What if you could look over the shoulder of every one of your customers as they used your mobile apps, web pages, kiosks, and other digital channels? What could you learn? How might you use what you learn to dynamically adjust your digital experiences?

In the days when web applications were king, this type of insight was doable with simple web analytics and similar tools. Today, continual experience optimization is much more difficult because of:

  • Multiple interaction channels. You must collect, correlate, and analyze data in a coherent way across multiple channels of customer interaction. A single customer interaction may cross between channels or even use more than one channel at the same time.
  • Many back end servers. You must integrate data from multiple back end servers including recommendation engines, commerce, mobile application servers, digital asset management, community, collaboration, messaging, and more.
  • The need for rapid change. You must quickly change any or all of your digital experiences and back end services based on what you’ve learned.
  • The need for contextual experiences. You must use each individual customer’s context to dynamically adjust experiences in real-time.

Behind-the-scenes integration is the key technical enabler for a cycle of continuous insight and optimization. Integration is needed to:

  • Gather data from digital experience implementations. Integration provides a way for all of your implementations — mobile, web, kiosk, email, IVR, call center, and more — to consistently gather experience data, consolidate and correlate it, and store it for analysis and action.
  • Gather data from digital experience back end servers. Additional valuable data is available from back end servers. Correlating and integrating data from these sources further enriches your ability to see what your customers are doing.
  • Analyze and gain insight. By integrating big data, traditional data warehousing, semantic analysis, pattern detection, and more, you can create a cross-channel analytical workbench for your digital experience operations staff.
  • Take action to implement insights. Additional integration enables your staff to take action by customizing front-end experiences based what you’ve learned, by specifying how to handle customer context, by changing experience flow, by configuring data collection, and more.

Digital experience implementation and back end feed experience data to the optimization platform for analysis. Using the optimization platform, staff take action to dynamically configure experiences and back end components.

Forrester’s digital experience reference architecture outlines a foundation of patterns and architecture to accomplish the necessary integration (see the November 21, 2012, "Use A Reference Architecture To Speed Cross-Channel Digital Experience Delivery" report). An organized picture of the many piece-parts required for leading-edge digital experiences helps you see better how to integrate the pieces into a cycle of sensing customer activity, analyzing what it means, and optimizing via real-time contextualization and rapid experience change (see graphic — more detailed versions of the piece parts are available in the above report).

What might you do with this cycle? Here are just a few brainstorming ideas:

  • Identify important functions that make customers happier. A bank might identify patterns of small business account access by correlating experience data across various channels (e.g., web, mobile, call center, human teller, bill pay, automated teller machine, physical check writing, more). This analysis can identify improvements to digital experiences — and physical world experiences — to increase customer satisfaction.
  • Improve responses to email campaigns. A retailer might correlate loyalty customers’ patterns of in-store purchases, online browsing, and email responses to determine, for each customer, the best time of day to send a coupon via email so that it’s most likely to be acted upon.
  • Identify product opportunities. An electronic chip manufacturer might gain insight into product opportunities by identifying patterns in problem reports, customers’ product designers’ access to online manuals and chip design documents, and semantic analysis of support forum posts by its customers’ customers.
  • Improve client access to information. A systems integrator might analyze patterns of project type and client access into its project status applications (e.g., web, mobile, etc.) to 1) segment clients by style of use and 2) develop refined ways of adapting presentation and navigation based on each client’s style.

Even if you already know some of the major opportunities and challenges are for your enterprise, it's good to be even smarter. There’s a strong chance that a close look at your digital experiences — not only the ones for customers, but also those for employees and partners — can identify valuable places where integration based on a strong reference architecture can make your organization smarter. The integration isn’t always easy, but there’s a world of potential value in the optimization possibilities.

How far and how deep are your integration efforts going to enable a cycle of continuous digital experience optimization?