Introducing The Forrester Wave: Digital Experience Service Providers

Co-authored by Sarah Sikowitz

“We can improve your digital customer experience with our strategy, design, and technical chops.” Does this pitch sound familiar? Digital agencies, consultancies, and technical services firms are all racing to be your digital customer experience partner. They have merged, acquired, and built new practices to meet the multidisciplinary needs of both technology and marketing leaders.


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Find Premium Digital Development Talent With The 3 C's

This a guest post by Danielle Geoffroy, a Research Associate on the Application Development & Delivery (AD&D) team.

You have a people and organization problem. In our 2015 survey, we asked what the biggest barriers to success are when it comes to delivering customer-facing mobile and web experiences. The answer didn’t surprise us – the top three challenges were all talent-related. Digital experience delivery is the new black, and in order to incorporate it into your strategy and brand, you need to hire a new breed of development and delivery talent: technologists that are creative, understand business goals, and are up to date on new technology and languages (think WCM, not just ERP, and Javascript, not just Python).

In order to hire this premium talent, you must think like the talent. These designers, developers, creators didn’t grow up in the suit and tie corporate world, and will need competitive salaries and benefits plus much more: meaningful, fast-paced work cultures that foster development.

In order hire this talent that has new priorities, we identified three C’s to build your perfect match digital experience team:

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DAM Faces An Overcast Future Without Cloud

Forrester recently published a report on moving digital experience platforms into the cloud. This effort, led by my colleagues Ted Schadler and Mark Grannan, highlights an important point: digital experience platforms have been slow to embrace cloud delivery and only now, very slowly, are they embracing cloud alternatives. Why now? Forrester data shows us that clients demand cloud delivery so they can speed up implementation and deployment times, support mobile and remote users, lower overall costs, and replace upfront capital spending with monthly operating cost expenses. 

While digital experience platforms are typically anchored by core technologies like web content management, eCommerce, and/or campaign management, digital asset management is a core complementary piece of these platforms. DAM supports these solutions by managing omnichannel brand and rich media content. But compared to these other digital experience platform components, DAM is among the slowest to embrace cloud delivery. Many of the most prominent DAM vendors today have been very slow to adopt cloud delivery, and as such, the market is ripe for a cloud disrupter to change the pace of the market. 

So what’s happening in the market today? In short, some vendors show hints of promise of doing what Salesforce has done to the CRM market, but no one vendor has stepped to the plate yet:

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Is Your Dream Digital Experience Services Partner Out There?

Today, it is vital for companies to understand and connect to every moment of the digital customer journey. But for most organizations, there are so many delivery challenges that they can’t do it alone:  84% of companies we surveyed use agencies and/or system integrator partners to help deliver digital customer experiences.

Choosing the right services firm takes some match-making magic: the partnership can either end up as a happy marriage or end in bitter divorce. In order to help Forrester clients, we recently released our report, Market Overview: Digital Experience Services Providers 2015, in order to provide an overview of nearly 50 services vendors with significant digital experience delivery practices. These are all vendors that have experience helping firms strategize, design, implement, and optimize customer-facing web and mobile experiences. Over the course of this research we discovered:

  • Despite similar messaging, services vendors come from distinctive DNAs.  Thousands of services providers have popped up, hoping to help firms solve these digital experience delivery challenges. But despite similar vendor promises that they  can “solve it all” we found that firms come from a variety of different DNAs (e.g. technical services, global agencies, specialist agencies, consultancies) that reveal which types of initiatives they are best –fit to help solve. For example, technical services firms are often better suited for initiatives with heavy integration needs and large, complex global implementations.
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Adobe Tops The Technology Partner Podium

Service providers are vital to the success and failure of digital experience delivery initiatives. In fact, one enterprise told me their services partner was “the saving grace” of their initiative. But only if they implement the right technology products.

My colleagues Ted Schadler, Peter Sheldon, and I asked about the technology vendor partner programs of 46 digital experience service providers from a variety of DNAs including technology services, consultancies, global digital agencies, and specialist firms. We asked for their top three technology partners in six different digital experience technology categories, including WCM, eCommerce, digital asset management, analytics, and campaign management. What did we discover? The results surprised us so we wanted to share them with you:

  • Adobe was a runaway winner across a broader digital experience delivery portfolio. Adobe had more than twice as many partnerships as any other technology vendor across the six product categories. Adobe earned this distinction with partnerships in four categories: WCM, digital asset management, campaign management, and customer analytics.
  • In WCM, Sitecore and Adobe reigned, while in eCommerce hybris, IBM, and Oracle lead. Adobe, Sitecore, Drupal, Microsoft, and Acquia lead in WCM partnerships: many serviceevangelize and support these solutions. When it comes to eCommerce, however, a different set of solutions topped the list: SAP hybris, IBM, Oracle, and Demandware. Interestingly, many services firms make a living out of integrating these best-of-breed WCM solutions with these best-of-breed commerce solutions for web and mobile redesigns.
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Join Our 2015 Digital Experience Delivery Survey

Mark Grannan, Ted Schadler, Stephen Powers, and I recently launched our annual survey on delivering customer-facing web and mobile initiatives. If you're someone who is involved in delivering your firms web and mobile experience, we'd love to have you participate in this survey. If you're a vendor or services firm, we encourage you to circulate this survey to your customers or prospects! 

