Abstract image of the digital future

Analyst: The future of digital experience requires honest self-assessement

 

Digital Future abstract reprsentatioino

As the future of digital experiences approaches and washes over businesses with alarming speed, one thing seems clear: The new reality calls for a new way of thinking.

Those at the center of the transformation of content management systems (CMS) gathered virtually last week for a webinar that sketched out strategies that will allow content management practitioners to keep up with the demands of an ever-more sophisticated audience.

The “Future of Digital Experience” webinar, featuring Forrester Analyst Mark Grannan and BloomReach Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Cochrane, emphasized the need for content management professionals to consider their organization’s place on a maturity continuum before charting their content management course.

“We can’t seem to get out of our own way sometimes,” Grannan said during the webinar. “We sit in our functional silos. We’re merchandisers or marketers or content managers. Maybe we sit a little higher in the organization. We’re a chief digital officer or CIO. But even still, we’ve got some blinders on when it comes to digital experience.”

During his presentation, Grannan offered a good first step, which is framing the challenges and solutions in terms of a “digital experience platform.” He suggested that companies can be sorted into four categories — skeptics, adopters, collaborators and disrupters — based on their investment in and development of content management strategies.

Developing a strategy and deploying a CMS is not a one-size-fits-all affair.  An honest appraisal of a business’ maturity will help enterprises find the answer to the question: What’s our next move?

Moving into the future of the digital experience is best looked at as an exercise in building better customer experiences coupled with creating better operational effectiveness, Grannan explained in his talk. The two pieces work together and feed off each other.

Take an enterprise that is “young” when placed on the maturity continuum, for example, he said during the webinar. It might want to start with a better customer experience by expanding beyond its desktop website to offer a mobile-friendly site. Its next step could be handing off the maintenance and management of its software to an outside vendor, freeing up IT experts to focus on further improving the customer experience, through better personalization, for instance. It’s a virtuous cycle.

A more mature business might be ready to move to a new CMS platform — perhaps a platform as a service model, complete with robust A/B testing capabilities and the ability to provide continuous integration and delivery with the help of automation.

Automation is a way, Grannan stressed in the webinar, to free up time for higher value work; not a way to give up control of key projects and priorities.

“It’s not handing the keys to the robots and saying, ‘You drive,’” he said.

A more advanced step would be embracing a headless CMS that provides a repository of content ready for deployment across channels and devices. Marry that with a level of personalization that delivers that content to the right person at the right time on the right device and the virtuous cycle continues.

While the right CMS answer is not one-size-fits all, one thing appeared to be nearly universal among those who attended the webinar: CMS is a challenge and practitioners are hungry for change.

In a quick survey, attendees were asked to name their greatest pain point when it comes to CMS:

  1. The inability to track and analyze content performance.
  2. Time-consuming web publishing practices that are siloed, limiting agility and speed.
  3. Friction with IT to enhance and scale website functionality and delivery.
  4. Proliferation of tools to manage discrete moments of interaction with online customers.

The winner? You might have guessed: all of the above.

Photo by Steve Johnson published under Creative Commons license.

Mike Cassidy is BloomReach’s storyteller. Contact him at mike.cassidy@bloomreach.com; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.