Avoid Website Development Flops By Taking A Lesson From Healthcare.gov

David Aponovich

“We’re in charge of developing your new website. You can have it  good, fast, or cheap. Pick two.”

How many times have you heard (or said) something like that on a digital experience project? With any digital initiative, one of those desires is usually odd man out. Application development and delivery pros  at corporations, digital agencies, and systems integrators know this; they’re often the people talking reality in the face of the wishes of the business asking for all three (and, frequently, a fourth: “Can you make it as good as Apple.com?”).

Web projects always require compromise. The challenge is figuring out what you can live without.

It’s enlightening to apply the good/fast/cheap triangle to the Healthcare.gov snafu that’s been playing out in Washington, DC. If you’re involved in web applications, reviewing the government’s project might be one way to inoculate yourself and your team against an invitation to the hot seat by preventing website crash and burn. No one wants to be like the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, and her squad, who’ve had to explain the most visible website flop in history.

It makes me ask: how did the Feds deal with the good/fast/cheap question for Healthcare.gov? It’s a hard reality to deal with on any digital project, never mind a project of this scale. Where would you compromise?

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The 14 Digital Customer Experience Tools You're About To Invest In

David Aponovich

If you’re involved in delivering and executing great digital customer experiences, you’ll want to access Forrester’s new TechRadar report that digs into the diverse, rapidly evolving technology ecosystem that supports this strategic business imperative.

We define 14 technologies (and cite representative vendors) including web content management, eCommerce, email marketing, web analytics and testing — all capabilities we believe are necessary to support “on-site” customer experiences, or the digital channels that businesses and brands control.

This is an important market not just because vendors that serve it are making lots of noise. It’s relevant because enterprises have discovered that great digital customer experiences matter to their customers and to their enterprise success, competitiveness and viability. It’s about technology plus a whole lot more. From the report:

Delivering great multichannel digital experiences isn't as easy as plugging in new software and calling it a day. Digital customer experience success comes from combining many elements: a big-picture vision, short- and long-term strategic planning, shifts in roles and responsibilities, and intelligent technology adoption and delivery.

The shift to digital at organizations is not happening — it cannot happen — at an incremental pace. Too much is riding on it. This is a transformative change, and to date too many organizations that have paid only lip service to supporting the customer across all digital channels have felt the sting of competition beating them to the punch. We don’t call it “digital disruption” for nothing.

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WCM: A Sexy Tool For Digital Customer Experience

David Aponovich

This content also appeared in the June 2013 edition of CRM Magazine.

Web content management (WCM) software has been around nearly as long as the modern Web. This software enables technology pros to develop sites, lets content people create and publish, and helps marketers leverage online channels to engage customers and prospects.

Forrester’s recent research into this vibrant market confirms a fact that buyers of this technology need to be aware of: WCM has become an essential foundation for enabling successful digital experience efforts. And by doing so, it’s supporting one of the last things that corporations and brands can use to differentiate themselves.

Recently, vendors have put resources into expanding features, building, buying, or integrating with various things:

  • Visitor profile, segment, and targeting tools to deliver personalized content in context
  • Capabilities to develop and deploy mobile and social channels of engagement
  • CRM, email marketing, analytics, A/B testing, integrations, and tools
  • Cross-channel insights and reporting
  • Multichannel campaign management functionality
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Survey Shows Mobile Web Gets Priority Over Mobile Apps In 2013

David Aponovich

As companies work hard to deliver multichannel digital experiences (DX) to their customers, questions persist. A big question: Which channels (and, by extension, which development strategies) should we prioritize for our DX initiatives? Recent Forrester survey data provides some guidance by indicating which channels DX professionals say are top of mind in 2013.

A focus on traditional web sites remains the highest priority, cited by 80% of organizations, according to data in Forrester’s March 2013 Global Digital Experience Delivery Online Survey. (Forrester colleague Anjali Yakkundi dives deep into the survey data and its implications in her The State of Digital Customer Experience Technology, 2013 report.)

But when it comes to addressing the mobile imperative, respondents indicate two distinct layers of prioritization.

The focus on building mobile web experiences is measurably higher than the focus on developing purpose-built mobile applications. See the accompanying chart to witness the gulf between organizations extending a web experience to tablets and smartphones, over those creating specific web apps typically developed to support more specific tasks or functions.

Many organizations tell us that they’ve shifted their mobile strategy away from creating specific apps built for iOS and Android devices, unless and until they have a compelling reason to create a custom app experience.

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Fire, Ready, Aim! How Not to Choose a New Web Content Management Solution

David Aponovich

It’s been a busy few weeks since we published “The Forrester Wave: Web Content Management for Digital Customer Experience, Q2 2013,” in which we assess the technical capabilities and strategic direction of 10 WCM solutions.

A question I hear frequently from Forrester clients:  “Which WCM is the best for our organization?” My nearly universal response: “Tell me your priorities.”

Rarely is there one “best WCM” that meets all of a firm’s objectives for web content management and digital experience, so let’s dispel that myth right now. Instead, it’s a trade-off where your specific requirements should influence your investigation, direct you to a shortlist, and help you make an informed choice.

The WCM Wave Report (and the accompanying Excel with detailed product capabilities) is a powerful tool to help enterprise buyers compare solutions. It’s helpful only if you have some idea of the problems you’re trying to solve and the strategic opportunities you need to focus on.

