2011 was an amazing year, filled with innovation, and chaotic, disruptive changes to the digital marketing world. We saw the Web Engagement and Web Content Management markets embrace their many other sibling channels, and evolve into the Customer Experience Management (CXM) market.

At the same time, we’ve seen the emergence of big data, and the dream of being able to harness all of this amazing data to truly understand our customers. Today’s analytics compress their collected data into summary statistics to save space. Big data is the promise of retaining this beautifully detailed data, and helping us plumb its depths to better engage and interact with our customers, even in real-time.

As the market continues to evolve, marketers are feeling more overwhelmed by the day. We’re seeing more channels continuing to emerge. Customer Engagement Management strategies require we integrate and orchestrate these customer interactions, and yet we’re already drowning in the vast seas of data we presently have. So where do we go from here?

Streamline the Processes

In a word, it’s time to simplify. It’s all too complicated. There are too many systems, connected to too many other systems. It reminds me of my stereo system in college, where the nest of cables and interconnects would make an electrician weep. It’s time to streamline the processes that marketers use, and the systems that support them.

I predict we’ll see the rise of Customer Experience Orchestration platforms, which do nothing but broker the users experience across all channels and interactions -- online and offline. We’ll hopefully see some standards emerge to enable various engagement channels to interoperate. I’m cautiously optimistic that the new Web Experience Management Interoperability (WEMI) standard will be useful here. We will also see the vendor community leading with best practice methodologies on how best to integrate and orchestrate these channels.

Automate the Results

Beyond simplifying the process, and reducing the number of moving parts, the next area of maturity is the automation of some of the mundane, repetitive processes that don’t gain value from a human being in the loop. You know what I’m talking about: How many times do we have to see that a search engine is inexplicably routing all traffic to a page that results in pure bounce and abandonment only to redirect that traffic to pages that convert better? Today, it’s all sorts of tedious research, discovery and manual implementation.

Why can’t those be done automatically? In real-time, instead of three months later after someone discovers that pattern of loss. There are literally dozens of these scenarios that can be automated, but there is one catch. You’ve got to have the big data, with all of it’s beautiful detail to find it and automate it.

To reach the next level of maturity, CXM will require big data to achieve marketing’s operational process automation. Incidentally, the marketing department is the very last department in most organizations to get systems to help them like this.

Close the Loop

Lastly, we’ll get closer to the money. Unless your site is an e-Commerce site, it’s difficult to make the connection between your various visitors, browsers or prospects and revenue. This will change, and CXM will drive the change. By binding all the channels around the customer experience, attribution will become far easier, and ultimately allow us to make the direct connection between the money we’re spending during the marketing and sales processes, and the actual revenue our organizations bring in the door.

A side benefit of this change is that marketing will be elevated into a strategic position in the organization where many have not been in the past. This trend alone could spur adoption of these strategies and technologies.

Customer Experience Management strategies and technologies are poised to deliver tremendous value to organizations in 2012. As a marketplace, there is still a significant amount of innovation and disruption. Both practitioners of CXM as well as the vendor community are innovating rapidly, and as a whole, we’ll see a maturation process through 2012. Keep an eye on trends in big data as well, as it will be a core enabler to true Customer Experience Management success.

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