Creating A Software Engineering Group Becomes Key To Closing The Experience Gaps

In our recent report Closing The Experience Gaps, Ted Schadler and I talked about two key elements to meeting customers’ rising expectations: creating an architecture for cross-channel experience delivery and developing a philosophy and culture of business agility. Given it builds on many of the concepts that we outlined in the Software Must Enhance Your Brand, I wanted to highlight the key aspects of the second element: developing a philosophy and culture of business agility.

Closing the experience gaps — performance, convenience, personalization, and trust — requires a different mindset. The shift in customer expectations, fueled by an increasing rate of technology change, means that firms need to act more like a cloud-based ISV, not a traditional IT shop. This requires an agile process and continuous development from small teams spanning business, design, and technology competencies. Part of this makeover includes improving technical and design competencies. Companies like GE and Wal-Mart have dramatically upskilled their technology teams.

At the core of this new mindset are five cultural, process, and skill imperatives:

  • Align business and technology executives. Successful customer experience transformation efforts at Delta Air Lines and The Home Depot have at their core an accommodation between the CEO, business executives, and the CIO.
  • Embrace an agile, sense-and-respond continuous delivery process. Great customer experiences today are table stakes tomorrow. To continuously improve experiences, companies must work differently, in small agile teams that span business, design, and technology — what we call IDEA teams.
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Closing The Experience Gaps Requires New Technology Architecture And Philosophy

Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CXi) research reveals a shocking business result: Over five years, CXi leaders outperformed the S&P with 43% stock growth, while CXi laggards had negative returns of -34%. (See this Forrester report to learn about our new customer experience index.)

As a result, firms are in an arms race to mobilize their services, deliver new digital capabilities, and delight customers on every step of their journey. eBusiness, marketing, and customer experience teams are eagerly adopting new software to deliver these digital experiences. At times, they chose a conscious uncoupling from the CIO’s team in order to move quickly and stay ahead of customers’ expectations.

Unfortunately, the mismatch of customer-facing teams scrambling to build new digital services while CIOs and their teams hunker down to cut cost and risk has caused a disconnect on the role of technology management in delivering great experiences. In a new Forrester report, Closing The Experience Gaps, my colleague Ted Schadler and I interviewed more than 35 companies and analyzed survey results from 3,502 US consumers, we uncovered this misalignment and identified the four experience gaps that result (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 Experience Delivery Requires A New Architecture And Philosophy

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