Friday, July 28, 2017

Avoid 7 Common Mistakes that Lead to Mobile App Failures

Are you excited about developing a new mobile app?  I'll break it to you gently: A couple years ago Gartner's research indicated that less than one percent of consumer-targeted mobile apps succeeded.  

I doubt much has changed in the last several years as Adeven (now Adjust) reports that over 60 percent of apps in Apple's App Store have never been downloaded at all and for apps that do get downloaded, more than 75% are opened once and then never again. From another angle, analyst Andrew Chen says that the average app (that actually gets downloaded!) loses 77% of users in three days and as much as 90 percent in one month.  

Unfortunately, the rate of success for employee- or partner-facing enterprise mobile apps isn't a whole lot better--some estimate that about 80% fail to reach expectations.

The good news is that even with odds like these there are seven common mistakes that--if avoided from the outset--will substantially increase your probability of success.  Note that we'll focus here primarily on product strategy issues and not technology--which has its own unique set of common mistakes--because in my experience having the right plan will eventually overcome most technology issues (but not vice versa).  Furthermore, let's assume that you've chosen a winning idea based on a rational prioritization of opportunities.  What could go wrong?

#1 - No Product Owner
Product owners are critical to any product's development--mobile or otherwise.  However, mobile initiatives are often organized where there's a product sponsor who's generally uninvolved other than periodically receiving a status report and a business analyst who dutifully records requirements but isn't positioned to make the myriad consequential decisions needed to bring a valuable product to market.  This is not a recipe for success.

Typically, the lack of a product owner also will mean that there's little or no product vision.  Sure, version 1.0 or an MVP may be spec'd out but then what?  The reality is that it's extremely unlikely version 1.0 will meet business objectives.  The product owner must create a roadmap that they believe will deliver progressive value and then plan to take a test-learn-adapt approach to product evolution.

Once you've identified a product owner, make sure that they don't have "blinders" on; in other words, that they don't mistake themselves (regardless of relevant experience) for a target user.  Common mistake.  Product owners must constantly engage target users if they want to truly understand value.  While it's true that users don't always know what they want, they can tell a product owner if a feature will be valuable or not.

All in all, somebody's gotta be a very active and empowered product CEO.

#2 - Lack of Product Perspective
Many enterprise teams tend to think of a mobile initiative like a system upgrade.  That is, we'll do this app as waterfall project, it'll be delivered on time and within budget, we'll all declare victory over pizza and beer, and then we'll all go do something else.  Maybe we'll look at it again next year.

This approach will never work for a mobile app of any sort, at least not if you're looking to make a durable, effective investment.

First, your mobile app is a product, not a project.  That is, while a project is typically focused on delivery of a single mobile app release, a product is focused on achieving business outcomes throughout a product lifecycle spanning multiple mobile app releases.

Second, a product lifecycle means that your product owner plans a series of frequent product updates, each designed to test out a new means of achieving business results by gathering data, measuring KPI impact, and so on.  No "big bang" monolithic release.  Note that users will tend to forgive a product feature misstep or bug introduction if the product team promptly addresses it through a new release.

Third, to support a market-relevant mobile product you must use an Agile methodology for development, complete with modern application DevOps practices and appropriate automation.  The mobile space is subject to an incredible amount of flux in terms of technology, competition, innovation, etc.--only an Agile approach will enable your product team to quickly and effectively respond to these vectors.

Finally, ensure that your measure of success is not making a date or coming in within budget.  That's for projects, not products.  So, how should you define success?

#3 - Poor Definition of Success
I am continually amazed at the frequency of mobile initiatives I encounter where the stakeholders have no concept of what will constitute success.  Or they've chosen poorly thought-out measures that are not connected with business impact.  

Here's the deal:  If your app isn't impacting business results-oriented KPIs it's going to be a failure.

Consequently, it's crucial that your product owner clearly defines what success looks like, how it will be measured--and how it will move the business forward.  Ideally, success is measured by quantitative KPIs backed by a mobile analytics strategy.

