In my previous blog post, I discussed the meaning of the words ambitious and digital experiences both as singular and combined entities. I have dedicated the second part of this blog post to ambitious digital experiences, and will focus on some of the more specific elements of those digital experiences we can call ambitious. As Dries noted in one of his posts, ambitious aligns with flexibility, scalability, speed and creative freedom that Drupal provides. The projects can be ambitious because of their scale and complexity, security requirements, the number of sites, or specialized requirements of the project. According to Dries, the organizations who turn to Drupal expect to and do indeed get delivered a number of "features". Among them are greater flexibility and usability, deeper integrations and faster innovations. With this, you get so much more than just the content.
In this blog post, I will also cover the channels of communication and interaction rather than just publishing content on websites. I would like to stress again, there are agencies who are well aware of the fact that their clients' presence in the digital arena is not enough. Not anymore. A digital presence, i.e. websites can and should be doing more than just informing customers, clients, prospects or any audience for that matter.
Digital experiences are not in the future
This may sound like a cliché, but they are already here, and have been so for quite some time now. I remember working for a company in Slovenia fifteen years ago; they were trying to build an online address book that contained basic contact information about individual entrepreneurs in the country. The added value we had to present to them was the offer of building a website, their own unique online presence. It was hard enough convincing them to become part of the address book, so you can imagine their reaction when we started discussing their prospective website! "No, no, that's nonsense, people have my number and they can call me when they need something. I don't need a website, no one will find me there." This was one of the most common answers I received when talking to an independent entrepreneur. Well, things changed. The customers did too.
Digital experience channels
If we look at the digital experience channels which companies still use and would potentially use in the not so distant future in the chronological order of their emergence in the market, we can outline several of them. The importance of some of them is slowly fading away, while others are not yet universally accepted.
The most common one is definitely email; albeit it is safe to assume its role is slowly diminishing because of the simple fact that there are richer communication options available.
Non-responsive websites without the possibility of easily managing content and engaging both the company and customer are outdated. If a website would want to classify itself as being an ambitious digital experience, it would at least have had to link to other related digital experiences, like social networks, mobile apps, and be ready to integrate virtual third party assets as mobile advertising.
Then there is digital advertising. Ads generate potential customers and lead them to other digital experiences which altogether support the creation of shared value. With digital advertising, it is also possible to monetize existing visitor traffic.
High-value engagement between businesses and their customers is reached via online communities and it is of vital importance to define the community correctly early on in the process, and develop a foundation for digital engagement across all channels.
Using API's & third party apps can be a very powerful and successful strategy for organizations, as they can't and should not develop all the digital experiences that their customers expect. Let someone do that for you.
Being present on all of the major social media platforms is mandatory because of this simple fact; social media and networking channels are the richest in their content and reach, and they create the most value out of all digital channels. But it is also necessary to connect and coordinate social channels with organizations other digital experiences.
If at first one thought that mobile applications will somehow "cannibalize" the website channel, they have proven themselves over time to be able to provide new exciting ways of digital experiences, especially where websites are not the strongest, like location, video, and voice.
Let’s talk about voice and gesture. We met Apple's Siri in 2011 for the first time and it showed us how a verbal conversation could be one element of a digital experience. However, it never really became "mainstream", if I may say so. The same also goes for the gesture. If I were to bet, I would do so on voice. It is the same with wearables which are a very niche product, and industries connected with human health and sports activity have to stay on top of things.
Now onto Internet of Things and Industry 4.0. The latter is a name for the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, and includes cyber-physical systems, the IoT, cloud computing and cognitive computing. With the projected global market value of over $7 trillion in 2020, one should be very careful in setting up a digital experience channel which is interacting with so many connected devices. The main challenge will be how to make IoT experiences effective, seamless and, of course, useful.
Augmented and virtual reality are likely to revolutionize digital experiences, by making them more immersive and visually interactive. It is still in its early stages but it seems like the critical mass is already building up. When the technology matures enough, both the AR and VR could be a very popular way of digitally engaging customers.
Bots and smart agents are the newest technology and are most likely to be the leading model for the next-generation digital experience.
Who adopts and who would want to adopt Drupal
The Drupal community is ambitious, and so are the clients who are adopting the technology. The industry we are involved in is in constant flux, it is changing constantly and we need to find ways to address all of the challenges. And we do. Responsive design, social media, IoT, web services, to name just a few of them.
Given the complexity of ambitious digital experiences, it is no surprise that a few years ago, customer experience management vendors Adobe and Sitecore were the frontrunners to which organizations could outsource the handling of established and emerging digital channels. However, customer experience is not a digital experience and it seems that CEM is lacking in something in terms of content, scale and the volume it can cover. So we should turn our attention to DEM, digital experience management, add the adjective ambitious to it and stick to it on the future path.
If there is some aspect or some channel of digital experience you could use some assistance with, reach out. We have extensive experience in working with them.