The Great Race to Develop a Digital Experience Delivery Backbone

“A unified platform for content, community and commerce.”

“A complete set of integrated solutions helps you maximize and measure your impact in more ways than ever before.”

“Everything you need to deliver unique and personal customer experiences.”

Unified. Complete. Everything you need. These quotes are pulled directly from the marketing materials of some of the biggest players in the digital experience delivery space. One piece of software that addresses all of your company’s needs in delivering top-of-the-line customer experience. Sound too good to be true?

Yeah. We thought so too.

Vendors are piecing together discrete capabilities to form what we at Forrester call digital experience delivery platforms, which aim to manage, deliver, measure, and optimize experiences consistently across every digital touchpoint. Vendors from content, commerce, and marketing backgrounds are playing in this space, and Forrester clients increasingly mention them together when considering a vendor to act as their delivery backbone (a year ago, we certainly wouldn’t have heard IBM and hybris mentioned in the same inquiry for non-transactional needs, as we did recently).

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Developers Hold The Key To Your Business’ Brand

By now, you all know that in order for your company to win, it needs to be customer obsessed. But how do you support that obsession from a technical standpoint? It takes innovation, and the key to innovation is software. In the 21st century, successful brands will rise and fall based on software. Because of that, developers have never been more important than they are today, which is why we’re so excited about the theme of this year’s Forrester Forum For Application Development & Delivery Professionals Build Software That Powers Your Business. 

This Forum will help you identify brand new software opportunities and run with them. It will hit on the must-have competencies that will empower application development and delivery leaders to execute on their company’s engagement strategies. This includes accelerating development processes, creating digital experiences, reaching mobile customers, and exploiting analytics and big data. Forrester analysts will deliver forward-thinking content while industry specialists – from companies such as McDonald’s, Mastercard, and GE Capital - will provide insight into some real and revolutionary new business approaches that are relevant to you right now.

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Content, Commerce, And The Sitecore News

In-line editing? Check. Personalization? Check. Testing and optimization? Check. As the web content management market matures, functional differentiators have become tougher to find. One of the remaining functional gaps in the market is a digital customer experience platform that supports complex but unified commerce-based and marketing-based experiences. Currently, these experiences tend to be disconnected due to technical (and organizational) silos.

But how best to do this? With a content platform only? A commerce platform? Some sort of integration? Or some new hybrid? Peter Sheldon and I explore the issue in a new report that we published this week, “Content And Commerce: The Odd Couple Or The Power Couple?

Count Sitecore among the vendors — such as Oracle and IBM — hoping that a hybrid commerce and content platform will make an impact on the marketplace. This week, Sitecore acquired commerceserver.net. This marks the first marriage of significant .NET content and commerce (the other commerce/content combinations available — Oracle and IBM — are built on Java).

Good move? It is significant that another vendor has taken the step towards building a digital customer experience platform that includes both commerce and content offerings. And that’s where the challenge will come in. Both IBM and Oracle have faced the challenge of integrating commerce and content products that weren’t designed and built on the same architecture. Sitecore’s challenge won’t be any different. Time will tell if the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Podcast: The Intersection of Customer Experience and Business Technology

As organizations continue their journey in the Age of the Customer, business technology leaders have a challenge ahead of them. As my colleague Harley Manning wrote in his blog earlier this week, "The quality of customer interactions with your brand results from a complex system of interdependent people, processes, policies, and technology that we call the ‘customer experience ecosystem.’"

Technology leaders have the responsibility to work with marketing and business colleagues to ensure that technology enables the business, and to align technology priorities with customer experience-related business goals. They need to understand the right organizational structures, the right blend of technologies (forget about a single “customer Experience Management” suite – it just doesn’t exist), and when to bring in outside help.

I sat down with Harley, a Vice President and Research Director on our Customer Experience team, to discuss the role of business technology professionals in a company’s customer experience strategy. You can hear our podcast in its entirety below (Episode 1), or choose a topic-sized cuts (Episodes 2, 3, and 4).

You can also download the podcasts through iTunes and subscribe to Forrester's podcast series

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Drive Customer Experiences With Better Technology

The Age of the Customer is upon us and as a result, market leading strategies for mobile, big data, and customer experience are now required to satisfy an increasingly demanding client base.

Traditionally, IT organizations have existed to support internal operations but in today’s landscape, the technology leaders at the head of these organizations must play a key role when it comes to delivering solutions that support better external customer experiences. However, our research shows that most companies lack the sound technology strategies needed to effectively support the initiatives laid out by their peers in marketing and other lines of business.  

With business partners in need of help, it’s up to technology leaders to help identify and deliver solutions that will give their companies the competitive edge in the Age of the Customer. This fall, Forrester will host a Forum for Application Development & Delivery Professionals that will focus specifically on the top technologies, skills and practices you will need to take a leadership role in the development of world-class customer experiences at your company.

 The forum will address :

  • How to build new design competencies, architectures, and teams focused on the customer experience, and why it’s an opportunity as well as an obligation.
  • Why big data and analytics are key to supporting customer experience technology solutions, including predictive applications.
  • How to prepare for the mobile revolution by designing and delivering world-class, contextual solutions.
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Behind The Scenes Of The WCM Wave For Digital Customer Experience

David Aponovich and I recently published a Forrester Wave™ on web content management for digital customer experience. In this videocast, David and I talk about how we did the research that went into the report, how the market has evolved since the last version of the report, the biggest surprises from our findings, and highlights (and lowlights) from customer references for the evaluated products.

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An Interactive Discussion About Digital Customer Experience Strategies

Over the past year, we’ve been discussing — through our research and client interactions — the issues involved with digital customer experiences. What’s interesting about this particular problem is how quickly the market is changing and how the issues cut across many roles and aspects of the business. How do you build a digital experience strategy that best suits your business needs and is inclusive of the roles that have a stake in digital experience success?

We have two Forrester webinars planned over the next week to discuss these very issues. Tomorrow’s webinar (November 20) will be held at 2:00 p.m. UK time (3:00 pm CET), and my colleagues David Aponovich, Jonathan Browne, Bobby Cameron, and I will discuss how digital experience strategies affect roles such as CIOs, Customer Experience Professionals, and Application Development & Delivery professionals. Next Tuesday (November 27) John Rymer, Adele Sage, and I will do a similar webinar at 1:00 pm ET/10:00 am PT. Both of these webinars will be fast-moving, interactive discussions and will use a Pardon the Interruption-style format where we’ll cover a number of questions about DX strategies and give ourselves 3 minutes to discuss each question before moving on. We’ll also be taking questions from the audience.

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Four Points To Ponder In A Digitally Disruptive World

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)?

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What Is IT’s Role In Digital Customer Experience Strategies?

 

 

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.

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The Revival Of Digital Asset Management

 

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.
 
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