INBOUND is a massive conference. This year they had over 21,000 people, over 350 sessions and incredible speakers. Even though this is a HubSpot conference, the product isn't the focus, unlike other conferences. Of course there are the "here's what's new" presentations, but the breakouts sessions focus primarily on marketing/sales overall strategy, tactics to help you be better at your job, and personal development — leadership, finding your true voice, etc.
The WSOL team attended again and we've blogged about our initial takeaways. For me, with the amount of information presented, I needed to take some time to absorb, reflect and pull together a few of the key points that I'll be using to drive our marketing department and services in 2018.
Partnering with HubSpot Continues to be a Great Investment for WSOL
I kinda ended up "crashing" a presentation that was geared towards the companies that have products that integrate with HubSpot and I'm so glad that happened. That, along with HubSpot founders Brian Halligan's and Darmesh Shah's presentation, confirmed that HubSpot is moving from thinking of themselves as a SAAS-based solution to a platform-as-a-service solution. The ultimate goal seems to be an App platform where a fully-open API allows companies to develop solutions that work with HubSpot. I feel this vision acknowledges that one software can't do everything. You can build your sales/marketing around the core HubSpot platform and then layer in additional apps to accomplish everything you need to get done. A world where there is no more marketing tech silos or Frankenstein tech solutions is fantastic and something to be excited about.
The above image represents HubSpot's vision as a growth stack platform by 2018. At the center is the CRM, with Marketing/Sales/Connect (which is the integration program currently) modules and then a new module — Customer Hub which they announced at INBOUND. The details weren't too descriptive, but think of it as a way to pull all conversations with customers, whether it happens online, on the phone, or through social media into one common area. From this, a company will be able to gather top questions, build out a knowledge center and really let all people in a company know exactly what is going on with each customer to help provide a consistent customer experience.
At WSOL, we've built our success on helping companies navigate and implement technology solutions to help them run their digital efforts. So to see HubSpot really focus on the customer experience as a whole reinforces our decision to become a partner back in 2012 in order to help clients who want to invest in sales/marketing technology as an all-in-one platform.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Bots
There had to be at least 10 different presentations specifically on AI and the use of Bots in marketing/sales at Inbound. HubSpot recently acquired Motion AI, and I sat in on a presentation with the CEO. Interestingly enough this company is just up the road from WSOL headquarters! The two takeaways related to this topic are: a) don't worry marketing people, AI is not going to take your job away and b) the use cases of AI in HubSpot are pretty cool. One example is in the sales product. Eventually the hottest leads will be served up to sales people automatically in their daily to do list. Also, based on email send data, sales people will get recommended send times per lead to better their chances of that lead opening their emails. Pretty cool stuff.
We Need to Solidify Our HubSpot Sales Services at WSOL
If WSOL doesn't continue to expand our service offering to better support the HubSpot Sales product we could be obsolete as a partner sooner rather than later. While this may seem dramatic, it's pretty clear that the sales side of the platform will see the most growth over the next two years. As a HubSpot Platinum partner, we need to make sure that we offer strategy, support and solution services on the HubSpot CRM and HubSpot Sales product to stay competitive and to be a better partner to our HubSpot clients.
HubSpot CMS - Finally
HubSpot is finally officially calling the CMS product a CMS (Content Management System). This is like the 5th branding change it's gone through. It started as being called a CMS, then it when to COS, then it went to Sites, then back to COS, then to Hosting, and now finally we can use the word CMS to describe the product. They are undergoing some big changes with the CMS and we've been invited to participate in the Beta test. WSOL has been a CMS expert with products such as Ektron and Episerver. Helping clients migrate from other platforms to the HubSpot CMS is a core piece of what we do. It's very exciting to see the company focus on the CMS module and especially to call it what it is — a content management system.
What Makes You Special
Lastly, the question, "what makes you special?" was asked frequently. This was brought up multiple ways. From a personal development standpoint, Michelle Obama inspired me by saying "Don't hide your voice" and it made me think of that concept and how I want to make sure we promote that as part of our WSOL culture. All ideas are welcomed here and what can we do to make sure that's celebrated and that all our employees are speaking up in meetings, feeling supported to share their ideas and innovate. Secondly, from a company growth standpoint, we have to be crystal clear on what defines us a company— that what we do is so amazingly awesome that it draws people to us to work with us. This was crystallized in one presentation by the COO of Big Ass Fans. (Side note: I wasn't familiar with this company so I was thinking "fans" as in helping people on Facebook, but no, they literally sell big ass fans.) In any case, Jon Bostock's presentation was phenomenal and I wish it was video recorded. In addition to focusing on what makes you special as a company, he said "F*&% the competition - don't worry about what they are doing. Be true to what you do and how you want to do it and who cares what the other companies are doing in your space."
As I gear up for marketing planning for the company in 2018 and for continuing to push for excellence in our HubSpot services for our clients, INBOUND is such a catalyst for me to learn, grow, and crystallize how I can make an impact on my team, department and clients. If you went to INBOUND, I'd like to hear from you as to your main takeaways now that you've had some time to "digest" all of the information. Comment below or send me a note on Twitter.