DXP Series, Part IV: DXP and Data-Driven Decision-Making

Posted by on December 06, 2017

Business team meeting analysis financial chart together at cafe.

Think about how you make important business decisions. Decision-making begins at the point where intuition takes over from analyzing the data.  If your data analysis carries far less weight than intuition, your decision process may not be taking full advantage of available data.

If so, you are not alone. Bi-Survey.com surveyed over 720 businesses. The survey found that 58 percent of respondents based about half of their regular business decisions “on gut feel or experience.” On the other hand, over 67 percent of those businesses “highly valued” information for decision-making, and 61 percent considered information “as an asset.”

The survey showed that when businesses were not using information as the basis for decision-making, it was because the information was not available or reliable. They were either not collecting it or were not using what they had.

KPIs are there, but not the data to read them

Another significant finding involved the role of key performance indicators. There is an important connection between KPIs and the data that measure and drive them. Here is where another disconnect stood out like a beacon: Nearly 80 percent of the companies had defined and standard sets of KPIs, but only 36 percent were using them “pervasively across the organization.”

So there was an obvious disconnect between valuing the information and a willingness to use it. In this post we shall address that contradiction and explore ways to close the gap between valuing the data and using it for data-driven decisions.

How DXP leverages data analytics

The road to data-driven decisions must go through data analytics.  In a previous blog, we discussed how data analytics and other tools plug into the realm of DXP. Data analytics are what help you find meaning in the data you generate and collect.

Those meanings are what drive the decisions and strategies that focus on efficiency and excellent customer service. In terms of business decisions, the ones based on verifiable and quality data are the most beneficial to the business. They are data-driven.

So, data-driven decision management is a way to gain advantage over competitors. One MIT study found that companies who stressed data-based decisions achieved productivity and profit increases of 4% and 6%, respectively.

Two “how-tos” to get on the road to data-driven decision management

#1. How to head towards a data-driven business culture (and benefit from it)

The survey showed that respondents were operating at half capacity when it came to using data-driven decision methods. To unlock the process as well as the data, businesses need to do the following:

  • Focus on and improve data quality.
  • Ease and lower the cost of information access. Break down those proprietary silos and use the best data-extraction tools available.
  • Improve the way the organization presents its information. There are many outstanding presentation products on the market.
  • Make the information easier to find, and speed up the process where users can access the information.
  • Get senior management on board and aware of the value of business intelligence and data-based decision making. Promote a culture of collaborative decision-making.

#2. How to improve internal data management

Data governance (where the data comes from, who collects and controls it) is a major obstacle to taking advantage of data-driven decision benefits. Survey recommendations were that companies should take the following steps:

1. Build an IT architecture that is agile and which can integrate the growing number of data sources required for decision-making. Plug into external big-data sources and start harvesting them.

2. Look for ways to break down barriers to promote cross-departmental cooperation and data alignment. A business intelligence competency center (BICC) can play a major role in achieving that goal.

3. Re-define and use KPIs across the organization and align those measures of success with a focus on data governance.

A strategy for applying data-based decision-making

Bernard Marr in his Forbes online piece, provides the following suggestions for any business to for applying data to decision making:

1. Start simply.

To overcome the overload of big data and its endless possibilities, design a simplified strategy. Cut to what your business is looking to achieve.  Rather than starting with the data you need, start with what your business goals are.

2. Focus on the important.

Concentrate on the business areas that are most important to achieving the foregoing strategy. “For most businesses,” says Marr, “the customer, finance, and operations areas are key ones to look at.”

3. Identify the unanswered questions.

Determine which questions you need to answer to achieve the above focus. Marr points out that when you move from “collect everything just in case” to “collect and measure x and y to answer question z,” you can massively reduce your cost and stress levels.

4. Zero in on the data that is best for you.

Find the ideal data for you: the data that will answer the most important questions and fulfill your strategic objectives. Marr stresses that no type of data is more valuable or inherently better than any other type.

5. Take a look at the data you already have.

Your internal data is everything your business currently has or can access. You are probably sitting on much of the information you know you need. If the data has not been collected, put a data collection system in place or go for external resources.

6. Make sure the costs and effort are justified.

Marr suggests treating data like any other business investment. To justify the cost and effort, you need to demonstrate that the data has value to your long-term business strategy. It is crucial to focus only on the data you need. If the costs outweigh the benefits, look for alternative data sources.

7. Set up the processes and put the people in place to gather and collect the data.

You may be subscribing to or buying access to a data set that is ready to analyze, in which case your data collection efforts are easier. However, most data projects require some data collection to get them moving.

8. Analyze the data to get meaningful and useful business insights.

To extract those insights, you need to plug into the analytics platforms that show you something new. Look for platforms that squeeze out the reports, analysis, and switchboard displays that tell you what you need to know.

9. Show your insights to the right people at the right time.

Do your data presentation in a way that overcomes the size and sophistication of the data set. The insights you present must inform decision-making and improve business performance. Go for style, and substance will take care of itself.

10. Incorporate what you learned from the data into the business.

Here is where you turn data into action. When you apply the insights to decision making, you transform your business for the better. That is the crux if data-driven decision-making. It is also the most rewarding part of the venture.