After product KPIs are identified, the product owner must continually prioritize the product roadmap based on each feature's contribution toward KPI (business results) realization.  

It's also important that KPI progress (or lack thereof) should be regularly socialized within the organization.  Why?  Let's look at the next topic for an answer.

#4 - Inadequate Financial Strategy
Now that we've agreed that you need a product owner focused on product development that can be measured in terms of business results, you'll need to plan a funding strategy to support the product lifecycle.

The mistakes in this category we want to avoid include:

  • Only allocating funding for Version 1.0 and then maybe a maintenance release next year
  • Failing to make a business case based on business impact expressed as KPIs
  • Failure to put product development cost in context of expected business outcomes
  • Failure to consider cost of all the expertise required to bring a product to market, keep it relevant and updated throughout the product lifecycle
  • Failure to communicate product progress (for better or worse) to keep funding coming
In short, mobile product development is probably going to require substantial financial commitment.  If you've chosen the right opportunities, the rewards will be well worth the investment.  

The key point here is to avoid being unrealistic from the outset about what success is going to require financially.

#5 - Failure to Meet Expectations
Did you know that there are about 2000 flashlight apps in the both the Apple and Android app stores?  Most of them have never been downloaded.

While mobile app product teams don't intend to create yet another flashlight app, many of them ultimately do because they fail on any number of users' expectations:
  • Lack of Valuable Features - The app is just a port of web features or doesn't do anything truly useful
  • Lack of User Experience Design - The app feels like a website and not an app and/or is difficult to quickly grasp how to use
  • Lack of Testing - Too many bugs, poor performance, lack of device support, etc.
  • Lack of Innovation - Nothing different, feels dated, no use of new technologies
  • Lack of Support - Lack of timely response or resolution of issues
  • Lack of Brand Integration - App feels disconnected from or inconsistent with other brand channels and experiences
The list of expectations can go on and on.  The main point is that your product owner must understand your target users' expectations and ensure delivery of a product that they will find valuable--and soon cannot live without!

#6 - Failure to Experiment
We once told a prospective client that we could not deliver all the business outcomes they wanted in the MVP release of their mobile app.  They were upset and suggested we didn't know what we were doing.  On the contrary, we said, at this point you don't know what your users really want.  And it will take you multiple experiments (and app releases) to find out.

Mobile, probably more than any other channel, requires constant experimentation.  The need to experiment is driven by constant change in mobile ecosystem technologies, changing user expectations, and an evolving vision of what value mobile should provide.

Assuming you or your product owner know what your users want is a mistake.  Taking a continual test-learn-adapt approach to your mobile app will help you discover what your users really want.

#7 - Lack of Awareness and Marketing
Unlike the ball field in Field of Dreams, if you build it, they (users) will not magically come.  Improve you chances with a focused awareness and marketing effort!

Recently we were talking with a client getting ready to launch their first mobile app.  They'd checked off just about every launch prep task but one: Their internal employees who serve customers directly didn't know anything about the app.  Imagine the brand impression when customers had questions and employees knew nothing and couldn't help.

Whether your app is targeted for internal employees or to external customers awareness and marketing are crucial to your success.  And the communications need to be internal and external just as if you were launching any new service.  An app is not merely a technology or channel play--it's part of your business strategy.  Treat it that way.

Building a successful mobile application is a real challenge.  Improve your odds of success by being sure to avoid the common mistakes we've discussed here.

Magenic has years of experience guiding our clients to build impactful mobile apps that deliver real business results.  Whether you're just getting started or need help adding to your app portfolio, we can help you make informed, pivotal decisions that will best position your app for success.

Let's talk about how our expertise and experience can help you avoid pitfalls and implement best practices that will make your mobile investment durable and effective.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"Mobile is Product Management" Podcast

Recently I had the pleasure of working with Mike Fishbein of AlphaUX to record "Mobile is Product Management" (July 3, 2017 - Episode 107).  This episode is part of Mike's podcast called "This is Product Management," a weekly interview with "the brilliant minds across numerous disciplines that fuel modern product teams."

