The Multichannel Organization Revisited

In 2006, Forrester found that organizational structure, internal enterprise goal systems, and most urgent business requirements were key obstacles on many firms’ journey toward broad multichannel solutions with rich cross-channel capabilities. At that time, a few advanced firms tried to establish a multichannel organization, an organizational layer to coordinate multichannel requirements and solutions between the different business groups and the IT organization. Has this changed over the past five years?

Most likely yes. For a couple of months, I have been working on best practices for application development and delivery teams to execute on multichannel strategy. I found that those financial services firms I talked with show very few indicators that they are moving toward a multichannel organization. Even those firms that planned to move toward the multichannel organization do not have it in place. The reason?

The recession hit many financial services firms hard, and banks refocused on achieving the fastest and most cost effective possible time-to-market. This stands in stark contrast to coordinated collaboration fostering more strategic and more mature cross-channel approaches — the same will likely be true outside of financial services.

In many firms, it will be up to application and delivery teams to somehow plan and deliver the broad and rich cross-channel solutions that the business will need to demand in the era of agile commerceand ubiquitous bankingin the future — although right now the requirements may be focused on the mobile channel only. Do you see similar or different scenarios? Let me know, please: JHoppermann@Forrester.com.