How Do Customer Experience Improvements Impact Revenue?

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This post was authored by Matthew Draper and originally appeared here on Liferay.com

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Without seeing detailed statistics concerning the impact of online customer experience (CX) on their company’s bottom line, many executives ask why it matters for their revenue goals. However, the online customer experience-revenue relationship has become clearer and clearer in recent years. Crucially, those who are still in the dark about the revenue benefits of customer experience improvement may be missing out on optimizing their company’s performance.

While common sense may dictate that there is indeed such a thing as CX-revenue relationship, better understanding this idea can help you make informed, impactful decisions about your company’s online presence. Recently, Mercury Insurance used Liferay to overhaul and consolidate their insurance customer portal. As a result, Mercury Insurance found that customer experience greatly improved, leading to higher ratings, reduced costs and many more positive effects. It’s just one example of improved customer engagement leading to measurable company benefits.

How Does Customer Experience Affect Revenue?

According to Forrester Research, good CX can lead to client retention, enrichment and advocacy, which all have loyalty-driven revenue potential. While there are many reasons why a client may terminate his or her services with a company, all businesses should prevent poor digital customer experience from being a cause.

But how will improving CX improve a business’ revenue?

While hard numbers on customer experience-revenue relationships can be difficult to come by, research done by Harvard Business Review shows there is a direct link between CX and annual revenue increase. Their survey polled customers about their experiences with both transaction-based and subscription-based companies. For transaction companies, clients who had the best experiences were shown to spend 140% more than those who were shown to have the poorest experience. For companies based around subscription services, it was shown that members who rated their experience at the lowest score possible only had a 43% chance of still being a member one year later. In contrast, those who scored their experiences at the highest ratings had a 74% chance of still being a member in a year.

In either case, it is clear that positive customer engagement meant a greater likelihood of higher revenue and happier clients who could advocate your brand to other potential clients.

However, not every customer experience manager takes long-term relationships into account when determining profits. But the widespread effects of happy clients should be part of every CX decision. If you are a CX leader attempting to make improvements in your company’s customer engagement, it is crucial that you tailor your investments to your brand’s unique needs, consider non-revenue benefits like happy customers becoming advocates and think about both complete CX overhauls as well as targeting the worst experiences reported by your clients.

Three Types of CX-Revenue Improvement Strategies

As detailed by Forrester, there are generally three types of online customer experience-revenue relationships. These show how a company should focus its initial CX improvement initiatives in order to see the greatest effects on your company’s revenue.

Broad Improvements to Customer Experience – In this strategy, efforts to improve CX can be applied across the board and in all types of interactions that customers have with your organization. Any individual aspect of customer experience improvement should result in improved revenue, but broad improvements may have the most noticeable results, as they will impact the largest amount of customers. This strategy relates to a linear customer experience-revenue relationship, which often affects companies like internet service providers, big-box retailers and auto insurance providers.

Focused Improvements on the Worst Customer Experiences – You may find that the greatest gains can be found in primarily addressing the worst experiences. Focus your time and energy on improving the worst customer experiences, which can likely be distinguished through customer surveys, feedback and records of complaints that your customer service team has received. By doing so, you can prevent customers from dropping your service and are likely to find the largest return on investment in your customer experience improvement efforts. This strategy relates to a relationship of diminishing returns between customer experience improvement and revenue, which is often felt by credit card providers, wireless service providers and airlines.

Focused Improvements on the Most Positive Customer Experiences – Further improving the highest levels of CX could result in the most dramatic revenue increases, while improving the poorest experiences will do less for your bottom line. Keep your customer experience improvement efforts focused on the most positive experiences seen by your business, which can likely be determined through positive feedback received in surveys. In doing so, customers who have a positive experience with your business will be encouraged to return time and time again, as well as become an advocate who can bring in additional customers. This strategy relates to an exponential CX-revenue relationship that often affects credit card providers, wireless service providers and airlines.

While these three types of revenue-impacting digital customer experience strategies should be individually tailored by each company that adopts them, they can be a helpful guide to what your business should first address. By focusing your efforts while improving CX, you can create a successful plan for optimizing customer portals and other forms of engagement.

So what is keeping some businesses from improving customer experience?

Many see improving CX as not being worth the cost. However, improvements have been shown to actually reduce costs due to needing to handle fewer complaints, as shown by information provided by Medallia. That means less money spent on fielding upset clients, happier employees who don’t have to spend all day handling complaints and more time available for optimizing internal processes and other forms of customer engagement.

These factors are vital in determining the long-term goals of a company and weighing the true value of online customer experience and what can be done to improve it.

2017 State of Digital Marketing [Infographic]

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Between social media, SEO, email marketing, analytics and, creating content, digital marketers have a lot to do these days. Digital marketing moves and evolves very quickly. It can be hard to understand what is important and what needs to be improved.

The Search Engine Journal has an annual survey where they ask digital marketers what they plan to do in the coming year. The survey asks how digital marketers set timelines for various activities, where they allocate their budgets, and how they define success.

This infographic summarizes the results of their findings in a fantastic way. There are several noteworthy results from the survey,  but one, in particular, jumps out to me. It’s interesting how inexpensive content marketing can be; 44% of respondents spend less than $300 per month on marketing their content.

2017 State of Digital Marketing

 

If you liked this infographic, you should follow us on Twitter @VeridayHQ. We share high-quality content like this infographic all the time. We’re always on the lookout for the latest trends in digital marketing, technology and increasing customer engagement and loyalty. Thanks for reading, have a great day!

How to Build Customer Loyalty in the Digital Age

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This post was authored by Matthew Draper and originally appeared here on Liferay.com

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The age of digital transformation has helped companies better understand and connect with their target audiences, with everything from dynamic content to page behavior insights helping to create a better picture of how individuals interact with companies. However, it has also greatly affected how loyal customers are to any given company.

Studies show that customers are more likely than ever to jump to competitors when they become dissatisfied with their current services, no matter how long they may have had a relationship with a company. Research from Vision Critical has found that 42 percent of Americans will stop shopping with a brand after only two bad experiences, making consistent high-quality customer experience critical in customer retention. While that lack of loyalty may mean ample opportunities for companies looking to expand their clientele, Harvard Business Review research shows that it costs approximately seven times more to gain a new customer than it does to retain one. As such, cultivating customer loyalty has both reputational and financial benefits.

But the question remains, how does a company improve customer loyalty in an age where loyalty is in short supply?

Encouraging Customer Loyalty Through Good Customer Experience

Changes in modern customer loyalty can be seen as an outcome of digital transformation, with more services than ever made convenient and easily accessible online. However, today’s customer often takes greater advantage of these online opportunities than the companies themselves, leading to today’s drop in customer loyalty. One of the largest factors in constantly shifting customer loyalty in the digital age is customer experience. Studies show that while pricing and quality of products may play a part in why a customer chooses one company over another, customer experience (CX) is the most important aspect in his or her choice.