Summary and Conclusions

1. Business decision-making based on data results in greater reliability, efficiency, and profitability. DXP leverages data analytics towards the goal of more data-based decision making and achieving a competitive advantage.

2. Migrating towards a data-driven business culture requires unlocking the 50 percent of the decision-making and data currently not being used. It requires improved internal data management and governance and breaking down barriers to internal communication.

3. Finally, when those barriers are down, you can begin a strategy for applying data-based decision making. Start simple and focus on what business areas you need to improve and determine what data you need. No data is better or more valuable than any other; the key is to find the data that meets your objective, analyze it, and translate it into actionable decisions and improvement.

DXP Series, Part II: DXP and the Customer Experience

Posted by on November 28, 2017

Multi-ethnic young people using smartphone and tablet computers

Introduction

In Part I of our DXP Series, Is a Digital Experience Platform Right for My business, we highlighted how a digital experience platform (DXP) is a set of tools to manage the customer’s online experience.  According to Liferay, the obsession with customer experience is at the confluence of the following factors:

  • Customers interact with companies on a wide variety of digital channels (web, mobile, social media)
  • Customers demand and expect the same experiences they get from digital leaders like Google, Apple, and Facebook.
  • Social media has become the cheer- (and jeer-) leader as an unstructured way to talk as customers provide feedback and influence public sentiment.
  • Mobile devices are on the scene and immediate. They give companies additional ways to stay in touch with customers.
  • The ability to get deep customer insights provides targeting information for a single person and give that person an highly personalized experience. Those insights come through everything from analytics to scooping up big data on social media.
  • Digital technology evens the playing field. Startups can disrupt traditional industries. Think: Uber and Airbnd. Those upstarts can deliver a better customer experience. Those startups have easy access to a tool kit that becomes a platform, not just dispersed ad hoc applications.

9 pieces in the DXP toolkit

The DXP toolkit can be a platform based on a software bundle, suite, or a single piece of software.  We listed the most common platforms as follows:

  1. Content management—allowing non-technical users to fill and maintain your DXP
  2. Social media—going into the wilds and deeper into the user realm
  3. Mobile website integration—fitting your DXP to the small screens viewed by millions
  4. Portal or gateway—passage and security without the latter inhibiting the former
  5. Search functionality—finding what users are looking for so they will stick around
  6. Rich Internet Application tools (RIA)—enriching the user experience through motion and interactivity
  7. Collaboration and meetings—working together face-to-face where many heads are better than one
  8. Analytics—getting feedback and breaching the gateway to AI
  9. Backend management—maintaining the DXP behind the scenes

In this post we describe those platforms and explore ways in which DXP integrates its technologies, components, processes, data, and people. That integration explains why DXP is keeping up with the push for customer and employee engagement.

1. Content is king, but users must rule

A content management system (CMS) is an application or set of related applications used to create and manage digital content. Think of CMS as a kind of digital word processor or publisher that dumps content into your website. It is more than that, of course.

CMS makes it simpler for content creators—the people who really know the business–to manage a website without developer assistance. In larger enterprises with multiple users adding content on a regular basis, a CMS is the easiest way to keep the site content up-to-date and responsive to search engines. Your platform is only as good as its content and you need a user-friendly way to keep content current.

2. Social Media is a vast channel for exploitation

Plug in social media to a DXP and open your web portal to the data- (and customer-) rich world of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Social media plays a vital part in any migration to DXP. Users want the option to configure their own social media sharing. In addition to the out-of-the-box social media capabilities that often come with modern DXP platforms, there are also a variety of plug-ins available that can further extend and customize these capabilities.

3. Mobile channels reach millions

Your DXP product may look good on the desktop computer screen, but without a mobile platform you are missing out on millions of mobile users. Mobile phones have migrated from voice communication devices to ubiquitous pocket computers. According to Statista, by 2020 there will be nearly 258 million smartphones in the U.S.

Add a mobile version of your DXP platform to fit the small screen and expand your marketing base exponentially. Again, customers expect their mobile applications to be as excellent and friendly as the hardware they use.

4. Portal or gateway access gives users a passport and the warm feeling of security

Web portal software can create the following interface points for DXP:

  • Customer portals to create transactions and access documents and information online
  • Partner/agent portals to help field agents, partners, and franchises become more effective by accessing proprietary and personalized information
  • Business process portals to access and track complex business processes

A cloud-based DXP needs a web portal that both locks out hackers and performs the handshaking crypto-rituals to open the locks.

5. Search functionality adds power to DXP web pages and applications

Pathways to built-in search functions handling customer queries are tools to win the race between customer engagement and the impatience of today’s users. Adding a search application to a DXP portal allows drill down. The drill down must go through content types, tags, as well as categories the user specifies to refine the search. The search application can be placed on a page or be a link to allow users to do a web page content search.

6. Rich Internet Application Tools supercharge DXP

RIAs are web applications having similar characteristics of desktop application software. They add functionality to DXP with tools like Adobe Flash, Java and Microsoft Silverlight. As the name implies, these tools provide a “richer” experience for DXP. RIAs provide movement, user interactivity, and more natural experiences for everyone accessing the DXP. Add a sense of time, motion, and interaction to a DXP, and the users will stick around and enjoy the experience.

7. Collaboration and meetings make the enterprise go ‘round

Collaboration suites can resonate with other DXP apps to promote excellence in communication. They are message boards for team discussions, blog platforms and meeting software to add to your inventory of rich content.

