If organizations expect their digital strategy to make a positive impact on the customer experience, their IT and business people had better begin talking.
This is the overall finding from Forrester’s new study around how effective digital strategy really is on customer experience initiatives. The study, Mind the Gap, was commissioned by Keynote and surveyed more than 200 professionals across the business and IT sides of organizations in North America and Europe.
“There are huge political battles between IT organizations and businesses,” Jeffrey Hammond, Forrester analyst, told CMSWire. “Marketing and sales see how important customer engagement, business partner and sales rep engagement is, and they’re frustrated at IT not being able to meet their needs as they expect them.”
We asked Hammond to fill us in on some more of the study’s key findings, as well as provide his recommendations on how to align IT and business to realize the most effective digital strategy.
1. Change Your Culture
Hammond said that because sales and marketing are not getting what they need from IT, they’re going elsewhere to find it, hiring their own developers, creating their own teams and contracting with digital agencies.
He added that the rising customer expectations arising from mobile has made the problem worse. So, what can organizations do to get back on track?
“IT and business need to realize that they’re all playing for the same team, and that they have the same goals – to grow revenues and meet the needs of the business,” said Hammond.
He advised getting to the root of any disparities first to be able to move forward with a solution.
“When a gap exists, find out why,” he said. “There must be some information not in snyc across these groups. Probe the source of difference, and then we can understand how to fix it.”
2. Evaluate Technology Performance
According to the study, technology performance has a major impact on the desired customer experience.
“App failure due to infrastructure, third party services, or the customer’s environment are common sources of reduced engagement and business disruptions,” reads the study.
Hammond sees this as an opportunity for IT to evaluate their own performance and better understand how they can contribute to a better customer experience.
According to the report, 54 percent of respondents cited their own infrastructure or network-related problems as the main contributors to performance issues.
“IT needs to do some self-reflection,” said Hammond. “They’re where the problem lies more often than not."
He added that businesses need to seriously consider why they’ve not yet made the move to the cloud to help address some of these issues.
“Those who don’t want to use external services are concerned about how well cloud services can meet their needs, or are concerned about performance issues,” he said. “This is not borne out in the reality. I’ve seen many businesses scale fine on Amazon, Azure and others – they’ve used those services as the connective tissue to build the digital experience.”
3. Dig Into IT Analytics
When it comes to having adequate analytics to drive strategic initiatives now and in the foreseeable future, only 30 percent of company leaders surveyed are happy with their current analytics.
Hammond advised that the IT and business sides of the organization share their analytics so that everyone can have access to a more complete set of information. He added that, analytics demands will become more complex due to the contextual data related to personalization.
“Marketers want to use i-beacons to do location-based marketing or customization,” he said. "They want to take historical information about customers, or data like the temperature outside to guide personalization in terms of which clothing to offer, or to direct them to something in the store.
“That level and the analytics that drive it are very difficult to capture with today’s tools. IT can see every data bit, but a higher level of insight – the big data capabilities to make it happen in real time – is not there.”
He continued that those at the business level need to be very clear about their expectations related to analytics so that IT can understand the technical impacts as well as the measurements for success.
“Have a comprehensive measurement strategy and own what matters,” he said. “Don’t reward developers based on when they hand in their code, but on conversion.”
For example, Netflix developers are measured on the total average minutes of online viewing customers average on a monthly basis, he added.
“You see this at companies like Kayak and Uber – big screens are all over their dev shops. These business level metrics are accessible, and that level of transparency and connection is important.”