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PHOTO: Luís Eusébio

Enterprises are transitioning from reacting to emerging technologies to proactively planning strategies to exploit digital opportunities, leveraging longer-term roadmaps for digital workplace and marketing technology.

Inevitably, some common mistakes will be made along the way, but one way to avoid repeating them is to focus on the lessons learned by those who have gone before. Here is the most common "what I would have done differently" advice I’ve encountered.

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'I wish we had more closely followed user-centered design principles'

Design here is meant in the broadest sense, from experience design at the screen — where you should always start — back to data and system design. Customers and employees alike demand a more humane digital experience.

User-centered design is a discipline in the sense of a collection of coherent methodologies, but UCD is also a discipline in that its greatest value comes from consistent application across all the projects in your digital roadmap.

'I wish we had sorted out our identity and access management foundation sooner'

Every technology wants to be foundational in your enterprise stack. If you don't put the right tools, processes, data and people in place to create a definitive repository of identities, roles, groups and attendant entitlements, you can hamper your ability to execute strategically.

I frequently hear feedback like, "We had great plans to bust internal silos, but then hit a roadblock when we couldn't turn to something more consistent." Fragmented identity and access services almost always lead to fragmented user experiences.

Foundation is really less about mitigating risk and more about exploiting opportunities — opportunities to offer single sign-on, profile-based user experiences, better integrated data and services, and smoother collaboration and networking.

Related Article: When a Workplace Meets a Technology Vendor, Who Writes the Script?

'I should have anticipated the need for funding these infrastructure programs'

IT leaders often complain that business stakeholders don't like to fund these sorts of infrastructure programs, which usually aren't tied directly to a specific project. Creating a long-term roadmap that anticipates how different pieces of your digital ecosystem need to work together is fundamentally required.

'I should have placed more value on my use cases'

By following a use-case based approach to evaluating digital workplace and martech vendors — where true personas emerge — you can focus more on key "intangibles" that are less about what the technology does (though that's still important), and more about strategic considerations surrounding a vendor or platform. How broad and deep is the ecosystem? How will you experience upgrade cycles? How good (really: how bad) is the tech support? And so on.

Meaningless (to you the customer) concepts like vendor's sales and marketing acumen, or how they "position" their technology, or the breadth of their portfolio is insignificant compared to key technical details, most notably around architectures, where you often find surprising diversity.

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What You Should Do

If you're serious about bringing in some technology as a long-term strategic asset, then take a similarly strategic approach to finding the right solution. Avoid making the same mistakes as those enterprises that have simply followed the vendor's process. Stay focused on a reference model for your enterprise that grounds your digital road map and stack investments.

The transition from martech to CX is an evolving challenge with evolving solutions. My firm, RSG, is consolidating best practice approaches to crafting the right roadmap to build the right technology stack in this new world with its Stack Advisory. I look forward to sharing more lessons.