Lionbridge’s Digital Transformation Must-Haves: People, Process, And Adobe Tech

by Brian Glover

posted on 10-16-2019

As one of the world’s largest language service providers, Lionbridge has been at the forefront of digital transformation since before digital transformation was even a thing.

While Lionbridge’s mission has never changed, what has transformed are the technologies enabling its mission. Lionbridge was struggling to convert website visitors into new customers and to deepen relationships with existing customers. To address this required a massive undertaking — rebuilding its marketing automation technology and cleaning up the data informing its marketing decisions. Data held the key to unlocking conversions and customer relationships; Lionbridge had to remove inaccurate and duplicate data to address this and improve its sales and marketing motions.

Building a culture for success

CMO Jaime Punishill started at Lionbridge in November 2017 and was tasked with completely rethinking the company’s global marketing operations. By rebuilding Marketo Engage to have accurate data and robust customer profiles, Lionbridge quickly saw opportunities to engage customers quickly and at scale. Marketo Engage would become the “heartbeat” of their digital transformation. According to Jaime, Adobe’s Marketo Engage is the only piece of technology from that initial 2017 stack that the company still uses today.

“I came into an organization that was in the beginning of a turnaround, and I knew that I could not just shut everything off,” he said. “When you come into a new transformation role, it’s like being teleported into a plane. The plane is at 35,000 feet, it’s filled with passengers, you may be the new pilot, and may be going 450 miles an hour, but the plane cannot crash. And the truth is, you know your boss is asking you to fly the plane faster. Meanwhile there’s smoke coming out of both engines, pieces of the ailerons have fallen off, and there’s mutiny in the cabin. And so, you’ve got to figure out how to fly that plane, design your future, and then systematically rebuild towards that.”

Step one for Jaime was setting the vision toward where the company and marketing organization needed to go. Step two was figuring out whether or not he had the right people in place to really drive that vision forward.

“I’m a huge believer that if you’re changing your vision and your endpoints in your operating model, you’re not being honest with yourself if you think that you’re going to get there with the same people who got you into the situation you just declared you have to change,” he said.

Part of the people equation meant retraining and “re-skilling’ existing talent. Jaime also needed to bring in new talent in order to create a different culture in terms of how the marketing team would operate and interact with the rest of the company. Marketing also needed to think differently in terms of how it supported sales and finance throughout this cultural change.

“Everybody tends to focus on the marketing-specific version of transformation,” Jaime said. “But I’m just one part of the factory and the engine that moves the company forward. So if I change my delivery model, I have to bring everybody along to pivot. Otherwise, I naturally hit limits into what we can do.”

Adobe technology as an enabler of transformation

Lionbridge’s instance of Marketo Engage needed a major cleanup in terms of data architecture — which Jaime and his newly formed team focused on in phase two of the company’s digital transformation.

“We opened up Marketo Engage, we pulled [all of the data] out, we cleaned [it] up, deduped it, enriched it, fixed our process, changed lead scoring — we changed everything,” Jaime said, “and then we put all of the data back in so that Marketo Engage now runs clean.” Over the last 18 months, his team has created three websites and approximately 500 pieces of content in 10 languages.

The next step is partnering with sales operations to ensure the customer relationship management (CRM) system doesn’t push bad data into Marketo Engage. “If you’ve got a polluted river,” he said, “there are two ways you can clean [it] up: you can build a sewage treatment plant, which is what most people do, or you can stop polluting the darn river, which is what you should do.”

With a newly formed data architecture, Marketo Engage became Lionbridge’s cornerstone “customer understanding” capability. The company relies on the technology to better understand what information they own about a contact or company, what Lionbridge communications a customer has already received, how they’ve engaged on the company site, and more. “It’s our system of marketing truth,” Jaime said.

Marketo Engage helps Jaime and his team ensure that decisions across the board are made with sound data. Because, as he puts it, if you’re starting with questionable data, you’re setting yourself up to create a poor decision-making model — at scale.

After cleaning up its Marketo Engage data and turning the solution back on, Lionbridge launched a new web experience — and what they quickly observed was that previously there was a lot of traffic to the site left unengaged. With the new and improved data pipeline, Lionbridge could engage and “engage quickly,” he said, moving from targeted content to retargeting then omnichannel interaction and sales reach out.

Beyond Marketo Engage, Jaime said, Lionbridge has just signed on to use the full Adobe Experience Cloud stack, including Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Audience Manager, Adobe Target, and Adobe Analytics. The company will begin deploying Adobe Target in January, and plans to roll out the rest of the solutions in 2020.

“We’re bringing in the Adobe stack because we want something fully integrated that has complete knowledge of the user (who they are, what they’re interested in) so that we can do the best job in meeting their needs,” Jaime said.

Of course, digital transformation is not a one-and-done operation, and Lionbridge will continue on its journey. True transformation requires the continual improvement of people, processes, and technologies, as well as keeping the data river cleanly flowing.

“I think about the homebuilding metaphor — it’s always cheaper and better to tear your house down and build a new one than try to remodel,” Jaime said. “This is universally true for data as well.”

Lionbridge is using Marketo Engage to deliver exceptional customer experiences for brands all over the world. Learn more here.

Topics: Digital Transformation, Customer Stories

Products: Experience Cloud, Marketo Engage