at the Summit and this year was no exception.

Attending the Widen Summit for the second time, Scott Sharp, Creative Operations Advisor at WestJet Airlines, took the stage and proclaimed “this conference is amazing and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now.” But as he also reminded us, it’s bigger than that.

Scott’s message exemplified the importance of the Summit’s customer journey theme. Recognizing that his DAM story is bigger than its individual contributions.

Scott advocated the need for a DAM tool for over a year at WestJet before they began implementation. Lost assets and the need for risk mitigation of their content solidified the need for DAM but it was bigger than that. While the need was there, it wasn’t always easy to get everyone on board. “Your job as a DAM professional is to get out there and talk about your DAM system,” Scott reminds us.

Drawing on the information shared in Jake and Nina’s connectivity presentation, Scott reflected on the fact that 100% of the connectivity survey respondents said they know artificial intelligence (AI) is going to impact them in the future but the majority of them aren’t using it.

However, WestJet is ahead of the curve with the launch of their first AI chatbot, Juliet, to help answer customers’ commonly asked questions about topics like baggage regulations and seat selection. She’ll also help you dream about where to take your next trip and offer suggestions and photos based on metadata in the DAM system. “Nothing shines a light on your metadata and how good it is like an artificial intelligence chatbot,” Scott jokes.

It’s all of these touchpoints and accomplishments that DAMsters should feel good about. Because they’re bigger than just those individual interactions. “Your role in your organization is vital,” Scott reminds us. “You should be confident when you go out there and talk about it and evangelize it in your organization.”

How often should you talk about it, one attendee asks Scott. “I love to talk about DAM. I will talk your ear off. I bring it up in almost every conversation,” he says. And if that’s not enough, Matthew reminded us that “just when you’re about to get annoyed with yourself for talking about DAM is the time that people are finally starting to get it. So keep talking!” Because each conversation is really bigger than that.

Customer Keynote by Scott Sharp

Hot DAM!

This year’s Best DAM Contest had some stiff competition. And all four of these ladies were on fire!

Our Best DAM contestants highlighted the most amazing pieces of their Collective sites at lightning speed, with only eight minutes and eight slides to convince the audience and judges that they have the best DAM.

Each contestant shared the key to the success of their DAM journey:

  • “We make the system work for [users] instead of them working for the system.” Caroline Gardner, Integration Marketing Systems Associate at New Balance
  • “Stay curious and empathetic. Listen to everyone. You never know who’s going to be the most valuable voice on your team.” Leah Hammes, Global Digital Content Manager, McCormick & Company
  • “We encourage every Kerry employee to be their own brand ambassador.” Melinda Lee, Senior Marketing Specialist, Kerry
  • “The benefit of having a team is that the pressure doesn’t just fall on one person. Especially when you’re taking it on as an added task.” Barb Mitrovic, Production Administrator, American Society for Quality

But in the end, it was Leah Hammes from McCormick & Company who took home the coveted title of Best DAM. With her dedication to ensuring global adoption and ease of use across 12,000 employees in 150 countries, she inspires imitation and admiration.

Best DAM Contest Awards 2018

A million moments

There are so many other moments from this year’s Summit that will remain with attendees long after they’ve left Madison. Connections made while brainstorming together during our new workshops. Shared laughs as we watched co-workers perform a symphony while hypnotized by Dr. Jim Wand. And so many other DAM stories.

Thank you to all of those who joined us at the Summit, and for coming along on this journey. We enjoyed every moment!

We look forward to next year’s Summit on October 7-9 in Madison, WI. And if you’re as excited as we are, sign up for our Summit emails to be the first to receive news and announcements about the 2019 Widen Summit.

Topics: Widen Summit

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