Tag: digital experience platform

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.

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.

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.