During this 36-minute episode we talk about my experiences in mobile product development over the years, as well giving my perspectives on the following topics:
  • What does the future hold for mobile apps?
  • How should mobile fit into an organization's overall digital transformation strategy?
  • What are the unique challenges and most common mistakes associated with mobile development?  How can these challenges be solved?
  • Why is waterfall development insufficient for mobile apps?  What approach works?
  • How do you estimate mobile development cost when assumptions about product lifecycle are uncertain?  Why use a "test-and-learn" approach?
  • What tools do you use for mobile product development throughout the lifecycle?
  • What lessons did I learn from my experience leading The Home Depot's entry into consumer mobile apps?
Whether you're a product owner/product manager or a technologist I believe you'll find useful insights in this discussion of my experience and perspectives on mobile product development.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What iOS 11 64-bit Support Means for Your Mobile App

Much has been made recently of Apple's announcements regarding 64-bit app only support in iOS 11.  In fact, iOS 11 will simply not run 32-bit apps.

Originally, iOS apps were 32-bit only.  Then, as you may recall, Apple iOS began supporting 64-bit apps starting with the iPhone 5s, eventually requiring all new apps submitted to the App Store starting on 2.1.2015 to include 64-bit support.

In order to prepare users for 64-bit only support, starting in iOS 10.3 Apple began notifying users who opened 32-bit apps that when they upgrade to iOS 11 the app will no longer run.

How big of an issue is this?  Online sources (Sensor Tower) estimate that at least 8 percent, or about 187,000 apps in the App Store today, do not yet support 64-bit operation.

What's new with iOS 11 with regard to 64-bit support boils down a few key things.  If your mobile app is still 32-bit support only:
  • It will no longer show up in App Store search results.  However, users can get to it for download via a direct link.
  • You will have to add 64-bit support in order to send an app update to the App Store.
  • Your users will not be able to run your app unless their iOS version is iOS 10.x or below.
However, depending on your particular scenario, the 64-bit requirement may or may not be immediately relevant.  Let's look at several common scenarios:
  • Public-facing App in the Apple App Store.  Most likely you've already made the move to support 64-bit.  If not, it's imperative you do so before iOS 11 launches.
  • Enterprise-facing App in the Apple App Store.  If your users are on managed devices running iOS 10.x or below and have a direct download link you're ok for the moment.  If your users use their own devices (Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD), you need to add 64-bit support right now.
  • Enterprise-facing App in an Enterprise App Store.  If your users are on managed devices running iOS 10.x or below you're ok until you decide to upgrade the device OS to iOS 11.  However, if you support BYOD, you need to add 64-bit support right now as most users will elect to upgrade to the latest version of iOS as soon as it's available.
In addition to ending 32-bit app support, Apple is making a number of other changes in iOS 11 that may require you to update other aspects of your mobile apps.  Apple is also adding new features that your users will want you to support.

The Magenic Mobile Practice can help you understand what changes in iOS 11 (and Android Nougat) will immediately impact your mobile app portfolio, as well as making informed choices regarding which other features will be advantageous to implement now or in the near future.  Let's talk about how we can best keep your mobile apps on top and working to your strategic advantage.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Emerging Tech Fuels Digital Transformation Using Mobile

** This topic is a frequent joint presentation I do with the Xamarin Team at Microsoft and will be the focus of a webinar on 7/20/2017. **

Mobile technology, according to Forrester, is "the face of digital."  What does this mean for mobile technologists and digital product managers?  It's this:  "Mobile is [the] gateway to new interactions that are rapidly gaining customers’ mobile moments."

Emerging technologies, such as machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT) and digital reality are fueling new experiences that significantly raise the bar for enterprise mobility.  Let's dig in and look at a few examples.

First, machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence based around the idea that we can give machines access to data and let them learn for themselves.  Or, thinking about it another way, machine learning is using computing power to perform tasks that formerly only people could do but at a super-computing scale.