Use document management to collaborate, brainstorm, and produce quality content.  Plug in meeting software for worldwide, real-time worldwide, face-to-meetings and conferences with real colleagues and customers at a fraction of travel costs.

8. Analytics software provides an eagle-eyed view

The best way to improve user experience is to know who, how many, and the characteristics of those who visit your DXP.  You want to know how your site or service is performing, who is back-linking to you, and to be able to dig into gathered statistics for visitor regions.

Analytics also provides a dashboard view to do the business intelligence magic of process measurement and customer behavior. A DXP partnered with analytics is the foundation for moving to artificial intelligence.

9. Backend management is your behind-the-scenes DXP management tool

Backend technologies help you manage your DXP or web application, site server, and an associated database. Backend developers need to understand programming languages and databases. They also need to understand server architecture.

On the other hand, as they say, “There’s an app for that.” DXP users can access backend manager technology in the cloud through MBaaS offerings. 

Conclusion: DXP is not just an eclectic collection of software

The platforms described above can work together to solve the biggest challenge enterprises face in the digital age: customer obsession. Companies are undergoing digital transformation in every area from business process to customer analytics. DXPs can bring all that together and re-engineer business practices to be totally customer oriented.

Digital transformation is the challenge. DXP is the solution.

Why Every Digital Business Needs a DAM Solution for Effective Data Management

Posted by on November 09, 2017

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You don’t have to look far in most organizations to find a tangle of different technologies in use for Digital Asset Management (DAM). Some people may be storing their files on their desktop (gasp!), while others have them hidden in a multi-level folder structure that makes the pyramids of Giza look like some simple Lego blocks. Still other workers are storing their files in the cloud, on thumb drives, on ftp sites with their vendor . . . you get the picture. Digital asset management is a serious and growing problem for management and marketers alike. People love to engage with multimedia content, but if you can’t find your digital assets this can make the job of marketers that much more difficult. Here’s some best practices for effective data management using a DAM platform for your business.

DAM Defined

Digital Asset Management, or DAM systems, provide a cohesive way to store and access all types of data, often from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. This central repository allows you to manage organization, metadata, licensing and distribution of a vast array of information, such as:

  • Images
  • Video
  • PDF, Word and Excel documents
  • Social media posts
  • Audio files
  • Layered graphic layout files
  • XML or HTML files

The beauty of a consolidated DAM is that any authorized individual can add to and access this massive quantity of data, quickly and efficiently without disturbing someone else who may also be using the same information in a different way. A great example is a designer who needs a specific image for a website and a designer in a different department who wants to use an image in a print ad. Instead of both designers purchasing and storing the files, a DAM provides a way to effectively share the digital assets without confusion.

Benefits of a DAM

Aside from allowing colleagues to collaborate, there are many benefits to centralized digital asset management for your organization. With an active DAM and solid standards, you’ll be able to capture detailed metadata — or details about the data — that aid searching and retrieval of your assets. Unlike a hard drive on your computer, digital asset management is infinitely scalable, allowing you to purchase access to a system that is just large enough to meet your immediate needs instead of overspending on storage for the future. As your business needs grow, so can your DAM system requirements. Many asset management systems provide you with tools to migrate from popular cloud-based storage solutions such as Google Drive and Dropbox, which are adequate for smaller businesses but do not include workflow functionality or true DAM capabilities.

Protecting Your Assets

Digital asset management does more than simply store your data, it truly manages the assets that belong to your organization. This means digital rights to manage copyright and licensing terms, and the ability to check assets into and out of the system for access control. As long as you set up permissions properly within your DAM, you can easily invite others to have limited access to files while tracking their usage and assuring that all downloads meet your guidelines. Version control is also available in many DAM systems, so if a file is lost or damaged you’ll have immediate access to a backup solution.

Full Distribution Control

Want to distribute a piece of content, but limit the usage or ensure that it’s fully copyrighted? No problem with a robust DAM solution in place. You’re able to distribute specific assets easily and in a very controlled fashion — even setting an embargo on files until a particular date and time. Automated workflows provide convenience and process control, while speeding content creation and distribution. Some DAM systems even allow file movement from within a mobile app or website, for the ultimate ease of use.

Brand and Creative Control

It’s a marketers nightmare to have an old version of a creative design out in the marketplace, and a powerful DAM helps ensure that only the final and approved versions are available for distribution or use. Brand guidelines are easily stored and consolidated, and leveraged by different departments at the same time. When this type of document is stored centrally, you can assure that designers are always following the right version of brand guidelines and recommendations. Control brand look and maintain uniformity by having one approved version of logos, taglines, templates and letterhead, while archiving older versions for future viewing.

Provide Access to Vendors

Collaboration doesn’t occur only within your building, and many organizations outsource video, design and copywriting to external agencies. This can be challenging if you’re using traditional local storage solutions, especially with large video or audio files. Fortunately, DAM systems allow you to provide partners with limited access to files for read-only access or the ability to drop the latest version into the workflow. You can integrate venders as deeply or as lightly as you desire with a fully-configured DAM system.

Finding the right digital asset management system for your needs can be challenging, especially if you’re not familiar with the technology or how it can be successfully implemented. Partnering with an experienced system integrator can ensure that you find and implement the right solution that’s tailored to your business needs.