The term customer experience can be applied to any interaction that a potential client has with your company, but there are several specific areas that can have the largest impact on loyalty. Brands can fight back against the waning tide of customer loyalty and its impact on client retention by improving the following areas of customer experience.

Ease of Access

Existing and potential clients should have the ability to quickly and completely reach your company’s services whenever and wherever they want. Today, customers expect to find and receive the online services they want without complications or delays. Without true brand loyalty, making your services easily accessible can make a major difference during a potential customer’s split-second choice between your company or a competitor.

Pre-existing loyalty may cause an existing client to go to you first, but not being able to quickly find/receive the services they want will easily send them to your competitor. Companies should consider how to implement omnichannel experiences in their services. In doing so, target audiences can smoothly and quickly interact online in both desktop and mobile, as well as in person, for a seamless experience that pushes them consistently and naturally toward closing a sale.

Supply Helpful Customer Service

The field of customer service is one of the most memorable interactions between your business and its customers. Customer service can include free shipping on items, customer loyalty rewards programs, return policies, promotional offers and customer support with issues concerning a product. According to research from Harris Interactive, 62% of U.S. consumers have switched brands in the past year due to a poor customer service experience. Good customer service not only reinforces to clients that your company cares about them, but prevents one of the biggest reasons for customer drop-off.

No matter the industry, customer service plays a crucial role in representing your brand in what are often the most decision-influencing interactions in any customer journey. Successfully demonstrating your dependability during these times can have a major positive effect on customer loyalty.

Distinguishing Your Brand Identity

Customers will tie your brand to the customer experience you provide. Should you offer a great experience, customers will attach positive feelings to your brand, but provide poor experiences and these failings will be tied to the brand instead. As such, it’s crucial that customer experiences align with your company’s larger goals so that good experiences not only gives clients a positive memory, but improve your brand’s standing in the public consciousness. For example, Amazon Dash buttons, which allow customers to reorder a product with the single push of a button, distinctly feature the brand of the company. In doing so, customers tie the brand to the simple, successful and satisfying experience they have had in using the button.

Forrester’s Customer Experience Index has found that a customer’s emotional connection with a brand has some of the strongest influence on loyalty. Cultivating that emotional connection and making it a positive one will yield short- and long-term loyalty in an age that has more competitors than ever before. In a sea of products and services from more brands than ever, having a positive emotional tie will help your brand distinguish itself from the crowd and feel less replaceable to clients.

6 Open Source Technologies That Changed The World

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When something is referred to as “open source”, it means that people can modify and share the code because its design is publicly accessible. Anybody can modify the code to suit their own needs. Open source technology has been around for quite some time now. In the early days of software development, code was shared among developers so they could learn from each other and advance the sector. As the industry began to become more commercialized and competitive, developers began to advocate the idea of free software. Some developers felt that software should be accessible to all, not restricted to those with deep pockets.

In 1997, Eric Raymond published a reflective analysis of the hacker community and free software principles. This lead to the Netscape Communicator internet suite becoming open source. Such a big player in software development joining the open source movement helped gain the idea traction. The fact that any developer can alter the software makes the systems more secure, affordable, transparent and flexible. The more diverse your development group is, the more innovation you can pack into a product. Open source software can be locally changed to save costs, making it very popular for many purposes. It is often used for local applications where only a specific task needs to be accomplished.

Overall, the world of software would be much different without open source software. Below we will take a look at 6 things that the world be missing if it wasn’t for the Open Source Initiative.

1. Linux

Linux is significant to the open source community thanks to its early adoption and use in creating (and running) much of the modern internet. It is an operating system built in 1991, by Linus Torvalds, a Finnish student at the time. His goal was to create an operating system that takes into account user feedback into its development cycle. It was based off Unix, an open source system. While I don’t want to get into the history of developing these systems, simply due to the amount of technical knowledge included, the subject is very interesting. For a very (very, very, very) thorough explanation check out The Linux Documentation Project.

Today, Linux is one of the most popular operating systems in the entire world. Around 98% of the world’s fastest supercomputers are Linux based. As seen in the chart below, 68% of tablets and mobile operating systems are Linux based.

Open Source technology dominates the mobile OS market

Worldwide Mobile OS Market Share

By W3Cook’s analysis of Alexa’s data, 96.3 percent of the top 1 million web servers are running Linux. The remainder is split between Windows ( 1.9 percent) and FreeBSD (1.8 percent).

Without Linux, it is nearly impossible to imagine where the world would be in terms of computing ability today. Web search would not exist and, the usefulness of the internet could be diminished greatly. The stability, standardization and security, all at a low cost, is the reason the OS has survived and thrived. These features would not be available if not for the open source origins of Linux.

2. Android

84.82% of smartphones worldwide run on the Android operating system. It has been growing exponentially since 2009, back when it only had 3.9% of the smartphone OS market. One of the reasons that Android is so popular is due to the open-source nature of the software. Google, Android’s parent company, makes deals to provide the software to hardware vendors for use with their devices. This opens access to Google services and marketplace to those using the devices.

Open source dominates Smartphone OS market

Smartphone OS Market Share

This strategy is completely opposite to that of their biggest competitor, Apple. Apple only puts iOS on Apple products. iOS is a closed-source system. Since it is restricted to Apple products, the adoption rate of the iOS is limited simply due to market constraints.

The open-source initiative that Android is based on has allowed the operating system to thrive in a competitive smartphone market. Google has become a major player in the smartphone environment, in less than a decade, due to their excellent implementation of open-source fundamentals. Without open source software, the smartphone market would look very different today.

3. Geographical Information Systems (GIS)

A Geographical Information System (GIS), is a computer system used to capture, store and analyze geographical and location-based data. GIS allows researchers to recognize patterns and relationships in geographic data. They are commonly used in industries that involve natural resources such as forestry, oil & gas, water management and in a variety of transportation-heavy sectors. GIS, when used in conjunction with GPS and logistics control solutions can help businesses become more efficient.

While not every GIS solution is open source, many of the early pioneers in the technology were proponents of free software. The original GIS solution MOSS (Map Overlay and Statistical System) was developed by the U.S. Department of Interior in 1978. Nearly all systems built since then, from GPS to location services, have built on the original open source solutions. Without these open source fundamentals, a large number of logistics control systems and location-based services would either not exist or still be in their infancy.

4. WordPress

WordPress, one of the world’s most popular blogging and web content management systems, is based on open source fundamentals. Without the Open Source Initiative, the software script that supports 27% of the web would not exist. The fact that WordPress is open sourced means that anyone can alter the code or create plugins. There are over 30,000 of these plugins, which add additional functionality to the website or blog. The plugins are responsible for things such as SEO, security, analytics and e-commerce functionality. All of these plugins are open source as well. Without the Open Source Initiative, one of the most functional CMSs in the world would not exist.