What makes machine learning--which is not new--especially compelling now is that accuracy has improved to a level that is on par with human cognition.  For example, speech recognition error rates are under four percent, powering not only Siri and Cortana but also "digital assistant" devices like Amazon's Alexa, Echo, or Google Home.

But digital assistants are just the tip of the iceberg.  Microsoft, for example, has created a wide range of "cognitive services" APIs based on machine learning and artificial intelligence that open up incredible opportunities to create engaging mobile experiences.

Let's look at an example.  Prism Skylabs, is a San Francisco-based company that helps customers search through closed-circuit and security camera footage for specific events, items and people.  Their Vision app uses Microsoft's Computer Vision API to return information based on visual content processing.  For a few light-hearted examples that use similar technologies, check out or  

What could you do with machine learning technologies behind your mobile apps?

The Internet of Things (IoT) isn't really new at this point, although it's still an emerging technology in that we're still figuring out what business value we can create when we add and exchange data with newly connected devices.  Three trends add texture to the opportunities IoT presents for digital in general and mobile in particular:
  • Shift of Moore's Law.  Original observation:  Every two years chips become twice as powerful.  Latest trend:  Same chip computational power but every two years price goes down by half, moving toward nearly free chips that are in everything and enabling emerging technologies quickly going mainstream.
  • Everything Connected.  IoT has always promised to connect everything; however, that's become much more feasible--and in near real-time--with the advent of extremely fast 5G Internet.
  • Program the World.  Software is eating the world, yes.  IoT will continue to disrupt industries and how we live in unexpected ways, thereby extending mobile apps' reach ever deeper into the most basic aspects of work and life.  From an enterprise perspective, every business will become a software business.
Here's a couple of examples of how mobile and IoT are fueling digital transformation: 
  • ThyssenKrupp has implemented sensor-based predictive maintenance on elevators and has reduced downtime by 50% by feeding that data via a Xamarin mobile app to technicians and management in near-real time to accelerate service and operational decision-making.
  • Schindler has built a mobile app called FieldLink using Xamarin that enables elevator technicians to optimize their day. Similar to ThyssenKrupp, Schindler has attached sensors to elevators and escalators that are feeding back important data into their systems which enable them to predict and prevent problems before they occur.  Their system in turn is sending over 200 million messages per day back out to technicians in the field using the mobile app. The app also optimizes the technicians day by pushing service incidents to the technician nearest to the customer site in real-time.
What new business capabilities could you build using data from the Internet of Things?

Like machine learning, digital reality is not new.  The Sensorama, built by Morton Heilig in the 1950s and patented in 1960, is probably the earliest virtual reality (VR) device.

Today, digital reality has subdivided into three main types:
  • Augmented Reality.  Digital content on top of the real world.
  • Mixed Reality.  Digital content that interacts with the real world.
  • Virtual Reality.  Digital content separate from the real world.
Augmented reality (AR) is the easiest of the three to implement and we see a lot of examples today--think Pokemon Go.  Another example is an aquarium in Tokyo that wanted to solve a wayfinding issue where customers had a difficult time getting to the acquarium from the underground.  To solve the challenge, they created an AR mobile app that enabled customers to follow virtual penguins all the way to the aquarium!

Mixed reality (MR) places interactive digital content in the real world.  Microsoft's HoloLens is the major MR device in the market right now, although others like Magic Lead and Meta are also innovating in this space.  For sure, the applications of MR seem to be endless.

Unlike AR or MR, virtual reality (VR) is digital content--and an experience--totally separate from the real world.  You're transported to and fully immersed in a different place.  Mobile VR, using things like Google Daydream or Google Cardboard, is pretty simple.  More complex VR experiences--for example, using Oculus Rift--are much more immersive and realistic, although currently more the domain of gamers than the enterprise.

