Today, all brands and companies need to ship relevant digital initiatives faster to market in order to match up to evolving customer demands. The main problem however boils down to the execution of these digital projects: too much time and money is spent on integration rather than the initial goal of improving the end customer experience. This slows everyone down, but it doesn’t have to!
Let’s look at a real-world example: This is from a dialogue I had with a company executive who wanted to improve their digital customer experience. The brand aspired to build a new mobile app that would allow customers to browse and buy their assortment, create their own profile, follow the status of their order and manage their relationship with the company. In one line, they wanted to create a customer-centric universe through a mobile app.
While this may sound simple, trust me it is more complicated than you think! Connecting data has been a challenge for brands for years, think of the system back-end like a human body. We have around 30 trillion cells in our body each doing a specific function and belonging to a specific organ, these cells need to function together in symbiosis with other cells of the body to produce what we refer to as a state of “optimum health and wellbeing”, if there’s even slight friction between the functioning of these particles, it can manifest disease or discomfort. Similarly, data is usually stored in various places and for you to create the best digital experience, this data needs to be patched up with other data and brought to the front-end in a smooth and streamlined manner, even if it resides in different systems in the backend.
Let’s look at the app, for instance, the company needs to access several different data types such as customer data from the CRM, product data from the PIM-system, transactional data from the ERP, content assets from the DAM system, checkout and campaign features from the e-commerce platform, order history from the order management system and so-on. If you were to put an image to these words, it would resemble thousands of intricate and complex spider webs woven on top of each other. But that’s not even the main issue here!
To build this new cool mobile experience, the company needs to combine all of this data and start to create point-to-point integrations between all of these systems. For instance, customer data gets integrated into the e-commerce platforms (takes X hours), product data gets integrated into the order management system (takes Y hours), and transactional data gets integrated into the CRM system (takes Z hours). And so the list goes on.
At the end of the project you get a budget that looks something similar to this:
UX & Design: 5%
Front-end development: 10%
And the next time you start a new initiative you need to do this all over again! 😅
Integrate = time lost, money spent.
Integrate = time lost, money spent.
Integrate = time lost, money spent, customer lost.
...in a never-ending and frustrating loop! Often, businesses need to allocate as much as 90% of the project budget merely towards integration. Eventually, valuable time and money is spent just onshipping data around, and very little time is spent on things that improve the customer experience (meaning drives revenue).
The crux of the problem is not a lack of solution, but a lack of resources. In my home country Sweden alone, there will be a lack of 25 000 developers in 2024!
Most agencies in the market who are actually profiting from building integrations, agree that the lack of developers critical for digital executions is a BIG hindrance towards building digital experiences at the pace demanded by the market. “I lack people, not assignments” is a phrase I’ve heard several times in dialogues with agency leaders. Not being able to find the right people with the right skills is a major contributor towards slowing down a project and often creates a lot of friction in the agency-client relationship.
Luckily innovation is happening also in this field and right now we see that the rise of Experience Data Platforms is removing the integration challenge!
With an Experience Data Platform, businesses get a sustainable solution that puts them in the driver’s seat to launch and scale digital initiatives as they please. This is the missing piece in the tech stack for many brands, that enables them to unify, connect and collect experience data and have it instantly accessible to go from idea to deployment in no time when building their next digital experience.
Using an Experience Data Platform you can easily unify all content, customer and context data without the need for time-consuming and expensive integrations. When you have all your data from your ERP, PIM, CRM or any other system in one place (without the need for many point-to-point integrations) you can just pick and choose the right data assets you need to execute a specific project. After choosing your assets you simply create a real-time API with a click (yes, with a click!) to make this data set instantly available for a frontend developer to put together in the frontend of your choice.
The next time you want to build a new experience you simply choose your assets and create a new API – this exercise takes a few minutes and can be done by a person in the digital team without having any coding skills. Compare this to waiting several months for integration and getting access to backend developer resources. You can also share and re-use data across initiatives and channels.
To sum it all up, an Experience Data Platform bridges the gap between idea and execution when it comes to building digital initiatives by democratizing the access to data and making a digital team's data autonomous so they can innovate the digital customer experience at a rapid speed without being reliant on tech resources building integrations for them.
Niclas Mollin is CEO and co-founder of Occtoo, a groundbreaking Experience Data Platform that has a mission to empower digital teams to build digital experiences faster by having instant access to experience data and totally remove the integration challenge.
This article was first published here