5. Firefox

Without Firefox, the browser market would be extremely different. Instead of a relatively competitive four solution battle, it would be reduced to three. Once you factor in that Safari is only available to Apple users, that becomes a two solution battle. You would have to pick between two technology giants, Google (with Chrome) or Microsoft (with Internet Explorer). The fact that there is a third option (for non-Apple users) completely changes the market. It forces the proprietary systems to be continually improved upon, or risk losing market share. Open source technologies like Firefox push innovation.

6. Liferay

Liferay Inc. is a technology company that is based on open source fundamentals. Their platforms are all offered in an open source format. The platform allows you to change the software so it can meet your specific needs. Liferay 7 is an open source version of their newest platform, Liferay DXP. The only differences between the open source version and the enterprise version is the level of support provided by the company.

Without Liferay, many corporate intranets and extranets, as well as a variety of portals would not exist. Costs associated with proprietary, black box systems would discourage many companies from adopting a portal, intranet or extranet. Liferay can provide a cost-effective solution that developers KNOW will work, simply based off being able to dive into the code.

The foundations of Liferay were developed over the years by a variety of developers. These efforts lead to the creation of various features of Liferay products, the system would not be the same (if it even existed) without the Open Source Initiative.

Conclusion

Without these technologies and platforms, the world would be an extremely different place. While there are closed source alternatives available for some of these technologies, the entire landscape would be completely shifted if open source software was not a thing.

The world would be a very different place if it was not for open source technology. Everyone would be using an iPhone, or maybe Blackberry would never have taken a tumble in market share. Internet Explorer and Chrome would be the two dominate web-browsers, never facing any external competition for non-Apple users. The internet would be dramatically altered because there would be no Linux or WordPress. Finally, we would not have any of the Liferay solutions. The world would be lacking top-of-the-line portal, intranet, and extranet solutions.

Open source technology has dramatically altered the world around us, nearly everything would be different. We would have no search engines, and the functionality of the internet would be significantly different. Proprietary solutions would be the only options, restricting who can even afford to use their technologies due to price. I for one, am thankful for the Open Source Initiative.

What did you think of our list? Would you have changed anything? Did we miss any big-name open source technologies? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ. #OpenSource

Why Your Marketing Technology Isn’t Impacting the Bottom Line

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This post was authored by Christine Reyes originally appeared here on Liferay.com

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What’s the Number One Priority for Marketers Today?

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? The number one priority for marketers today is to lead the company in finding new revenue and business opportunities.

The majority of business leaders would say they agree, according to a recent survey of CMOs from the CMO Council and Deloitte. Nearly 70% of those surveyed stated that they expect marketing’s primary role to be driving growth. This means that, in addition to attracting new customers and managing the brand story, CMOs are now tasked with opening new markets and optimizing the customer experience in ways that directly help the bottom line.

Given the explosion of MarTech products over the past few years, it’s fair to say that most CMOs see these technology stacks as a key part of their new roles. If CMOs can identify the best technology for their context and use it to constantly optimize customer experiences, they can find opportunities to improve customer service, make marketing processes more efficient, glean new insight from analytics, and ultimately use all of this as a foundation for strategies that contribute to new business growth.

Most CMOs Aren’t Taking Full Advantage of Their MarTech Stack

Unfortunately, when it comes to executing this vision for marketing technology, many companies are left disappointed. Even with the implementation of new products, brands aren’t seeing the impact they expect from MarTech. Other research has shown, for example, that technology is only marginally improving marketing performance at most companies. Even more concerning, as of 2015, only 9% of marketers believe that they are fully utilizing their MarTech stacks.

The insight from the CMO Council’s report suggests that much of this disconnect is due to the CMO’s struggle to translate their new role as business drivers into their daily work. Here is how CMOs say they currently spend their time:

  • Reviewing and approving marketing plans, budgets and campaigns (45%)
  • Defining and shaping the brand (44%)
  • Executing campaigns to attract customers (42%)
  • Evolving the brand narrative (37%)

Based on this list, it seems like CMOs are still focused on being brand ambassadors and managing campaigns, rather than optimizing the customer experience.

Part of the reason could be the normal momentum of their roles. Traditionally, marketing has focused on the promises it makes to customers early on in the sales funnel. This is reflected in the technology investments most CMOs make, such as campaign tracking and reporting software. What they need instead is marketing technology that improves customer experience, produces revenue and optimizes business solutions.

CMOs Need to Start Using MarTech to Impact the Entire Customer Journey

It seems like MarTech has impressive ROI around areas that have traditionally been part of marketing’s role (such as CRO), but isn’t necessarily impacting the bottom line in new ways, like business leaders expect.

With 63% of marketers today using some kind of journey mapping, we know that most CMOs have a customer journey map already created. Connecting marketing technology to different points in the journey can help CMOs identify opportunities for improvement.

One great example of this comes from Deborah Wahl, the CMO at McDonald’s. She staffed her team with 200 tech specialists and used the digital insights they gathered to assess pain points in the customer journey specifically for millennials. They found that millennials disliked that the breakfast menu ended at 10:30am and advised switching to an all-day menu. After the change, 78% of millennials said they visited McDonald’s at least once a month, which is the highest percentage McDonald’s has seen from this group in three years. This is the kind of impact CMOs can have when they use technology to improve performance, especially at moments in the journey that have typically been outside of marketing’s scope.

This change in scope is the difference between customer experience optimization and campaign optimization. While campaign optimization focuses on individual marketing plans in order to bring in new customers, customer experience optimization tracks and evaluates the performance of every single customer interaction. Those who excel at the latter spend their time tracking the performance of each channel, measuring customer satisfaction at each touchpoint, and pulling data from later purchase and post-purchase stages.

Customer experience optimization is what CMOs need to start using their MarTech stacks for, ideally with the help of a smart analytics team that understands how to uncover meaningful, actionable data. This will have a higher impact on the bottom line than campaigns, and it will uncover gaps in the customer journey that CMOs are in the best position to see.

CMOs Have More Influence Than Ever

In the CMO Council’s report, 27% of respondents said that the CMO is the primary chief revenue driver, trumping the CEO at 22%. This means that CMOs now have opportunities to act as trusted members of executive management and influence the decisions that make or break customer experience, provided they find ways to step out of the comfort zone of business-as-usual.

It’s time for CMOs to shift focus away from pre-sale and discovery interactions, where marketing has been traditionally focused. If CMOs want to impact growth and revenue, they need to look at the full customer lifecycle and become experts at using technology to achieve their business goals.

The 3 Basic Elements for Providing Great Omnichannel Experiences

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People today expect an instant and seamless experience, regardless of how they engage with you. That might sound scary, but with the right tools in place, you can provide this type of experience.

Once upon a time, businesses only had to worry about two types of engagement. Your customers would either come into your brick-and-mortar location to talk to a human being, or phone you to ask questions. The customer experience was easy to manage. You just had to be at the office before you opened and you would be good to go.

The introduction of the World Wide Web slowly made the customer experience more difficult to manage. As the internet matured, businesses needed to be aware of what was being said about them online and how their brand was being perceived. This was the beginning (and heyday) of multi-channel (or cross-channel) marketing.

