The Digital Customer Experience Consulting Gold Rush Takes Off

Want more evidence that companies are realizing that digital customer experience is essential to survive and thrive in the Age of the Customer? 

Look no further than last week’s IBM Connect conference in Orlando. Bridget van Kralingen, the senior VP in charge of the IBM’s $20 billion Global Business Services group, used her main stage keynote to unveil new services to help enterprises create “irresistible user experiences.”

IBM’s new global IBM Interactive Experience consulting practice “anticipates the emerging client demand for irresistible user experiences as the point of entry to high-value relationships with their customers, employees, prospects and partners,” according to the company.

The new offerings will integrate design and user experience capabilities from IBM Interactive, its digital agency, plus innovations and data expertise from researchers in its IBM’s Customer Experience Lab.

You could call it the next step in the digital customer experience gold rush. Software vendors have spent years building and selling clients software to run digital infrastructure, such as web content management, eCommerce,  digital asset management and analytics.

Now we’re witnessing the rise of the digital customer experience platform, or integrated tools for managing “onsite” digital customer experience, from a diverse set of vendors: IBM, Oracle, SDL, SAP/hybris, Demandware, HP Autonomy, OpenText and many others. These companies have built, bought, or partnered to create multichannel “platforms” to deliver personalized, contextualized experiences. (For more information on this, read our recent market overview on digital customer experience platforms.)

IBM, whose global services group is the largest IT services operation in the world, says its practice “will help clients create the essential front-end, individual engagement, assimilate massive volumes of data -- including the information on individual decisions, choices, preferences and attitudes -- then convert that insight into high-value outcomes ranging from personalization to business model redesign.” Early clients include Australian retailer David Jones, Mexican bank Banorte, and auto manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover.

The truth is, buyers of digital customer experience technology still find it vexing, confusing, and just plain difficult to source, implement and leverage these tools across web, mobile, and social to transform their business.  We’re seeing strategic enablement for digital customer experience coming from companies as diverse as software vendors like IBM, to digital agencies and system integrators that already have deep technical capabilities, to traditional big consulting firms adding strategic offerings to help firms maximize the potential of new digital initiatives.  In recent months, PwC bought digital consultancy BGT Partners to add digital consulting muscle. Virtusa is growing beyond its IT consulting roots to deliver customer experience consulting. The list is long.

I’d say we’re just getting started. Buyers of digital experience technology and services, what do you think? What are your biggest challenges making a digital shift? Where are you finding the right support for your initiatives? Let us know in the comments.