This is a guest post from Anjali Yakkundi, a researcher serving application development & delivery professionals. 

Organizations today often take a broad focus on digital customer experiences, which carries great risks for your firm: too much experimentation for not enough return; too much duplication and waste; and too little use of data to drive and measure business results. And often, IT professionals are only involved at the end of a digital experience strategy. I’ve spoken with many individuals who recount instances when the business only comes to IT when it's ready to implement a campaign or a large-scale digital experience initiative.

 The result? IT ends up playing the “no man” to marketing teams (or eBusiness, or sales, or product teams), which then makes the IT-marketing divide even greater. Instead, IT must be an enabler for exceptional customer experiences. IT pros can and should provide major contributions to – if not help lead – their firms’ digital customer experience strategies along with marketing, line-of-business, and/or eBusiness leaders.

How can IT begin to take a more vocal role in the creation of digital experience strategies? Start by aligning better with the business, defining your technology architecture, redefining your policies and procedures, and updating your “must-have” IT skill sets.

·         Be a marketing enabler instead of a marketing roadblock. Better alignment with marketing leaders and customer experience leaders is key. If and when there’s resistance from marketing teams, explain to the skeptics why their teams should take on a broader role in digital customer experience delivery and why IT should have a seat at the leadership table. Establish your team's value in brokering the interplay between core business systems, customer channels, and touchpoints.

·         Define your technology architecture upfront. While many organizations have made significant investments in technologies to support digital experience initiatives, they generally don't have all of the technologies needed to support unified, cross-touchpoint digital experiences. These technologies will (1) allow organizations to manage the process of creating digital experiences; (2) engage customers, partners, and prospects; and (3) measure the reaction to that experience, allowing information workers to them optimize content accordingly. IT professionals should define their digital experience architecture using this manage, engage, and measure framework.

·         Shift policies and procedures to become more agile. Most IT organizations aren't culturally attuned to the fast-moving world of digital customer experience projects, and as a result time-to-market is far too long. Your processes should begin to shift toward Agile practices so your app dev and delivery pros can collaborate with interactive marketing teams and their agency partners and keep up with the pace of innovation these teams require. As you move your procedures to Agile, be prepared to accordingly shift existing governance policies. 

·         Plan to hire employees with new, increasingly important skill sets. Unless your IT department focuses only on the back end (in which case your amount of staffing changes will be relatively low and will revolve around only newly sourced technologies), technical talents such as HTML5 skills won’t be the only important skill set. Organizations must also place greater emphasis on communication and consulting talents. Expect that your most adventuresome people will welcome the opportunity to deliver digital experience projects and partner with interactive marketing leaders on strategy but that others may view the change as a threat to their position.

This is just a start, and there are many more best practices to help IT get more involved in the creation of digital experience strategies. Join me and my colleagues John Rymer and Stephen Powers at our fall forum for application development and delivery professionals, where we will be exploring these and more key components in creating effective digital experience strategies.

 And if you have any ideas, we’d love to hear them in the comments below.