Multi-channel marketing is defined as:

“The ability to interact with potential customers on various platforms. In this sense, a channel might be a print ad, a retail location, a website, a promotional event, a product’s package or even word of mouth. Multichannel marketing is about choice.”

Over time, mobile web searches and applications began to grow in popularity. This added another wrinkle to the marketing equation. Responsive design, applications built for different operating systems, and mobile-first websites began to appear. The landscape was shifting.

Multi-channel marketing involved creating campaigns for each individual channel. This was done so customers were able to take action using the channel of their choice. Multi-channel marketers hope that after a certain number of interactions, the customer will make a purchase through the channel of their choice. Before multi-channel marketing, the consumer’s journey between channels was very fragmented and broken. But marketing and digital have now evolved even more, and some would say that in 2017, multi-channel marketing is outdated. Today, omnichannel marketing is now how nearly every single industry, whether they sell consumer goods or financial advice, market their wares to customers.

Omnichannel Experiences

According to SearchCIO:

Omnichannel (also spelled omnichannel) is a multi-channel approach to sales that seeks to provide the customer with a seamless shopping experience whether the customer is shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone or in a bricks and mortar store.

If you have never heard of omnichannel marketing, here are a few statistics that prove why omnichannel experiences are now the way to go:

  • The Aberdeen Group has conducted surveys that suggest that the top fifth of firms in terms of omni-channel engagement have a customer retention rate around 89%, while the other 80% of firms have an average retention rate of 33%.
  • 72% of digital shoppers consider in-store experience as the most important channel when making a purchase.
  • Shoppers who buy from a business, both in-store and online have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel.
  • 64% of customers expect to receive seamless customer service regardless of which channel they are using.

Clearly, expectations have shifted and shoppers want a seamless experience, regardless of their platform of choice. You need to be able to provide those experiences to be successful in your marketing efforts.

Unlike before, you have to be prepared for a much wider variety of engagement methods. Every experience that a customer has with your business, whether it be through mobile, web, social, or in-store, must feel seamless. This connected experience is called “omnichannel”, referring to a single channel encompassing all the previously distinct sales channels.

Omnichannel experience has three basic elements that are always present.

  1. Create a buyer profile using analytics from multiple channels
  2. Relevant content, right when they need it.
  3. Ability to access any information, any time, using any channel

One of the most efficient ways to provide an omnichannel experience is to invest in a single unifying platform such as Liferay.

In case you aren’t familiar with Liferay, it’s an open-source enterprise experience platform, focused on creating enterprise portals, customer facing web applications, and other digital experience solutions. Liferay portals are built on one unified system and is quite easy to add existing systems to your portal or web application.

Here are the three basic elements that need to be met in order to assure an omnichannel experience:

1) Buyer Profile

A platform such as Liferay can make it easier to satisfy the three basic elements of omnichannel. The most important element to satisfy is also the first: creating a buyer profile. Regardless of how the customer accesses and interacts with your content, the data will be stored in the same place. This makes it possible to analyze data and create the buyer profile.

Aspects such as IP addresses, which keywords or social channel brought them to your website, and any personal information provided on forms can be used to create buyer profiles. All of this can be easily tracked and put into the same database, pooling all information about visitors in one dataset. Liferay makes this process very simple since the back-end systems are all interconnected. The data collected will give you insights needed in order to create accurate buyer personas.

2) Relevant Content

Once you have your buyer profiles, you can find out what content would be relevant to those personas and set out creating it. Relevant content is content that appeals to your target audiences; it should help them, address their interests, needs and challenges, and improve their lives in one way or another. It also means providing the information in their preferred type of content whether that be a blog, visual content, podcast, video, etc.

There are many ways you can make your content relevant to the target audience. One way to do this is by researching keywords and following the conversation on social media. Use a social media listening tool to find out what your audience is talking about. A second way you can ensure you are producing relevant content is by soliciting information from your customers and sales team. They will know what prospects and clients are saying, what they need to know and what form they want the content in. Regardless of how you plan your content calendar, you need to produce content for a true omnichannel experience.

3) Access to Information

The final aspect of creating an omnichannel experience is giving visitors the ability to access any information, at any time, using any channel. This part of the equation is essential. It defines an omnichannel experience.

Now, in order for this aspect to be satisfied, you need a system with responsive design. Responsive design allows your website to be accessed and viewed using any device, with any browser. Your website should be functional and aesthetically pleasing on all devices,  from a smartphone to a 200 foot monitor.

Final Thoughts

While we discussed the digital aspects of creating a good omnichannel experience, there are other factors to consider. If you have a brick-and-mortar location, the in-store experience should have the same general feel as your digital experience. A true omnichannel experience crosses over from digital to physical seamlessly.

The difficulties with executing an omnichannel strategy involve collecting and analyzing data to provide a seamless experience, both digitally and in person. The most difficult part of omnichannel strategy involves aligning your channels to form a single stream. A good CMS, with a strong underlying system, can be one of the most effective ways to solve these challenges.

The process of building a true omnichannel experience is never complete. The process is constantly changing based on evolving technologies, trends and behaviours. It’s important to be willing to consistently adapt and tweak your strategy in order to provide the best omnichannel experience.

There are many excellent platforms for creating digital experiences using responsive design. Regardless of the device, there are methods to creates beautiful websites and portals for your business. While there are many products on the market that are meant to improve customer experience, we can fit a solution to your needs. The best one for your business depends on your goals, processes and needs. If you would like to learn more about how technology solutions can help you improve your omnichannel experiences you can contact us here.

So, how are your omnichannel marketing efforts going? What challenges have you faced trying to integrate your systems? Are there any difficulties with implementing an omnichannel strategy that we left out? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ.

As always, thank you for reading. If this topic interests you, check out our other articles on Omnichannel:

Omnichannel is the Key to Optimizing Customer Experiences

7 Reasons to Upgrade Your CMS

3 Keys to a Better Customer Experiences

The 3 Key Areas You Must Improve If You’re A Bank

 

Liferay DXP Interview: How Developers Can Use the New Platform

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In this interview, Veriday COO, Chris Lamoureux, sits down with Delivery Lead, Sam Hyland, to discuss Liferay DXP compared to previous Liferay platforms, and how it affects developers working with the platform. This is Part 2 of our ongoing series of interviews about Liferay DXP. For an overview of the new platform, check out Part 1 of the series.
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Chris Lamoureux: How are you doing this morning, Sam?

Sam Hyland: Good, good! How are you, Chris?

Chris: Very good, very good. We’re here to talk about Liferay DXP, which has been on the  marketplace for about half a year now. At Veriday, we have been using it since it rolled out and more and more you have been out working with clients who are thinking about upgrading to DXP.  Who are thinking about how to actually develop on it. What are your first thoughts on the DXP platform?

Sam: Well, first I think the platform has certainly evolved. Liferay is referring to DXP as an “experience platform”. The experience for users (the front end and the interface) is certainly a lot more advanced than it was in Liferay 6.2. It’s bringing it into the modern era. A lot of the other changes are in the back-end, in the development frameworks available, which is what we’re here to talk about today.

