Answering the infrastructure question

Answering the infrastructure question

Article | Last updated: 18 April 2019

This may be the most exciting, disruptive and transformative era of digital marketing. It’s also probably the most challenging.

The world has moved beyond tracking clicks, reviewing how campaigns have performed, to predicting how campaigns could perform. You may have the interaction data (which may be in silos). The challenge is how to use this data in real-time, for contextual interactions that feel intuitive. This comes down to infrastructure, or lack of it.

According to an Econsultancy report, ‘When asked to rate their company’s capabilities in various areas in terms of its ability to deliver a first-class CX, 44% of respondents rated their technological capabilities as “Okay” or worse, with just 21% considering their organisation’s technological capabilities to be “Excellent”’

Know every customer (even when you’re a multinational)

While there are considerations around Personal Identifiable Information, let’s assume your architecture gives you things like:

    • Name and email
    • Geolocation
    • Behaviour while engaging, topics consumed
    • New v returning visitors
    • (this may be a ‘nice to have’) Recording offline interactions such as phonecalls

You may have different sources of data: CRM, POS, ERP, and social media. To gain a holistic view and deliver content for any stage of the buying cycle, marketers need to be able to integrate and access this data across channels – and at scale.

According To Pwc, ‘Most Organisations Need To Invest Far More In Customer Experience (CX)’

As ever, it comes down to budgets, and weighing up investments in time and effort. Without fixing these silos and integrating into a single CRM, the alternative is situations where marketing has to request data from IT, and then wait for it to be delivered. During that time, the data may become out-of-date, and still require editing manually in spreadsheets.

Digital (customer) experience

The good news is, these challenges are being solved, by what Gartner calls the Digital Experience Platform. This is defined as:

‘A digital experience platform (DXP) is an integrated set of core technologies that support the composition, management, delivery and optimization of contextualised digital experiences. DXPs entail a high degree of emphasis on interoperability and cross-channel continuity across the entire customer journey.’

When it comes to identifying the right DXP, start with working out how much scaling of architecture is needed. Use this checklist:

    • What level are your traffic peaks, when do they happen, and how will this change over the next few years?
    • How many contacts do you currently have in your CRM, and how much up-to-date data on them do you have?
    • Looking at things through a post-GDPR lens: how much of that data can you legally use?
    • What sort of reporting will you be doing – basic ‘out of the box’, or more advanced Business Intelligence?
    • Are you hosting infrastructure in multiple data centres – cloud and/or on-premises – and will this impact compliance?
    • How much content will you produce – if you’re expecting high amounts and high visitors it’s time to consider a CDN?

Once you’ve agreed on this, it’s time to look strategically at the next few years:

    • IoT
      “The IoT use cases that are expected to deliver the fastest spending growth over the 2017-2022 forecast period… include in-store contextualized marketing (retail)” (IDC)
    • AI
      “By 2021, 15% of all customer service interactions will be completely handled by AI” (Gartner)
    • AR/VR
      ‘Early market developments indicate adoption of AR/VR technologies on a worldwide basis will expand for a decade or longer.’ (IDC)
    • Voice assistants
      ‘Because search has emerged as the top use for voice assistants, organisations that can currently capitalise on that application are likely to reap the biggest early rewards. ‘ (Deloitte)

For the future of CX, it’s crucial to factor in these next-generation elements now. That’s why it’s worth noting that among Gartner’s DXP Magic Quadrant Leaders , Sitecore is highlighted as ‘investing in exploiting Microsoft-based, ML-driven personalization at scale. This is in addition to existing personalisation capabilities in Sitecore Experience Database (xDB).’