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Delivering an Encompassing Digital Experience: The Customer's Point of View

Written by Daniel Lahl, Vice President of Product Marketing, SAP

With a lot of emphasis in the analyst community about the movement toward Digital Experience Platforms and the convergence of Web Content Management (WCM), Enterprise Portals, App Development and Commerce initiatives, I was eager to witness how businesses are going about delivering unified experiences to their users.

The Customer Perspective:

Talking with these CIO customers, it became apparent that convergence of different software categories was not top of mind.  That is a vendor or analyst view of the world.  Rather, they were looking at their problem from a use case perspective - how they could agilely deliver a new set of apps quickly with a common and unified customer experience to their end users.  Without putting a name to it, they all described that they needed a Digital Experience Platform to accomplish this. Let me explain.

One major focus area for the panelists was the need to deliver a continuous and enticing digital experience across the entire customer journey, independently of underlying data, applications, and organizational silos. Bottom line, the loud and clear message was that customers digital experience cannot be approached in isolation, but it needs to go hand in hand with process and data integration. We need to integrate technologies to support end-to-end processes.

The second focus area was the speed of solution delivery across channels. It comes as no surprise that everybody expects customers, employees, and suppliers to interact with our business across a variety of apps, medias and devices.  But even when we adopt an agile development methodology, unless we have the right capabilities in place, it is hard to deliver incremental services across channels without duplicating efforts.

The third major takeaway from the panel was that when it comes to digital user experience, not one size fits all - a comprehensive set of diverse tools and functionalities are key to success. Change is a constant in today's business, and new business initiatives might bring unexpected challenges.  What powers our digital experience initiatives needs to support mobile, omnichannel and continuous experiences, whether the goal is to expose existing internal business processes or brand new ones. Having a broad set of capabilities is necessary for delivering a uniform user experience and speed of implementation.

The customers were also unanimous to point out that all the required tools or services should work synergistically with the rest of the existing infrastructure to avoid creating new silos. Additionally, nobody has time to waste in integrating disjointed capabilities and tool. They were describing a platform approach to deliver optimal Digital Experiences for their end users.

Connecting Systems, Processes, Teams and Tools

Looking at challenges and priorities these panelists were outlining, it comes as no surprise that so many businesses - including Sika, RuralCo, and Bentley Systems - have chosen a specific cloud platform as the foundation for their digital experience initiatives.

It's important to choose a platform - ideally as part of a larger integrated public cloud offering - that includes portal, conversational UI, content management, collaboration and commerce. This means that your digital experience projects can rely on design and prototyping services, development tools, mobile services, integration services, API management, data services, and more - via a platform.

The rapid development and deployment of new solutions across channels should be a strength of the platform to ensure consistency in experience and simplicity in development and maintenance. For example, if a developer has created a new application using portal service, then she can make the same application available to her end users on their mobile device access within minutes using the mobility service. This is possible as all digital experience services work synergistically as part of a larger platform to deliver what an enterprise needs. 

At the core of a solid cloud platform is the ability to integrate processes and data with real time exchange of data with on premises systems and workflow management. This allows you to bridge siloes across your IT landscape, creating the operational environment required to deliver an interactive and end-to-end experience to your customers, employees, and suppliers. You must rely on a platform that can innovate at the experience level while continuing to rely on your existing business process to run your core business so that you can gain business agility by adopting a two-speed IT model - mode 2 for rapid digital experience innovation and mode 1 for your stable digital core. All done with the same platform.

Bottom line, you must have access to a composite and integrated set of services to build modern websites, portals, mobile apps and IoT apps so that you can create your own version of what Gartner calls a Digital Experience Platform. But most importantly, you can customize and extend in a consistent manner the user experience your applications, as well as develop and deploy new applications that work synergistically with your existing business processes. In doing so, you can provide a continuous, personalized, omnichannel experience to all users - with no need to deal with a plethora of specialized cloud and tool providers for each layer of your IT architecture.

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About the Author

Dan Lahl 

Dan Lahl, Vice President of Product Marketing at SAP, has been in high tech for over 30 years, with extensive experience in data management, data warehousing and analytics. While at SAP Dan has led emerging technology initiatives, including Data Integration, Data Grid, In-Memory Database and Mobile BI. Dan is currently focused on growing SAP's Cloud Platform business for SAP. Dan has degrees from the Haas School of Business at U.C. Berkeley and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago. In his off hours, Dan enjoys paddleboarding, skiing and rooting for bay area sports teams.  

Published Wednesday, August 02, 2017 7:05 AM by David Marshall
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