The big, big change in the back-end is the move to  very modular development. So, you’re building small components that are discreet, easy to manage and upgrade. I’m hearing a lot of excitement about the modulation of DXP. Even though the previous portal architecture supported somewhat of a modular approach (you could deploy portlets individually) there were some challenges with that approach.

A lot of clients had developed large applications, with a lot of different portlets in them, to work through that. In the end, a single change involved re-deploying their entire application. It involved doing a full regression test against that application because they didn’t have the confidence that their change was isolated. That it would only affect one part of the application. This made the cost of a change quite high. Clients are excited about the new OSGI modular approach because it allows them to separate components while still allowing for all the flexibility needed for communication between the components. Deploying components with that modular framework means that developers can ensure their changes are isolated, enabling more rapid change.

Chris: Very interesting. Historically, Liferay was always thought of as the lightweight portal, does this imply that Liferay is getting even lighter relative to competitors in the marketplace?

Sam: In some ways it does, because each of these modules can be turned on and off individually. This means you can deploy your individual modules but you can also look to the Liferay components. If there are certain modules there that you don’t need, you can turn them off and disable features that aren’t relevant to you.

Chris: So I’ve heard a lot about OSGI, and I’m trying to get my head around it. Tell us a little bit about what the change to OSGI is all about. What’s the impact to the developers using the Liferay platform?

Sam: OSGI itself isn’t anything new. It’s been around for many years now. If your application developers or Java application developers use Eclipse, or any products built on top of Eclipse, they will have seen OSGI before.

Eclipse uses OSGI behind the scenes. It’s a proven platform that’s been around for a long time and it’s a specification that, at it’s simplest, is a Java jar. If you’re familiar with Java development you’re familiar with the concept of a jar, which people traditionally use for libraries. If you deploy a library, that’s a jar. It gets out there and it makes certain classes available. OSGI now adds some extra information to the manifest file inside the jar that declares capabilities this jar has to make available. So you deploy a jar to the OSGI container, the manifest file exposes certain requirements and capabilities, which are then available to other OSGIs that are there.

So, for example if you deploy an OSGI jar with your user service, for looking up users. It might say, “I have this capability that I know about all the users on the Liferay platform”. Then your application with the OSGI module says, “I need to know about the users.I have this requirement. I require this capability”. The OSGI container takes care of wiring everything together, looking up all the references and pulls everything together. It says “Liferay, you have this user service, you can provide this capability. Application, you need this capability, we are going to connect the two of you together.”

In some ways, it’s not that different from the EJBs. It’s the same sort of idea. It’s just a newer take on it that is working very well. It has been used by Eclipse for ages. Liferay is using their new foundation and it’s being adopted by other vendors throughout the marketplace.

Chris: So Liferay is keeping pace in that area?  

Sam: Oh Definitely!

Chris: What are the other areas of Liferay DXP, from an application development standpoint, that you would mention specifically to an existing developer thinking about how to do something differently in DXP?

Sam: So the first thing I’ll point out is that if you’re used to building and deploying portlets, you’ll still be doing that in Liferay DXP. There is actually a compatibility layer that allows you to continue to build and deploy portlets the old way if you have an existing portlet that would better suit your needs.

If you’re looking at this OSGI stuff and think “this modular deployment, this lifecycle works for me and our development team, we want to build portlets using OSGI” you can do that as well. The biggest difference that developers will notice when building portlets in OSGI is that you no longer define the portlets inside .xml files.

Traditionally, when you build a portlet there would be a series of .xml files with most of the configuration in them. There would be a “porlet.xml” which would have things like your portlet name in it. If you were using portlet communication you would have some of the settings for that. There would also be a “Liferay-portlet.xml” that would define any additional capabilities for your portlet. When you’re building an OSGI, all of those are using Java annotations. So, you’d create your portlet class, put an @ at the top of your class and you would put all your properties at the front.

I personally am a big fan of annotations. It’s easier to look at. You’re looking at your portlet class; all your properties are there in one place. Everything is ready for you to go.

Chris: So, if you’re a new developer and you’re not experienced with Liferay 6.2, what are you thinking about as you start to use DXP?

Sam: As you get in and start using Liferay DXP, like everything else, there’s going to be a learning curve. You’re going to start small and look at, “how are we going to build our applications on Liferay?”. If you have built web applications before, you’ve probably used an MVC framework, and so the model, the view, the controller. Liferay supports that approach.

You’re going to build your view as a portlet. You’ll have to do a little bit of reading on what the portlet specification is and what a Java portlet is. It’s going to take you an hour or so and you’re going to have a “hello world” portlet up and running that’s going to spit out a view for you.

Then you’re going to say, “well we can display some information. We can have a simple form. We’re interacting with that form.” You’re probably using a JSP (if you’re a Java developer you’re probably used to JSPs) for your view. Then you’ll want to interact with a service.  Now you have to interact with something.

This is where you’re really going to start building multiple OSGI modules. You’ll have one OSGI module that’s your view, then you can start building your service. The first thing you’re going to do when building a service is define an API for it. Your API itself is another module. It’s going to be one Java class, It’s going to be the interface into your service. You’re going to deploy that as a module and make it available to your view.

Then you’ll have to write the implementation for that service (another OSGI module). That’s going to start talking to your database. It’s going to start storing and retrieving data and making it available to you.

As you go deeper into Liferay, you may find that you’re using it for integration. It’s an excellent platform for integration. You might be calling out to third party services. You may also want to store your data within Liferay.

After you reach that level of expertise you might look at some of the tooling available in Liferay. It has a service builder, essentially a code generation tool. You would define your model. You would define all the data fields needed. You would define any descriptions or associations within an .xml file. Liferay has a code generation tool, so you would run a command and it would generate all the classes for your service using all the OSGI modules needed for your database.

Chris: So, Liferay has a “sweet spot” within the marketplace. Historically, they’ve had nice growth but with DXP where is that “sweet spot”? Is it the same as what it was in 6.2? For you, as an application developer, in what situations would you use this is a product to solve client problems?

Sam: I think it continues to solve all the problems it solved in Liferay 6.2. It works as an integration platform on the front end. It can serve as your system of engagement (system of record). I think in DXP it does a better job of that because of some of the front-end pieces, which we won’t discuss in detail today. It has a much richer interface. It’s more modern. It has all the Ajax pieces to wire everything together. It’s a single page application. So, instead of refreshing the entire page every time you click, it only refreshes the data that’s changing, making it a lot faster and smoother for your end user.

Liferay DXP also has some very strong mobile libraries and toolkits available, allowing you to turn the web application you built out into a mobile application. Everything in Liferay is responsive, condensing down nicely on your phone. Liferay has a “Liferay Screens” feature that turns your application into a mobile application. It makes spruces available on mobile, it has a mobile SDK. You can use that or you can use some of the Liferay built-in pieces to build a kiosk application. Maybe you’re in retail and you’ve got kiosks available for your customers to interact with. So, now you’re not just engaging on the web, you’re engaging on phones, kiosks, etc.

