If your enterprise is not fully invested in digital, it's not fully invested. Period.

"Let’s face it: Digital is not a sector or another buzzword anymore. It is the economy," said Elie Auvray, CEO and co-founder of Geneva, Switzerland-based Jahia Solutions Group, an open source digital experience (DX) and web content management systems (Web CMS) provider.

Since 2002, Auvray's company has watched the Web CMS industry morph from web experience management to what many see as the command center of digital experience

And the customer is at the heart of all things digital. At its annual customer conference in June, Jahia championed a "unified customer experience" theme built upon the principles of convergence, resilience and commitment.

CMSWire caught up with Auvray today about technology choices in the digital experience space, data integration and how organizations can transform digitally.

(Editor's Note: Elie Auvray will be speaking at CMSWire's DX Summit Nov. 3 and 4 in Chicago. CMSWire also conducted a digital experience survey in partnership with Jahia).

Understanding DX

Nicastro: What are advantages or disadvantages of a suite approach?

Auvray: There is a perceived advantage with single stack in having one vendor to manage, one invoice and volume discounts. However, vendors rarely build out meaningful integrations between products, requiring more code (and potentially more vendors and time) to make those assets work (which can also slow innovation in other parts of the company).

Even more, volume discounts lose leverage with growing dependence on the vendor for products that are in fact, sometimes, barely integrated, having come from previous acquisition(s). You — the customer — thought that you got a well-integrated suite but you still inherited an integration issue which ruins the benefit of the suite approach. That is the reason why we deeply believe that digital experience is an integration play, not a suite play.  

Nicastro: What are advantages or disadvantages of a best-of-breed technology approach?

Auvray: When clients cherry-pick individual pieces that seemingly work best, the downside is inadvertently getting into the software business by having to integrate and maintain one-off code. This approach drains budget and resources from core business issues versus integration. 

Current "best-of-breed" integrations typically require administrators to work in multiple systems, which can cause redundant functionality, perpetual multiplicity and diffused data. While it sounds good at first, the aftermath of choosing best-of-breed can bring significant new challenges.

One of the most important challenges after the integration is the unified interface for business people in charge of managing the resulting platform. That’s where the innovation provided by our UXP really shows its value, in that many solutions struggle to manage the results. Jahia’s Digital Experience Manager is geared for business users who understand the power of convergence delivered via simple, understandable interfaces. Unified experience management is vital for enterprise agility.

Nicastro: Why is application and data integration so important for digital experience and enterprise transformation?

Auvray: Digital transformation is necessary to manage the customer journey at all enterprise digital touch points. Today's customer journey starts as an anonymous user. Then, ideally, this continues as a buyer and then part of a customer relationship management (CRM) system. In that journey, the customer goes through many, if not all, sub-systems that the company has invested in or will soon invest in (CRM, WEM, portal, DAM, ERP, commerce, etc.) and which are more or less well integrated.

Many companies have had to piece together multiple components and data sources to weave a platform together, often with high-cost and lengthy integrations. Adding insult to injury, this integration of application and data is meaningless if it cannot be leveraged by marketers with maximum agility to let their customers and employees see what they want, when they want, within their current context on their preferred device. 

This challenge goes beyond all those sub-systems. It is the core reason why the CMO and CIO must seamlessly and continuously work together rather than seeing each other as a bottleneck or, worse, a cause of failure. It is the challenge of all enterprises facing digital transformation.

Jahia’s Digital Experience Management (DXM) approach is to provide an agile, proven, open source User Experience Platform (UXP) for a unified customer journey. We know that no one single fixed UXP exists for every company. Instead, each company tailors their UXP for their unique needs and customers.

Learning Opportunities

Since day one, Jahia’s vision has been one of convergence (between web content management, digital marketing and portal aggregation capabilities) against obsolete software silos and third-party components segmentation to enable users to go beyond technological constraints to focus on what really matters — relevant customer relationships.

For successful digital transformation, your organization must have the capacity to manage the entire experiential ecosystem for both external customers and internal users to meet today’s business needs. That means having agility now, rather than waiting for months to get things done.

Nicastro: What is the ethical WEM approach and why does open source matter with regard to that topic?

Auvray: The need for ever-expanding data to support digital marketing practices in today’s economy requires significant tracking of end user browsing and behavioral data. Yet, end users, visitors and consumers are not able to determine the degree of sharing about their personal data due to lack of knowledge, unclear usage and unknown permissions of the tools used to collect it. 

Even more, these tools may collect implicitly, without knowledge (versus explicitly, with permission) and are often not even controlled by the brand itself.

As I explained at ApacheCon Budapest 2015, on a single website, there may be as many 60 external trackers monitoring visitor activity. Over the next five years, the big focus for websites will be on customer experience management. 

Trust matters: think about Ashley Madison where it seems that customers paid for a profile deletion that never happened. It is time for data management tools to be more transparent and manageable. 

As a matter of fact, in the imminent future, this privacy and usage standard will not be simply a voluntary issue of customer “good will” for companies but will become mandatory as new legal policy is created to keep up with digital enterprise. Think about the Safe Harbor or the “right to be forgotten” European situation with Google as recent demonstrations.

All this sets the stage for the vision of the Unomi Project (announced as an incubation project with The Apache Software Foundation at ApacheCon): the result of two years' worth of work. 

We have worked hard on a standards-based technology (the CXS standard at OASIS) as a transparent and ethical method to collect and track user identities on websites in a way that addresses user security and privacy concerns but also recognizing the value of digital marketing for enterprises at the same time. 

The Unomi Project will ensure a reinforced data privacy standard because the core code will be accessible by all as an open source project. This will revolutionize the way digital business is done by any company that works with online customers.

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