Priorities matter. Or, more accurately, your priorities matter. Your priorities are different than those of the company across the street. It’s a big and confusing market, too. Although we cover 10 WCM solutions in the Wave, there are many additional viable solutions.

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Steak over Sizzle: Getting the Most Out of the Web Content Management Wave

David Aponovich

Since we published “The Forrester Wave: Web Content Management for Digital Customer Experience, Q2 2013,” we’ve been talking about our findings with our clients, who frequently ask, “How does WCM Wave research apply to me, and how can I properly evaluate the products in the market based on our needs?” 

The answer (without irony): “It depends.” Requirements vary and will affect your path to a solution. Reaching a solid decision can be challenging. 

So to help our clients get the most benefit from Forrester’s 2013 WCM Wave, here’s some additional guidance based on what works and how you can get the most out of our WCM Wave report.

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Forrester Wave: Digital Experience, The New King Of Web Content Management

David Aponovich

Not long ago, digital marketers lived by the rule “Content is king!”

Today, what matters is what you do with that content and your digital channels. In 2013, digital experience (DX) is king, so it’s imperative that you deliver interactions that are personal, contextual, and multichannel. We’re talking websites, mobile, social, email, and kiosks — with Google Glass and more coming soon.

Firms need the right technology in place so IT and marketing pros can deliver on this big vision if they intend to differentiate via digital.  But let’s be frank: This is a complex challenge, and many companies are a long way from solving it.

There’s good news if you’re trying to crack this nut, however. Our newly published report, “The Forrester Wave™: Web Content Management For Digital Customer Experience, Q2 2013,” shows that the current crop of web content management solutions is laser-focused on supporting the DX mandate.

Our report provides IT, business, and marketing pros a deep look at 10 providers of web content management (WCM) solutions — Adobe Systems, Acquia, Ektron, HP Autonomy, IBM, Microsoft, OpenText, Oracle, SDL, and Sitecore. We analyzed solutions across 100 criteria, reviewed extensive product demos, and spoke with dozens of WCM vendor customers. We heard the good, the bad, and the ugly of WCM use in the field. And, for the first time, Forrester’s WCM Wave looks at an open source platform (Drupal), through the lens of Acquia, a for-profit company that supports Drupal.

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Demands of a cross-channel world

David Aponovich

This blog post originally appeared on destinationCRM

Enterprise technology buyers are moving rapidly to adopt strategies and software to support digital experience (DX) initiatives. And with good reason: Forrester research shows that one of the last remaining areas for differentiation is the ability to provide compelling, engaging user experiences through digital channels. Your customers demand it, and your competition is probably already there (or well on their way).

The road to get there is replete with challenges covering the gamut of people, processes,  and technology. For technology buyers seeking to adopt DX tools and technologies, it’s a vast but immature market.

Application development and delivery pros, often on the front lines, face a proliferation of legacy and new technology to manage, engage, and measure customer experiences through digital channels—we’re talking Web sites, mobile channels, and many other digital touchpoints.

Here’s a truism: These professionals frequently encounter systems that don’t live up to their promises. They may be too old or inflexible to support rapidly changing requirements. Tech vendors add to the confusion. Some deliver all-encompassing DX suites, which have varying degrees of successful integration. Others provide pointed solutions that may deliver one part of the DX equation well, but rely on integration with third-party systems to provide a full solution.

The challenge for DX professionals is to determine how best to assess, choose, integrate, and apply the right software solutions to meet strategic DX imperatives. Easier said than done, right?

Look at Seven Main Technology Categories

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Take Our Survey About Your Digital Experience Improvement Projects Planned For 2013

Adele Sage

It’s time again for our annual survey about all of the digital customer experience improvements, redesigns, and new digital experiences you’re working on this year. Please consider taking the survey, where we’ll ask you about:

  • What projects, if any, you have planned for this year.
  • Details about those projects, like budgets, staffing, and research tools.
  • Incremental improvements you’re working on in addition to — or instead of — the big projects.
  • To what extent all those projects and improvements are integrated.

Not planning anything? That’s okay — we still want to hear from you! 

The info you provide will help shape an upcoming report. And good news: To thank you for your time, we’ll send you a copy of that report when we publish it.

So what are you waiting for? Take the survey!

Thanks so much.

(Agency folks and consultants, sorry — this survey isn't for you, unless you’re planning projects for your own digital properties.)

WCM And Digital Experience Projects: Like Snowflakes, Each A Little Different

David Aponovich

In a recent post, I shot down the myth that you can predict the ratio between web content management license cost and implementation services. (You can read the post here, but the summary is: There is no standard ratio. Like snowflakes, every WCM implementation and digital experience project has its own unique … personality, and cost. It’s not only about the technology.)

But for any application development professional who sources and implements these systems and strategies, you (or your friends in marketing) will inevitably get put on the spot by the person holding the wallet. Their question, “What’s this going to cost us, all-in?” is hard to answer. And no exec wants to hear, “I don’t know.”

We can provide a recipe for turning this question in a productive discussion that lets budget holders understand the Great Unknowns that accompany digital projects.   

Costs can balloon for many reasons on a WCM or DX project. Below are just a few reasons in the form of questions. Use them early on in the project/process to educate key stakeholders on the true costs of WCM- or digital-related work – the levers that get pushed and pulled, affecting cost, timeline, and outcomes. It may be your best defense when the money people start asking questions.

  • Who’s leading your WCM- or digital experience-related services? Will you spend internal IT staff time or money on external agency partners getting something built?
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