Darren Guarnaccia
Darren Guarnaccia 5 June 2019

Complexity is the Enemy: Three Pillars of Agile Digital Experience

In this article, Darren Guarnaccia, Chief Strategy and Product Officer of Crownpeak digs deep into how marketers can avoid systems integration fatigue and instead focus their efforts on improving time to market, keeping costs and resources to a minimum and easily managing their own content. By investing time into simple strategy and systems, companies can significantly enhance digital experiences in today’s customer-centric world.

By Darren Guarnaccia, Chief Strategy and Product Officer, Crownpeak

Today’s  martech landscape is becoming increasingly complex and marketers are under pressure to keep up with emerging technologies, in the hope of finding ‘the next big thing’. Tech innovation has advanced at a tremendous pace offering a vast range of solutions, but user experience is still falling short of expectations as a result. 

According to a study by Deloitte, nearly 50% of respondents say that easy-to-access innovation is the key to success. So how can marketers ensure that innovation meets agility and simplicity to future-proof their business, delivering high quality, unified digital experiences across multiple touchpoints? 

The search for a quick fix has left marketers stuck in a tech impasse. Initially, adopting an all- in-one platform from one provider seemed like a good solution for optimising digital experience. Marketers thought, with all systems pre-integrated, it would be easier to manage digital properties across device and regions, and ensure consistent user experience. But it didn’t quite work as they’d hoped.

Customer habits and expectations are constantly evolving – putting pressure on businesses to continually up-scale their tech stack in response. In fact, 26% of senior marketers feel that driving a new tech strategy is key to innovation, and 40% of CIOs say emerging tech is a vital focus. But heavyweight platforms are intricate and complex beasts; to say using them to keep agile in the face of changing needs is difficult, is one giant understatement.

If they are to future proof businesses, marketers need to be able to boost existing systems by adopting new tools. In short, they must embrace tech that delivers on the three core pillars of flexible and nimble digital experience: software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms.

1. Super-charging action speed

Monolithic platforms cost brands more than licence fees; they also have sizeable capacity to drain time. Take, for example, content management suites. From the start, brands must invest in extensive planning, preparation and translation of any tools they want to bring across into the same language. So, after a launch that typically takes 18-24 months, it’s likely the software supporting a website will be out of date. That’s not to mention the fact many platforms still build sites using a page-based model, making it necessary to call in the coders whenever teams want to change content.

In a competitive market, where ‘time to market’ can give you the edge, such lengthy processes are a huge disadvantage. And this is where cloud-based SaaS platforms come in. Free from the restraints of on-premise hosting and ongoing software upgrades, these solutions can draw on vast resources to launch sites in smaller timeframes — as low as 45 days — and offer more versatility. For instance, most are interoperable: capable of connecting with both heavyweight systems and new tools as customer needs and interests develop. Some are also designed as low-code environments, meaning experiences can be adjusted without the need for advanced scripting skills.

2. Ensuring complete brand control

There are other issues linked to a long and drawn-out launch. There can be a lot of technical down-time during the implementation period, when it’s not possible to manage new marketing needs – be that promoting new products or creating microsites. To fill the gap, many teams opt for temporary solutions: often lightweight, limited platforms that operate in isolation. And this is bad news for consistent branding and customer satisfaction. Not only is it nearly impossible to gain a complete view of customer interactions across the patchwork of individual tools, but marketers also have no way to ensure messaging and imagery are consistent across their user journey.

Once more, the speed and capacity of cloud-centric SaaS platforms eliminates this issue, by negating the need for short-term tech. In addition, they allow multiple teams to work on projects in parallel and share branding materials. So, different departments can both collaborate in real time and draw on a single pool of collateral to ensure the customer experiences they deliver are seamless.

3. Keeping tech persistently safe  

Then there’s the issue of security. Brands tend to believe they’re safer with all functions physically stored on the system they own. This is just an illusion – particularly where all-inclusive systems are concerned. The main problem is with lifecycle management. End-to-end platforms call for continuous upgrades and maintenance — and the responsibility for doing so rests with the user. As a result, there is a strong chance brands could jeopardise security by missing software patches and updates – and again, the complexity of these tools could mean core functions are left unprotected while resources are directed at securing other applications. 

By contrast, with a SaaS platform, upgrades and maintenance tasks are carried out automatically - taking the heavy lifting out of running and safeguarding mixed tech stacks, and leaving IT teams free to focus on reinforcing networks.

Obviously, abandoning cumbersome platforms entirely isn’t realistic. Not only are many brands signed up to long-term contracts, but several providers also carry genuinely valuable tools they need to deliver those effective and engaging experiences. Instead of seeking to replace current tech, SaaS platforms should be seen as the means to make it work. Drawing strength from the cloud and offering simple integration of a wealth of latest tools  — including bulky content management suites — SaaS platforms liberate CMOs and CIOs from update fatigue, while allowing them to deliver innovative new experiences that keep customers hooked, and competitors at bay.

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