Zarnaz Arlia, CMO, Emplifi

The Infinite Experience: A recap of Emplifi Summit '21

Over 2 days, our inaugural Emplifi Summit brought together innovators and luminaries to shine a light on the future of CX.

After months of planning, we couldn't have been more excited for Emplifi Summit '21 to finally be here! Before I dive into my recap, I want to congratulate my awesome marketing team for making this amazing event happen!

Both days were packed with truly inspiring sessions from several thought leaders who touched on everything from CX, marketing, commerce, and care.

Below are some of the highlights of Emplifi Summit '21. If you were not able to attend this event, all sessions are now available to watch on-demand.

Jump to our Day 2 recap

Emplifi Summit Day 1: How empathy and diversity lead to infinite experiences

Thought leaders and innovators in marketing, social commerce, and customer care present big ideas and a vision for the future.

What an honor it was to see so many marketers, influencers, and customer experience professionals turn out for Day 1 of the inaugural Emplifi Summit.

Our audience spanned the globe, representing a variety of roles, from the C-Suite to practitioners in social media, commerce, and digital care. The amazing Fernando Tiberini, Emplifi Summit Host, guided us through the day, while attendees discovered an agenda that explored themes of empathy, diversity, and innovation. They dove into topics relevant to almost every aspect of CX and every vertical industry, including automotive, health & beauty, restaurants, CPG, media agencies, and more.

Connecting people with their interests and the things they love

The day began with a welcome message from Emplifi CEO Mark Zablan, who then invited Martha-O'Byrne-O'Reilly of Meta (Facebook) to share her thoughts on social commerce trends. Martha told us that 1 billion people visit Facebook Marketplace each month, while 250 million monthly visitors find their way to Facebook Shops.

"Facebook has always been about connecting you with your interests and the things that you love," Martha said. "That has meant friends and family, but also products and brands and businesses." Martha explained how Meta (Facebook) has witnessed meaningful shifts in how customers and businesses communicate. "People now want to get support and make purchases right within a chat with a business," she continued. "We're not thinking about this as a trend anymore. This is definitely a known behavior."

Infinite learning to develop 21st-century skills

Next up, I had the pleasure of interviewing Steven Wolfe Pereira about what the concept of an infinite experience means to edtech company, Encantos. This mission-driven company is all about transforming education to help children acquire "21st-century skills" like creativity, critical thinking, cultural appreciation, and financial literacy. Steven spoke about the importance of providing children with a diverse education, and engaging them in an infinite learning experience. These are priorities that resonate with me, and I hope with all the families in our Emplifi community.

For those attendees who came to get a preview of Emplifi's CX product roadmap, our Chief Product Officer Alex George delivered a sneak-peak in his talk on "Next-gen CX." The social commerce and digital care examples he shared will open your imagination to the vast potential of this technology.

After these thought-provoking keynotes, we turned our collective attention to the breakout tracks. Attendees chose from 12 different sessions across 4 tracks: CX for executives, Marketing, Social commerce, and Care. A particular standout for me was the session with Nicholas Pan, Managing Director, Strategy & Commerce at VMLY&R Asia, who explained how brands can bridge common gaps in social commerce. "There's no reason to follow social media channels if all the content is the same," he said. "The same principle applies to social commerce."

Big ideas are built, not conceived

After a short break, Omar Johnson took the virtual stage to challenge our thinking about big ideas. As the founder of ØPUS United, former CMO of Beats by Dre, and VP Marketing at Apple, Omar has a most inspiring story of achieving success as a marketer and business leader. The secrets, he says, are in listening, empathy, and a growth mindset.

"The most powerful thing you can do in leadership today is listening as offense," Omar said. He showed viewers how the big ideas behind campaigns at Beats for the London 2012 Olympics and the movie Straight Outta Compton came to be - with diverse teams and opinions.

In the afternoon, a fireside chat between Emplifi CEO Mark Zablan and Peter Biven, head of e-commerce for Ford of Europe, got us thinking about what it means to deliver superior customer service in a digital world.

In closing, I want to mention the reforestation program we are supporting with JUST ONE Tree, our designated charity for this event. Emplifi is donating one tree on behalf of every attendee of our event this year, so you are making a difference simply by registering.

