Embracing a full digital strategy, and driving digital growth has dramatically transformed the measure of business success in the last decade. How organisations hire new people and the budget they set aside for their technology spend are some of the areas that have experienced the most change.
This has not only affected digital native industries like media but introduced change across all industries, putting increasing pressure on businesses to manage and scale their digital presence.
The most common challenge businesses have when they restructure or undergo a digital transformation, is an investment in their chosen technology. Often, they’re offered out-of-the-box solutions that promise fast-track success by delivering omnichannel customer experiences driven by AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning). Most businesses are doing this without understanding the full scope of AI or ML.
Pressure for rapid growth is forcing dangerous compromise
When organisations restructure and adopt a new digital culture, the transition is more than just a technological one. But most invest money in new technology without considering how prepared their team is for that change.
The rush to acquire a fully digital experience can often drag businesses further behind than before. Equipped with a new ‘advanced’ digital platform that the marketing staff can’t use, and in-house engineers can’t build on, they turn to a patchwork solution that costs more money and delivers below average results.
The best advice to those who haven’t yet committed is to slow down and assess the full scope of needs and requirements – from everyone across the business – the move into digital demands. This will not only enable internal teams to acclimatise to the cultural transition and create a solid foundation for transformation but will prevent compromises that might cost you more down the line.
Things to consider when researching a new Digital Experience Platform (DXP)
In practical terms, we recommend committing between 6-12 months to evaluate the cultural transition and adoption of any new technology. This is the average time our Client Services team at Human Made takes to thoroughly evaluate client needs, and work with them to understand why they need to invest in new technology.
This recommended length of time is simply a guideline, but there are a number of other elements to keep in mind when considering new technology.
Long term cost of ownership
Building a digital experience platform is only the first stage of the transition. Organisations need to realistically consider the investment required post-launch; not just in time, but in cost too.
Maintainability of their new solution
The flexibility of a new solution is a critical measure of its future success: the better a platform can scale and evolve with the business, the better the return on investment will be.
Pace and style of working should match the technology partners
Building a digital experience platform requires more than just a technology vendor: organisations need a partner to support them along the way. This deeper relationship requires better alignment between values, methodology and processes.
Open source vs Proprietary
Open source and proprietary DXPs provide different advantages: understanding which model is a better fit for your organisation will help to narrow down the potential solutions and focus on those that better meet your needs.
Some technology partners provide full implementation and ongoing support, otherwise will rely on your in-house technical team to develop and maintain the platform: understanding the full capacity of your technical team will put you in a better place to make a decision about the type of support you will need.
Too often organisations assume new technology will immediately solve all their challenges and create instant results and growth. While a DXP can drive huge improvements by consolidating technologies and providing a foundation for digital success, it cannot be viewed as a plug-and-play solution: it is up to internal teams to use it effectively in order to drive results.
Scale back technology to scale digital presence
Investing in new technology is crucial to maintain digital agility: but it doesn’t always guarantee a superior experience for internal users. The best way to adopt new solutions is to do so with education, ensuring everyone internally has the opportunity to onboard successfully and are empowered to use the new tool. Not doing so can have a rapid negative effect, leaving internal teams frustrated and incapable of using the new platform, and digital leaders with a costly bill.
Working with your technology partner is the best way to make sure you are building a platform that you need and will be able to make the most out of after the project is launched.
How technology partners can support strategy and advise on scale and growth
Support internal changes
Technology partners should be able to provide a solution that can support internal changes. As a technology partner, it’s important to remember that the decision-makers are usually saddled with a platform that they haven’t chosen, but was left to them by their predecessor. Successful technology partners understand this and work with clients to make sure that their solution has the proper long term support required to keep delivering business value.
Understand the client’s business fully
A technology partner needs to understand all aspects of their clients’ business: everything from technical specifications and security requirements, to the commercial clearance and industry regulations and standards. Most importantly, technology partners should have a clear view of all the technology used across departments. Most new builds at an enterprise-level start from one department and then extend across the company. The new technology needs to be able to replace, or seamlessly integrate with, all previous patchwork solutions.
Inspire trust in their clients
Clients look for technology partners that are invested in their business. The technology often speaks for itself, but having a partner that can implement and execute a growth strategy with you is key. Trust should be the first requirement, with technology in second place.
Open source platforms open doors to a growth ecosystem
The pressure to deliver and scale at speed cannot be completely ignored. While avoiding short-termism is advisable, businesses do need to drive change in order to remain current. Open source platforms are defined by some of the requirements that can help you stay agile in the face of mounting change.
Historically, open source has a bad reputation in the enterprise space, but since technology giants like Microsoft and TechCrunch moved to adopt open source solutions, many have since embraced the benefits and followed suit. Open-source software benefits from continuous improvement by anyone in the world, encouraging multiple and diverse approaches and perspectives to common problems, and driving rapid and progressive innovation in the industry.
It’s not just Microsoft and TechCrunch that have adopted WordPress, latest statistics show that 34% of the entire internet runs on WordPress. WordPress alone powers 14.7% of the top 100 websites in the world. Brands like Sony, Xerox, UPS, The Walt Disney Company, Target and many more trust this open-source technology as the foundation for their digital experience.
While the software itself is often impressive enough alone, one of the strongest benefits of open source technologies like WordPress is their extensive growth ecosystem. Ecosystems are crucial to provide enhancements and extensions to an already solid foundation; enabling organisations to add and experiment with new capabilities and keep in tune with digital innovation. The advantage is clear: staying nimble and flexible in the face of growing, multidirectional change.
Open source can support a digital transformation step-by-step: taking you from a Content Management System (CMS) to a Digital Experience Platform (DXP) featuring some of the most advanced technologies available today, like Experience Blocks.
Three things to remember
Finding the right Digital Experience Platform, and technology partner should not be rushed. Consider taking up to a year to understand your long term growth plan, and remember that a DXP should not be seen as the full solution: what it should do is provide a way to solve problems.
Scale back on your technology by looking for a technology partner that you trust. Focus on finding a partner that understands your overall business needs, and is willing to invest in education, and long term support.
Root your DXP in an open-source foundation, like WordPress. Open source brings with it flexibility, scale, and a partner ecosystem that ensures your DXP has the latest features on the market.
Ana Silva is the marketing manager at Human Made and Nevena Tomovic is business development manager at Human Made.