The legendary American basketball player Michael Jordan once said “talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” Nothing could be truer when it comes to how smart enterprises are approaching the deployment of solutions for managing digital experiences.
True customer experience management (or DX -- Digital Experiences as Forrester is now calling it) is more than any one technology, and is more than any one person. It requires acquiring customer intelligence, then applying that to a creative and compelling content strategy and finally utilizing a suite of technology tools to dynamically adapt this content to the myriad contextual attributes with which the consumer may want to consume it.
But who is driving this process? In many cases, and in many reports, it seems that the CMO (or marketing team more generally) is the one responsible for this. But in most cases they are trying to do it alone, and are struggling to actually make it work. Innumerable reports, including this one from IBM, discuss how CMOs are struggling with deploying experience management technologies and processes.
And this is the key -- truly delivering this new strategy is bigger than just one function in the business. And it’s also bigger than any one technology. Let’s look at each of these.
CXM - It Takes A Village Of Technology
As I said in the article I recently wrote for CMSWire, “A true CXM technology should be able to process the input of content from a multitude of sources -- from other WCMS systems, to other systems like CRM, ERP, Ecommerce and Social Systems.”
This means that in many cases, a CXM strategy not only means replacing (or integrating with) a web content management tool, but also integrating with other enterprise technologies. And data from these technologies must be readily available in order to support CXM. Is it any surprise that, according to that same IBM study, 70% of CMO’s feel underprepared to carry through on the vision of delivering true customer experiences?
This is exacerbated by the fact that many marketing teams are moving very reactively to try and address some of these multi-channel experiences and using point solutions to drive experience-oriented tasks. As Robert Rose, a Senior Analyst with Digital Clarity Group wrote in February,
today’s global 5000 company uses parts of Google Analytics with their Omniture implementation, runs Hootsuite, have their CRM data in Salesforce, the sites are managed in their enterprise WCMS systems except for landing pages which are managed in Marketo. Is it any wonder that Gartner says the CMO is the new CIO? Marketers are up to their eyeballs in technology that means nothing to them.”
In short -- this is NOT just a CMO’s game. You must have integrated technology across the entire business, and an entire team to support this.
Three Best Practices Of Team CXM
We're starting to enter a new era where we now have control over ALL of our Web environments. Many marketing organizations feel at least some level of comfort over their ability to get content out and managed across all the social, mobile and web channels they have to handle.
But delivering dynamic customer experiences that adapt to real-time attributes is another thing entirely. It is yet another complexity that the business faces. In our work with clients that are beginning this process of aligning the CMO and the CIO to deliver digital experiences, we've noticed three best practices that can help.
1. Set Common & Aligned Goals
One of the biggest challenges that we see is where technology teams and marketing teams have differing sets of goals and incentives. In many cases, the marketing team is measured on driving innovation and change, and IT is driven toward creating stability and mitigating risk.
In isolation, these goals might not necessarily conflict, but they often set up adversarial relationships, where marketing feels that technology groups aren't moving fast enough, or are that they are uninterested in making sure that all of the technology is able to be used to optimize consumer experiences.
One of the biggest consequences of this is that Marketing and/or IT start acting independently to select tools. A successful CXM deployment is ONLY going to work when both teams are acting together -- and working together to select the tool that’s right for the business.
We find that one of the best ways to get beyond this conflict is to get the teams working together on jointly understanding exactly what data is needed, and how it can be accessed. Which technologies truly need to access it? And the only way this starts productively is that the marketing team must fully understand the experiences they are trying to create and across which channels. For example, if dynamic content is NOT needed on the social channels, or if ONLY the US site needs to be deployed for mobile strategies -- the marketing team needs to be able to document and work with the IT team to understand these differences.
Working together, the marketing team can be focused on things like ease-of-use, and IT can make sure that the solution supports open standards, and that the vendor isn't “sugar coating” its API access and all other technical aspects of the tool.
2. It’s Business Priorities First, Then Infrastructure Management
Another common mistake that we see is that various teams -- especially when they are siloed from each other -- focus on creating an infrastructure for technology first, and then figuring out “what’s available” for the business later.
To move beyond this, consider adopting solutions that allow both the technology and marketing teams to try fast, flexible ways of deploying some CXM types of applications. Then, if the solution proves to be successful and needs to be made scalable or more secure or for whatever reason pulled into the internal infrastructure, it can be over the long-haul.
An example of this might be solutions that allow a cloud type of delivery for some aspects, or channels of a CXM deployment. Then, if and when it makes sense (because of campaign success) to integrate into other technologies for real-time integrations, the more long-term infrastructure plans can be made.
3. More Tools That Can Be Utilized By Business Users
Ease of Use is an overused term for sure. But as more and more technologies are integrated together, to drive more complex and dynamic content/experiences, it is imperative that the technology that is deployed is as easy to use for those teams as possible.
If an enterprise is going to truly deliver against the promise of CXM, the marketing team cannot be dependent on the technology team to deploy new channels, new business rules and new platforms as they are brought online.
The business teams must have tools that allow them to launch new channels, gather insight about how their consumers are resonating with content and optimizing content to users in real-time.
One macro example of this is how new cloud based content solutions provide the opportunity for marketing teams to quickly test and iterate new content channels. A cloud-based solution can be a way to enable marketing to try out all these new experiments without affecting the existing infrastructure.
The key, of course, is that once the test is proven valuable, that the technology team can now have the freedom and flexibility to move that infrastructure (if desired) into the wider technology platform inside the company.
Ultimately, CXM will be known as a team sport. And the organizations that will win championships will be the ones that integrate an innovative CMO led team, and a flexible and business-focused CIO led team into a collaborative group that uses open and flexible technology to drive powerful digital experiences. When the CMO and CIO work together -- they can truly fly like Michael Jordan.
Title image courtesy of cliff1066 through a Creative Commons Attribution License (Flickr)
Editor's Note: To get more of Tjeerd's insights into the Customer Experience, read his Real-Time Context is the Heart of Customer Experience Management