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Impact - A Blog by INM

Meeting report: Running an Experience Business: Challenges and Solutions

May 26, 2017 by Vahe Kassardjian
Running an Experience Business: Challenges and Solutions

Tradition has it that we organize a spring breakfast every year on the latest trends in MarTech (marketing technologies). Last year, in just 60 minutes, we showed how to build a modern marketing platform including web sites and native iOS/Android Apps with responsive content, integrated forms and digital assets, unified customer profiles, A/B tests, CRM data, anomaly detection, look-alike modeling, audience augmentation, and re-targeting.

This year, we met for breakfast on May 18th. This is a summary of our discussion.


1) Context

90% of large companies in North America identify Customer Experience as #1 priority in their strategy. However, a majority still uses isolated tools with little continuity between points of contact. According to industry analysts (e.g Gartner), a Marketing Hub is nowadays necessary to operate a platform that is both feature-rich and extensible to integrations with third-party systems.

Secret Agent (1 min) https://youtu.be/MNmRJiRarH0
The Heist (1 min) https://youtu.be/_KOuliSqSJo


2) Case study: RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland)

In a venerable institution such as the RBS, founded in 1727, one would imagine that parchment and feather quill would be the newest technologies in use. Yet, through the Adobe Experience Cloud, the RBS provides a consistent customer experience, performs continuous optimization and enables teams to collaborate across departments. In just one year, the RBS went from 2 to 50 optimization specialists, from 6 to 10 analysts, and from 2 to 400 tests, all geared towards increasing both customer acquisition and retention. No headcount was added to the team: just proper tooling and change management. As a result, conversions were improved by 20%, and 40 costly and inefficient systems were replaced by one consistent digital platform.

3) Case study: London Heathrow Airport

With 76 million passengers passing through, Heathrow Airport is Europe’s busiest airport, and also the most efficient shopping center in terms of revenue per square foot. Heathrow’s modest goal is to offer "the best airport service in the world", and the first step towards that goal is to learn more about the passengers aspirations. Adobe Experience Cloud is used to manage the passengers’ journey from the moment they purchase a ticket to their arrival at the airport, offering guidance to the gate, management of delays and exceptions, and even follow-ups after they return home.


4) Roundtable discussion

The adoption of a consistent platform is an essential first step for an organization to expand digitally. But what does the itinerary towards that goal look like? We discussed six critical issues:

  • Strategy: without strategy, failure is certain. But spending too much time perfecting a strategy is an equally losing proposal: too rigid, too late, too difficult to execute. An agile approach must be favored instead: (1) identify the smallest set of goals to reach, (2) identify the efforts (services, products) to discontinue, (3) identify the unknowns that need clarification in the short term to help refine the strategy.
  • Sponsorship: who drives the digital transformation project? IT or Marketing? A good partnership is essential at all hierarchical levels. Conversely, the lack of cooperation between teams is an important cause of failure.
  • Team: internal or external? In-house teams know their organization and customers very well. External team can contribute with fresh ideas and a cross-sectional perspective of multiple projects and bring real experience from implementation projects. An internal / external hybrid team with well-defined roles is desirable here.
  • Technology: Make vs. Buy is a proverbial dilemma. “Custom homemade" is generally expensive to maintain and evolve. On the other hand, the purchase of monolithic products has the disadvantage of being expensive to adapt. The incremental adoption of universal building blocks that interoperate through open standards is clearly the approach to favor. This is precisely what Gartner recommends through their Marketing Hubs.
  • Planning: Waterfall vs Agile? A few years ago, Waterfall was perceived as a guarantee of project predictability. Today, the vast majority of companies prefer agility for risk reduction. But watch out for religious agility, which leads to scenarios of "the operation was successful but the patient died". Our recommendation clearly goes to pragmatic agility, i.e one that adapts to project context, and basically enforces three notions: (1) transparency, (2) iterations, and (3) inspections.
  • Evolution vs. Revolution: Ideally, a platform is continuously updated and kept in a competitive state. However, companies oftentimes evolve more slowly than technology and, at some point, the gap between the current platform and the proper competitive technology gets too big. It is then necessary to “hit the reset button" and migrate to a state-of-the art technological foundation.


Presentation by Vahe Kassardjian, INM: https://goo.gl/z6vHL4

Royal Bank of Scotland and Heathrow Airport Case Studies, by Wes Hopkins, Adobe: https://goo.gl/O6Jw7Z

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