To learn more about DAM and how it can benefit your organization, read our e-book, How to Maximize Marketing Productivity and Sales Effectiveness with Digital Asset Management.

DXP Series, Part I: Is a Digital Experience Platform (DXP) Right For My Business?

Posted by on November 03, 2017

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What is a Digital Experience Platform?

You may have heard the term “digital experience platform,” or DXP, thrown around before — either by a vendor, tech consulting company, or just by discussing how to effectively manage the customer’s online experience. There are a lot of convoluted explanations of what a DXP actually is, but we would like offer our own definition up and change that. This article will seek to define and provide examples of DXPs, as well as discuss how to know if investing in a DXP is the right move for your business.

Note: DXP is also sometimes referred to as a UXP, or user experience platform, but they’re the same thing. 

Simply put, a digital experience platform is a set of tools that allows a business to manage not only the customer’s experience, but the experience of partners, vendors, employees, suppliers, and more. It can be a software bundle, such as a suite, or a single piece of software, depending on the DXP itself. That being said, the platforms typically include software for the following:

  • Content management
  • Social media
  • Mobile website integration
  • Portal or gateway
  • Search functionality
  • Rich Internet Application tools (RIA)
  • Collaboration and meetings
  • Analytics
  • Backend management

DXPs aren’t limited to the items listed above, though. Many DXPs will include tools unique to that particular platform. Some include customizable forms, video editing, product management, and more.

It’s important to understand that a DXP is not a prepackaged platform — it’s actually the opposite. It’s a platform that allows the building and customization of meaningful applications for managing and enriching your customer’s online experience. Think of it like a massive customizable collaboration suite: it gives you the tools to customize and build it to fit your company and brand. From there, it allows management of the user experience through the company’s website and the mobile rendition of it, as well as through other channels, like email, social media, and so forth. Building a new rendition of any of those channels for the company’s employees or vendor is tied into the functionality, and each channel is managed in various backend systems as well.

The portal portion of the DXP is a “self-service” portal that allows users to sign in and manage their own set of tools and software. For example, employees could sign into their portal and find their email, CRM (Customer Relationship Management tool), documents and files, analytics, and more — all in one spot. They can also customize their portal to their heart’s desire, building it out to suit their particular needs and preferences. Each user can also be assigned a role (administrator, manager, sales, etc.), within the portal system, which tightens security and control.

Many DXPs also have the functionality to link multiple pieces of data from within the DXP together to pull analytics, increasing its capability and usefulness tenfold.

Is a DXP the Right Fit For My Business?

Now that you have a good idea of what a DXP is and what it can do, we’ll discuss deciding if investing in one is the right move for your company.

Ask the following questions at your next meeting:

  • Is your company the right size for such an extensive platform?DXPs are typically associated with larger businesses (enterprise level), but can be the right fit for medium-sized businesses under certain circumstances.
  • Does your company need a way to tie the full user experience together, giving users a way to create and customize their own portals?If you have multiple channels within your company, both from the front end and the back end (i.e., vendors, partners, customers, and multiple employee roles), a DXP might be the right fit for your company.
  • Does your company have a need to tighten analytics and span them across platforms?The analytics component of DXPs often span CRMs, social media, the company’s website, and more.

Furthermore, there are three key components to deciding if a DXP is the right move for your company. We discuss them below.

Technology Environment

The right technology fit is all about deciding what platform is the best in terms of the language the platform was programmed in. If your in-house developers are not trained in the specific language or languages the platform was developed in, they will struggle managing it. It’s wise to check and double-check this component when deciding on the right technological fit. Many DXPs are based on Java, PHP or Microsoft stacks. The language will most likely be different on the front-end, or website end, though. Many DXPs are compatible with JavaScript, CSS and HTML on the front-end, which reduces that portion of the developmental impact.

Functionality 

Even though we’ve discussed the different functionalities of DXPs, we haven’t yet touched upon how they’re typically grouped. There are three different types of DXPs, including:

  • CMS-heritage DXPs
  • Portal-heritage DXPs
  • Commerce-heritage DXPs

The best fit for the company will ultimately fall under one of these categories.

CMS-heritage DXPs are based upon just that: customizing all of the company’s online content. These platforms focus on marketing and analytics, social media, and the website across all devices. Generating interest in the company’s offerings, targeting the right audiences, and creating campaigns are the highlights of CMS-heritage DXPs. They are best suited for B2C companies with short transactions. Some offer user portals, some do not; this component can typically be an add-on cost or can be excluded.

Portal-heritage DXPs are based upon creating that unique experience for each and every user (front-end, back-end), and giving them each a log-in portal. These platforms fulfill the need for bringing the customer back after the sale and giving the salespeople what they need to keep making the sale. It allows employees to see what they need to do to maximize customer retention. It can also help with issue resolution and helpdesk scenarios.

Commerce-heritage DXPs are based almost solely upon shopping needs in an online retail environment. It is based primarily on inventory management, payment systems, and the full user shopping experience.