One negative perception of digital reality, however, is that can be an isolating experience.  On the contrary, VR enables deeper connections through an immersive experience, effectively giving us the chance to almost literally walk in another person’s shoes.  Chris Milk, a filmmaker and storyteller, calls VR the "ultimate empathy machine."  He and his team created an immersive experience called ”Clouds over Sidra” which shows the story of a day in the life of a young Syrian refugee girl.  Backed by the UN and UNICEF, Clouds over Sidra proved to be an exceptionally effective fundraising tool.

So why will digital reality be a key driver of digital transformation for the enterprise?  First, even two years ago 75% of the Forbes 100 already had a VR or AR experience.  Chris Cavanaugh, writing recently for Forbes, says that "biggest trends that we are all going to see over the next year is the use of virtual reality and augmented reality."

Digital transformation driven by emerging technology always has one thing in common:  mobile.  In fact, emerging technologies are cementing mobile's position as "the one device to rule them all" rather than supplanting it.

Getting your arms around emerging technologies, how to effectively use mobile, and how to fit into your digital transformation journey is a complex undertaking.  Magenic Technologies specializes in digital transformation through technology and can guide you each step of the way.  Let's talk about how we can help you add the jet fuel of emerging technologies and mobile to your digital transformation.

Take a Mobile First Approach to Digital Transformation Strategy

** This post is also published as a POV paper -- download it here **

It’s no secret that mobile technology is revolutionizing the way business interacts with customers. In fact, analysts such as Forrester Research argue that many businesses’ customers may never interact with them using PC or laptop again. 

In the future, researchers say mobile devices will become the centralized hub for all connected experiences. Forrester calls this phenomenon the “mobile mind shift” and notes savvy brands are rearranging their priorities to focus on making mobile engagement easier, more efficient and more appealing for smart but time-starved customers. 

Companies that fail to implement the solutions needed for a mobile-first digital transformation strategy—including mobile augmentation or extension of other channels— are about to find themselves left in the dust. 

Of course, for nimble new startups and disruptors a mobile-first or even mobile-only strategy is often the plan from the start. They have the advantage of fresh technology and streamlined processes aimed squarely at mobile customers. 

Conversely, established companies often find they must launch a digital transformation strategy that modernizes interaction models and supporting systems. 

Think contextual journeys, not just mobile 
Implementing a truly effective and durable digital transformation strategy isn’t achieved by thinking “mobile first” and then simply designing and building applications geared toward smartphones and tablets. 

Rather, mobile first is a perspective that can be applied to almost any customer interaction because it emphasizes contextual journeys, not just a mobile channel experience. Consequently, a key approach is research-based evaluation of the real-world journeys your customers make that focuses on increasing effective engagement every step of the way. This process will surface customers’ most desired modes and channels of communication, many times including mobile. 

Note that the mobile first perspective and resulting customer journey-centric approach is an imperative for all parts of the organization, not just IT. Each part of your organization should be actively involved in trying to understand customer needs, their pain points and their preferences for interaction. Each department must re-imagine how to engage and empower customers to accomplish their goals across channels with a priority on mobile experiences.

Creating effective mobile engagement 
After customer journeys are freshly understood—and in light of the innovative opportunities emerging technologies provide, creating effective mobile-first engagement requires making a series of incremental bets about how you can most effectively engage customers, influence their behavior and improve business outcomes. 

Organize your bets in product road maps and plan for implementing supporting technology. Plan to take a “test-learn-adapt” approach with each product release that will enable you to continually improve outcomes while also more fully engaging customers. Be sure to collect as much quantitative data as possible to provide clear insights and determine impact. 

As you continually analyze the multiple data points gleaned—customer preferences, locations, behavioral histories, time sensitivities, etc. —you can continually tweak the way you do business, solving pain points and creating the interactions and benefits most likely to delight your customers. Your entire organization must align to understand customer needs and preferences and re-imagine how you can help them reach their goals most effectively. 