Chris: Which is where the marketplace is going… going, gone.  

Sam: Exactly!

Chris: So, Sam it sounds to me like Liferay has continued to raise the bar when it comes to its ability to increase YOUR productivity as an application development at a material level, which is ultimately what customers want. They want to get better, faster, cheaper. Give us your observations so far on your usage of DXP and your productivity?

Sam: I would say it has gone a long way in improving productivity. Liferay before – the preferred way to develop on it was using Liferay’s SDK. So, you had to learn their toolkit if you wanted to work with Liferay. You could stray beyond Liferay’s libraries but there was always a gentle nudge saying “this is the Liferay way to do it. Let’s do it the Liferay way”.

What DXP has done is become more platform agnostic. So, if you like using Grails for your build, that’s well supported. If you like using Maven or Ant, you can do that as well. You’re no longer pushed towards using Liferay’s toolkit. The same thing goes for the front-end and the middle tier. As you’re building out your application, if you have a Javascript framework that you love, it can be used with Liferay with a lot less of the conflicts that you would have seen historically working with Liferay. A lot of the challenges that were there in Liferay 6.2, when working with, and bringing in new toolkits, have been removed thanks to the added modularity in DXP.

Chris: So, it sounds like Liferay has come out with a great product!

Sam: I would fully agree!

Chris: Well, thank you very much for your time, Sam.

Sam: Thank you, Chris!

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That ends our interview with Sam Hyland, Service Delivery Lead at Veriday. We touched on many points related to the new Liferay DXP. We discussed OSGI technologies, the modularity of the new Liferay platform, various features of the new platform from a back-end perspective and how Liferay will affect developers working on the platform.

Stay tuned for more interviews about Liferay DXP, the new digital experience platform brought to you by Liferay.

If you have any questions or comments about this discussion, please let us know on twitter @VeridayHQ or #LiferayDXP

Liferay DXP vs. Liferay 6.2 : Interview with VP of Solutions, Nick Quach

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In this exclusive interview, Nick Quach, VP of Solutions at Veriday and resident Liferay expert, sits down with Veriday CEO, Marc Lamoureux, to discuss Liferay DXP (Digital Experience Platform), the latest and greatest Liferay platform. In this discussion, we will hear about what’s new and innovative, what changes you’ll see from the previous versions, what new business challenges it can solve and when an organization might choose to migrate over.

Nick has extensive experience using and implementing the Liferay platforms, including Liferay DXP, for a wide range of solutions, clients, and industries.

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Marc: It’s Marc Lamoureux and Nick Quach from Veriday. We’re here to talk about Liferay DXP (Digital Experience Platform). To start off this discussion, I thought I’d ask you, in your experience, what kind of customers traditionally would be using Liferay?

Nick: I think one of the strengths of Liferay, even before DXP was introduced, is the fact that they have always prided themselves on providing a platform versus providing a product. What that allows the end customer to do is to use that platform to deliver their requirements in however many ways they need.

So, whether an organization is using it for a corporate intranet (which is probably one of the most prolific use cases for the platform out there), using it to build simple web sites, or using it to engage their customers. Whether it’s a B2B or an e-commerce type engagement, Liferay has them covered.

I think for us the diversity of the Liferay client base is probably what’s most compelling and what’s most telling about the actual platform itself.

The distribution of what we actually see clients using Liferay platforms for is quite broad compared to what we would see in the more traditional web content management system like WordPress, that are only used in situations where someone is looking to build websites. You see Liferay being deployed in a much more diverse manner.

Marc: Interesting; so traditionally Liferay has described itself as a “portal platform”, but now they’ve rebranded the product to the platform “DXP” (Digital Experience Platform). Talk to us a little bit about why they made that change and what do you think is behind the positioning of a product from portal to digital experience?

Nick: Liferay itself has always been a platform, however it was called Liferay portal because the problems that we were trying to solve 10 years ago dictated what most of the organizations were using Liferay for. A lot of the organizations that were interested in portal technologies already had a dispersed set of software in-house with information separated into different subsystems. These organizations were looking for a technology that would allow them to consolidate the data into a single touch point with the benefit of providing a more seamless customer experience, which is where the term “portal” came from.

The use case was to provide a more seamless customer experience, to provide a one-stop shop for their clients, allowing them to access everything they needed in one place. The portal was typically viewed as a system engaged with a touch point in which an organization could interact and communicate with their client.

Five years ago it was really about collaboration and aggregation, it was really about getting people onto a platform that allowed them to communicate. But the world has changed and what we’re seeing today is not so much a fundamental shift in the way people are viewing technology but the way in which people want to consume technology. I think that’s what’s really driving Liferay and the platform and where we see the marketing of the platform heading.

Before, portals used to solve the problem of “I have a lot of data and I need to be able to consolidate that data in a single touch point” but now it’s more about “I have a lot of data but I want to be able to engage with my client in whatever fashion they choose to be engaged”. It’s no longer about just aggregating the data but also using it to engage the customer. Your system is now part of a greater ecosystem of engagement, providing consistency between interactions with clients.

Marc: Let’s say I’m currently using Liferay to engage with customers. When I see that Liferay released the DXP platform, what would you want to convey to me about new tools, or features that provide better opportunities for engagement and improvement in customer experience?

Nick: Well, I think it would be naive of me to of sit here and list all the new features feature-by-feature that Liferay DXP offers but I would tell them that if you’re already using Liferay, the engagement model doesn’t need to change. What I would challenge them to do is to think about how you could extend your engagement model.

My main point in an explanation to a customer would be to consider your engagement model and think about how you could increase the number and quality of touch points in which you interact with the client.

So, for example, if you’re in a B2B context, there are a lot of different channels in which an  organization can interact with their business clients and so regardless of the channel, how do you take all the data provided by the channel, all the various engagement models and how can you use the platform to provide you with not only insight, but a richer engagement?

Liferay DXP allows businesses to increase engagement by having tools in place that can capture and analyze data and provide a more personalized experience depending on the situation, providing different offerings or information depending on their situation, whether the customer is using a desktop or a mobile device.

It’s all about engaging people in different ways, for example if the client was attending an event in which you were hosting a booth, could you interact with them in a way that lets them know “we’re just around the corner from you, come pay us a visit” and offers them an incentive to visit? You already have a good solid foundation to engage with your customer, but what else can you do to engage more seamlessly in other medium. How can you use DXP to deliver that engagement?  Then, and only then, we can start talking about some of the new capabilities that DXP is offering.

Marc: It sounds like the customer experience can change for people who are engaging with these websites or forms. A more personal experience can be provided, with real time enablement, so you can respond to all the data you have about that customer and become more engaging over time. Basically it boils down to thinking “with a digital DXP platform I’m going to get a much, much more personal experience”?

