Are Best-Of-Breed Customer Experiences Really Best?

6 minute read
David Roe avatar

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At the end of May, e-Spirit upgraded its web CMS offering to make it easier for content creators to provide personalized content. It followed hot on the heels of the v5.1 release which aimed to significantly boost companies online time to market and improve the overall customer experience.

Both announcements form part of a wider strategy to offer users a best-of-breed web CMS. E-Spirit has from the start pursued the best-of-breed approach as opposed to creating an enterprise suite. But why best-of-breed?

We asked Oliver Jaeger, vice president for global marketing and communications at e-Spirit why his company has consistently taken this approach and where this strategy will take the company in the future.

Integrated Content

In the 2012 white paper "Climbing The Digital Experience Maturity Ladder Through An Integrated Technology Approach," Forrester noted that the content silos created by legacy CMSs have generally driven the  best-of-breed approach. 

When organizations ignore the separation between these silos, their CXM efforts lose context and become ineffective. By this, Forrester meant that customer information that would otherwise aid marketers remains isolated, preventing marketers from forming a full picture of the customer.

As a result, many vendors have developed over the last two years a single system approach that includes web content management, e-commerce, analytics, testing optimization and other components that are deemed necessary to manage the customer experience.

According to Forrester this approach does not work for two reasons:

  1. The lack of truly integrated CXM suites
  2. Existing investments inCXM technologies prevent enterprises from adopting what Forrester described as a rip-and-replace approach,where enterprises throw out existing technologies and replace them.

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E-spirit multichannel marketing

Technology Disruption

The most significant result of this, Forrester said, is profound disruption where enterprises can't keep up with technology-driven shifts in consumer preferences and end up struggling as their business models fail to keep up with customer expectations. From this a number of challenges arise:

  • Content issues: With the increasing number of people in the enterprise creating content, combined with the external stakeholders also creating content through social media or other channels, it is becoming increasingly difficult for enterprises to place the right content in front of the right customer at the right time.
  • Consumer touchpoints: Related to this is the fact that there is growing number of customer touchpoints which organizations are now forced to manage. These include traditional touchpoints like print, Web, mobile, or email, but also newer touchpoints like self-service kiosks, or smart TVs. This situation is only going to get worse with the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT).
  • Technology development: With new technologies come new silos and the difficulties around connecting them
  • Marketers: Not all the tools have been developed with marketers in mind.

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E-Spirit Demandware integration

Best-of-Breed Content Management

It is against this backdrop that e-Spirit has been developing its best-of-breed approach. While suite vendors will no doubt argue that using a single suite provides direct access to all content from a single interface as well as all the tools to manage the customer experience from a single place, the e-Spirit argument revolves around agility.

Learning Opportunities

According toJaeger, the best-of-breed approach makes it easy to expand individual digital marketing campaigns because the tools for Web analysis, email marketing, A/B testing and comprehensive marketing automation can be integrated as needed. And this is the core of the e-Spirit strategy. Jaeger explained:

Vendors need to support the customer journey across all channels and bringgreat customer experiences toall the touch points. They can only do this by creating digital content and managing that content where ever it is … and just as importantly they need to measure the results and cross channel engagement."

The three key elements in all of this, he said, is providing the tools that can provide channel engagement, content management and some way of measuring the effectiveness of all the customer engagement efforts the enterprise has made. With all the different channels that are being used at the moment, this requires a wide range of technologies:

You now need CRM for customer targeting, you need management, increasingly you need an e-commerce system, you need social media, you need campaign management, and you need portals to be able toget the customer where you want to get them. Its just not possible for one vendor to excel at all these and this is where our best-of-breed approach comes from.

The whole issue is one of touchpoints. The number of touchpoints that you need to manage with the customer and to keep the customer happy is always increasing and all these have to managed ata given moment in time and that is where the real challenge lies at the moment."

By adopting a best-of-breed approach it is also possible to deal with issues around legacy systems and the investments that enterprises may have already made in technologies. Generally, enterprises will already have legacy systems that they don’t want to scrap, but want to build out.

Many enterprises have on premises systems, but often they are legacy systems that they have invested in and they still want to use. Many CRM systems, for example, have been installed and adopted for particular enterprise. Home builds, you might say.

To be successful now, you need to integrate all the different elements, he said. The problem today is that you either don’t have enough technology, or where you do have the technology, you have too many silos to manage.

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Customer-Driven Market

And the situation is not going to get any better, he said:

The marketing tool kit is always changing and the marketers need to jump from one tool to another to find customers where ever they are. Customers are fickle. There is one solution they like today, and another they like tomorrows and the marketer has to follow that and react to that as quickly as possible.

So you need to be flexible and you need different solutions that you can integrate.. and that is something that suites cantdo. They maybe able to support the processes on a company at a given time, but they are not really flexible."

E-Spirits’ bottom line is that single suites are not going to make the grade anymore. By this it means that single vendors suites can’t keep up constant and changing demands of customer experience.
Needless to say, e-Spirit points to its flagship product FirstSpirit CMS as an example of how best-of-breed works by connecting the different data silos that exist in any given enterprise.

To implement digital strategies your company likely has an extensive toolkit of diverse solutions. This toolkit includes content management systems, e-commerce back-ends, CRM, marketing automation, analytics, SEO, portals, data bases and numerous other cloud and on-premise solutions allowing content to be shared dynamically and targeted to specific groups and covering all touchpoints. To pull all these together, only a best-of breed approach offers a practical solution, Jaeger said.