To deliver effective customer experience in this multi-channel, data-capturing world, the top two technologies are analytics tools and web content management. Those are among the findings in a new report from Forrester on customer experience technology.

The report, The State of Digital Experience Customer Technology, surveyed more than 200 digital customer experience professionals. Slightly more than half (56%) say analytics strategies and tools were among their priorities, including web analytics, social analytics, predictive analytics, behavioral analytics and mobile analytics.

Data Deluge

The need for analytics is being driven by the deluge in the amount and variety of customer data, and by the need to deliver more finely-tuned personalized experiences. This is increasingly the case as retailers of both online and brick-and-mortar stores are looking to unify the customer experience across channels, a major trend that can make a significant competitive difference as customers increasingly expect unified information.

The need for multi-channel distribution is also showing up in a growing interest in responsive design, which facilitates optimization for any channel. This is in spite of the higher cost of using response design, and possible limitations on using device-specific information to shape experiences in responsive design releases.

As elsewhere, cloud and open source solutions are popular, with 69% of respondents saying they are open to cloud-based customer experience solutions and 54% are open to open source.

Only about one quarter of CX decision-makers said they have the right IT staff to handle these and other tools, and, based on interviews, Forrester has identified the key missing staff as data-literate developers.

IT managers struggle to hire data scientists,” the report said, “who can go beyond traditional BI and instead leverage predictive analytics tools and uncover actionable insights about customers.”

Not Just Marketing

For those who believe marketing is behind most CX technology choice-making, the Forrester report found that lines-of-business and IT groups are often the budget holders and primary customer experience decision makers – although some companies do report they've set up central marketing technology groups that hold the purse strings.

Forrester CX.png

Other continuing trends include outsourcing elements of digital customer experience work, such as creative design, technology implementation or initiatives for specific channels. But service providers, the report found, typically do not live up to expectations in several key areas, and organizations then have to utilize their own internal competencies. These areas include content strategy, technology implementation by agencies that have less technical and customer experience capabilities than they claim, and overall project management and digital experience strategies.

Other Delivery Mechanisms

The latter is surprising. While agencies may not have the range or depth of technology they claim, one would expect they are experienced at marketing, advertising and branding strategy, and would thus be able to provide first-rate digital experience strategy. But Forrester said that 22% of respondents “found their third-party partners lacking in their ability to help create digital experience strategies.”

The survey also indicated that traditional and mobile web projects are prioritized more often than mobile apps. After traditional web sites, the two channels that are most prioritized are mobile web for tablets (59%) and mobile web for smartphones (56%). The report cites two reasons for the lower prioritization of mobile apps -- high levels of abandonment by users who have a low tolerance for mobile app errors, and the fact that users will only download a limited number of apps.

Overall, the report shows the landscape for customer experience technology continues to evolve, most notably in response to the multi-channel, data-rich environment. One key aspect that could have been explored in more depth, however, is some classification of the various kinds of multi-channel delivery systems, beyond WCMs. This now includes publishing systems, multi-channel experience management systems, digital asset management systems, marketing automation platforms, mobile app management platforms, customer service/CRM systems, and so on. One wonders if the report’s observations about WCM multi-channel delivery also apply to the others.