A delightful and successful digital experience is the oasis that marketers seek, which usually requires a long sojourn through the desert of unproven marketing models.
Finding the right fit isn’t easy, although we’re rapidly seeing an advent of software solutions and data analysis tools that can help craft that right experience. That’s the area of focus for Steve Walker, who has been studying digital experience and helping companies produce an optimal one long before it was cool.
Synthesizing Current Trends
Walker serves a wide array of companies in his role as senior director for Experis Global Content Solutions. His work focuses on evaluating current trends in technology and business and synthesizing them for a client’s particular needs. His goal is to listen to a business’s particular needs and then help the business achieve flexibility to evolve for the always changing customer experience and enterprise content management fields.
He has a diverse background that includes web content management, user experience, collaborative technologies, social consulting, knowledge management, digital experience management, information architecture and business transformation.
Additionally, Walker has worked with many of top brands as clients, including Apple, Microsoft, GE, General Dynamics IT, Allstate, Dell and the International Monetary Fund. He graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1992 with a double major in finance and economics with a minor in computer science.
We discussed Walker’s ride range of interests in anticipation at his presentation at CMSWire’s upcoming DX Summit this Nov. 14 through 16 at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago.
Walter: How does your background play into the work you do with digital experience?
Walker: I’ve been in the tech and digital space for about 24 years. At first I was purely in tech, with software development at heart. But I’ve morphed into some broader things. I’ve worked with large enterprises all the way through nonprofits and small and midsize companies, so I have a very broad spectrum of how companies can deal with these challenges. When you see and understand that the needs of a business can vastly vary from one to another, you begin to look for making the right and personal solution.
Walter: What types of technology can best be used to deliver solid digital experiences?
Walker: I believe in a very holistic approach when it comes to embracing technology. The key attributes of a digital experience come down to content, the user experience, usability and relevance. You need to dig down and understand the impact of all of those factors.
There is a great deal of technology available, whether it's a custom developed systems or some existing off-the-shelf product that can be expanded in a certain manner. When you look at a typical organization, depending on its size, it will have 20 or 30 individuals supporting the digital experience in a broad variety of ways. My area of speciality is around how to make all of those key areas work together in a synthesized manner to deliver an optimal digital experience.
Walter: How do you evaluate if a certain digital experience solution is working?
Walker: The challenge is, "How do you identify and evaluate the right technology to leverage for your clients?" And more importantly, for larger clients as you make an investment around a suite, such as Oracle Cloud or others, "How are we organizing and using that product to its full capabilities?" There’s still a lot of uncertainty in that space.
Walter: How does analytics come into play when it comes to evaluating a digital experience campaign?
Walker: We are rapidly moving to a world where analytics should be driving the key aspects of our digital experience. I’ve been doing some informal work polling organizations to find out how their analytics programs are managed and set up. There are certainly some ways to apply proper data analysis to make sense of your platform, no matter how mature it is.
Walter: Does this indicate there is going to be a more direct move towards analyzing the different sets of data, even if they’re presented across multiple software stacks?
Walker: Any organization that succeeds in their digital experience is really going to be filled with data scientists. We see it daily with what Google provides us. Or even consider Amazon, all of how the site performs and personalizes the experience. All of that is set up and managed via an analytics program where it knows that you have bought or evaluated those types of products, which leads to more and more products that hopefully you’ll be interested in purchasing. Amazon knows your buying patterns and is able to try and create a more effective digital experience.
That’s at the heart of the experience we are trying to create. And understanding your audience, knowing your technology, and investing in the right resources are the way to get there.
Walter: What do you do outside of work to take a break from analytics and technology?
Walker: I'm a big proponent of an active lifestyle. I maintain that philosophy even when I’m traveling as it’s a very important part of how I operate. So you might catch me running at an event or working out in the gym.