How Wedia Adapted in 2020 and Got Ready for 2021: An Interview with Nicolas Boutet, Wedia CEO
From transitioning towards home office to moving business online and accelerating digital transformation efforts, 2020 has had a significant impact on companies worldwide. And while the future is still uncertain, the challenges and trends created during this global health crisis will likely have a lasting impact. In this interview with Wedia’s CEO, Nicolas Boutet, we take a look at what this 2020 experience was like for SaaS Martech company and how it plans to take on 2021.
2020 was an unusual and unexpected year, to say the least. It was one in which a global event took a tremendous toll on people’s everyday lives around the world and brought with it a future of uncertainty. COVID-19 had enormous implications on individuals, but also on the economy, on science and research, on technology and on business. It revealed which companies and industries were better equipped to thrive during a global pandemic, and which ones had to adapt and fast track to simply survive it. In many ways, 2020 changed the face of “digital”, and proved the need of embracing digital transformation as a business necessity.
COVID-19 and the “flight to online”
In just a few months, businesses had to adapt to new working conditions i.e. home office, and changing consumer shopping habits. 2020 saw the accelerated rise of the “digital economy” in which consumption migrated to digital, and companies expanded their online presence to ensure business continuity. Investing in the right marketing technologies and setting up a modern technology environment was now more important than ever in helping companies stay productive and connected, but also in building these digital interactions between brands and their customers.
SaaS companies, like Wedia, a provider of Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution, were uniquely positioned to navigate this challenging time. Discover our interview with Nicolas Boutet, CEO of Wedia, on how 2020 impacted its business, its products, and its vision for the future.
5 Questions for Wedia’s CEO, Nicolas Boutet
Q1: 2020 was marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. What was its impact on Wedia and what measures were taken to enable the team to adapt to this new environment? How has this affected the business?
Last March, when we transitioned to home office, we were able to adapt rather quickly. The reason for this is because Wedia was familiar with working remotely. Of course, this shift was not something we expected, and we didn’t know how long it would last, but we didn’t have to for example restructure the company. Employees had what was needed to set up their remote work environment and continue to work as usual, even though this ‘usual’ was starting to look quite different.
One of the advantages of being a full SaaS provider is that we are also a SaaS user. Our model allows us to be more or less prepared for this type of situation because our solutions and internal tools are cloud-based, and our workforce is distributed. During the pandemic, businesses, including our customers, had to accelerate their digital transformation efforts. We were actually very lucky and grateful to our team and our customers for our continued collaboration during the year. We continued to work together on our projects without interruption, even if it was not always easy for our customers, as many companies had to suddenly close, reorganize or reassess their digital strategies. As a result, there was no negative impact on our business: our turnover in 2020 grew more than 40% and our staff increased by 10%. Wedia was able to emerge stronger after this difficult period.
Q2: What priorities and developments were made internally at Wedia in 2020, for example in terms of building out its DAM product?
2020 was a year that redefined the digital customer experience. As consumers move online, brands not only needed to be there, but be there in the most effective way. That means providing customers with personalized and engaging content on the digital channels they use. At Wedia, improving the digital customer experience has been the focus of our efforts for a long time, and last year really validated this strategy. While this was not something new for us, since it was something we forecasted years ago, we were happy to see that our strategy was reinforced and confirmed.
In terms of our DAM product, we wanted to develop new features focused on helping our customers improve and develop their digital customer experience. The product team at Wedia published six new releases, with more than 1165 improvements, reflecting our commitment to move fast and to always bring our customers a state of the art solution. We introduced the Wedia Content Picker in order to help creative teams increase efficiency, artificial intelligence services for indexing and enriching media, and various advanced video capabilities such as creating mixed media playlists or maximizing your video usage. We also worked hard to put the DAM as a central part of the digital Martech stack for retailers and consumer brands, and support their product marketing efforts.
Q3: In 2020, businesses had to adapt to the emergence of the digital-first economy. Were there any key takeaways or success stories from Wedia clients?