Budget & Cost

It goes without saying that this will be a category that the company will have to analyze forwards and backwards before jumping on board with a DXP. When talking with DXP providers, discuss costs associated with both one-time integration and set-up fees as well as ongoing licensing and operational costs. Also analyze the costs associated with possibly expanding your IT and development team, or outsourcing this component. Keep in mind that some DXPs are more affordable than others, namely open source vs. non-open source. Liferay is an example of an open source DXP, but several DXPs should be analyzed at length before choosing the right financial fit for the company.

Digital Experience Platforms: Consulting and Integration

Need more help deciding which DXP is right for your company? Give us a call. We can not only help you decide which DXP is the right fit for your company, but help you build, integrate and optimize your DXP after you decide. We have experience with industry-leading open source DXP and CMS software such as Liferay and Crafter CMS.

Streamline Customer Engagement with Digital Experiences That Deliver “Wow!”

Posted by on October 25, 2017

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Creating a “Wow!” customer experience may be the Holy Grail for marketers, but it truly is achievable when you have the right strategy and tools in place. Customers and employees today have incredibly high expectations, and if your digital marketing isn’t living up to their standards then it’s time to make a shift. The first step in exceeding your customer’s dreams is to work on internal functionality and ensure that your digital strategy and platforms are in alignment. You’re much more likely to have delighted customers when your employees are able to be effective at their daily tasks — something that can be difficult with a variety of disparate systems and legacy technology. See how pulling everything together will help you get to “Wow!” experiences for every customer.

Digital Customer Experience

How can you create an exceptional digital customer experience if you’re not aware of the various facets involved in customer satisfaction? Each time a customer interacts with your brand, they expect consistency of message, offer and interaction. This means that someone visiting your Facebook page, Twitter account and website should all see an offer that’s logical for that particular delivery method — and the same goes for customers calling your establishment. Imagine the confusion if you’re a customer who clicks through a Facebook ad that has a specific offer, yet the link sends the customer to the website homepage and the offer they wanted is nowhere in sight. This is a simple example of a poor digital experience, and one that customers are likely to repeat to their friends and family. In some instances, customers will even take to Google, Yelp, your Facebook page or tag your Twitter account in an effort to get the offer that they wanted. If the individuals responding on each channel are inconsistent in their followup messaging, it’s not inconceivable that you could lose a customer for life. There are simply too many alternatives for most businesses to take a chance on providing a poor customer experience.

Customer Experience Strategy

When you assign a strategic focus at a high level of the organization, you’re more likely to raise awareness of executives and mid-level managers or directions. When you engage at all levels of the business, it’s clear that leadership is serious about improving the overall experience for customers. With a mashup of legacy systems that may or may not work well together, IT leaders need to have a firm understanding of where the business needs to go at a strategic level before introducing additional systems. No digital strategies are the same, but many consultants recommend starting with what you can sunset: perhaps there are systems that only serve a small subset of employees or customers, or systems that are taking more time and effort to maintain with each patch that is applied. These are the low-hanging fruit that can be identified for deprecation while you look for other logical opportunities for consolidation.

Critical Execution

Even the best strategy cannot create remarkable customer experiences if execution is not there. It takes the right people in the right places — and the right partnerships — to take full advantage of the benefits that digital strategy can bring to your organization. While there may be a movement within the business to take things slowly and bring on only a small adjustment at a time, change leaders argue that transformational change happens when the organization as a whole is onboard and focused on how to drive improvements in each customer interaction. As you move through execution, monitor the change through effective monitoring of quality and remediation of any deficits.

Measuring Success

A key challenge that many customers face is ensuring that they’re using the right yardstick to measure success. With the plethora of metrics and data points available, it’s more important than ever to select actionable metrics that will improve customer engagement and happiness when they’re shifted. These analytical measures are different for each organization, but many companies find that metrics such as bounce rates, time on site and pages viewed are effective measures to optimize a website, while time on call or purchase size are good measures for call centers. However, it’s important to note that a low time on a call isn’t necessarily a good thing — this could indicate that customers are not being nurtured in the way that they could be. Each metric should be considered along with others instead of in a vacuum. It may surprise you how many organizations find that different business units are using completely different measures of success for essentially the same metric.

A trusted vendor partner can help you stay accountable to your strategy, maintaining execution timelines and helping solve for the unexpected complexities that will occur throughout the life of the project. At Rivet Logic Corporation, we target all steps leading up to customer experience to help define excellence in each interaction. Contact us to learn more.

How Digital Experience Management Differs from Content Management

Posted by on October 12, 2017

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When considering Digital Experience Management and Content Management, it’s best to have a concrete definition of both terms to fully understand how they differ.

What is digital experience?

Digital experience includes a number of things, including communications, processes and products from every digital aspect that engages an audience. This includes wearables, use of the web and mobile devices, beacons and recognition. The information gathered is analyzed to provide insight into customer relationships, identity, and intentions as they interact with businesses and organizations. This helps determine how companies deliver these digital experiences for their customers for future success.

What is content management?

Content management is also known as CM or CMS. It involves the collection, acquisition, editing, tracking, access and delivery of both structured and unstructured digital information. This content includes business records, financial data, customer service data, images, video, marketing information and other digital information.

With content management, you create and manage content, finding ways to generate awareness across multiple channels to reach more people. While having content is good, it’s more about offering the entire “experience” to the user that will give them more enhanced, enriched engagement. Content Management Systems have continuously evolved, integrating contextual digital experiences. This requires a comprehensive and effective strategy, the right tools, the right approach, and most of all, the right technology. An optimal digital experience embraces all these elements to provide personalized, responsive, and consistent experiences for every user you engage.

