Analyst Tony Byrne defines digital experience (DX) as much as a mindset as technology concept. DX, he told CMSWire, "means you start with the screen and work backwards, rather than starting with your IT systems and looking forward. It puts the needs of the constituent — customer, prospect, employee, whatever — first and foremost."

Byrne has been on the cutting edge of digital media since 2001, the year he founded CMS Watch — a vendor-independent analyst firm that evaluated content technologies and published research on various solutions. Over time, CMS Watch grew into a multi-channel research and advisory organization, which was renamed the Real Story Group (RSG) in 2010.

Based in Olney, Md., RSG evaluates digital workplace and marketing technologies, offering head-to-head comparative reviews of leading solutions.

During a session at CMSWire's inaugural DX Summit last November, Byrne advised attendees that DX is still evolving and that — at least for now — it is impossible to find a single platform that can do it all. Instead, he cautioned, DX represents a confluence of core informational and experiential platforms centered around digital and media asset management, web content and experience management, social engagement and marketing automation.

More recently, Byrne and his team at RSG released RealScore, an assessment tool that digital leaders can use to measure their effectiveness, benchmark against their peers, and better asses future investments in key digital workplace and marketing technologies. The tool provides "practical, specific and shareable assessments"of their internal capacity to execute digital transformation projects, he explained.

Byrne will advance the conversation about digital transformation and explain how companies can better advance their transformation initiatives when he returns to CMSWire's DX Summit this year. The conference will be held Nov. 14 through 16 at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago.

CMSWire talked to Byrne recently to get preview of his thoughts on the evolving digital space.

DX: 'Sexy and Liberating'

Walter: What’s the key message you want to deliver at DX Summit?

Byrne: It's still very early days for digital transformation, but some key patterns are emerging. So you can get smart on a lot of really practical issues (vendor fitness, state-of-the-art methodologies and architectures, how to mature your digital team, etc.) in ways that will accelerate your efforts.

Walter: Why do you think the digital technology space has exploded so quickly?

Byrne: Customer attention has shifted from traditional print and television towards interactive media in an astoundingly short period of time. Marketers need new technologies to continue to effectively practice their craft in this new environment.

Walter: Why is there so much talk of digital transformation?

Byrne: Because it sounds sexy and liberating. And it can be those things, but rather than undertaking some major, transformational lunge, I tend to counsel more a prosaic approach to digital that can be more effective for most enterprises. You can still leverage the things you're truly good at from the non-digital world — just in a different way.

Walter: Discuss the value in your organization’s technology evaluations.

Byrne: RSG's tools help technology customers make smarter, faster and more durable decisions at the key early stages of their digital initiatives. We also typically save them money, but for most, that's just icing on the cake.

Walter: How can companies reduce their software stack to avoid being overwhelmed by data?

Byrne: It certainly feels like data is everywhere, while meaning remains scarce. I don't think reducing (or expanding) a software stack resolves this problem. Working with our subscribers, we take a multi-faceted approach, but it starts with two key considerations: separating data layers from experience layers in your architecture, and building analytics capacity internally. That's not sufficient for success, but it sets you up to start doing better things with your data.

Walter: What have you been doing lately to recharge?

Byrne: Reading books — the paper kind, that weighs in your hands and smells like a pulp mill. Just read a great biography of Ben Franklin and always keep up with what Neal Stephenson is doing. I think he writes faster than I can read.