Developing an Enterprise Approach to Emerging and Mobile Technology
By Matt Chisholm, Mark Hewitt, Adam Stachelek, and Alec Francesconi
Organizations face a proliferation of customer channels including desktop, smart phones, tablets, media players, and connected TVs. Multi-channel challenges include understanding customer expectations, cost-effective software development, team management, asset management, realigning existing processes and exposing back-end systems. Security, hosting, architecture, processes, and testing all have to be considered.
The good news is that the cost to build multi-channel apps has rapidly decreased. Using the right tools, techniques and process it no longer takes years to develop, but rather weeks. Large organizations need to create start-up energy to compete in their changing marketplace by optimizing internal capabilities and encouraging intrinsic motivation.
In this guide, Cantina will outline a vision for how emerging technologies will change the landscape in 2012. We offer a set of strategic planning insights to help design a successful emerging technology strategy and plan. Included are practical steps to take now to meet the challenges of 2012.
The Vision: Identify the Pain Points for 2012
Trends in platforms, technology, and adoption
In 2011 the pace of technological change continued to accelerate. New technologies arrived and formerly niche technologies achieved mainstream adoption. Below are several of the major trends Cantina sees evolving over the next 12-18 months.
New Emerging Technologies Change the Game Again
New emerging technologies will appear and be adopted by customers; businesses will need to respond with a strategy to adopt, adapt or work around them. It’s nearly impossible to predict what technologies will achieve traction, but it is possible to be prepared to adapt to fast moving challenges.
Niche Technologies Adopted by the Mainstream
2011 saw the standards, interfaces, and associated technologies that loosely define HTML 5 solidify and mature. This was accompanied by the rapid decline of Flash, the long-reigning technology of choice for building web sites and apps with rich interactivity and video. In 2012 HTML5 become more robust, best practices will evolve and it will become the core structure for web development efforts.
Cloud technology has been widely adopted and can lower the cost to maintain, host, test and scale sites and apps. A few years ago building a new site required dedicated synchronized servers that could take weeks to configure. This same configuration can now be launched to the cloud in a matter of minutes.
Keeping Up with an Agile Approach to Technology
In the mobile app-enabled business environment getting to market quickly is critical. Agile development processes are helping companies rapidly redefine their software architecture to meet new business challenges.
Cantina has seen that incorporation of iterative development principles into the project management process results in a final product that not only better addresses business needs, but yields a working product for early review. Field testing functional prototypes and revisions provide actionable feedback that cannot be obtained otherwise.
Responsive Design Becomes a Best Practice
Responsive design is a design approach that results in device-independent web site and app development. By designing applications to respond to a given device’s dimensions and capabilities, customers are provided a tailored user experience optimized for the given form factor. Compared to multi-platform native app development, savings achieved from responsively designed, application development can be substantial with greater potential for positive ROI.
Mobile Enablement of Enterprise Apps
Exposing Back End Legacy Systems
In order to take full advantage of the new Open Web paradigm, back-end services must provide accessible APIs. By building flexible web services, businesses and their partners can more easily develop new applications. This enables easy access to an organization’s information and services for both inward and external-facing apps for iPads, smart phones and other channels.
Video Becomes a Mainstream Communication Channel
Cantina sees video continuing to increase in importance as a tool for marketing and sales communication, support and internal corporate communications. Organizations have important choices to make about their online video provider (OVP) partners such as Brightcove and third party platforms such as YouTube. Security, management and reporting are key factors to consider when managing video content as a critical corporate asset.
Strategic Insight: Build a Plan Using Best Practice Tools
Guidance for mobile, video and emerging technology
Organizations that are succeeding in the new economy are actively listening to what their customers want and designing experiences to satisfy those needs. The brand experience will take place in the channels the audience desires, so business objectives must be tailored to those channels, platforms and devices.
The good news is that the tools and techniques needed to develop a solid strategic framework for delivering a consistent brand experience across multiple devices are available. Most business can get to where they need to be with a combination of in-house expertise and outside partnerships.