How is this done?

Digital experience (DX) management works in conjunction with content management, but is more comprehensive and fulfilling to the user. Think about the different outlets that engage customers – websites, social media, microsites, text messages, mobile apps and more. All these elements offer a complete digital experience. The processes and technology that provide these customized, consistent experiences is the management of it all.

One of the best ways they differ is that in digital experience management, the distribution channels all have objectives to follow and limitations. These help drive specific requirements for content and how to manage it. For instance, your tone and CTA will be different based on the digital platform you use. Additionally, when interacting with content, users want personalized experiences based on analytics you have determined appropriate for that channel. This allows them to seamlessly interact within that experience.

Web publishing used to be the first line of engagement, but not anymore There are too many channels users interact with that require ways in which publishers can gather feedback to quickly adjust their content. Without this management model in place, the system will not work.

Tools of the trade

There are a number of tools and systems to manage the digital experience. There are options for advanced analytics, to enhanced marketing tools that manage content based on channel. There’s also an emerging breed of Digital Experience Platforms (DXP), which provide businesses with an architecture for delivering consistent and connected customer experiences across channels, while gathering valuable insight and digitizing business operations.

When you have systems that work well together, being able to track successes becomes easier. When determining which tools will work best, you may want to start with product mapping. As a basis, the digital experience tool should include a combination of inbound marketing automation, analytics, and content management. Getting a system developed to meet all your needs is key.

As different avenues of engagement now drive the customer experience rather than the web, delivering a comprehensive and holistic experience is key. The digital experience is more complete, diverse and authentic – future thinking, while integrating content is how it should be done.

Machine Learning is State-of-the-Art AI, and It Can Help Enhance the Customer Experience

Posted by on October 05, 2017

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Is artificial intelligence the same as machine learning? Machine learning is really a subset of artificial intelligence, and a more precise way to view it is that it is state-of-the-art AI. Machine learning is a “current application of AI” and is centered around the notion that “we should…give machines access to data and let them learn for themselves.” There is no limit to that data (or Big Data).  The challenge is harnessing it for useful purposes.

In his Forbes Magazine piece, contributor Bernard Marr, describes AI as the “broader concept of machines being able to carry out tasks in a way we would consider ‘smart.’” So, AI is any technique that allows computers to imitate human intelligence through logic, “if-then” rules, decisions trees and its crucial component, machine learning.  Machine learning, as an application of AI, employs abstruse (i.e., difficult to understand) statistical techniques, which improve machine performance through exposure to Big Data.

AI has broad applications…

Companies around the world use AI in information technology, marketing, finance and accounting, and customer service. According to  a Harvard Business Review article, IT garners the lion’s share of popularity in AI activities, ranging in applications that detect and deflect security intrusions, to automating production management work. Beyond security and industry, AI has broad applications in improving customer experiences with automatic ticketing, voice- and face-activated chat bots, and much more.

Machine learning is data analysis on steroids…

AI’s subset, machine learning, automates its own model building. Programmers design and use algorithms that are iterative, in that the models learn by repeated exposure to data. As the models encounter new data, they adapt and learn from previous computations. The repeatable decisions and results are based on experience, and the learning grows exponentially.

The return of machine learning

Having experienced somewhat of a slump in popularity, AI and machine learning have, according to one software industry commentator, Jnan Dash, seen “a sudden rise” in their deployment. Dash points to an acceleration in AI/machine learning technology and a market value jump “from $8B this year to $47B by 2020.”

Machine learning, according to one Baidu scientist will be the “new electricity,” which will transform technology. In other words, AI and machine learning will be to our future economy what electricity was to 20th century industry.

The big players are pushing AI and machine learning. Apple, Google, IBM, Microsoft and social media giants Facebook and Twitter are accelerating promoting machine learning. One Google spokesman, for example, recognizes machine learning as “a core transformative way in which we are rethinking everything we are doing.”

How Machine learning has transformed General Electric…

A striking example of how AI and machine learning are transforming one of the oldest American industries, General Electric, is highlighted in this Forbes piece. Fueled by the power of Big Data, GE has leveraged AI and machine learning in a remarkable—and ongoing—migration from an industrial, consumer products, and financial services firm “to a ‘digital industrial’ company” focusing on the “Industrial Internet.” As a result, GE realized $7 billion in software sales in 2016.

GE cashed in on data analytics and AI “to make sense of the massive volumes of Big Data” captured by its own industrial devices.  Their insights on how the “Internet of Things” and machine connectivity were only the first steps in digital transformation led them to the realization that “making machines smarter required embedding AI into the machines and devices.”

After acquiring the necessary start-up expertise, GE figured out the best ways to collect all that data, analyze it, and generate the insights to make equipment run more efficiently. That, in turn, optimized every operation from supply chain to consumers.