Nick: Absolutely. The idea of real-time engagement, the idea of personalized engagement and the idea of omni-channel engagement, where regardless of how you are interacting with a client, the experience is seamless and they will get the same consistent customer experience regardless of which touch point they are using to interact with your business.

I think the real key here is “what do you look for in technology and what do you look for in a platform that will allow you to engage with your client that way.”

Marc: If you’re a current Liferay customer and looking to make the move to DXP, what are some of the business or technology issues you have to be thinking through on the way to making that move?”

Nick: That’s a bit of a tricky question to answer due to the fact that Liferay is a platform with a diverse range of use cases. Not every client is going to be the same. That being said, nearly every single business is looking for ways to increase their business capacity. Whether that’s through sales, more efficient communication or by any other means, whatever their method is the Liferay DXP platform can enhance the experience of client interaction. This makes their business processes more efficient through providing a platform that allows the customer and the business to communicate and engage.

Regardless of what your use case is, what I would do is ask “what are you using the platform for?”. Whether it’s  B2B, B2C or an e-commerce situation, you must ask, “how do you engage with your customer and how can you do it better?”. How do you look at that engagement model and say, “can I provide a better experience? Can I provide a more seamless experience?”

Whatever you were using Liferay for in the past you can continue to do it. You’re going to get a lot of new features so even if you choose not to look at engaging your customer differently, you’re going to get new features, new capabilities and you’re going to get a product that is going to be able to meet the standards of web technology today.

Marc: So from a business consideration the first recommendation is just to think through your engagement model, your strategy, what you want the customer experience to be and then plan those components against the new platform?

Nick: Absolutely, and then also look at how to utilize the platform in your greater ecosystem.

Typically we used to think about platforms (and Liferay in general) as an engagement system but we always typically looked at Liferay being THE engagement system, i.e. “this is where you go to engage”.

What we’re seeing in the industry today and what we’re seeing with DXP is now the platform has the capability to be part of a greater ecosystem, a component in the Internet of Things. It allows you to look at Liferay DXP as not solely just the primary engagement model but a component of the greater engagement model.

However, what you’re getting from the platform is the ability to use a consolidated capability. You’ret not losing the ability to consolidate data and the ability to have a lot of systems underneath that you need to interact with.. You still get a lot of benefit in that sense however, you can start to challenge your thinking about what engagement means. DXP doesn’t stop at DXP. It has the potential to be used in a greater ecosystem as part of the Internet of Things.

Marc: So in preparation for this conversation I was reading a little bit about Liferay DXPs technology platform and it seemed to me that there are opportunities for some technologists to make some improvement in the way they build and deploy these engagements/experiences. Talk a little bit about the opportunities that exist in the technology.

Nick: Of course, we already discussed Liferay DXP and what business challenges the platform is trying to solve and one of the things we haven’t talked about so far is the trend in the industry: that development is moving faster than we’ve ever seen before. The internet is constantly changing now, whereas before it used to change maybe once per year. What we’re seeing as a result is a greater need for modularity, platforms that will allow us to change capabilities, add, remove and update features in a safe way so that we can meet business goals quicker, cheaper and more efficiently.

I think that ability to change and evolve is fundamental to any platform that you’re looking for. So we’re not just looking at how to engage but how to select a platform that allows you to stay current with how quickly things are moving in the industry.

One of the key features of Liferay DXP is it’s move to modularity. Liferay spent a considerable effort to re-architect the platform. They’ve introduced a technology called OSGI which is very technical but put simply it’s a framework for modularity that allows Liferay (the platform) to be separated into separate components.  Everything that you do and interact with on the platform is a component in itself and you can add (or remove) components into the platform without having to disturb the platform itself.

The modularity brought to Liferay DXP by OSGI means users are looking at an increased agility, allowing you to quickly and easily develop new features and capabilities to your end customer.

Marc: So are the implications of the modularity that if I’m using DXP as a technologist, that I have a chance to make it extremely light (for a technology platform) and able to run really fast, really only using a small number of features?. On the other side, I am also able to turn on lots of robust features and drive a different kind of model. Would I have that kind of flexibility?

Nick: Absolutely! The ability to customize the platform is unparalleled to what was in Liferay 6. Having said that, Liferay has always been the strongest vendor in terms of providing “hooks” or “extension points” into their platform that allow you to customize the platform to your desires.

Liferay DXP has taken that flexibility and has increased it a hundred-fold so that now with modularity you can run a much slimmer, or heavier version of the platform, whatever you choose.

You can add new capabilities and alter what is provided out of the box much easier than you ever could before and in a very safe manner where it protects your code, your intellectual property which you are deploying or creating on the platform. It also allows Liferay to be able to update its system more readily so that it can provide new features and capabilities to the market in ways that it never could before.

While there is a steeper learning curve than previous versions of Liferay, the technology only shifted, not changed completely. Having said that the product is relatively new and is only now starting to be fully understood. I think the learning curve will solve itself over time.

Marc: Let’s talk a little bit about the reputation of Liferay. Traditionally, Liferay has been viewed as a really strong technology platform that is extremely cost-effective because of their business model and how they deliver a combination of open-source fundamentals but for an annual subscription model. How does the DXP release preserve that value?

Nick: I think if anything the DXP release increases that value proposition for customers. The cost hasn’t changed between DXP and Liferay 6. Materially you’re still looking at a platform that delivers a much lower cost of ownership than any of its competitors.  

Compared to Transfer Portal by IBM, compared to WebLogic, compared to Adobe Experience Manager, Liferay DXP is still a fraction of the cost of onboarding when compared to other competitive products. The ROI doesn’t stop there. Outside of the cost of acquisition I think what you’re going to see is the cost of ownership further reduced due to modularity. The ability to provide new capabilities, develop, extend and test the platform, with modularity, in a very safe manner is going to increase your ROI. Outside of the original cost of acquisition of the product, you’re going to see that the ROI benefits of DXP are going to be greater than what we’ve traditionally seen in the past.

Marc: Interesting, so if we wanted to recommend to the audience how to learn more about DXP, what would you suggest they do? With the technical community? With the business community?

Nick: From a technical perspective, Liferay provides resources online. Dev.liferay.com is a great resource if you enjoy reading code. Liferay is still a proponent of open source so there is a Liferay 7.0 which is the open-source version of the DXP offering. For the most part the two are very close. The code base is 99% the same so Liferay doesn’t hide anything. You can look at the source code, you can read the documentation and forms online. The community is still strong and so there are a number of ways to get information and tangible experience; play with the product if you so choose. You can also get trial versions of DXP as well.

From a technology perspective, I think being open source and the vibrant community that Liferay offers really maximizes your ability to learn and engage with Liferay, which is largely unchanged from previous generations.

From a business perspective I think there are a lot of ways to engage with Liferay. You can reach out to partners like ourselves, here at Veriday, to walk you through the thinking in terms of where we may be able to help you view your current offerings differently, how you can potentially engage your clients better, and how you can leverage what Liferay DXP offers in a way that is going to provide you with a greater ROI.