What do we hope to explore in this survey? Some of the questions we’d like to get answers to include:

  • What projects (if any) you have planned for this year.
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Introducing The Forrester Wave: Digital Asset Management (DAM) For Customer Experience, Q4, 2014

Today, everyone is a content publisher. This is due to lower content creation costs (consider the cost of creating HD videos now versus five years ago) and the increasing need to deliver engaging, rich-media-driven experiences. As organizations across verticals morph to become content publishers, best-of-breed digital asset management (DAM) solutions are garnering increasing amounts of interest. Why the fuss? These solutions can help manage the content creation process, manage finalized rich media content, and prepare content for delivery across channels.

As organizations begin placing a premium on DAM technology, they need the technology to do more than serve as a static, siloed content repository. Instead, solutions now must support two key business imperatives:

  • Digital experience delivery. DAM solutions must provide deeper functionality to prepare rich media content to be delivered globally and across channels. To do this, solutions must support vision and functionality to support greater automation in managing global/local versions of content, various renditions of content across channels, and integration with key systems of engagement (e.g. eCommerce, web content management, campaign management).
  • Marketing and business agility. DAM solutions must allow marketers and other business users to work with greater agility as well as operational efficiency and effectiveness. To do this, DAM solutions must support greater business process management, automation for key content management tasks (e.g. tagging, rights management, version control), and integration with a greater enterprise marketing technology ecosystem to fuel greater efficiency and effectiveness.
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How Mature Is Your Digital Experience Delivery Practice?

Application development and delivery (AD&D) groups must establish technical services and tools to enable marketing and business groups to deliver and optimize web and mobile customer experiences. But today, we’re falling well short of our goal. Forrester data reveals that 51% of marketing leaders believe that technology management groups don’t accelerate their path to success.

To help AD&D pros mature and better serve marketing, eBusiness, and other lines of business responsible for delivering customer experience, Forrester created a digital experience delivery maturity model based on interviews with senior AD&D leaders over the past 24 months. We found that success was tied to maturity not just in solutions deployed or development methodologies. Instead, success and maturity was based on four fundamental categories, many of which are technology agnostic:

  • Strategic planning. Digital experience delivery maturity is largely based on how well they have strategized, planned, and executed their digital experience delivery programs. This dimension will evolve from project-based work to a more comprehensive strategy that spans business, marketing, and technical teams.
  • People. Organizational support is a critical component to success for growing internal expertise and creating digital experience teams that are responsive to business needs. This isn't just limited to who you've hired to be on the team. Instead, people issues focus more broadly on organizational issues like organizational structure (e.g. do your developers sit in marketing? Within technology management?), collaboration, shared values, and services partner strategy.
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Is Your Agency Or SI Trying To Sell You A Digital Experience Delivery Platform?

We recently published our digital experience delivery platform wave (you can find the blog post and accompanying report here).  These platforms have emerged to help solve customer needs around integration between digital experience technologies and data management.  

Over the past year, many agencies and systems integrators (SI) have also gotten on the digital experience platform bandwagon. These partners have been white labeling and directly licensing/selling digital experience platforms-as-a-service (PaaS). These solutions are typically built on the backbone of proprietary web content management (WCM) and eCommerce solutions (usually Adobe’s toolsets, though we found some notable exceptions built on Oracle and SDL), and are meant to provide an “as a service” model to delivering multichannel content- and commerce- driven experiences. Many, many services firms from both agency and systems integrators backgrounds have started to promote these solutions including well-known names like: SapientNitro, Publicis Groupe, Wipro, Infosys, Cognizant, Deloitte, and Capgemini.

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Digital Experience Delivery Creates Many Organizational Headaches

Forrester recently surveyed 148 technology, marketing, and business professionals with decision-making roles in digital experience (DX) delivery technologies, and asked them about their strategies for the coming 12 months. In our recently published report, one of the more interesting trends we found was the “people” issues remain top of mind for most organizations. Our qualitative and inquiry data backs this up, as we often here that people, process, and cultural issues (not technology issues) have stifled progress towards delivering great digital customer experiences.

Our survey found that organizations were concerned about people issues such as:

  • Dividing up work between different groups. Digital experience has moved from a purely marketing centric function, to a decidedly cross business issue that touches everyone in the organization. This includes technology management, business, marketing, and sales groups. But this cross-business shift toward digital experience delivery presents significant challenges around coordinating work between various groups. Accordingly, this was the number one people-related pain point: 60% of respondents said dividing roles and responsibilities between marketing, technology management, and the business was their top challenge.
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