5 ways machine learning can also enhance the customer experience…

Machine learning can integrate business data to achieve big savings and efficiency to enhance customer experiences, by:

  1. Reading a customer’s note and figure out whether the note is a complaint or a compliment
  2. Aggregating the customer’s personal and census information to predict buying preferences
  3. Evaluating a customer’s online shopping history or social media participation and place a new product offering in an email, webpage visit, or social media activity
  4. Intuitively segmenting customers through mass customer data gathering, grouping, and targeting ads for each customer segment
  5. Automating customer contact points with voice- or face-activated “chat bots”

How Rivet Logic can make you future-ready and customer friendly

Your business may be nowhere near the size of General Electric. You do, however, have a level playing field when it comes to leveraging Big Data and machine learning products to a winning strategy. What we do is help you plan that strategy by:

  • Aligning your business goals with technology—What are the sources of your own data and how can they harness the power of NoSQL databases, for example?
  • Designing your user experience—What do you need? A custom user interface, or a mobile app with intuitively simple user interfaces?

We can do that and much more. Contact us and we’ll help make your business future-ready to collect, harvest, and leverage all the great things you are doing now.

Building Brand Advocates: Customer Experience Strategies that Work

Posted by on September 19, 2017

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Simply providing customers with reasonable access to your information and a way to purchase your products or services is no longer “good enough”. Today’s consumer is incredibly savvy and has high expectations, so if you’re expecting them to become brand advocates without some optimization on your part to create a superior customer experience you are in for a nasty shock. Think about the brands that you recommend to your friends and family members. Are they the brands that put barriers between you and the product, or do they provide an intuitive and friendly experience that leaves you with a good feeling about the brand? If you’ve wondered what that special sauce is that keeps customers coming back for more, keep reading to see how you can empower your fans and turn them into raving brand advocates.

Know Your Audience (and Target Your Message)

The first step in building brand advocates is fully understanding your audience. Do you know who your best customers are — those that come back repeatedly even when you’re not having a sale? The one-off buyers that only come around when you’re having a sale are not your target market, as they’re likely shopping around your competitors looking for sales as well. However, the individuals who are willing to purchase at full price are the ones who should be your first market. Offer them incentives to spread the word about your brand by providing them with VIP status: early access to new offerings or sales, make them part of an elite focus group or other non-monetary incentives. Targeting a specific message to these loyal customers can help them turn the corner into true brand advocates who amplify your marketing message.

Empower Your Service Team

No one likes being put on hold to be transferred to another department, especially because you’re generally a bit upset already at having to make a phone call for service. The situation becomes worse when a customer is required to repeat their needs . . . each time they’re transferred! Ensure that your customer service staff is fully empowered to solve customer problems the first time whenever possible and within set parameters. However, there are times that they’ll need to pull in a colleague. When this happens, be sure that the customer does not have to repeat their story — this causes a negative feeling and doesn’t build customer loyalty because of the disconnected feel of their experience.

Put a Face to Your Brand

This could mean a variety of things, but be sure that your brand has personality. Whenever possible, respond to requests as a human, with a name and face attached, instead of responding as a remote brand. Humans crave relationships and engagements with other people, and providing that type of interaction ensures your customer has a memorable experience. Take a cue from the CEO of Zappos who treats long call times as a benefit that cannot be overstated, and a useful tool in building brand loyalty. Treat people like individuals, and make marketing emails and interactions more of a personal experience instead of a stuffy, remote corporate response.

. . . But Don’t be Creepy

Overdoing personalization can be much worse than not addressing your audience as individuals, so always be aware that there’s a fine line between friendly and creepy. If you want to know more about your customers to enhance their experience, simply ask them for details! This can often be the best way to determine which of your products and services is the ideal fit for their needs. Few organizations have the deep pockets of Amazon or Netflix to form the type of recommendation engines that seem to know what you need before you even need it (and deliver that information to you regardless of where you’re browsing!), but asking a few simple questions and tailoring your responses doesn’t have to be expensive. Numerous personal goods companies request your favorite colors, design choices, and sizes to offer you the options that will interest you the most.

Add Value to Your Conversations

Some brands seem to be reading a marketing manual that states they must put out a certain number of content pieces per day, regardless of the value of that content. Don’t waste your audience’s time by sifting through low-quality information. Instead, strive to provide unique value when you offer information. Re-posting great content from the past isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. With the cyclical nature of social media, you’re unlikely to hit the same people in your audience twice — even if you try!

While measuring engagement can be important, be sure you’re measuring the right pieces of data to determine the impact of your customer experience strategies. There’s a mental shift to be made from impressions to engagements for ads, for instance. While impressions are great and help build brand awareness, true advocacy comes from customers sharing the ideas and resources that you put forth.

At Rivet Logic, we help brands understand their audiences and deliver riveting digital experiences that surprise and delight customers. Learn more about our Customer Experience Management solutions.

Approaching the C-Suite Regarding Digital Transformation

Posted by on September 06, 2017

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Even though digital transformation may be the next necessary step for a business, it can often be difficult to get the entire c-suite on board. It’s easy to understand why: on the surface, a digital transformation can appear to be a business disruption. It can seem both costly and unnecessary to those who aren’t aware of the technology that is now available to them… and it can be a difficult pitch to a board of investors. Nevertheless, digital transformation is absolutely critical to a thriving enterprise.

