Creating a software engineering group becomes key to closing experience gaps

And closing the experience gaps -- performance, convenience, personalization, and trust -- requires a different mindset.

In our recent report Closing The Experience Gaps, my colleague Ted Schadler and I talked about two key elements to meeting customers rising expectations: 1) creating an architecture for cross-channel experience delivery and 2) developing a philosophy and culture of business agility. Given it builds on many of the concepts that we outlined in the Software Must Enhance Your Brand, I wanted to highlight the key components of the second element -- developing a philosophy and culture of business agility. 

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Closing the experience gaps -- performance, convenience, personalization, and trust -- requires a different mindset. The shift in customers' expectations fueled by an increasing rate of technology change means that firms need to act more like a cloud-based ISV and not a traditional IT shop. This requires an agile process and continuous development from small teams spanning business, design, and technology competencies. Part of this makeover includes improving technical and design competencies. Companies like GE and Wal-Mart have dramatically up-skilled their technology teams.

At the core of this new mindset are five cultural, process and skill imperatives:

  1. Align business and technology executives. Successful customer experience transformation efforts at Delta Air Lines and The Home Depot have at their core an accommodation between the CEO, business executives, and the CIO.
  2. Embrace an agile, sense-and-respond continuous delivery process. Great customer experiences today are table stakes tomorrow. To continuously improve experiences, companies must work differently, in small agile teams that span business, design, and technology — what we call IDEA teams.
  3. Adopt a digital engineering culture. Interviews showed us that firms like Concur, Intuit, and PayPal have a new kind of software engineering group driving their architecture and platform investments.
  4. Build a data-led design practice. The advent of more data generated from digital channels, broader access to the insights, and a new generation of visual tools are ushering in the era of data-driven design.
  5. Redesign business processes based on a customer journey map. Firms must rework their business processes from the outside in to overcome silos across product lines and in marketing, commerce, and service functions.

These imperatives become the cornerstones of a firm's business technology agenda.

Ted and I will also be hosting a Webinar on closing the experience gaps, Monday September 9 from 1:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m. ET. Please join us.

John McCarthy is a Vice President, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research serving CIOs. Learn more about his recent research here