At a recent roundtable discussion with Forrester’s leading application development & delivery (ADD) and customer experience analysts, my colleagues and I explored the topic of how application delivery must change to address the age of the customer. Today’s customers have tremendous influence and reach through social media, more options and choices for whom to buy from, and high expectations about how they want to be served. In response to this new reality, we see many businesses making moves to dramatically increase their focus on the customer experience. These shifting priorities bring huge changes to application delivery organizations, as ADD professionals must now embrace the customer-centric skills, culture, and processes essential to success in the age of the customer. 

What follows is an excerpt from that discussion. For more, download a free copy of the Forrester report “Application Delivery Must Enter The Age Of The Customer” (site registration required) and join us at Forrester’s upcoming Application Development & Delivery Forum on September 22-23.

Mike Gualtieri: As application development professionals, we’re often asked by the business to design a very focused app. As such, we’re often not in a position where we can think about that bigger picture. Sometimes, we’re just told that we need to develop an app for this. And that’s our job; that’s what we have to do, and we have to do the best we can. Would you recommend that we try to think bigger and then push back on the business when they ask us to do that?

Paul Hagen: Absolutely. I would also be very tempted to look for centralized customer experience teams, which are increasingly being created within companies. I would go up the food chain and find out who is thinking about or orchestrating the customer experience across the enterprise and perhaps even get them involved to mediate and moderate.

Seth Godin has a great video. In “It’s Broken,” he talks about the fact that in so many circumstances, people do things simply because it’s their job; these things end up broken because they think, “It’s not my job to go beyond just what I’m being asked for.”

I would encourage anyone, when they feel like something is very narrow or within the confines of just their own group, to push back and think about the customer experience in a broader sense and try to expand that.

Jeffrey S. Hammond: I find that kind of blinkered behavior tends to happen most often in development shops where leaders have established processes or technologies that encourage behavior that is algorithmic and not creative. If your processes are such that developers are supposed to think only about individual development tasks and they’re supposed to produce only development artifacts, everybody reads the document that has all the textual requirements and doesn’t try to think out of the box and understand the real customer requirements.

So when we overengineer the process, we may end up penalizing design and penalizing customer experience as a result.