There isn’t a sole, singular step companies and brands must follow to deliver engaging digital customer experiences. Website, mobile, social? Video streaming, content targeting, effective email campaigns, smarter analytics? Yes, please. And more of it.
Your challenge is finding the right mix (and prioritizing what makes sense) to make digital experience initiatives successful.
So let’s stipulate that in order differentiate with digital, you’ve got to consider what will get you there and establish priorities for your next budget cycle or next wave of strategic investment.
Although your priorities may vary, it’s instructive to see what other companies are investing in for better digital experiences.
You can get a clear view of this in recently available Forrester Research survey data. Earlier this year, Forrester surveyed 170 web content management professionals in a variety of industries asking for responses on what they have deployed, or plan to deploy in the next 12 months, to support online experiences.
Mobile content delivery, video streaming, email tools, and content targeting are high on the list of capabilities or near-term focus to serve digital experience requirements, according to respondents.
It’s important to note that even though we targeted our survey at WCM professionals, this does not mean they intend to source these capabilities from their existing WCM vendor. Many web content management software providers have done great work to retool their solutions to include many of the piece-parts that go into supporting digital experiences.
What’s the correct ratio of web content management software license price to implementation cost?
Clients frequently ask us some variation of the ratio question. As they try to do more with digital, they realize this stuff gets complex and costly pretty quickly.
The answer to their ratio question is: It depends. I can’t endorse a standard ratio of software to services because I don’t believe one exists. For very modest projects, might you expect to spend two dollars on services for every one dollar in software? It’s possible. But I’ve seen it more commonly grow to five-, six-, or ten-fold (occasionally more), as projects like these have long tentacles that reach beyond just software. The cost of software? That’s table stakes. WCM vendors may whisper sweet nothings in your ear about how easy it is to implement; I say ask someone who’s done it before with that product – and get them to be specific about ‘what’ was done as part of their project.
The more urgent question is whether you can keep your eye on the prize, focusing perceptions at your organization on the value of the total solution you’re trying to create. Although WCM technology may occupy the spotlight and serve as an integral part of the total solution, there’s usually a lot more to consider. The scope and cost estimate of your initiative may make executives’ eyebrows pop up. But what really should make their eyes pop is fairly assessing the opportunity cost of not tackling the initiative in a way that reflects the importance of the digital channel to your business.
It’s amazing how quickly the world of digital experiences is changing technology, and vice-versa. I’ve covered web content management (WCM) since I joined Forrester in 2006, and that particular market has changed quite in a bit, due in large part to the disruptions caused by digital experiences. These days, many more stakeholders participate in the WCM decision-making process, traditional technology decision-makers can no longer afford to make technology decisions in a silo, and key WCM players are refining and expanding their strategies. I’ll tackle this in more depth with Ron Rogowski next month at our Forum in Orlando but, if you’re a digital experience (DX) decision-maker, you should keep in mind:
· Don’t hold your breath for a true DX suite. Though some of the vendors are promising integrated suites that contain content management, commerce, analytics, optimization, etc., none has best-of-breed offerings in all of these areas. And even if one were available, haven’t you already made too many investments to do yet another rip-and-replace? Some of the vendor strategies remind me of the great promises of the all-encompassing enterprise content management suite (remember how that turned out)?
Digital disruption is forcing business leaders in every industry to rethink their strategy. Music, media, and publishing have been turned upside down. Now, non-digital products and services — from airlines to automobiles — must consider new competitors, new economics, and new customer relationships. For example, game-changing, disruptive mobile experiences and apps on platforms like Amazon.com, Apple, eBay, and Google give those firms control of consumer mobile devices and platforms, allowing them to both "tax" sales and hijack payments as well as threatening to further strangle already-squeezed margins for eBusiness professionals.
This is a guest post from Anjali Yakkundi, a researcher serving application development & delivery professionals.
Organizations today often take a broad focus on digital customer experiences, which carries great risks for your firm: too much experimentation for not enough return; too much duplication and waste; and too little use of data to drive and measure business results. And often, IT professionals are only involved at the end of a digital experience strategy. I’ve spoken with many individuals who recount instances when the business only comes to IT when it's ready to implement a campaign or a large-scale digital experience initiative.