Despite the obviously complex context of last year, we still had many success stories in terms of clients and projects. We were selected by one of the biggest North American electricity distributors in a project that was entirely remotely. piloted. Even when trips from Europe were impossible, our teams’ commitment to remain motivated and involved made this win a real satisfaction and a pride for Wedia, so we are extremely excited to deploy this solution for this client in the first quarter of 2021. In 2020, we were also chosen by one of the world leaders in the automotive industry, despite the economic situation, and the pandemic’s disruption on the automotive industry. Finally, last May we deployed our solution for an iconic motorcycle brand. The solution has been rolled out to thousands of dealers and resellers of the brand in just four months after signing the new contract.
I think the main takeaway from 2020 is the need to be agile. We saw many of our current clients forced to make sudden investments in their digital activities. While some had already been working with e-retailers, they were not yet selling their products online on direct channels. We needed to therefore provide them with agility and scalability in our solution, both in methodology and in hosting. This was necessary to help them for example, deploy new websites quickly, or deliver an unprecedented volume of digital content. For one client, we saw the number of photos delivered monthly more than double, from 8 billion images to 20 billion images a month during lockdown. It was therefore crucial for our customers to work with a partner like Wedia that is able to provide such scalability and agility. I think that in 2020, we could really start to see the end of the “standard” DAM because it is not equipped for this type of situation: they needed a new-generation DAM system that can integrate and interconnect with all their other solutions, especially because they had to move very quickly.
Q4: As we look towards a brighter 2021, what does Wedia’s roadmap look like this year?
Put simply, 2020 did not really “change” Wedia’s strategy or roadmap. Our vision prior to last year was to focus on delivering one-to-one personalized customer experiences. But something we did witness last year was this shift to e-Commerce and the role that product visuals and marketing content play in the online buying journey. As part of our roadmap in 2021, we want to propose to our customers some new and exciting features around their product-based assets. We want to improve the way customers organize the media associated with their products, and be able to navigate, in the same solution, not only by media, but by product. For example, for one product, a customer can browse and retrieve all the different media assets that are relevant to that product. They can do this by easily assigning assets like images, videos or documents, as well as icons to one or multiple products to link them. This feature will be really helpful for when suppliers deliver mixed batches of assets without having sorted them by product, or when you’ll need to send the most recent product images to your retailers or online marketplaces. The new product-central navigation, and ‘central product view’ features, which will be included in our next product release, will be essential for brands in the consumer goods and retail industries, as they must manage a number of product-centric assets.
Q5: What about Wedia’s long term vision? What are Wedia’s vision and strategy for the next 5 years?
In the next few years, we will continue to focus on powering personalized customer experiences online and offline. We believe that in our world where sales are based on connecting with audiences and evoking emotions, content that is contextualized and delivered at scale across complex customer journeys is a must-have if brands want to engage customers and boost their revenue.
While the digital user experience may reign supreme now, it’s still necessary to extend these customer experience efforts to the physical world. As part of our strategy for the next 5 years, we want to better address the needs of distributed marketing teams, and help local retailers get quick access to a kit of marketing resources for their localized marketing campaigns.
In the digital space, we have to respond to the constant need of optimizing the digital experience and delivering a consistent experience across all digital channels. To work towards this vision, we want to be able to incorporate all different formats, not just photos and videos but all-new rich media assets like 3D and 360, etc. We also want to improve our ability to deliver dynamic content experiences, in which content varies and adapts according to different contexts, audiences, and screen sizes. One of the main ways of developing this type of personalization is by automatically generating new variants of existing assets through generative AI. It’s about making content atomic in order for brands to automatically create multiple versions of a photo or video and thus maximize its impact.
Last but not least, we want to continue to make our DAM an exciting destination. One that is able to address the different expectations of different business units or brands of big groups, and also provides them with the right data visualization tools to optimize and prove the ROI of their marketing efforts at every step of the way.