Audience Analysis is Required
Marketing leaders have long employed user experience best practices to design web experiences to meet their customers needs and to promote desired behaviors. These same insights, based on qualitative and quantitative ethnographic audience analysis, are applicable to this new mobile landscape, but are often neglected. Customers are demanding more from their online brand experiences and are adopting devices more quickly than ever before. Understand your audience and create an online experience that delights them.
Implement Responsive Design
Technology Enables the Customer-Centric Solution
Lead with a great customer experience, not with technology. It’s true that technology choice is a key decision, but it must be driven by research that identifies customer needs, analyzes gaps and discovers opportunities. Planning a solution that will satisfy these needs will provide an optimal experience for the customer and maximize ROI for the organization. We think of technology as the “final mile” in the solution development process, not the final product.
Experience Matters for Internal Teams and External Partners
The rapidly evolving nature of the marketing technology landscape is causing too many stakeholders to adopt fast-follower behaviors, such as mimicking competitor’s apps which results in a poor customer experience and business results that are not achieved.
While the technologies may be new, there are familiar business problems and strategic patterns used to solve them. Assemble a team of insiders and, where appropriate, external partners who have both business experience and first-hand technical skills.
Practical Recommendations: Get Ready to Engage with Your Customer
What your organization should be prepared to do
Entire industries are transforming, and doing so quickly. Here are steps your organization should follow to maximize its proactive response to emerging technologies.
Find an Internal Change Agent
Most organizations have a clear understanding of who “owns” interactive assets, but when it comes to making significant changes, which often have broad organizational implications, it is important to re-evaluate ownership and to identify change agents to own key strategic projects.
Review Your Business Requirements
Having clear business objectives will help focus business requirements for 2012 technology initiatives. Business objectives are fulfilled when customers are satisfied by their online and channel brand experience. Organizations have an opportunity to differentiate themselves now by aligning their services and offerings with customer expectations.
Review Internal and External Analytics Strategy
Organizations should review and revise their analytics strategy to incorporate key metrics of their next-generation technology efforts to enable comparisons with previous efforts. In addition, evaluating and benchmarking against competitors’ technology efforts can yield valuable insights, influence future strategy and help guide investment decisions.
Review In-House Staff and Technology Assets
Organizations must also evaluate their internal capabilities and resources. As the rapidly changing technology landscape continues to expand and fragment, in-house IT and development teams often find it difficult to stay current with the latest technologies and development best practices given their workload, project schedules, changing priorities, maintenance and compliance activities.
Many organizations are finding themselves saddled with a growing set of apps, sites, Flash-based solutions and other services that have been developed by different divisions and external vendors. These are often ill equipped to adapt to the rapidly changing landscape of mobile customer engagement, and lack interoperability. In many cases back-end systems were designed for specific projects without consideration for reuse and accessibility across the enterprise.
Technology teams are running leaner than ever before and rarely have the time to advance to next generation technology on their own. During project assessments Cantina teams often engage in gap analysis to identify whether the client’s current set of content management products can meet the needs of their organization, or whether a new strategy must be adopted.
Decisive Action Required Now for 2012
The clock is ticking and 2012 is on the horizon. Analyst organizations such as Forrester and Gartner predict that businesses have between 6-15 months to meet the technology demands of their customers as they adopt new channels of behavior and demand greater interactivity. By focusing on customer needs, business objectives, corporate strategy, and technology implementation, organizations that act now will keep pace with, or even surpass, their competition.
Contact Cantina for Further Information and Assistance
Large enterprises find themselves stretched to maintain their current technology, and yet find it necessary to leapfrog ahead to the next generation of platforms and devices. To get to that next level many businesses bring in an outside partner like Cantina to help evaluate their current status, develop a strategic framework and implement new technology.
Whether you leverage internal experts or third party firms like Cantina, marketing leaders need to engage experienced experts to help shape their 2012 customer-centric strategy. Bringing the voice of the customer into the planning process is more critical now than it has ever been given the speed of change, and the adoption of new devices. The time for start up thinking in the enterprise is now.