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Looking back, moving forward: a letter from Tom Hallaert, managing partner at Blastic

by Tom Hallaert , Jan 11

First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy new year. It sounds cliché, but wow, time flies. 

Looking back at 2021, we’ve had our share of challenges, but the overall conclusion is that we can be very satisfied with our results for 2021. We confirmed our three pillar strategy THINK – CREATE – ACCELERATE, and we officially expanded to the Dutch market with our separate Dutch registered company. We’ve established some serious foundations to enable further growth in the upcoming years. We’ve also strengthened our teams in both countries and look forward to the challenges that 2022 will bring us.

At Blastic, we always strive to be two steps ahead instead of being reactive. Thinking about the upcoming trends for 2022 is a good exercise to be as agile as possible. For 2022, I foresee the following trends: 

MACH Architecture Alliance to change the industry 

Starting my career in the Enterprise Application Integration team of a large Belgian bank, I fully understand the importance of well-integrated applications and platforms. When I started focusing on Digital Experience Platforms within Blastic, I was very surprised to see that most of these platforms were running on islands, without any integration with other applications.

This was very contradictory to everything I’ve learned at the beginning of my career. During one of my previous articles I already made the statement: “A digital experience platform without integrations is like a bar without beer”.  I’m convinced the MACH Architecture Alliance will change the industry. The Alliance was formed in June 2020 to help enterprise organizations navigate the complex modern technology landscape. It aims to guide and show the business advantages of open tech ecosystems that are Microservices based, API-first, Cloud-native and Headless.

Can I get an Amen?

All in one DXP versus composable DXP

For a very long time I’ve been the biggest fan of the all-in-one digital experience platform. One platform with one user interface, which enables marketing teams all over the world to deliver a personalized customer experience to their clients. 

I still believe that the all-in-one DXP has its place on the market, but I’m also convinced there is room for composable DXPs. Best fit solutions/products for specific tasks like e-mail marketing, personalization, analytics etcetera, integrated with each other to enable the same marketing teams to do an even better job.

What’s the best fit solution for you? That depends on your requirements and your business objectives; what do you want to achieve, how much effort do you want to put into the platform, what is your expected ROI? 

End user experience becomes even more important 

Time is precious. There’s so much noise online, and your time frame to catch people’s attention becomes smaller and smaller each year. It doesn’t matter what products or services you’re selling; you must be able to provide the right content and context at the right time. Personalization and a great user experience will continue to gain importance. I no longer believe in the saying “third time's a charm” when it comes to customer attraction.

B2B e-commerce as ecological enabler? 

The pandemic had a major impact on the B2C e-commerce market in Belgium. Where most people were not used to ordering day-to-day household products online, this has changed enormously over the past two years. Nevertheless, it seems that the B2B e-commerce market is still lagging behind.

What do we expect of B2B e-commerce? What are the required investments? Will it impact our sales team? How can we organize it ecofriendly and do a lot better than the B2C market in that area? For how much longer can we put our answer to these questions on hold?

Today we already notice that intermediaries start selling products of producers at gigantic margins with the sole purpose of making as much money as possible in the shortest possible time. But what about product quality, customer engagement, customer care? I think it’s time for product producers to hit the market themselves, before their product reputations is destroyed by intermediaries. And because dreaming is allowed at the beginning of the year… could the B2B e-commerce market be an enabler for an ecological and sustainable B2C e-commerce market?

Expertise shift

Last but not least, the war for talent will remain huge. The required expertise is evolving and shifting very rapidly, so companies will have to rely on very talented people to keep up. When everybody is fishing in the same pond, it will only get more difficult to catch the right fish.

Wrapping up

To wrap up, I’d like to wish everyone happiness, health, and success for 2022. If you managed to make it this far, I have a little secret to share. This year Blastic exists 10 years, and that’s a milestone that cannot go unnoticed. Stay tuned to see what we have in petto! 

I hope to talk to you soon.

Tom Hallaert

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