Context is King!

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Last week in Washington DC, we began the first in a series of training events for our technical sales field. We delivered quite a few sessions on our upcoming release of Adobe Digital Enterprise Platform (ADEP) as well as some sessions on user experience. One of the things that struck me throughout the event is the divergence of perspective when looking at Customer Experience Management.

On one end of the spectrum, you have the warlords of enterprise transactions. This group of people are desperately hanging on to the database transaction-driven development approach. I found an interesting post by Dennis Howlett that kind of reflects this perspective – Enterprise 2.0: It’s not about people it’s about the process. For them, transaction is king. The reward is in the elegance of the back-office integration while the user experience is a secondary concern. At the other end of the spectrum, we have the "user experience (UX) needs to take over the enterprise" society. For this group, the consumerization of IT is the mantra. Designing the ultimate experience is the catalyst for making enterprise applications bearable at a minimum. Of course, I am being a little excessive. For them, content is king. Success is defined by making content (be it a form, text or digital asset) intuitive and fun to interact with. What happens when these two groups "collide" on a project? Tension, conflict, miscommunication and turf wars.

For Customer Experience Management, I truly believe that neither transaction nor content is king – context is king! With the explosion of devices such as smart phones and tablets, an additional dimension has been added to the complexity of enterprise application development. Earlier this summer, Christophe Coenraets and I were talking about this new application paradigm as it applies to mobile. We discussed how the decision matrix is no longer just two dimensional by representing static vs dynamic on the x axis and then single vs multi-channel  on the y axis as shown below (the dots represent the many combinations of where enterprise applications may find themselves).

In fact, the decision matrix that is now facing enterprise application developers has a third dimension – context. As we mobilize our digital world, people have a reasonable expectation that enterprises have the ability to keep track of their individual context. If I access a website to do some research on a particular product or service, I fully expect that when I access that same organization’s mobile application that they will know what interests me and tailor the experience with that information in mind. And if I walk into a store or branch, the customer facing employee should also have access to that information to deliver the best experience possible.

It’s no longer enough for organizations to simply focus in whiz-bang UX for the web or focus on a seamless transaction into the IT backbone. Customer Experience Management  – specifically Adobe CEM – transcends the single points of contact. It is all about embracing the diversity of customer interactions while removing the burden of context from the customer and placing it where it belongs, in the application tier. Yes, context is in fact king.

This is why I am so excited about the Adobe Digital Enterprise Platform. Having a single platform that provides a shared context and a shared repository while providing the experience and document services required to build this next generation of enterprise applications, enables developers to meet this new challenge and still keep all their hair (or whatever is left of it in my case) in place.

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