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Only Fools Fragment: How Seamless Experiences Keep Customers

By Scott Rigby, Head of Digital Transformation for Enterprise Solutions, APAC, Adobe

Scott Rigby, Head of Digital Transformation for Enterprise Solutions, APAC, Adobe

The best experience businesses map out every step of the customer journey with uninterrupted technological engagement.

"It’s a challenge for CIO’s to provide a technology transparent experience to customers when the average company has 91 marketing technologies driving its customer experience"

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins coined the phrase the “flywheel effect”. It’s a bit like building a customer experience business. At the start you have to use a great deal of effort to ge t the flywheel to inch forward. After persistent effort, you get it to comple te an entire rotation. You keep pushing, and it does two, then three rotations, until at some point it picks up spe ed. The flywheel gathers momentum and its own weight starts working for you to produce perpe tual motion.

Great customer experiences don’t happen by accident, they develop through well-considered planning, strategy and execution. Unfortunately, many businesses are weighed down with cultural memory, long legacies, outdated skills, and apathy towards customers. They struggle to build the momentum they need to build customer experience for a competitive advantage.

The Missing Piece

In engaging with IT executives and architects across the Asia- Pacific region, I’ve noticed a common factor: the technology architecture map almost always misses some part of the customer experience journey. This technology is usually cloud-based and assumed to be owned by marke ting, but because the hosting and maintenance is a managed service it is excluded from the purview of IT.

There is a marketing technology ecosystem map (ChiefMarTec.com, April 2018) that charts the growth companies in advertising and marketing technology. This year’s graphic depicts 6829 marketing technology solutions from 6242 unique marketing technology vendors. This means 91 percent of these are individual technology solution providers.

In the past five years, the number of technology companies in this sector has increased tenfold, and the average company has 91 marketing technologies driving its customer experience.

Integrate at Every Turn

In light of this it’s certainly a challenge for CIOs to provide a seamless experience to customers when so many technologies are in use. Invariably, the customer will be exposed to technology should they phone a call centre, go to a store to pick up a product they chose to click and collect, or navigate to a product they saw on their smartphone on the bus. “The tech landscape for marketing is an unhe althy technology ecosystem and that exacerbates a lot of the problems marketers face,” says Joe Stanhope, a principal analyst at Forrester.

Investment in technology is paying divide nds, with integrated platforms fast becoming a prerequisite for success. A lack of integrated marketing technology reduces the chances of providing a se amless customer experience, making it frustrating for marketers and othe r employees who want to get on with their task of acquiring, retaining, and delighting customers. With 43 pe rcent of organisations reporting a fragmented approach with inconsistent integration between technologies, tech setup has become a key business focus.

Our research in conjunction with EConsultancy shows that a highly integrated, cloud-based tech stack for marketing and customer experience requirements is certainly possible, with 12 percent of respondents claiming to have this in place. It is also ve ry much worth the effort. Top-performing companies are almost three times more likely than their mainstream peers to have this kind of infrastructure in place.

APAC Gains the Edge

APAC companies are 60 percent more likely to invest in an integrated cloud technology stack than those in Europe and the US. This may be the upshot of APAC’s late adoption of digital marketing—the region saw the challenges Europe and the US faced in driving value from be st-of-breed (best vendor per technology category) versus best-of-suite (best vendor technology platform overall) and leap-frogged them by investing in an integrated platform from start.

The global CTO of ad age ncy group Wunderman, Stephan Pretorius, nutshells this in warning ente rprises about adding point solutions without thinking about the ove rall marketing stack: “People often implement new tools without really thinking through how they need to be configured, how they need to be designed and, most importantly, how they need to connect into the broader marketing technology architecture and even the business process.”

Gartner and IDC estimate that the total cost of ownership of a single platform investment is 27-37 percent lower than best-of-breed. However, this doesn’t consider the risk factor, which is difficult to quantify, but is lower when there’s only one platform.

Quite often the investment in best-of-breed arose from a single product feature that the platform provider didn’t offer. The question to ask then is how much re venue will that one additional feature add to your busine ss versus the costs in procurement, training and maintenance. Other factors to consider are the external costs of real-time customer experience execution, single view of the customer and consistent customer experience delivery.

If your brand is to offer customers a transpare nt technology experience, it’s incumbent on your technology leaders to take ownership of the customer experience architecture map, integration, and consolidation plan to ensure this is realised.

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