Getting started 
Now making this happen requires transformation leaders have a deep understanding of your enterprise ecosystem, complex mobile product development, emerging technologies and the Agile methodologies that will preserve product flexibility while ensuring quality and responsiveness. In most cases your business will also require a significant overhaul of standard policies regarding security, privacy, compliance, legacy integration and usability. 

Magenic’s deep expertise in mobile product strategy, customer experience design, development, integration and quality assurance/testing makes us a valuable partner when it comes to envisioning and realizing your mobile-first future. Talk to us about best practices and how to avoid common pitfalls when making the turn. There’s no time to lose for companies that wish to compete in a rapidly changing mobile-first world.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Shift from Managing Mobile Devices to Managing Apps and Data

Can personal and corporate data securely co-exist on a single personally-owned device?  Recent advances in mobile operating system capabilities targeted for the enterprise and enterprise mobile management (EMM) tools make securely distributing and maintaining enterprise mobile apps more a matter of data security than full device control.

[Article written for the Wall Street Technology Association's (WSTA) quarterly newsletter Ticker e-Zine]

Is the corporate-owned mobile device still relevant?  Recent advances in mobile operating system and hardware capabilities targeted for the enterprise and enterprise mobile management (EMM) tools are definitely reducing the number of such scenarios.  The barrier to this shift has been an inability securely distribute and maintain personal and corporate apps and data on a single, personally-owned device, often referred to as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).  What’s changed?

Android Nougat and Android for Work
Google’s Android mobile operating system has been regarded as less secure than Apple’s iOS, primarily because Android is an open system and default security settings—such as whole device encryption—lagged Apple’s implementation.

To combat this perception and court enterprise customers, in early 2015 Google introduced Android for Work, a suite of capabilities targeted for enterprise mobile computing needs.

With the release of Android Nougat, which included numerous Android for Work updates—and corresponding updates of leading enterprise mobile management (EMM) tools, Android Nougat-based devices can now cleanly segment and secure enterprise apps and data from personal apps and data.  

Key capabilities include that enable and facilitate this separation of personal and enterprise include:
  • Apps and data are separated based on work and personal profiles; visual cues distinguish work apps from personal apps
  • Single sign-on simplifies enterprise app access
  • Always-on VPN protects data in transit
  • Distribution of enterprise apps through managed Google Play, self-hosted or hosted by Google—or through an EMM’s private app store

Beyond Android for Work

If your data security needs are deeper than most and you’ve standardized on Samsung or LG devices there are additional ways to ensure app and data security on personally-owned devices.  

Samsung Knox and LG GATE provide an array of more extensive capabilities that ensure separation of personal vs. enterprise apps and data, including:
  • Secure workspace “containers” isolate business applications and data from personal with government-grade security—potentially all the way down to the hardware layer, if required
  • Enterprise users can switch between the work apps and personal apps with PIN, password, pattern or biometric authentication
  • Ability to permanently secure (without wiping the device) any stored enterprise data if device is lost/stolen or the employee leaves the company
  • Integration with and extension of leading EMM tools’ security and distribution capabilities

iOS 10 and the Enterprise

Until recent catch-up work by Google and key OEMs iOS was generally regarded as the more secure and enterprise-ready mobile platform.  This perception is somewhat ironic as Apple’s continued focus is on the consumer market rather than the enterprise.  

The key differentiator, however, was security—Apple’s recent legal fight to keep iOS secure (even from governmental agencies) only enhanced their position.

From an enterprise perspective, however, Apple iOS is much more dependent than Android on EMM tools to manage apps and data for a several of reasons:
  • Lack of a private/enterprise app store capability
  • Lack of work/personal profiles to separate apps (although data can be secured)
  • Lack of enterprise mobile management capabilities

While Apple’s iOS is not as well-rounded for the enterprise as Google Android in terms of enterprise-targeted features, it is a highly secure closed system that is much more immune to the potential holes in the Android ecosystem due to numerous Android OS variants, lack of OS updates on older devices, and device fragmentation.

Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM) Tools
Although both Android and iOS devices gain a great deal through EMM tools, arguably iOS is more dependent.  In any case, the leading EMM tools also provide secure distribution and segmentation of personal and enterprise apps and data:
  • Silent or on-demand installation of work apps and data/configuration updates
  • Work/personal profiles to separate apps and data, including visual badging and even separation of notifications
  • Single sign-on
  • Disk encryption and secure VPN

Shift from Managing Mobile Devices to Managing Apps and Data

Unlike past scenarios where corporate-owned, fully-controlled mobile devices were required to secure enterprise mobile apps and their valuable data, now organizations have at their disposal a variety of tools with increasingly granular control—without invading employees’ private workspaces on their personally-owned mobile devices.  Even older devices which don’t support, for example, Android for Work, can be effectively and securely managed using EMM tools.

Mobile technology has finally caught up with the initial promise of BYOD that employees can carry a single device that will work for both personal and business use.

Mobile and Connected Experience 2.0

[This post is based on a presentation Heather Zimmerman and I gave titled "Moving from ‘We Should’ to ‘We Can’ in Creating a Frictionless End-to-End Experience” at the Wall Street Technology Association's (WSTA) October 27, 2016 seminar themed "Anatomy of Digital Business Moments"]

At this point in your company’s mobile journey you have probably created several mobile apps—but how well integrated are these apps with users’ complete interactions with your business?

Chances are that you’ve mobile-enabled segments of the experience—let’s call this Connected Experience 1.0—but users’ overall interaction with your brand remains inconsistent across channels.  

Moving toward a Connected Experience 2.0 model, which reduces customer experience friction and fragmentation, is an important step in your business’s overall digital transformation effort.

Connected Experience 1.0
What are the manifestations of Connected Experience 1.0 inconsistency?  Let’s look at a real-world example.  

In the Twitter exchange below an airline passenger looking for options in the face of a significant flight delay reaches out via mobile/social to customer service for help.  Unfortunately, the airline’s response indicates a real disconnect between customer service channels, resulting in exacerbating their customer’s frustration.

From this exchange we can identify several key aspects of Connected Experience 1.0 interactions:
  • Workflow Fragmentation.  Failure to identify and understand customer engagement workflows and then effectively connect them across channels.
  • Channel Transition Are Poor.  Users’ experiences are choppy—or are flat-out dropped—as interactions transition from one channel to another, especially from digital to physical.
  • Personalized vs. Individualized Interactions.  In the example above, the customer service agent can identify (personalization - “I know who you are”) the customer but is unable to take individualized action to help.  For example, “I know who you are, how long you will be delayed and can offer you an accommodations and a plan for how we’ll get you home safely.”
Barriers to Moving Past Connected Experience 1.0
Before we look at the characteristics of and strategies to move to Connected Experience 2.0 interactions, let’s recognize that there are a number of seemingly intransigent barriers for many companies, including:
  • Varying Levels of Channel Maturity.  For example, while customer service systems and web-based apps are 20+ years’ old, mobile and social channels may be only a few years old and only a few steps beyond initial release capabilities.  Consequently, interactivity capabilities for each channel may vary widely—not to mention that data-sharing between channels is likely poor.
  • Organizational Culture.  In many companies various aspects of a customer journey are owned by several internal groups.  These groups often develop capabilities and work in siloed delivery models rather than collaborative cooperation.
  • Technology.  Technology is an enabler and a barrier—especially when key legacy systems require upgrades that can take more than year.  This puts all dependent systems—and customer experience quality—in a holding pattern until an upgrade or new implementation finishes.
Characteristics of Connected Experience 2.0
Now that we better understand the “what” and “why” of Connected Experience 1.0 and the problems it engenders, what is Connected Experience 2.0?

The Connected Experience 2.0 is based on reaching four key objectives:
  • Understanding Complete Customer Interactions
  • Seamless Movement between Channels
  • Analytics and Actionable Insights
  • Individualization
Understanding Complete Customer Interactions
In most cases companies do understand complete customer workflows despite failing to connect them across channels.  Consequently, mapping out customer journeys is not difficult.  

