Today’s CIOs are the architects of their organization’s digital transformations, helping build the technology infrastructure needed to support every aspect of a business.
Helping choose the right customer experience management (CXM) technology has become part of the CIO’s mandate, with the head of IT increasingly on the hook for enabling customer-facing teams to deliver fluid and personalized customer experiences across all channels and mediums.
In fact, a recent Adobe survey of 1,000 U.S. IT decision makers found that more than half (53%) are responsible for collaborating on the technology vision and implementation with other departments in their organizations. Another 18% said IT makes the technology decisions with business team input. Just 2% said IT sets the technology vision with no input from business teams.
Here are five essential questions CIOs must ask when assessing CXM technology needs and vetting specific solutions.
Question #1: How does the technology integrate data from multiple sources into a single source of truth?
Your customer data is in multiple systems, but finding a solution that can tap into the wide variety of data sources (such as CRM, social media, point of sale, and online behavioral data, to name a few) poses a challenge for every CIO. Further upping the ante is the importance of data governance, while also keeping it fresh and making it available in real time.
Also important to note: If a solution doesn’t allow you to democratize data and insights for business stakeholders across the organization, you are not getting a holistic view into how your brand engages with consumers.
Question #2: What API functionality exists, and does your API allow for automation?
When considering advertising and marketing technology, the ability to crunch data and automatically optimize ad campaigns on the fly is imperative. Ask vendors what level of automation their solutions offer. Creative upload, media plan upload, pulling basic reports, and porting attribution data can and should all become programmatic.
It’s also likely your IT team will need to build or modify tools to connect with the APIs of different vendors. Be sure to gain clarity on the end goal of an API so that the resulting tools provide the best functionality for the business needs.
Question #3: Does your DMP integrate — securely — with adtech providers and media vendors?
Because your data management platform (DMP) houses audience data, it needs to integrate well with advertising technology (or “adtech”) providers and media vendors, such as demand-side platforms (DSPs), publishers, and ad exchanges. With a DMP that is open you’ll be able to work with the tech vendors and media of your choice. You’ll also avoid a closed ecosystem where you are forced into paying for products you do not want or need. This happens when a DMP limits consumer choice by focusing more on promoting their own preferred adtech providers and media vendors, and less on allowing you to integrate the solutions from an open marketplace that may work best for your brand.
Indeed, an easily integrated DMP simplifies the process of applying your audience data for advertising and other marketing campaigns. However, be extremely diligent in how your DMP is deployed. Your first-party audience data is incredibly valuable and you’ll want to ensure against data leakage. Undergo a security audit that addresses how data is shared between your DMP, DSP, and advertisers.
Also remember that resolving customer data across devices helps your company optimize ad dollars and provide a better customer experience. It is the job of the CIO and his or her team to understand how potential DMP vendors collect data and match user devices. Additionally, a review of audit tracking tags and container tags for browser-based tracking as well as a better understanding of the process for collecting mobile device IDs are also of great importance.
Question #4: How does your solution integrate AI and machine learning — or how will it in the future?
AI fills a critical marketing gap — specifically, the gap between the massive amounts of data organizations are collecting by the second and the ability of human marketers to interpret and act on it. Done well, AI is a powerful tool for being able to derive and apply data insights and deliver personalized experiences at scale — the right message at the right time on the right channel.
Ideally, look for solutions that have AI built-in — and where that AI lends true value. My advice would be to invest in a solution that allows your company to capitalize on predictive analytics to understand your customers’ next steps. Providers should work with you and your organization to determine optimal use cases and applications and then help carve out solutions that make sense today and will grow with your company and its needs down the road.
Question #5: How will you support the shift in skills my employees need to realize the value of this solution?
You could be ready to launch the best tech stack out there but without employee support, it will never get off the ground. Your teams are a critical piece of any new tech integration, which makes understanding how solutions are going to impact their daily workflows critical to every digital transformation.