Understanding the Major Reservations Regarding Digital Transformation

Though it can seem as though the c-suite is being stubborn about transitioning to new technology, it’s understandable why a complete transformation of digital infrastructure may cause them to hesitate. There are generally a few major reservations regarding digital transformation:

  • Cost. Any investment in software is likely to be an unscheduled expense for the business. Just a decade or two ago, digital transformation could be incredibly costly, necessitating new hardware, licenses, IT training, and more. Most of the c-suite will still remember the days when a digital transformation meant dramatically revamping the entirety of the technology of an office, from telephones to personal computers.
  • Disruption. Likewise, digital transformation has historically been the source of significant disruption. Changing over both a hardware and software infrastructure leads to confusion and a loss of productivity, which can lasts anywhere from days to months. It’s the old adage: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If the c-suite doesn’t see problems with current operations, they are going to be very hesitant to change anything.
  • Productivity. Employees aren’t the only ones hesitant to train in new technology. C-suite members themselves often don’t want to have to learn new technology; they may feel as though it’s going to damage their productivity and that they aren’t going to have access to the tools that they want to use.
  • Future needs. Finally, the c-suite may be hesitant to advance technology because they know that they’re going to have to advance technology again in the future; in other words, they may not want to upgrade now, because “we will just have to upgrade later.” Though there is a flaw in this logic, it can still present significant hesitation.

Of these concerns, the cost and potential disruption to the business are usually the primary concerns. Addressing these two major concerns is usually the best way to bring them on your side.

Addressing Concerns Related to Cost and Business Interruption

  • Break down the costs. New digital transformation technologies, such as cloud-based systems, are not as expensive to upgrade to as a physical infrastructure would be. When breaking down costs, additionally show the c-suite how much money this would save in the long run.
  • Focus on pain points. To show the value of a digital transformation, you should first show the problems that the business is currently facing and the areas in which technology could improve them. The c-suite needs to be shown that this upgrade is necessary and useful.
  • Demonstrate the solutions. Many of these solutions are easier and more intuitive than the c-suite could otherwise expect. Showing the c-suite the software solutions and familiarizing them will give them a better picture of the software’s benefits.
  • Create a roadmap for the future. The c-suite should be aware that many of these digital transformation solutions have their own future-proofing built-in, which means they will iteratively upgrade rather than having to engage in transformation again and again.

Getting the c-suite on board with digital transformation is simply a matter of showing and proving value. It is the c-suite’s responsibility to protect the business and its bottom line at all costs. What may seem like reluctance to evolve are simply well-intentioned reservations that need to be countered with facts, statistics, and a clear plan for change. Once these pieces fall into place, the c-suite will be able to see the true value of digital transformation.

Improving Customer Relationships Through Mobile Strategy

Posted by on August 29, 2017

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As more consumers move towards using their mobile devices as their first and often only method of interaction, it becomes necessary for businesses to engage in a clear and comprehensive mobile strategy. Mobile strategies encompass new, innovative ways of engaging with customers, in addition to ways of measuring mobile accessibility and the success of a mobile campaign. Customer relationships can be vastly improved through the heightened connectivity of the mobile age — and companies that aren’t paying attention to this could easily be left behind.

Choosing Between Native and Web Applications

The first decision your business is likely to make is whether it’s going to invest in either native or web-based applications. Native applications are applications directly installed on a user’s device. It requires further engagement to convince a user to install a native application, but the native application is more likely to be effective — the user is going to see and interact with it more often, and it will have advanced engagement features such as push notifications. Web applications, on the other hand, are really just responsively designed websites, and though they can be accessed through a mobile device, they do not give additional functionality on the device itself. On the other hand, web applications are more affordable and more likely to be accessed.

Understanding the Customer Benefits to Mobile Accessibility

Customers today are looking for certain features through mobile devices. It is these features that a company will need to provide if they are to develop a solid and successful mobile strategy:

  • Self-servicing through a mobile app. Most customers today prefer to be able to find information themselves rather than having to work through a customer service representative — and this is advantageous both to the business and its customers.
  • Fast purchasing and check out. Being able to complete an e-commerce transaction on-the-fly is what draws many customers to purchasing apps. Companies need to be aware that the faster the ordering is, the more likely the customer is to commit; this is why “one-click” ordering features have become so successful.
  • Ease of contact through multiple channels. Customers want to be able to email, instant message, or call a company quickly through their mobile application. Different customers and different situations require different venues of contact, so having these choices is important.

Of course, mobile strategies are also changing and customers are starting to desire even more from their devices. Leading companies are creating instant mobile chats run by artificially intelligent bots, for example, which can offer even better self service. Companies need to keep on top of these changes to remain competitive.

Developing Your Metrics for Success

The goal of a mobile strategy is to increase engagement, customer acquisition, customer retention, and overall sales. In order to track the success of a mobile strategy, a business must fist settle on identifiable metrics that will define whether or not the mobile strategy is truly working. Metrics may include metrics on the strategy itself, such as how many installations a corporate app has achieved, or metrics on the overall performance of the business, such as improved ROI since the mobile strategy was first conceived. Regardless, the metrics must remain consistent across reporting to identify any potential strategies for optimization.

Improving customer relationships through a comprehensive mobile strategy is about more than simply providing mobile features — it’s about developing these features in a way that they are attractive to customers and that they ultimately fulfill the customer’s needs. With that in mind, it becomes exceptionally important to test out these features and optimize them over time. Mobile strategies are accelerating and evolving as they become more important to the core operations of many businesses.