Watch Day 1 sessions on-demand (and join us for Day 2)

If you missed any of these highlights, you can catch up at your convenience, as all of our Emplifi Summit '21 sessions are available on-demand.

For Day 2, we have analyst perspectives on tap from IDC and Forrester, as well as an enlightening fireside chat with Lynn Schlesinger, the newly appointed CXO at Forbes. Finally, make sure to catch the inspirational talk from author Elif Shafak and our epic closing party with Soul II Soul.


Jump to our Day 1 recap

Emplifi Summit Day 2: The lens of the customer

Rethinking the future of the customer experience with analysts, authors, marquee brands, and a most insightful CXO interview.

Is it possible that Day 2 was even more exciting than yesterday's Emplifi Summit experience? If you can believe it! We began with an eye-opening analyst perspective on shifting customer expectations. Alan Webber, Global Lead for Customer Experience Research Practices at IDC, highlighted a series of changes in company and customer interactions and engagement that are here to stay following the 2020 pandemic.

For example, IDC found that 38% of consumers felt safer using contactless interactions, and approximately one-third of consumers want to continue using curbside pick-up post-pandemic.

"This pandemic has shifted in a significant way how we're going to interact and engage going forward," Alan said. "Companies are going to have to change to keep up with that desire."

Next, we heard a real-world digital care story with Sarb Dhanjal-Brown, Director of Consumer Insights at Blue Diamond Growers. Sarb spoke with Emplifi CXO Shellie Vornhagen about the BDG customer advocacy group and how the company listens to customers and feeds that information back into the organization. "There isn't a shortage of data," Sarb explained. "The question is, what do you do with it?" Blue Diamond is beginning the journey of leveraging the immense data that customers share to improve marketing, product quality, innovation, and care.

Setting up for the next century

I was delighted to present a fireside chat with the newly-appointed CXO of Forbes, Lynn Schlesinger. We covered a lot of ground in a short session and heard how Lynn is shaping her new role and working to make Forbes a truly customer-centric organization.

When you pause to think that Forbes is a 100-year-old media company serving customers who connect with the brand from early in their careers all the way through their retirement, you begin to appreciate what it means to create an infinite experience for several equally important audiences: print and digital readers, event participants, contributor network, and journalists.

"We really have the full life cycle of someone's personal and professional experience," Lynn explained. "The journey is long and it's important. We look at it from a customer experience through all those different touch points. It can be four, five, six decades of a relationship with Forbes."

Dealing with difficult emotions

To end the Emplifi Summit on a high note, we invited the world-renowned author and speaker Elif Shafak to inspire us with her thoughts on the connection between storytelling, empathy, and diversity. Elif's writing is beautiful and moving, and I'm sure you'll agree, she is even more captivating in person.

"I want to understand whose stories are not being told, whose stories are being erased, forgotten systemically. And that is why in my novels, in all my work, minorities play an important role," she said. "I also passionately believe that stories can help to rehumanize people who have been dehumanized."

Elif explained how we can take our empathy and use it constructively. "We need to remain connected, as human beings beyond borders. How do we hear each other's voices and stories? That to me is very important."

More highlights from the agenda for Day 2

A few other sessions come to mind as I reflect back on the day:

  • We had Su Doyle, Senior Analyst at Forrester, present the results of a recent commissioned study by Forrester Consulting Study conducted on behalf of Emplifi that dives into the current and future states of social commerce.

  • Consultant Natalie Nahai talked about the importance of meeting changing consumer expectations with psychological principles, based on her new book, Business Unusual.

  • Go Instore, now an Emplifi company, invited customer Ribble Cycles to talk about its foray into live video shopping.

The closing party of Emplifi Summit '21 really was a celebration to remember. We tried to do something a little different with our event by including lots of music breaks with house band Roameo, as well as the fantastic live performance with the classic Soul II Soul.

We hope you enjoyed the entertainment and also came away with new ideas to apply in your organization.

All of these sessions are now available on-demand on the Emplifi Summit website.

Thanks to all who joined us for the Emplifi Summit '21. See you next year!