Sean Ginevan of Google "Sharing your project goals, success metrics and focusing on continual improvements are critical for any project."

Sean Ginevan encourages enterprises to think holistically when weighing up which technologies to draw on to provide optimal digital customer experiences.

“Over the years, I’ve seen that technologists tend to get enamored with a particular technology, whether it was ‘mobile’ 10 years ago, or new technologies like IoT, augmented reality and AI today,” he said. “The point here is that there’s no ‘one technology’ that’s game changing; it’s the combination of technologies, both new and old, that allow true change to happen.”

Currently head of global strategy and market enablement at Google, Ginevan’s responsibilities include developing go-to-market programs and partner enablement for Android in enterprise businesses.

Consider the Interdependencies Between Technologies

Ginevan joined Google in 2017, which he found to be “a great fit,” after having already worked with the Android Enterprise team for several years as a partner while he was at MobileIron. He’s also held positions at AOL and Cisco as well as working in research and technology journalism while at CNET, NIST and UBM.

His original planned field of study had been journalism, but Ginevan’s love of technology led him to graduate with a B.S. and then an M.S. in information management from Syracuse University. “It was ironic that I then ended up in journalism as a profession for some time,” he said.

Ginevan has found the skills he developed earlier in his career to be very helpful in his current role at Google. 

“I think my research background from government and academia taught me to appreciate that new technologies don’t live in a vacuum, there’s many interdependencies to consider,” he said. “Working in journalism helped me appreciate the bigger picture of the market, plus it really helped me hone the craft of telling compelling stories, which is critical in the market-facing work that I do now.”

Ginevan is a speaker at CMSWire’s DX Summit taking place Nov. 4 through 6 at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Chicago. He will be giving a session at the conference titled “Web vs. Native: Choosing the Right Approach for Your Digital Journey,” on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

We spoke with Ginevan for his thoughts on shifts in how companies approach digital customer experience; the likely impact of emerging technologies like AI, AR and IoT on digital customer experience; and the importance of sharing DCX success metrics across an entire organization.

Bring Digital’s Customized, Curated Experience into the Physical World

CMSWire: How have you seen digital customer experience change over the course of your career in technology? How does your current role at Google intersect with digital customer experience? 

Ginevan: I work closely with customers in helping chart a path forward in understanding how mobile intersects to their broader digital initiatives. It’s those conversations that led directly to the talk I’m giving at DX Summit on how to choose between the web vs. native for mobile experiences.

Today, enterprises need to take a more holistic view as their customers may come in through a variety of channels like search, a social site, a media channel or some other route. So, it’s critical that an immersive web experience be there to capture that customer's imagination.

The good news is that the web has evolved a lot since I first started working in the IT sector over 15 years ago — but it doesn’t mean apps are now irrelevant. Particularly for employee experiences, there are cases where native apps are able to leverage more of what a mobile platform like Android can offer.

Choosing which technology to power the digital experience is much more of a balancing act now. 

CMSWire: How do you see digital customer experience evolving as technologies like AI, AR, IoT, machine learning, personalization and VR become more sophisticated?

Ginevan: I’m quite excited about how these new technologies will allow the digital and physical worlds to continue to blur.

Take retail as an example. For years, we’ve heard about signs that brick-and-mortar retail is in trouble. Simultaneously, we’ve seen data that Gen Z prefers brick-and-mortar retail — 81% of Gen Z prefers to shop in stores, and 73% like to discover new products in stores, according to a recent survey by A.T. Kearney, which defined Gen Z as ages 14 to 24.

Gen Z is different in that they grew up with the hyper-customized internet — think of the world of YouTube or Spotify where content is displayed based on your likes and dislikes. So, the challenge will be how retailers can bring that more customized, curated experience into the physical world.

CMSWire: What kinds of digital customer experiences will become possible and how might such experiences benefit both organizations and their customers?

Ginevan: I think technologies like AI, AR and IoT can help create that more customized, curated experience.

I may no longer use the mall as a place to browse racks of merchandise. Rather, the store is where I can get exposed to what the brand has to offer and a store associate can use a mobile device to guide me through a personal tour of the brand, with recommendations based on my interests.

This hybrid experience between physical and digital ends up being highly tailored to me, while giving me a tactile feel for the merchandise I’m most interested in, allowing me to understand if its fit and finish is just right for me. 

I think Android shines in this new world. Not only does it act as a platform for VR with Daydream and AR with ARCore, but the diversity of form factor from Android allows for a variety of different experiences to be delivered.

CMSWire: How should organizations think about measuring and tracking improvements in digital customer experience and their progress towards digital transformation?

Ginevan: There’s a quote that’s attributed to John Foster Dulles that says, “The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.”

We’re all looking for technology to solve really tough problems, whether it’s better ways to create an immersive customer experience, or ways to make a supply chain more efficient, or ways to train employees. But you cannot understand success if you don’t measure improvements, nor can you make adjustments along the way to ensure that technologies are used most optimally.

CMSWire: Why is the sharing of such metrics across an organization so important to a DCX and/or DT project’s ongoing acceptance and success?

Ginevan: Sharing the goals of your project and its success metrics across the organization is not only important for buy-in, but again, to also understand if technologies are running optimally.

We’ve all heard horror stories of some new system that, by the time it gets to end users, actually makes them less efficient. Why? Because nobody asked the end users what they really needed.

Sharing your project goals, success metrics, and focusing on continual improvements, are absolutely critical goals for any project. 

CMSWire: In your Twitter profile, you describe music as one of your hobbies. Who are your favorite musicians and what is it about them that you like so much? Do you see similarities between the concert experiences bands aim to provide to their fans today and the world of digital customer experience?

Ginevan: My music tastes range from folk to soul to rock to electronic. I think great concerts and great digital experiences should focus on the same goal: to delight users.

One recent concert I went to was with the electronic musician Bonobo, who’s really unique in that when he performs live, he brings a multi-piece band with him to recreate the songs he makes as an individual in the studio.

Another show was alternative rock band The National, who played their last song without any amplification — the entire multi-thousand-person amphitheater went quiet and all you could hear was the wind, the sounds of the band’s acoustic instruments, and the shouting of lyrics from the band and the audience alike.

Each performance was a very different experience — but both ended up providing delightful, and ultimately very memorable experiences. 

Learn more about the Digital Customer Experience (DX) Summit.