You can also always engage Liferay and their sales channel, or look at the plethora of literature available online (blog posts, podcasts, ebooks etc). There are a lot of different ways that you could get information from a business perspective

I believe that one of the things you’ve got to look at before you even think about a platform is: how do you want to engage with your clients today? How do you want to engage with your clients tomorrow? How do you look for a platform that gives you all the tools you need to engage with your customers in a way that provides you with all the benefits we previously mentioned?

Marc: Good stuff. I think that’s enough for one day. As Nick mentioned, you can reach us at Veriday.com if you’d like more information. You can also drop us a line on Twitter (@VeridayHQ). We’d be happy to answer any questions that you may have regarding Liferay itself or Liferay DXP. We look forward to talking to you again on our next podcast. Thank you very much!

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That wraps up our interview with Nick Quach. Stay tuned for more interviews, with our Liferay experts, about Liferay DXP, the newest digital experience platform.

In the next part of our series, we will be sitting down with Sam Hyland, Service Delivery Lead here at Veriday, to discuss the new technological features that you can expect to see in Liferay DXP. As always, if you want to continue the discussion, you can reach out to us on Twitter @VeridayHQ.

Digital Transformation in the Age of Digital Disruption

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This post was authored by Adrian Johnson and originally appeared here on Liferay.com


It isn’t possible to read a news article or open a newspaper without reading about Digital Transformation. From consultants and software vendors to infrastructure providers and analysts everyone is talking about digital transformation and how it can improve customer experience, increase revenue streams and improve operations.

So what defines digital transformation?

Capgemini Consulting writes: The use of technology to radically improve performance or reach of enterprises.

Thought leader Brian Solis of Altimeter Group defines it as: The realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.

Technology is an important component of digital transformation but the most successful stories feature organisations that combine digital activity with strong leadership to empower digital transformation. These businesses also recognise it is a major change management program. Technology alone can’t deliver a transformation. Organisations need to understand what their customer wants at any given moment in time. Think about how to effectively engage customers and think about all the touchpoints that customers have across their entire lifecycle.

Customers hold the power in the digital age

In recent years there has been a marked increase in the power of the customer. Customers now have the power of choice as barriers to change continue to lower and anyone can change suppliers, find a new vendor, or new source of services or goods.

As a result of the power shift to the customer, churn is now a key risk. Previously organisations could rely on a certain amount of loyalty from customers or apathy as change was often difficult. However, new technology and digital platforms have made it easier for customers to shop around and look for better services or value for their money.

Customers are expecting unique and tailored services that meet their needs. Generic processes that appeal to the masses are no longer acceptable. We live in an always on, just in time, on-demand world and if your organisation can’t offer personalised customer service your customer will find a company that can. Customers are no longer willing to put up with average service delivered to the masses. A single experience or interaction impacts customer satisfaction and therefore customer loyalty is often fleeting.

Digital transformation or digital disruption?

Repeatedly the organisations representing successful digital transformation in the new-age economy are Uber or Airbnb – but are they really digitally transforming?

It’s possible to make the case that these organisations are in fact digital disruptors not digital transformers. The challenges faced by legacy organisations are very different to an Uber or Airbnb business. These new disrupters didn’t encounter the challenge of changing existing systems in the same way that legacy organisations must. Maintaining existing business, managing current systems, dealing with operational processes and business models – these factors make digital transformation far more complex.

Feedback from our customers points to some of the main challenges of digital transformation:

·       Internal silos between business units and systems

·       Legacy systems that contain essential customer information were never designed to expose the data

·       Change leader to head the initiative across the organisations to drive digital transformation

·       Budgets being continually squeezed

·       Integration of organisation-wide systems

In fact a recent Forrester study identified that among customer experience decision makers the biggest technical barrier to customer-facing systems was inadequate integration with back-office systems.
Vendor Landscape: Digital Experience Portals, Mark Grannan, Forrester, 4 January 4, 2016

In light of the challenges a question we hear at Liferay consistently is “How do I solve the real problem of delivering our services across channels in a practical, valuable way to our customer?”

Use a platform that will enable flexibility

The answer most commonly is to start with a platform with all the core components in one place and mitigate the risk in acting on a digital trend.

It’s not about trying to do everything at once, start somewhere but choose a platform that provides flexibility to extend and develop. Today’s businesses are constantly discovering new ideas, new source of growth and new initiatives that they want to unlock so they shouldn’t be inhibited by a digital platform.

We regularly see software development being a key differentiator as it enables organisations to develop on top of the platform selected at the start and deliver new projects. Agility to be flexible – in order to adapt and evolve as the market or your business changes – is critical as it’s difficult to predict what will change and how the competition will evolve. Therefore, flexibility in your chosen platform is key to overcoming these challenges.

Digital Experience Platforms to Power Digital Transformation

The concept of a digital experience platform (DXP) is now emerging as horizontal portal and content management systems (CMS) technologies converge. As businesses require a broad range of capabilities to deliver the necessary personalised customer experience a system with limited features is not enough.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portals 2016 identified: The primary catalyst for change in the horizontal portal market is the response to digital business transformation: the evolution of traditional portal into the digital experience platform. The DXP reflects a business-driven focus on improving customer, partner and employee experiences across digital and physical channels.
Gartner “Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portals” by Jim Murphy, Gene Phifer, Gavin Tay, Magnus Revang, 17 October 2016.

Responding to business’ need to manage and deliver hyper personalised experiences across every digital touchpoint Liferay introduced Liferay Digital Experience Platform (DXP). Liferay DXP is the next advancement of the Liferay portal platform redesigned and extended with greater capabilities for digital businesses. At the core of DXP is the portal acting as the integration layer connecting backend systems across business operations so that companies can give consistent and unified experiences to customers, partners and employees.

Align your business to better serve customers and attract new ones

So, whether you are just starting a digital transformation or you’re reviewing progress to date some key points are worth remembering:

  • Your customer should be at the heart of any transformation strategy – think about their experience and journey in every interaction with your organisation.
  • Digital Transformation is not just about technology; operational processes and people are just as critical to success
  • Silos within operations and systems are causing some of the greatest challenges – think about how you can incentivise the entire organisation to deliver a seamless experience and integrate all touchpoints.
  • Digital is constantly evolving so choose technology that allows your organisation to be flexible.
  • Start small and prove the concept, then grow from there.

2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portals

Read what Gartner says about the role of horizontal portals in delivering on digital experience initiatives and key findings and recommendations in the 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portals. Plus, find out why Liferay is named a Leader in the report for the 7th consecutive year.

Should I consider an intranet for my business?

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In a constantly evolving and innovative digital world, you always want to be searching for the next best thing. If you want your business to gain a competitive edge and keep your employees engaged, an intranet may be for you. After all, a happy worker is a productive worker and that keeps your business moving forward.

Below is an infographic showing just some of the uses and benefits of an intranet for your business.

Intranet

If you like this infographic about benefits of an intranet let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ !