The retail and eCommerce landscapes have changed dramatically over the past decade as customer experience has risen to the forefront of enterprise marketing priorities. Marketers have turned their focus away from price as the key driver of sales to their ability to deliver the most convenient, streamlined and personalized experiences across channels whether online, in-store, or on mobile phones.
As Dietmar Rietsch, CEO, of Pimcore, an Austria-based open source platform for data and customer experience management, explained to me in a telephone interview:
Everything is going in the direction of one to one marketing. It's all about customization. It's all about machine learning and artificial intelligence and making websites and customer experiences more intelligent, so they fit to the core needs of the audience. So, it's a critical thing to know the behavior of the customer, to know their customer journey and then--based on that knowledge and that information and those analytical KPIs--adjust the website to get better output and conversions by these components.
Achieving that level of customer knowledge creates major technology headaches for enterprises. Among the most pressing:
- The Silo Problem. The data needed to capture a complete picture of customers is likely stored in different systems and applications within the company. Product information is in one silo; web content may be in another; digital asset management and e-commerce may have their own pipelines.
- The Incompatible Software Problem.Most companies use multiple software for multiple tasks and that requires multiple interfaces that rarely talk to each other.
Those are the major problems Pimcore was founded to address. Said Rietsch:
Pimcore was conceived at a digital agency called Elements at New Media Solutions in Salzburg, Austria, in 2010, where I (along with the other co-founders) spent close to seven years. We recognized that we needed too change the way we were functioning. All of our projects were turning into data management nightmares. There were severe troubles with updating and syncing several programming languages. And we were doing it for every single customer. Even the smallest of updates in any of the systems were pushing our projects to the brink of breaking up. Our developers were working under tremendous pressure. The quality we were delivering to our clients was suffering, along with our time-to-market.
Pimcore’s co-founders set to create a platform that could manage any amount and type of data, be used across industries, and was agile enough to adjust to constantly changing customer and business demands.
Their solution Pimcore, introduced in 2013, is a free open source software platform for managing digital data and customer experiences for any channel, device, or industry. It integrates out-of-the-box product information management, web content management, digital asset management and e-commerce functionalities. Because it is 100% API driven, it can integrate with any other marketing platform or marketing stack and work easily with analytics and CRM systems. Rietsch said:
Our goal was to create a smart and intuitive seamless digital platform that would bring all the data that marketers need together in one place and will work on their existing infrastructure. We always wanted to disrupt the licensing model which inhibits innovation. We strongly believe control over intellectual property and software belongs in the hands of our customers. That’s why we’ve developed our technology to be completely free of license cost.
Pimcore’s Digital Experience Platform (DXP) combines four products, Product Information Management/Master Data Management (PIM/MDM), Digital Asset Management (DAM), Content Management System/Customer Management System/User Experience and eCommerce.
The company has 82,000 customers across 56 countries, including global enterprises like Audi, Burger King, Continental and Intersport. Although Pimcore has been a startup since 2013, it was entirely self-funding until December 2018 when it announced $3.5 million in Series A funding, led by German Auctus Capital. Rietsch said the money is primarily being used to support the company’s expansion in the U.S. It now has an office in Houston and another in New Delhi.
We have a lot of happy customers but they are still, I would say, concentrated in Europe. Our goal with the money is to go global, particularly to expand in the United States.
Pimcore is positioned as the Swiss Army Knife of digital data management systems although its core capability to act as a DAM is likely to be more familiar. Its ability to deploy an open source ecosystem that can help consolidate digital assets and product information, provide customer experience management, in addition to commerce capabilities, makes it a one-of-a-kind platform. Gartner just named it one of its latest “Cool Vendors.” I suspect it will do very well in its global expansion. But then open source has always been a draw, especially among budget conscious CTOs.