The Emergence of Digital Experience Management (and why you need it)

by Jeff Wiener on April 1, 2016

digital experienceWith the exponential proliferation of digital channels and tools, the last five years or so have been an ongoing struggle for businesses to develop a unified approach to digital engagement. The problem has long been that with technology changing so rapidly, and with it customer expectations, companies have adopted disparate approaches to different kinds of digital technology; creating disconnected, compartmentalized vertical silos within their corporate structures to handle things like social networking, or new device adoption, often creating largely redundant teams to handle each new channel or tool.

This lack of horizontal integration across the corporate spectrum has left many companies with a patchwork approach to the digital revolution, a complex series of generally independent approaches that attempt to grapple with, among other things, the “blistering rate of digital evolution, rampant technological complexity, and ongoing mass behaviour change in the market.”

Of course what businesses really want is simplicity, a truly unified approach to the digital experience that incorporates the varied aspects of digital communication and interconnection, that incorporates the benefits of data collection and analysis, that creates a more intimate and unique relationship with other businesses and clients, and that helps companies cope with today’s exponential rate of technological change. Sounds almost too good to be true.

But such a desire to simplify and integrate the entire gamut of digital tools has given rise to a new category of comprehensive and holistic customer service, dubbed “digital experience management,” which seeks to provide an overarching framework that allows companies to more efficiently and effectively organize and manage these various touchpoints.

While I did note that digital experience management is a new category of customer service, the truth is that it goes beyond external connections and customer service, and includes far more than just social media channels. Consider that with the development of non-social channels like wearables, virtual reality, the Internet of Things, app development, cloud-based technologies and an ever-growing host of other things, companies need to find ways to effectively adopt and implement both internal and external digital tools to truly utilize the benefits digital has to offer.

As I’ve said before, far too often companies are seeing digital tools, channels and services not as a technological revolution, one that will irrevocably change business from here forward, but mistakenly as yet another business evolution, one that can be tacked on to the current business structure with the addition of a few key, tech-savvy executives. In order to truly embrace this digital reality, companies need a comprehensive digital philosophy, and with that comes the creation and management of a unified digital experience across all facets of one’s business.

The fact of the matter is that redundancy means waste, increased expenditure, and inefficiency, and I have yet to come across a company that’s comfortable with any of those things. But the problem is that few companies are seeing the big picture of this digital revolution, creating ways to restructure business to incorporate digital tools and services at their very core, and no one is really doing that because it has yet to become imperative. Yet as ZDNet’s Dion Hinchcliffe writes, that will soon change, as “digital is becoming a large enough part of the corporate budget that most organizations cannot afford to do big things twice, and then try to fit what was designed separately, together.”

While we saw this sort of redundancy and inefficiency in the early days of social business, where companies would duplicate entities to handle each and every new social channel, we can now say those days are over, and if businesses are still taking a piecemeal approach to digital integration, the simple fact is that they won’t succeed.

Of course the downside is that given that digital experience management is still in its infancy, it’s difficult to say what it will actually look like, only that companies will need it, and desperately so, the more digital tools and services become an inexorable part of doing business.

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