The challenge, however, is then to design interactions that enable customers to interact with your business via their channel of choice from start to finish.  

Designing and them implementing this level of interaction is not trivial but will pay immense dividends, especially for mobile users who want to engage as remotely as possible.

Seamless Movement between Channels
This is probably the toughest aspect of Connected Experience 2.0 to crack.  Seamless interactions across channels require arming each channel with context and information on previous customer interactions in near real-time—as well as suggesting what to do next.  

Furthermore, as it is unlikely (or even undesirable) that all channels will reach functional parity, it is imperative to be up front and transparent with the customer when a channel transition must take place.  For example, if a customer must go into a retail location to complete a step of a workflow—say, completing a car buying experience—make sure this fact is communicated clearly and in advance.

From a technology perspective, creating an integrated system of record that all channels can equally access, is current, and in sync is a huge challenge.

Analytics and Actionable Insights
We are entering a new age of analytics where digital leaders are deriving significant insights and advantages from data.  At a high-level, digital leaders are differentiating their businesses from competitors by using data to drive consistent metrics, generate predictions and make both tactical and strategic business decisions.

A couple data points:
  • Digital leaders are 2.5x more likely to harness real-time data and analytics to deliver tailored Connected Experience 2.0-level customer engagements.
  • They’re also 2.5x more likely to use data insights to prescribe business actions to limit customer turnover.
In terms of using analytics to support Connected Experience 2.0 engagement it is imperative that analytics moves from a “back of the house” function to the forefront of business decision-making—and that data is readily available to business analysts without appealing to IT or the stats guys for help.

Now that you’ve addressed complete customer journeys, have enabled customers to move seamlessly between channels, and collect/analyze data, you’re ready to individualize customer experiences.

First, why the need for individualization?  According to a recent Accenture study, nearly 40% of consumers said they have left a business website and gone somewhere else because they’ve been overwhelmed by too many options.

“Too many options” can mean a lot things; typically, it’s a seemingly endless number of hierarchal features to navigate to find what is needed.  It can also mean that marketing messages are not well targeted and create so much noise—or worse, indication of lack of understanding—that customers are put off.

How can individualization better engage customers?  Again, the distinction we’re drawing between personalization and individualization is that the former is identification and the latter is much more prescriptive.  To contrast:
  • Personalization:  “Hi Bob, welcome back!”
  • Individualization:   “Hi Bob, we’ve been monitoring your accounts and customers like you have done XYZ and increased their yields by an average of 20%.  Would you like to discuss?”
Successful individualization will simplify and engage customers by showing that your business not only knows them but understands how to effectively interact with them as they attempt to transact business with you via their chosen channels.

Technology Support for Connected Experience 2.0 Strategy
Now that we have established the key elements of Connected Experience 2.0, let’s briefly discuss several key strategic technology enablers:
  • Embrace the reality of constant change by treating technology work as product development, not projects, with a roadmap and lifecycle plan.
  • Implementation of agile delivery models that bring speed, flexibility, quality—enable the business to keep up with dynamic customer demands.
  • Automation of time-consuming or error-prone manual activities such as Quality Assurance and DevOps.
  • Embrace advanced user experience prototyping technology to more quickly find the right customer engagement.
  • Data analytics:  Capture engagement data from all channels and then stitch together to get a complete, quantifiable view of customers’ journeys.
  • Enable data to flow through to all channels via APIs that are properly tuned for all constituent systems, from desktop to mobile.
Connected Experience 1.0 capabilities will shortly not cut it with your customers—or even become a brand liability in an era of fast-moving business innovation based on digital technology.

Implementing a Connected Experience 2.0 model, which reduces customer experience friction and fragmentation, is a crucial step in your business’s overall digital transformation effort that will pay valuable dividends.

Planning the best approach for your digital transformation is an incredibly complex task.  Making the right strategic and tactical technology decisions along the way is just one aspect of the journey.