The result? IT ends up playing the “no man” to marketing teams (or eBusiness, or sales, or product teams), which then makes the IT-marketing divide even greater. Instead, IT must be an enabler for exceptional customer experiences. IT pros can and should provide major contributions to – if not help lead - their firms’ digital customer experience strategies along with marketing, line-of-business, and/or eBusiness leaders.
How can IT begin to take a more vocal role in the creation of digital experience strategies? Start by aligning better with the business, defining your technology architecture, redefining your policies and procedures, and updating your “must-have” IT skill sets.
I’ll refrain here from my urge to inject cynicism upon hearing the US government wants to take a more user-friendly and efficient approach to serving its citizens online.
Instead, we’ll applaud United States Chief Technology Officer Todd Park, who just appointed the first class of Presidential Innovation Fellows. These 18 hand-picked, private-sector leaders will spend the next six months in Washington working on five impactful digital projects. Their mandate: to help better connect US citizens to government information, data, and services, all part of the Digital Government Strategy unveiled in May.
Embracing new ideas and technology to solve real problems and deliver winning customer experience management (CXM) strategies is separating winners from losers in business, so why not government? Thinking holistically from the point of view of your customers is at the center of Forrester’s new book, Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business, by my colleagues Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine.
Each of the Fellows’ projects is compelling. You can read more about them here. (Follow the Feds’ innovation on Twitter at #digitalgov and #innovategov.)
Every day our clients flood us with inquiries on what to do about mobile and social software and smartphone and tablet adoption—not just as it pertains to their customers but to their employees too. Many firms seem to be scrambling to develop their mobile application strategy, spinning up new teams or working with outside agencies in a rush to introduce their own “killer app” or deploy some mobile capability on their CRM platforms. Smartphones and tablets are just the beginning of an explosion of digital touchpoints we will use to engage with each other, commercial enterprises, and public sector institutions. Gaming platforms, smart TVs, goggles, “magical mirrors”—there’s no end in sight.
Last December, I published three things I'd tell your CIO. Since then, I've spent time with dozens and dozens of sourcing and vendor management professionals, CIOs, and leaders of application development and delivery, including last week's Paris Forrester Forums. Most days, I share our ongoing research on what impact today's software-fueled, consumer-led digital disruption has on your ability to meet and exceed the expectations of your customers and the employees serving them. For some folks, software and software development remains a commodity. But for many, the need to deliver great software has taken hold of 2013 planning discussions. With July just around the corner, and as you start 2013 planning, focus on what you need to start delivering great software (remember, software is your business), and keep these three things I'd tell you and your CIO in mind:
This is a guest post from Anjali Yakkundi, a Researcher at Forrester Research. It originally appeared on destinationCRM.
By now, everyone knows that engaging and dynamic customer experiences are a key competitive advantage, and “business as usual” will no longer suffice to support these engaging digital experiences. Organizations that don’t embrace this customer-focused thinking will risk missing out on important opportunities and will lose strategic advantages.
From a technology standpoint, the key to success will be integrated, best-of-breed customer experience management (CXM) solutions. This includes technologies such as Web content management (WCM), CRM, eCommerce, digital asset management (DAM), site search, and Web analytics.
We recently completed an evaluation of the DAM market. DAM is a key process-based solution that focuses on managing rich media content (e.g., videos, images, graphics, and audio). Despite the well-documented importance of rich media in cross-channel customer experiences (consider the amount of video and images on the Web or in marketing content now versus just five years ago), DAM solutions have long been overshadowed by other CXM technologies. These solutions have traditionally been relegated to niche, rich-media-heavy industries such as media, publishing, and entertainment. But as more and more organizations understand the importance of a cross-channel rich-media strategy to improve customer experiences, DAM for customer experience is experiencing a revival in interest across verticals.
Ultimately, customers don't judge you based on how well you gather business requirements, choose development technologies, manage projects, or march through the development process — they judge you based on how they feel before, during, and after they use your software. This is the digital experience. If you get the customer experience wrong, then nothing else matters. And expectation inflation is sky-high thanks to the Apple-led smartphone revolution. To succeed in the new age of digital experience, application development professionals must collaborate with their business partners and customers to create experiences that customers love. You need a new approach represented by these five axioms:
Software is not code; it creates experience.
Development teams are not coders; they are experience creators.
Technical talent is table stakes; great developers must be design and domain experts.
Process is bankrupt without design; you get what you design, so you had better get the design right.
Software is a creative endeavor, not an industrial process like building automobiles. Structure your methodology to empower your creative talent.