I’ve read a few headlines proclaiming that IT is dead and marketers are the future in this age of the customer. We reject this widely cited notion. After all, what’s the point of great design, user experience, and marketing strategy if you can’t use technology to deliver the right experience to the right customer? IT is far from dead. IT just needs to evolve and take on a new look and feel in order to keep up with the digital customer experience (CX) imperative.

Traditional IT shops will need to rethink how they are organized and hire for new skill sets in order to keep up with digital CX projects. We recommend that application development and delivery (AD&D) pros answer these five questions when organizing around CX:

  1. Will you be a lead actor or a supporting player? There are three main roles that AD&D pros can play for digital CX projects: provide back-end services; design, architect, and implement projects; and partner with marketing to take on a CX leadership role. There’s no “right” role. Depending on your maturity, you’ll want to take on the role that best suits your organization.
  2. How will your organizational structure support CX projects? We found four major organizational frameworks: an AD&D shared services group for technology decisions; a shared service marketing technology group for marketing and technology decisions; embedded AD&D groups reporting directly into business unit leaders; and a hybrid approach utilizing a mix of all of the above. Each approach has its pros and cons, and we spoke with organizations that have had success with each of these approaches. The key is to mitigate the risks of each, organize around the customer (not channel), and foster an atmosphere for better business/IT collaboration.
  3. How will you choose and work with third-party partners? Many marketing and line-of-business groups often outsource CX projects with minimal IT involvement. Plan to get involved in choosing the right agency, systems integrator, and/or management consultant to help with CX projects. Ask probing questions about technology capabilities, the scope of references, and technology vendor partnerships.
  4. What skills and roles will you need on your team? You need many new skill sets and changing roles to support CX initiatives. This includes roles like front-end developers, digital intelligence experts, skilled PMOs, and product managers who own the business and IT components. We recommend that you start with the most mission-critical roles, such as EAs, developers, and PMOs.
  5. What is your X factor? Cultural change is hard but necessary. You must relax your standards for integrity, planning, and quality — not too much; not too little; but just enough. You must hire accordingly by hiring workers with the “X factor.” These are technologists who are, among other things, more customer-centric, marketing and business-oriented and who have strong design sensibilities.

Answering each of these five questions will help transform your AD&D organization into one that better supports digital CX projects. We go into more depth, with examples and detailed recommendations for each question, in our recently published report. And I’m always looking for great case studies on organizational decisions you’ve made to support digital CX, so any feedback is welcome in the comments section or via email.